Protein powder is an excellent way to boost your protein intake and absorb vitamins. But if you buy in bulk and haven’t used it in a while, you may be wondering: Does protein powder go bad?
Protein powder goes bad when exposed to water, or the potency of the protein and vitamins has been reduced through natural breakdown processes. Regardless of what kind of protein powder you have, most powders will expire in 12 months. Protein powder comes with an expiration date or a best by date, but can often be used far beyond this date.
Let’s take a closer look at how long protein powder lasts in varying conditions, and how to keep your protein powder fresh for longer.
Does Protein Powder Go Bad? How Long Does Protein Powder Last?
Just like with all supplements, protein powder will eventually go bad. How long it lasts depends largely on if your favorite protein source is stored properly.
How Long Does Protein Powder Last Outside?
Protein powder keeps the longest when stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Keeping it outside the fridge will give it the longest shelf life. The optimal temperature for almost any protein powder is around 70°F and 35% humidity.
Under these conditions, protein powder will last up to 2 years. The number significantly drops when temperatures are raised or lowered more than 25 degrees.
There are also many additives in protein powder that help extend the shelf life. Protein powders which do not contain these (maltodextrin, salt, lecithin), may expire faster than 2 years.
How Long Does Protein Powder Last in The Fridge?
Protein powder should not be kept in the fridge. One of the leading causes of bad protein is exposure to moisture. It causes the powder to clump, which is when you know it’s time to throw out.
If kept in the fridge and properly stored with no moisture exposure, protein powder can last up to 19 months. Proper conditions are key.
If you store protein powder in the fridge, you must be absolutely sure it is an airtight container. Even then, opening the fridge door could cause condensation due to fluctuating temperatures.
How Long Does Protein Powder Last in The Freezer?
Similar to storing protein powder in the fridge, storing it in the freezer is not the best idea. Cold temperatures will not necessarily degrade the product, but the risk of moisture exposure is high.
Most freezers are kept at 0°F. While these temperatures aren’t optimal for protein powder, it won’t cause the protein powder to go bad.
Instead, opening and closing the freezer could cause condensation to form inside the container. This will promote mold growth. Optimal conditions with no moisture exposure will keep protein powder good for up to 2 years.
How to Tell If Protein Powder Has Gone Bad / How to Know Protein Powder Is Fresh?
Spoiled protein powder will be relatively easy to identify. There are several ways to tell if it’s fresh, or if it needs thrown out.
Smell: Whey protein powders tend to go bad quicker than vegan powders. Despite this, both will smell off if they are spoiled. It won’t be as strong as rotten eggs or spoiled milk, but you will notice a distinct odor that indicates it is not fresh.
Visual test: Most protein powders are stored in airtight containers. Once these containers are opened, the clock starts ticking on their shelf life. Exposure to both air and moisture will degrade protein powder, or even spoil it. If your protein powder has any grey, blue, or green specks in it, it could be mold. Check for signs of clumping, this could mean your powder has been exposed to moisture.
Taste it: If your protein powder looks and smells okay, the final test you can do is to taste some. Using a small amount of powder, mix it with a bit of water. Although you might usually use milk, water will give you a pure taste of the powder.
How to Store Protein Powder?
Storing your protein powder properly will prolong its shelf life. Here are a few tips for protein powder storage.
Store in original container: Most protein powders come in a dark bag or tub that has a good seal on it. This is to keep sunlight and moisture out of the package.
Cool, dry place: It’s best to store protein somewhere that is cool, dark, and dry. The best temperature is 70°F and low humidity.
Keep scoop dry: Protein powder will usually come with a scoop to measure. Make sure to keep this dry to prevent exposure to moisture.
Can You Freeze Protein Powder? How?
The dry ingredients in protein powder have a long shelf life. Unless you don’t intend to use it for years, you should keep protein powder at room temperature. If you buy excess bulk, you may have to freeze it. If you do, here are some tips.
Freeze in original package: Again, the dark container will keep out light. Additionally, the original container should be sealable to reduce oxidation and exposure to air, which can degrade the product.
Store in back of freezer: Keep your protein powder away from the door or opening of your freezer. The small fluctuations in temperature from repeatedly opening and closing the door can cause moisture to build up inside the container, promoting mold growth.
Test a small amount: Once you are ready to use your protein powder, taste a small sample amount with water before making a full protein shake.
How to Thaw Protein Powder?
It’s not a good idea to thaw your protein powder out. Instead:
Use straight from the freezer: Take your protein powder out for the shortest amount of time, get how much you need, and replace immediately. This will prevent condensation buildup.
Store in small, serving-size containers: Storing a single serving container in the freezer will allow you to only take what you need, and leave the rest in the freezer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Protein Powder’s Shelf Life
Protein powder has a long shelf life, but if you buy in bulk you may have some still sitting on your shelf for over a year. What then?
Will expired protein powder make me sick? It might. If your protein is very old, it could potentially make you sick. More often than not expired protein is okay to eat as long as there are no obvious signs of mold or strong odors. It may not be as potent or taste as good.
Can I remove clumps and still use the rest? If your protein powder was exposed to moisture, it will start to clump. Unfortunately, simply removing the clumps will not make your protein powder usable. Once it clumps, it’s best to throw it out as moisture will continue to seep into the dry ingredients.
Proper storage of your protein powder can prolong its shelf life up to 2 years. Be sure to dispose of your powder if there are any signs of mold, clumping, or strong odors or taste.