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Does protein powder expire?

Shelf life of protein powder

Protein powders, derived from animal and plant sources, are popular supplements. This article explores whether expired protein powders are safe to consume.

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Does protein powder expire?
Last updated on February 9, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on August 31, 2023.

Protein powders are a highly sought-after supplement for those who prioritize their health.

Does protein powder expire?

However, if you’ve had a tub of protein powder in your kitchen cabinet for a while, you may be wondering whether it’s still safe to consume beyond its expiration date.

In this article, we’ll explore whether protein powder expires and whether it’s safe to consume beyond the expiration date.

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Protein powder basics

If you are looking for an easy and cost-effective way to consume more protein, protein powders can be a great option. They offer convenience and affordability, making it easier to increase your protein intake.

Research reveals various benefits of higher protein intake, including muscle gain, fat loss, blood sugar stabilization, blood pressure control, and bone health.

Protein powders come from a variety of sources, including:

Most products usually have only one source of protein, but sometimes they may have multiple sources to reduce costs or change the absorption rate.

For instance, some protein powders may have both fast-digesting whey and slow-digesting casein protein.

Protein powders may also contain different amounts of other nutrients, like fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Additionally, they often contain additives, including natural and artificial flavors, flavor enhancers, protectors, and thickening agents that provide a creamier texture and mouthfeel.

Summary: Protein powders are derived from various animal- and plant-based sources and often contain added ingredients to enhance flavor and texture while preserving the product.

What is the shelf life of protein powder?

Food has a certain shelf life, which refers to the period during which it retains the best quality after production.

Supplement manufacturers are not obligated to display an expiration date on their products, but many companies choose to include an expiration or “best by” label along with the manufactured date.

The manufacturer is responsible for providing data to support the expiration date of their products and avoid any misleading information.

In one study, researchers used an accelerated shelf-life test to conclude that whey protein powder can be stored for more than 12 months and up to 19 months under normal storage conditions, which are defined as 70°F (21°C) and 35% humidity.

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The accelerated shelf-life test measures and estimates a product’s stability by storing it under stressful conditions, such as high temperature and humidity.

Another study shows that whey protein has a shelf life of 9 months when stored at 95°F (35°C), but at least 18 months when stored at room temperature or 70°F (21°C) with 45–65% humidity.

It is uncertain whether the suggested shelf life of whey protein applies to other protein sources, but it is likely similar if they are stored under the same conditions.

Most protein powders on the market contain additives that increase shelf life, such as maltodextrin, lecithin, and salt, allowing for a shelf life of around 2 years.

Summary: When stored under normal conditions, research suggests that whey protein powder has a shelf life of 9-19 months. Additives are commonly included in protein powders to extend shelf life by up to 2 years.

Is it possible to get sick from consuming expired protein powder?

It is important to note that expiration or use-by dates on products, excluding infant formula, only indicate quality and not safety.

Protein powders are low-moisture foods and thus have a lower risk of bacterial growth.

Even though consuming protein powder after its expiration date is generally safe if it has been stored properly, it may lose its protein content as it ages.

In a study, it was found that the lysine amino acid in whey protein decreased from 5.5% to 4.2% in 12 months when stored at 70°F (21°C) and 45–65% humidity. However, this study used protein powder that did not contain any of the additives commonly used to extend shelf life.

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Improper storage conditions can also make protein powder go bad before the listed expiration date.

For instance, a study revealed that when whey protein was stored at 113°F (45°C) for 15 weeks, there was a significant increase in oxidation leading to the production of various compounds that cause undesirable changes in taste.

Oxidation, which is the reaction of fats with oxygen, increases with storage time and damages the quality of protein powders. High temperatures promote oxidation, and research suggests that oxidation increases 10-fold for every 50°F (10°C) increase in temperature.

Signs that your protein powder has gone bad include a rancid smell, bitter taste, changes in color, or clumping.

Consuming protein powder with one or more of these signs, regardless of the expiration date, could make you sick. Therefore, it is advisable to throw out any protein powder that shows any of these signs of spoilage.

Summary: Protein powder is generally safe to consume after its expiration date as long as there are no signs of spoilage. However, the protein content may decrease over time.

Summary

Protein powders are popular dietary supplements that can be derived from various animal- or plant-based sources.

Whey protein, for example, has a shelf life of 9 to 19 months according to research. However, many protein powder manufacturers use additives that prolong their products’ shelf life, allowing them to list an expiration date of 2 years after production.

If you are wondering whether it is safe to consume protein powder past its expiration date, the answer is, it depends.

If there are no signs that it has gone bad, such as a rancid smell, bitter taste, changes in color, or clumping, consuming it shortly after its expiration date is likely safe.

However, if any of these signs are present, it is best to discard the powder and purchase a new one.

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