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How Bad Is It To Use Expired Protein Powder?
Nutrition Advice

How Bad Is It To Use Expired Protein Powder? 

Things that only come in giant tubs: TRESemme shampoo, popcorn at the movies, and protein powder.聽Protein powder聽containers are so massive, it can be hard to power your way through an entire package before the expiration date stamped on the side. But, is it really that bad to whip up a shake days or weeks after the protein powder has expired?

Food safety experts and microbiologists have good news for you:聽The date stamped on the package is a quality date,聽not聽a safety date.

“That鈥檚 when the manufacturer believes it鈥檚 going to be the tastiest for you,” says Mitzi Baum, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness and an adjunct instructor on food safety at Michigan State University. “Consumers have a misunderstanding about what those dates on those foods actually mean.”

It also means聽you are free and clear to keep using your protein powder weeks and even months after the “use by” date on the container.聽鈥淚t鈥檚 such a dry product that it鈥檚 fairly inert, like a canned product,鈥 says Dr Jennifer Quinlan, a microbiologist and associate professor in the department of nutrition sciences at Drexel University.

鈥淒ry products like protein powder have a very low risk of making you sick,鈥 Baum adds.

Okay, it’s safe 鈥 but is expired protein powder still effective?

So, it won鈥檛 send you to the ER… but will the powder still help you build muscle and take in more satiating protein? Again, there’s good news here: 鈥淧rotein is protein 鈥 it鈥檚 amino acids 鈥 so it鈥檚 not going to break down into something else,鈥 says Quinlan. 鈥淚 don鈥檛 see any reason to think that that鈥檚 going to be a problem in terms of the protein.鈥 The carbohydrates in it are also not going to change over time, either.

Not all ingredients are as stable, though. 鈥淭he bigger thing to be concerned about is fat,鈥 says Quinlan. 鈥淭hey do have fat in there because you need it. The fat could go rancid, if you let it sit too long.鈥

How can you tell if you’re on the wrong side of “too long”? Your nose will tell you if the fat has gone rancid. 鈥淚t could smell and it鈥檚 certainly not pleasant,鈥 says Quinlan. So if your protein powder smells off, she wouldn’t recommend using it. (More on that below.)

Whether you’re using a聽plant-based protein聽powder, a dairy-based formula, or something else, the micronutrients (aka vitamins) are likely to decline over time. 鈥淰itamins might not be as effective, if it鈥檚 two years later,鈥 Quinlan says.

How can I keep protein powder fresh longer?

There are a few ways to extend the life of your favourite flavours:

  • Always store protein powder in the container it comes in.聽The dark or opaque packaging protect the contents from light.
  • Place the container in a cool, dry place, like a cupboard or pantry. Alternatively, you can also store protein powder in the freezer to preserve the fats longer, says Quinlan.
  • Don鈥檛聽store protein powder on top of the fridge.聽The mechanical heat and humidity there will shorten its shelf life.
  • Make sure the spoon or scoop you use is always dry.聽鈥淚f you introduce water into the container, there鈥檚 a possibility of mould growth,” says Quinlan. Mould, which might look like a powder clump, can lead to bacterial growth 鈥 and any protein powder with mould should be discarded immediately.

What are the signs that a protein powder has actually expired?

Since you can’t rely solely on the date on the container, use all of your senses to check it out:

  • Check for a foul odour, which indicates the protein powder has spoiled. 鈥淭ypically your nose will give you the first clue,” says Baum.
  • Look at the texture.聽Clumping equals a bad sign, as it might be a sign of mould, says Quinlan. Baum adds that any change in texture is an indication that you should probably throw the protein powder away.
  • If it tastes off, toss it.聽But you knew that, right?

This article was originally published on Weight Loss.

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