Does Protein Powder Expire?

Does protein powder expire?

Does protein powder expire? Protein does expire, but probably not when you think. Keep reading to learn if expired protein powder is safe to eat. 

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Protein powder does expire.

If you just found an old container of protein powder in the back of your cupboard, you may be wondering: does protein powder go bad? can you drink expired protein powder? Lot’s of customers have asked these questions, so we went ahead and crafted a thorough response. 

How to tell if your protein powder is expired.

Although protein powder – if stored properly – does not expire like meat and fresh produce, it absolutely can go bad. Just like any packaged good, protein powder has an expiration date, which is printed somewhere on the container. It usually appears as one of three dates: “use by,” “best by,” or “sell by.” 

The “use by” date is for customers, and can be understood as the date by which the product should be consumed. This has more to do with quality than with safety, but safety may be a factor. Likewise, the “best by” date is for customers and refers to the date by which the product should be consumed for both quality and safety. In this case, quality refers to characteristics like the taste and color of the protein powder.

The “sell by” date is for sellers, and refers to the date by which the product should be sold or removed from the shelf. The “sell by” date is not the date by which the product should be consumed, and it is not unsafe to consume a product after the “sell by” date. Typically, one-third of a product’s shelf-life remains after the “sell by” date. 

chocolate protein powder

Your expired protein powder may still be good.

In summary, most protein powders are safe to use after the printed expiration date. That said, the quality of the protein powder may start to decline. The protein itself does not break down over time, so you should get the nutrition you paid for, but other macronutrients, namely fats, can spoil. If your protein powder smells or tastes rancid, it is time to throw it out. 

If you have questions about the shelf life of your protein powder, we encourage you to contact the manufacturer. Most protein powders have a shelf life of 12-18 months, which is sometimes made possible by added preservatives. 

Avoid preservatives.

Preservatives are food additives. Although they are not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, food additives can add up quickly, especially if you drink a protein shake every day. At higher quantities, food additives can cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.

Many food additives are hard to digest and sit in your gut for longer than they should. This gives your gut bacteria more time to ferment (eat), and as they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating, cramps, and nausea.

In the short term, gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon), which can lead to constipation. In the long term, food additives disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine and trigger the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.

Keep an eye out for artificial sweeteners too. Artificial sweeteners are poorly absorbed by the gut, which means that they feed your hungry gut bacteria. They also alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious GI problems and widespread inflammation.

Finally, artificial sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, can cause diarrhea because they draw water into your gut. Now you might finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom. 

Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein powder:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors*, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce.

Wondering how to maximize the shelf-life of your protein powder? 

The shelf life of unopened protein powder is longer than the shelf life of opened protein powder, and protein powder stored in a cool, dry environment will last longer than protein powder stored in a hot, humid one. Always use a dry scoop, store your protein powder in the original container, and do not store your protein powder on top of the fridge. 

How long does protein powder last after opening? 

Every protein powder has a different shelf life, but most opened protein powders are good for 12-14 months, as long as they are stored properly. When in doubt, use your nose. If it smells bad, throw it out.

Looking to replace your expired protein powder? Try drink wholesome. Our protein powders have a shelf life of 18-24 months, and do not contain preservatives.

Expired protein powder? Try drink wholesome.


Hi, my name is Jack. I created drink wholesome because I was sick of protein powders that upset my stomach. drink wholesome is handmade in Plymouth, MA. 

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.