Does Protein Powder Expire?

First published on October 4th, 2022. Updated on June 5, 2023.
3 minutes average read.

If you have tubs of protein powder lying about and are worried they’ll go bad, the date stamped on the package is an indication of quality, not safety.

One of the important things to recognise is the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before dates. Use by dates is the limit when a manufacturer states a food product should not be consumed due to potential bacterial contamination or spoiling. Best before dates give an indication that the product is still considered safe to eat after that date has passed, but the product might not be at its best and, in the case of protein powder, may have lost some of its nutritional value. When you’re assessing your protein powder make sure you check what kind of date is on the package first. Most protein powders have a shelf life of around 12 months, but this may be reduced if the ingredients in the powder are from more natural sources.

Protein Powder Shelf Life

Studies have been carried out to gauge the shelf life of protein powders. For example, researchers in one study found that whey protein powder has a shelf life of more than 12 months under normal storage conditions, defined as 70°F (21°C) and 35% humidity. The researchers said no significant changes happened to the powder when stored for 19 months.

In another study, researchers determined that whey protein has a shelf life of nine months when stored at 95°F (35°C) but at least 18 months when stored at room temperature, 70°F (21°C) with 45–65% humidity.

Sometimes protein powder goes bad or can take on a rancid taste before its expiration date, especially if not stored under the right conditions. Although expired protein is safe to consume, lysine, an essential amino acid in the protein, can break down over time, affecting the quality. When this happens, the protein may be less effective at aiding muscle building.

The best way to tell if a protein powder has gone off is to use your senses. Here’s what to look for and remember that common sense should always prevail – and if you’re not sure, don’t risk it!

How To Tell If Protein Powder Has Gone Bad?

The Date – Is there a best before or use by date on the product? It is not recommended to use a product with an expired use-by date. Although as mentioned above, this usually effects the quality of the product rather than the safety.

The Packaging – If that protein has been opened for longer than two years, it’s unlikely to have the same nutritional value as it once did, so it is something to be aware of. Similarly, if the seal or the packaging is damaged, then the product inside may have been affected. 

The Look – If the powder looks discoloured or clumpy, it may be that moisture has gotten into the product, which will affect the texture, and may have caused bacterial contamination. 

The Smell – If the product smells ‘off’ to you in any way, then it is probably best not to try it.  

The Taste – If nothing appears to be wrong in steps 1-4, make some up and give it a look over – if it doesn’t taste the way it should, if it’s overly sour or has a poor aftertaste, then it might be best to put the shaker down and step away.


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