Protein powder is the best way to pack extra protein in your snacks and smoothies. You just toss a little in your brownie batter or smoothie, and that’s it.
However, you probably noticed how it comes in super-sized tubs nearly impossible to go through before the stamped date. So, it’s normal to wonder if it’s expired and can you still consume it.
Continue reading to learn all about protein powder’s longevity, storage, and if it’s risky to consume it expired.
Does Protein Powder Go Bad
The first thing you should remember is that protein powder doesn’t have an expiration date. Instead, it has a best-by date that indicates how long the product will retain its quality.
Most products, including protein powder, are good and safe to consume even past this date. Although it doesn’t go bad like much other food, it can still expire.
Over time, protein powder can go bad due to exposure to moisture, heat, and oxygen, developing a series of bacteria and fungi. This usually happens with improper storage.
An adequately stored jar of powder is unlikely to go bad for months past its best-by date.
How Long Does Protein Powder Last
How long your protein powder lasts depends on the particular type you have at hand. For example, whey protein powder has a 9 to 19 months shelf life when stored at 70°F and 35% humidity.
Those that have additives can last even longer, sometimes even up to two years. However, plant proteins like pea, hemp, and soy don’t contain any dairy or milk.
This eliminates bacterial concerns, making vegan proteins more suitable for longer keep. These usually have a shelf of up to two years.
All protein powders are dry products, so they’re generally low in moisture. This means they’re not as prone to bacterial growth as it is. However, they can still go bad, turning yellow and developing a sour taste.
As always, you can affect the longevity by storing the tub properly. In most cases, this involves the right temperature, humidity, and place, but we’ll get into that later.
|Opened Protein Powder||3 to 6 months|
|Unopened Protein Powder||6 to 19 months|
The brand new, unopened pack takes longer to spoil than the one you opened. It’s because it’s not exposed to moisture and oxygen that usually help bacteria grow.
Although it has a generally long shelf life, it’s best to use it before the best-by date to ensure you’re getting the best quality.
Tips to Tell If Protein Powder has Gone Bad
Your protein powder can go bad if you keep it for too long. So, the first thing you should do is try to remember when you bought it.
You should throw it away if you can’t remember but know it’s been years. It’s probably best to do the same if it’s more than two years since the best-by date.
Even if it’s probably still safe to use, the quality is no longer at the peak level. So, you won’t get food poisoning, but you also won’t get much of anything else.
Luckily, there’s a way to determine if protein powder has gone bad. It includes several tests you can do in your kitchen, so it’s simple and quick.
Here’s what you can do:
Check the appearance
Protein powder should look exactly like it. It’s typically a fine powder, so you probably won’t struggle to spot if something is wrong with its texture. Look for any clumps, mold, or insects in the tub.
If you can notice anything, try scooping a small amount and spread it across a sheet of baking paper for easier detection. Keep in mind that dry clumps are expected as long as you can break them apart with your fingers. It’s the wet ones you want to look out for.
These usually smell nice, especially if you go for vanilla, chocolate, or a fruity flavor. So, it’s easy to notice when the pleasant smell is no longer there.
Powders that have developed bacteria smell weird. It’s typically a sour odor that just seems a world away from the pleasant smell the powder once had. For this reason, smelling the batch is one of the most reliable ways of determining if it’s still good to go.
You might not like the idea of tasting a potentially bad protein powder. Although you might encounter a rather weird taste, there are no risks to your health.
In other words, trying a small amount won’t harm you even if the product is expired and has gone bad. You don’t have to taste it if the smell is weird enough, but what if it smells nice? Scoop out a small amount and make your shake as usual before giving it a taste. It should be pretty easy to tell if it’s good or not.
Tips to Store Protein Powder
Protein powder is easy to store away as it usually comes in a large jar suitable for longer keep. In other words, it’s unlikely you’ll have to transfer it into anything else.
Storage is crucial for its longevity because it’s a dry product. It loves absorbing any drop of liquid it gets in contact with, so keeping it dry is the most important task.
Improper storage can speed up the spoilage, making your powder unusable even if it’s not past its date. For this reason, you should keep it in the right container and the right place.
Check out some tips on how to store protein powder properly:
Sealing the container is the most important thing to do to keep the moisture and air out. Many powders come in large plastic jars you can reseal easily.
However, some also come in resealable pouches that are quite easy to use as well. You don’t have to transfer it into another container if you can seal the one it came in.
But, if the package cannot be resealed, it’s best to transfer the powder into another container. Many people keep a few empty jars of previous powders for this purpose.
Find the right place
It’s a dry product, and it should remain dry for as long as possible. The only time it should get in contact with water is when you’re actually preparing it for consumption.
For this reason, it’s crucial to find the right place to store your powder so that it doesn’t pick up on any moisture. Your pantry or kitchen cabinet is probably good enough, but make sure the environment is dry and dark. Any exposure to outside factors will cause the powder to go bad sooner than it normally would.
Placing protein powder in a fridge is a common mistake people make to try and prolong its shelf life. However, what you’ll achieve is quite contrary. Temperature changes cause it to condense, which leads to moisture, which leads to a spoiled product. But, as we said, a pantry or kitchen cabinet will do the trick.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Protein Powder
As we said, protein powder doesn’t go bad the same way as meat and eggs. But, it can still spoil if not kept in the right conditions or if too old.
An expired protein powder that doesn’t show any signs of spoilage is unlikely to make you sick. However, wet clumps, mold, and insects can easily make you sick if you digest them with your powder.
Its rancid smell and taste will likely also upset your stomach, resulting in vomiting and nausea. For this reason, it’s best not to consume protein powder that has any sign of spoilage.
Now, taking a sip or two won’t make you sick if you just taste to ensure it’s good. But, going through the entire serving might cause some temporary symptoms a few hours after.
It’s unlikely you’ll have any more severe issues, if any at all.
Can you Freeze Protein Powder?
You could, but that’s unnecessary. Although other foods keep fresh in the freezer, you get no benefits from freezing your protein powder.
People often believe that they can freeze anything to keep it for a longer time. And while that’s true for some foods, it’s utterly useless for other stuff.
Not only freezing protein powder won’t improve its quality, but it will downgrade it. In addition, low temperatures affect its contents and ingredients in a way you don’t want, so stick to storing it in your pantry.
Plus, taking the container in and out so often will speed up the process of spoilage due to temperature fluctuations.
Protein powder is excellent for adding more protein to your drinks and foods. It’s easy to use and comes in large batches you can keep for a long time.
Still, it requires particular storage, or it can go bad relatively quickly. All it needs is an airtight container and a dry place to keep it in so that you can enjoy it for a long time.
Improper storage will cause it to go bad even if it’s not even near its best-by date. For this reason, you might also want to check the package label for any instructions.