Does Protein Powder Go Bad? | 3 Things To Look For

Protein powder looking a little funky? This post will explore if (and when) protein powder goes bad and how you can best maximize the shelf life of your favorite brand.

Does Protein Powder Go Bad?

If you’re wondering whether or not you can eat expired protein powder, then guess what? You’re definitely not alone.

I may have tried some myself…which is why I’m here to save you from doing the same. Not one of my finer moments!

It’s worth the research because protein powder is a great way to boost your protein macros without having to consume a chockfull of meat or boiled eggs.

Hurrah for super convenient nutrient boosters! And get this, you can even use it to replace flour in some recipes. 

Add it to your smoothies or pancakes for more flavor and energy. 

I’m all for protein powder!

But notice how it usually comes in ginormous tubs that seem like they’ll last until next summer? Sometimes these big tubs of protein powder look like you can pass them on to your grandkids. 

Kidding aside, we’re breaking down the facts when it comes to consuming and storing protein powder safely. 

Protein Powder | The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Basic Things To Know About Protein Powder:

I must say, I’m a big believer in protein powder. I can use almost every (beneficial) “excuse” to add it to my recipes. 

So what’s so great about it, and why do so many people participate? 

Protein powder is celebrated for boosting your metabolism and building lean muscle. Most people equate it with bulking up and yes, it’s also used to help with that. 

Another reason many people (including myself) love it is because protein powder provides extra vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbs. Promising studies show even more benefits like fat loss, blood pressure control, and some anti-aging benefits.

Green Protein Smoothie

What Is Protein Powder Made Out Of?

You can get protein powder in many forms, even vegan!

Most commonly, you’ll find it sourced from…

  • Milk (in the form of whey or casein)
  • Collagen
  • Pea
  • Egg white
  • Rice
  • Soy

Some brands usually carry one source of protein, while others use multiple sources to adjust the absorption rate or the cost. Others contain additives and artificial flavors or thickening agents which I try to avoid.

How Do I Find A Good Protein Powder?

To find a quality protein powder, the rule “less is more” generally applies when it comes to ingredients. Check the list. The simpler (and more pronounceable) the ingredients, the better the quality. Generally.

If you’d like to know what brands I recommend, check out this post where I talk about my 4 Best Protein Powders and how to choose a good one. Of course, I’m going to recommend Cleanish Protein Powder too!

Does Protein Powder Go Bad?

Does Protein Powder Have An Expiration Date? 

Does protein powder expire? Yes, nothing lasts forever. Including protein powder! All kinds of protein powder (be it hemp, whey, collagen, etc.) have a shelf life and can eventually go bad. 

But here’s what’s crucial: Expiration dates are usually just an estimate. They’re not always the best way to tell (I’ll be sharing more about this below.)

Studies show that the average shelf life is usually from 9 to 19 months, depending on room temperature and humidity. (Sounds pretty good though, right?) Some brands may include additives that can extend the life beyond this. For instance, lecithin and maltodextrin are added to extend the shelf life of protein powder.

Another important thing to note: The complexity of a blend or list of ingredients will ALWAYS have an impact on how stable the supplement tends to be and how long it can last. 

Does Protein Powder Go Bad?

What Are The Signs Of Expired Protein Powder?

Again, the expiration date is not always the best way to tell. It could last longer or shorter, depending on how your storage method.

Here are 3 steps to tell if your protein powder is still edible

  1. Smell it: Of course, it won’t smell as bad as expired milk but trust me when I say you will notice the difference. If you’re using whey protein powders, you will see the difference much faster (as whey tends to have a shorter shelf-life).
  2. Look at it: If y’all start to see colors that weren’t there from the start, dump it. That’s probably mold. Any grey, blue, or green colored parts means it now belongs to the *drumroll* trash. 
  3. Taste (a bit) of it: If you’re still unsure after both steps, when in doubt…it’s time to do a little taste test. No need to go all-out with your usual serving, duh. Add a pinch of powder to some water and give it a TINY sip. 

If it tastes different or has a funky aftertaste, then yes, it belongs in the trash. Otherwise, go ahead and keep enjoying it. Just remember to keep observing any difference in taste, color, or smell as you continue.

For example, lysine (an amino acid) in protein powder can break down. Then, your complete protein source will not be as complete. This is called Maillard browning and results in a loss of flavor and the loss of goodness too.

Can Bacteria Grow In Protein Powder?

If protein powder is exposed to water or moisture, certain bacteria can grow inside the container. SO, if you see clusters or weird-looking lumps inside, that’s another sign to dump it.

This is definitely when you want to be aware of the use-by date. There is a difference between a loss of effectiveness of the ingredients and consuming a bacteria-laden powder.

Even if most containers are airtight, you should be extra careful with protein powder in really warm or humid environments. And make sure the scooper is completely dry before any scooping.

Does Protein Powder Go Bad?

How Do I Know If My Whey Protein Is Expired?

Because whey protein is a dairy product, it has a shorter shelf-life compared to other types of protein powders. 

While it’s usually safest to adhere to the expiration date, sometimes your whey protein powder can last longer or shorter depending on how you use and store it.

Try doing the 3-step test above. Generally, bad whey powder will start to have a bitter taste, change in color, some clumping, and/or a funky smell. 

What Type Of Protein Powder Lasts The Longest?

Vegan options (pea, hemp, rice, soy) normally last longer than whey or casein protein powders. Some have a shelf life that can make it to 2 years! Remember, always store your protein powder in a dry place.

This is because the vegan options contain no milk or dairy, so this helps eliminate further chances of bacterial growth. Intrigued? Check out my Ultimate Guide to The Best Vegan Protein Substitutes 

Does Protein Powder Go Bad?

Can I Get Sick From Expired Protein Powder?

While it’s unlikely you’ll get seriously ill from expired protein powder, you should still be careful. Especially if moisture was introduced to the powder and bacteria start to colonize.

Ingesting weird bacteria is never a good idea and even more so if you have a sensitive stomach.

Personally, as long as it doesn’t show any of the bad signs we’ve talked about above, I feel OK about continuing with a batch, even if it’s a little (nothing crazy) past its expiration date.

Keep in mind that you consume expired protein powder at your own risk. When in doubt, it’s always best to buy a new tub.

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Recipes With Protein Powder

I love recipes with protein powder! Here are a few of my favorites:

Choose a recipe to spruce up your mornings! 

This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

One thought on “Does Protein Powder Go Bad? | 3 Things To Look For

  1. I just received my order, cleanish protein powder. I did not see instructions. I’ve been watching your videos and you make a lot o sense to me. I’m new to protein powders, I bought the Carmel latte blend. Can you give me tips on how to get started. Thank you for your consideration. Debbie

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