Does protein powder really expire? - KOS –

Solving the Mystery: Does Protein Powder Expire?

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You just found an old container of protein powder in your pantry, and the thoughts rush in: This protein smells funky. Oh, wait, does protein powder expire? Can I drink it?

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You just found an old container of protein powder in your pantry, and the thoughts rush in: This protein smells funky. Oh, wait, does protein powder expire? Can I drink it? In the wellness and nutrition world, protein powder is a bit of a mystery. It’s one of those supplements that people seem to either love or hate, with very little in between. Part of this is because there are many questions about protein powder. One of the most commonly asked one is, “Does protein powder expire?” In this article, we will attempt to solve the mystery of protein powder and figure out once and for all - Does protein powder expire? We will also discuss how to tell if protein powder has gone bad and what you can do with it once it has expired.

What Can Cause Protein Powder to Go Bad?

Before we start with questions like: Is expired protein powder safe, or Does plant-based protein powder expire? Let’s address the fact - What can cause protein powder to go bad in the first place? 

Most protein powders are made with milk or whey and are highly susceptible to spoiling. The milk proteins in whey powder are especially prone to going bad, which is why most brands include an expiration date or best-use date on their products. 

There are a few things that can cause your protein powder to go bad before the expiration date: 

  • Exposure to Air: Once the container is opened, oxygen starts to break down the protein powder, making it less effective. The lid must be tightly sealed when not in use. 
  • Moisture: Even a little moisture can cause mold and bacteria to grow in your protein powder, so it's important to keep it away from water sources. Don't leave your powder out in the open, and don't store it in the bathroom or other humid places where it could get damp. 
  • Heat: Too much heat can also break down the proteins in your powder. Avoid storing it near heat sources like radiators or in direct sunlight.

Is It OK to Use Expired Protein Powder?

The second most asked question after the does protein powder expire and what does expired protein powder look like has to be: Is expired protein powder safe?

Many people tend to hold onto their protein powder for dear life, but is it really necessary? Does protein powder actually expire? Moreover - Is expired protein powder safe?  The answer may surprise you.

We all know that protein is an important part of our diet and helps build muscle, but how long can we use protein powder before it goes bad? Let's take a closer look at the shelf life of protein powder and how to know if it's time to let it go.

Though different brands on the market may use different types of date labels, you'll likely see a “best by” date on some of them.

Protein powder can technically last a pretty solid period of time if stored properly. However, over time, the quality of the protein will degrade, and the nutrients will become less potent. Protein powders are known as low-moisture foods, which means they are more likely to produce bacterial growth with time. (1

So if you can keep the bacteria, oxygen, and fungi heat or moisture, as we talked about, out of your protein tub and in a cool and dry place, then you are looking at a months-worth of longevity beyond the printed date. As you can see, using a protein powder past this date isn't necessarily dangerous. Phew!

Expired protein powder may not mix well or taste as good as fresh powder. And you don’t want your smoothies making a big giant clumpy mess, do you?

Additionally, some additives that help keep protein powder from expiring include lecithin and maltodextrin. If your protein powder doesn’t contain these ingredients, it could go bad more quickly.

So while expired protein powder isn't going to hurt you, it's probably not doing you any favors either. If you're still holding onto that tub of protein powder from 5 years ago ( hopefully not), it might be time to give it up and invest in some fresh protein powder. Your recipes will thank you.

How Long Can You Use Protein Powder After the Expiration Date?

Many factors can affect the shelf life of protein powder, so it's hard to give a straight answer to this question. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can usually continue using protein powder for several months after the expiration date.

Of course, it's always best to check the manufacturer's recommendation before using any expired product. And if you notice that the protein powder has changed color or texture or if it has developed an off-putting smell, it's probably best to discard it.

Does Plant-Based Protein Powder Expire?

Plant-based protein powders are a great option if you are a vegan, have a milk allergy, or just prefer a plant-based protein powder.

Vegan options (like pea or soy) normally last longer than whey or casein protein powder because plant-based options contain no milk or dairy, which helps eliminate bacterial growth.

Sources for plant-based protein powders include peas, soy, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, and/or sunflower seeds. So if you’re wondering, e.g., does pea protein powder expire, since there are no dairy or animal products in plant-based protein powders, pea or any other plant-based protein can last more than its whey cousins, and it’s usually up to a year.

How Can You Keep Protein Powder Fresh for Longer?

Oftentimes protein powder lovers ask  - What does expired protein powder look like? To set the record straight, signs that protein powder has gone bad include changes in taste and smell, color changes, or even clumping. (2)

To keep your protein powder fresh and avoid the waste of throwing away that precious protein, here are some useful tips:

  • Avoid storing your protein powder on top of the fridge or even bathroom. The humidity and the heat coming from the refrigerator will shorten its shelf life, and you don’t want that to happen. Dry environments within the container make it nearly impossible for microbes to grow within the powder.
  • Make sure your protein powder stays in the container it comes with. That way, the protein powder is protected from light.
  • Store the container in cool, dry places, like your cupboards or pantry.
  • When taking your protein powder, always use a dry spoon as opposed to a wet spoon. That way, you avoid mold and bacteria growth. Yikes!

To Conclude

Protein powders from animal or plant-based sources are among the most popular supplements ever hitting the wellness market.

When a product goes over its “best-by” date, it may no longer be at its highest level of quality. Consuming your protein shortly after its expiration date is likely safe if there are no signs that it has gone bad - changes in smell, taste, color, and clumping.

If you experience one of these, we strongly toss that old tub and treat yourself to a new one that will keep your stomach and smoothies healthy and tasty.

So to wrap up the ancient old question - Does protein powder expire? Yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean that it goes bad as soon as you reach the sell-by date. Protein powder has a long shelf life, and it will usually still be good shortly after you arrive at the date printed on the package. You shouldn’t ignore the sell-by date on your powder, but you should pay attention to the above-mentioned signs of the product so that you can get a better idea of whether you should use your protein powder or not. Mystery solved!

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