Article header: Does Protein Powder Expire?

Does Protein Powder Expire?

Perhaps you’re getting back into fitness and have rediscovered a couple of old tubs with protein powder in the pantry. Or maybe your friend just gave you a couple of tubs with a flavor they didn’t care for. Whatever the case, knowing if and when protein powder expires may be helpful for you to know.

In this article, we will take a look at why protein powder expires, and how to maximize its shelf-life.

So, Does Protein Powder Expire?

The short answer: Yes, protein powder does expire. 

The longer answer: Protein powder does expire, but not necessarily by the best-by date on the tub. 

As Jena Roberts, a vice-president at National Food Lab, explains in this article, the dates set on shelf-stable products are estimates only. In another article Roberts also says that food safety and food quality are two different topics. Expiration dates are an indication of quality and freshness, not necessarily safety. 

That said, we don’t recommend you to use expired protein powders or any other expired product. It’s never a bad idea to throw out old and expired products. We know that several people successfully use expired products, however, we would never recommend it.  

An expiration date, or best by date, is located somewhere on every tub or bag of protein powder that’s sold commercially. Some research and a quick look at my own stack of protein powders reveal that most protein powders have an expiration date between 12 and 18 months from the manufacturing date. 

Dairy for Global Nutrition informs that the typical shelf-life guidelines for Whey Protein Concentrate and Isolate is about 12 months when stored at maximum 25°C (77°F) and 65% relative humidity. 

Why Does Protein Powder Go Bad?

As protein powder ages it becomes subject to a process known as Maillard browning. Maillard browning is a reaction between reducing sugars, such as lactose or glucose, and the amino acids in protein. This reaction causes, among other things, the protein powder to develop a brownish appearance. 

On its own, this doesn’t sound so bad.

However, the negative effects of Maillard browning doesn’t just include a change in color and flavor. It also causes reduced nutritional value. Most prominent is the loss of lysine, an essential amino acid. 

As you may know, a source of protein that contains adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids is called a complete protein. However, when this complete protein is reduced in lysine, it becomes less complete and consequently decreases in nutritional value.

Of course, lysine isn’t the only important amino acid in protein, and a reduced amount in your protein powder shouldn’t be a problem assuming you consume a variety of different protein sources. However, if a protein powder looks bad, smells bad and has less nutritional value than it should – it’s time to toss it!

Maximize Shelf-Life: How Should I Store Protein Powder?

There are several factors and variables that affect the shelf-life of a protein powder – Some of which are out of our control. The variables that we can control, however, can help make sure that the protein powder doesn’t expire sooner than it should. 

1.Storage and Packaging

The process of Maillard browning can be increased and amplified by high temperatures and humidity. This study of whey protein concentrate showed that higher temperature led to more caking and Maillard browning at 35°C (95°F). Lower temperatures extended the protein powder’s shelf life by up to 9 months. 

Suggested action(s): Keep your protein powder stored in a cool and dry place, ideally with a temperature below 25°C (77°F). Make sure that tubs are closed and bags are sealed. In case the packaging material is broken, you might want to pour it over to a dry glass jar or something similar. 

2. Handle With Care

Have you ever forgotten to wash your protein shaker and left it for a good two weeks? Well, I have. And it stunk. I never forgot it again. 

Everyone who has done the same knows that protein powder is best consumed shortly after its been mixed. Similarly, water contamination in the protein powder tub or bag is bad news. Moisture contamination means more of a chance for bacteria to thrive.

Suggested action(s): Be careful with water and other fluids around the protein powder. Avoid getting water in your protein powder tub. Never put a wet scoop back into the protein powder – always make sure it’s dry.

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