Does Protein Powder Expire?
So you found some old tubs of protein powder tucked away at the back of a cupboard or stuck under the seat of your car. The expiration date has passed and you’re wondering if it’s still any good. Does protein powder go bad?
The short answer is yes, protein powder does expire. The long answer is quite a bit more complicated than you might expect.
There are a number of different types of protein powders made from different source materials, so the shelf life of a powder will vary depending on whether it is a milk-based or plant-based product. We’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular types of protein and how long they last.
Whey protein is a byproduct of dairy production, most often sourced as a sidestream product of the cheese-making industry. Since whey proteins are milk-based, they still contain some of the milk proteins and sugars, like lactose, that break down over time causing the product to go bad.
But there isn’t just one type of whey protein either. Whey protein comes in three forms: Concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates.
Whey concentrate undergoes the least amount of processing and contains the largest amount of milk proteins and the highest percentage of lactose making it the most likely of the group to really go bad when it expires.
Whey isolates are the middle ground. Some of the additional milk proteins and sugars have been removed, but not all of them, so isolates can still go bad, but they have a slightly longer shelf life than concentrates.
Hydrolyzed whey protein undergoes the highest level of processing out of the three and has nearly all of the additional milk proteins and sugars removed. This makes it the best choice for people with sensitivities to milk. However, if you have a milk allergy it’s probably still best to avoid any milk-based protein powders.
In general, whey protein powders last between 9 and 19 months and are likely still good for a few months after the expiration if they have been stored in a cool dry place with the lid properly secured.
Like other milk-based protein powders, casein protein will go bad. Casein carries the same amino acid profile as whey protein, so the two are very similar in most regards. The main difference between the two is how quickly they are absorbed.
Casein is a slow absorption protein, whereas whey protein is processed much more quickly by the body. This makes casein a better option for a protein boost later in the day as your body will continue to process the protein while you sleep.
This slower rate of absorption also translates to a slower rate of decay. Casein protein powders take approximately 12 months to expire, and just like whey protein powders, are likely still safe to consume for a few months after the expiration when stored properly.
Plant-based protein powders are going to generally last longer than milk-based proteins like whey and casein. They’re a great option if you are a vegan, have a milk allergy, or just prefer a plant-based protein powder.
Common sources for plant-based protein powders include peas, hemp, soy, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Since there are no dairy or animal products in plant-based protein powders, they can last for a full two years.
How to Properly Store Protein Powder
While the shelf life timelines that we have provided for whey, casein, and plant-based powders can give you a general idea of how close your protein powder might be to going bad, there are several other factors that can affect its longevity. The main one is storage conditions.
If you store your protein powder properly, in a dry place that doesn’t get too much heat, then chances are that it will last the full length of its intended shelf life and potential beyond, even after it's been opened.
But, if you tend to keep your powder in your car or gym bag, you might want to give it a sniff test before you toss it into your after-workout protein shake. The changes in temperature and humidity may have kicked off some premature decomposition.
So, yes protein powder does expire, but the shelf life on most types is substantial. Regardless of whether you think your powder is still good, the safest bet is to trust the expiration date stamped on the packaging, especially if it hasn’t been stored in the optimal conditions. Needless to say, baking in the trunk of your car for nine months is not the optimal storage condition for anything, let alone something you plan to eat.
If you find that you are always buying tubs of protein powder just to have them go bad on you before you can finish them, then try Allo protein powder. It dissolves instantly in hot coffee, matcha, or hot chocolate to give you a protein boost along with your morning or afternoon pick-me-up.
The individual packets make it easy to always have 10 grams of protein with you wherever you go. Just toss a few in your gym bag, backpack, or glove compartment so you’ll never be without.
With Allo, adding protein to your coffee is as easy as open, pour, enjoy! Check out our full line of creamers and non-creamer powders in vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel as well as our natural powder to get all the protein without changing the flavor of your favorite brew.