Do meal replacement & protein powder go bad after expiry?


Protein shakes are quite costly when bought in small quantities, that’s the reason many people buy them in bulk, even I have a habit of stacking protein supplies for 6-months.

Are you someone who bought a bulk quantity of protein supplements and now surpassed its expiry date? Wondering if your protein shake is still healthy to consume after a year of its manufacturing date?

Does protein powder go bad? Just like any other dietary item, protein powder comes with an expiry date. The normal shelf life of protein powder is more than a year but manufacturers add up their life by adding preserving agents. Your protein powder should be good to consume even after 2 years of manufacturing date. Cooking or adding protein powder in hot coffee won’t make it go bad, protein supplements won’t lose their health benefits.

Meal replacements and protein powders are quite the same, they both contain protein and carbohydrates which just differ in the ratio of content and calories. Although meal replacement shakes contain some added fats and other satiety agents to make you feel fuller for a longer period of time, that should not conflict with its shelf life. 

Basics of protein powders 

Protein powders are extremely popular health supplements among fitness lovers. These are convenient and reliable dietary supplements to fulfill the body’s needs for essential aminos. Protein powders can be derived from a variety of sources, it can be 

  • Whey protein supplement
  • Soy protein
  • Casein protein from milk
  • Vegan protein derived from vegan food sources like pea
  • Albumin protein derived from egg whites 
  • Protein blend which contains a variety of different powders. 

Depending on the manufacturer and type of protein powder you own, its nutrient content (fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals) may vary.  

The good news is the shelf life of all varieties of protein power are almost the same. 

Do meal replacement shakes and protein powder go bad? 

Yes, just like any other dietary supplement meal replacement supplements and protein powder do comes with an expiry date. 

The expiration date mentioned on protein shake or meal replacement shake generally refers to “how long food retains optimal quality and nutrition”. 

Just like any food product your protein supplement is destined to go bad. How many days your protein shake lasts depends on the number of criteria like: 

  • If the seal is broken or not.
  • Room temperature 
  • Humidity

So basically, your protein supplement comes with an expiry date but that doesn’t mean it is unfit for consumption, it might have lost some percentage of its nutritional benefits but it should be healthy to consume.  

How to know if it has gone bad for consumption? Continue reading and we are going to discuss that too. 

Is it bad to drink expired protein powder? 

The expiry date is not an ON and OFF switch that can make your protein powder go bad just after surpassing the expiry date. The expiry date usually refers to the best time to consume your protein supplement for optimum quality and taste. 

Your protein shake or meal replacement shake should be good to go even 3-6 months after its expiry date. 

A study conducted to know the shelf life of whey protein found that whey protein powder has a shelf life of 19-months under normal storage conditions. But most of the protein powders come with 2 years of expiry date after the manufacturing, right? That’s because of the added preservative that keeps the product fresh for a longer period

So consuming protein powder after its expiration date can still be safe but it might have lost its nutrition value. Protein powder experience the loss of nutrition because of the chemical process called “Maillard browning”, it’s a situation when lycine starts to break down after reacting with sugar.  A study (2) demonstrates the effects of Maillard browning may lead to the reduction of lysine from 5.5% to 4.2% in 12 months when stored at 70°F (21°C) with 45–65% humidity. 

In short, the protein shake or meal replacement shake you are consuming after its expiration date might not have any ill effect on your health but may have lost its some part of lysine content. 

Can an expired protein powder hurt you? 

If your protein powder has gone bad then it has all the ability to hurt you badly, your stomach might suffer. It’s important to understand when your supplement has gone bad, if you can’t figure it out then it’s always a better choice to throw it away. 

How to tell if protein powder is bad? 

Whether it’s protein powder or meal replacements, it’s fairly simple to tell if they are good to consume or not. 

If you are trying to consume a protein after a long time of storage then try to smell the aroma of your supplement, does it smell good? Soy, egg, or milk-based powders will typically smell differently if they’ve gone bad.

If the seal of your protein powder is broken then it has a strong possibility of catching moisture. Moisture allows bacteria to flourish. Add some water to a scoop of your protein powder and mix it well, do you seel the lumps in a shake? It might be because of added moisture. 

Protein supplements are extremely sensitive to water or moisture and they will go bad soon if they are kept in a moist environment. If your protein powder is kept in a moist environment then it might go bad ever before its expiry date. 

You will experience a considerable change in its taste and smell once your protein powder is close to getting stale. 

Does protein powder go bad after mixing? 

Most of the supplements companies do not advise the protein shake to be left unconsumed after mixing water in it. They are designed to be mixed and consumed quite quickly. 

As long as your shake is kept in a sealed container or kept in the refrigerator, you should be able to consume it within 24-hours. 

So if you have prepared a shake or smoothie out of your protein shake or meal replacement shake, keep it in an airtight container and refrigerate to preserve the shake from losing taste or going bad. 

How long protein powder last after once opened? 

It depends on various scenarios. 

Scenario 1: You opened a protein powder after its expiration.

You should be conscious before drinking the expired dietary supplement. If the protein powder smells and tastes good then consider consuming it as soon as possible, maybe within a few months. 

Scenario 2- You opened it before expiration but stored in a hot and humid place.

If the storage of protein supplements is improper then it might go bad even before its printed expiry date. 

To improve your supplement chances to last longer, store it in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight. 

Scenario 3- You are maintaining optimum storage guidelines. 

Your protein should be okay to consume for a long time if you are paying emphasis on its proper storage. 

How To Store Protein Powder

Storing your protein powder should not be a difficult task, only sheer negligence can force it to go bad. 

Protein powder or meal replacement supplements are pretty much like any other powder (e.g., flour), they absorb moisture easily. Moisture will lead to bacterial growth, development of clumps, and the powder will go bad if there’s enough water.

Many protein supplements are coming in zip pouches that are easy to open and pack but its recommended to transfer your protein powder in an airtight container to maintain its longevity.

Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always. 

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By Harsh Chauhan

Hi there, I'm Harsh, personal trainer and chief editor at I started this blog with the intention to tap on every question that has been unanswered for many years. With an experience of more than a decade, my goal is to transform the lives of millions of our readers by offering authentic fitness knowledge.

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