Whether you’re making your own post-workout shakes from protein powder or drinking a pre-made shake, it’s best to avoid any expired protein products. Expired protein can cause stomach pains, vomiting, or diarrhea. Worse, if mold has formed in the protein powder, it can cause an allergic reaction when consumed. Although vegan protein sources typically have a longer shelf-life than whey protein, any type of expired protein can cause illness.
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Can an Expired Protein Shake Make You Sick?
Expired protein shakes can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, or even vomiting in some cases. To avoid this, follow our quick guide to how long a protein shake will last in the fridge. If you’ve made your own protein shake, it will last for up to 72 hours. However, any protein shake made with expired protein powder can make you sick, no matter how recently you made the shake.
- Expired protein shakes can cause stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and allergic reaction.
- Homemade protein shakes are safe to drink for up to 72 hours if refrigerated.
- Store-bought protein shakes are safe to drink until their expiration date has passed.
- Never use expired protein powder in a protein shake.
Even a pre-made protein shake can make you sick if it is consumed after its expiration date has passed. Despite factory packaging and shelf-life-extending additives, it’s only a matter of time before bacterial growth invades a protein shake. A store-bought protein shake is not safe simply because the can or bottle hasn’t been opened. Drinking an expired protein shake of any kind can cause food poisoning, an allergic reaction to mold growth, or debilitating stomach pains and cramps. If you’re wondering about products other than protein shakes, pre-workout can go bad too.
Are Expired Protein Shakes Still Effective?
As protein ages, it degrades. So, if you’re drinking an expired protein shake, you’re not doing your muscles any favors. The amino acid chains in old protein break apart, providing less protein per ounce. So, an expired protein shake should be tossed in the trash and replaced with a new one.
- Protein breaks down as it ages.
- Expired protein shakes have less protein, which provides you with less muscle building and recovery benefits.
- Fresh protein shakes have more protein than an expired shake.
Rather than waste your time drinking an expired shake with degraded, useless protein, opt for a fresh shake. You’ll get far more muscle-building benefits from shakes and powders that have yet to expire. So, you’ll get stronger by avoiding expired shakes.
Is Expired Whey Protein Worse than Vegan Protein?
Whey protein and vegan protein shakes can both cause sickness if you drink them after their expiration. Whey protein gets a bad reputation for spoiling quickly, but properly prepared whey protein products with lecithin and maltodextrin remain safe to drink for a remarkably long time. However, it’s best to check the expiration date on a protein shake in the back of your fridge.
- Expired vegan protein can cause the same symptoms as expired whey protein.
- Properly preserved and stored whey protein can safely last almost as long as vegan protein.
- Vegan protein can last longer than whey, but it can still be invaded by bacteria and mold.
Vegan protein sources have a longer natural shelf life than whey products, but they can still spoil. Bacteria and mold will target any protein source available. So, even if your container of protein powder is 100% vegan, it can still cause the same side effects as expired whey protein.
How Can You Tell if Your Protein Shake is Safe to Drink?
Before drinking your protein shake, check the container for an expiration date or “Use By” date. If this date is passed, do not drink the shake. However, the expiration date should not be confused with the “Best By” date. Protein shakes can remain good for weeks or months after their “Best By” date. Use the expiration or “Use By” date to determine whether or not the shake is safe to drink.
- Check the expiration date on any pre-packaged protein shakes.
- Do not drink an expired protein shake.
- The expiration date (sometimes printed as the “Use By” date) is different from the “Best By” date.
- You can safely drink protein shakes that are 4–8 weeks past their “Best By” date.
- Sniff homemade protein shakes before drinking to ensure they have not spoiled.
If you can’t find an expiration date on the container, or if you’re drinking a homemade shake, perform a sniff test before drinking. Does your protein shake smell rotten at all? If so, throw it out. Additionally, if it tastes bitter or slimy, your protein shake has gone bad.
How Long Can You Drink a Protein Shake After it Expires?
Never drink a protein shake if you are aware that it has already expired. The tiny benefit you’ll get from degraded, spoiled protein isn’t worth the possibility of missing a workout due to stomach pains and cramps. Expiration dates are a hard limit. If any food or drink has expired, it should be disposed of.
- Do not drink a protein shake that you believe has expired.
- Throw away all types of protein powder after they expire (including vegan protein powder).
- Protein shakes and dry powder may be safe for a few weeks after expiration, but using them is risky.
- Dispose of any protein shakes or food products that have expired.
If you accidentally drank an expired protein shake, or if you drank a shake with expired protein content, don’t panic. In some cases, protein is safe for 2–6 weeks after expiration. There is a chance you’ll get sick, but there’s a decent chance you’ll be okay. However, once you have discovered your tub of protein powder has expired, it’s time to throw it out.
Can You Drink an Expired Liquid Protein Shake?
You should never drink an expired protein shake because:
- Drinking an expired protein shake can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
- Using expired protein powder can cause an allergic reaction due to mold growth.
- Protein in expired products breaks down, providing you with less protein.
- Protein shakes are not guaranteed to be safe to drink after their expiration date.
- Homemade protein shakes are only safe to drink for 72 hours after they’ve been made, if they’ve been stored in the refrigerator.
In order to remain healthy and get the most protein possible from your shake, avoid expired products. What you put into your body is just as important as the work you do in the gym, so make the safe choice and drink only fresh protein shakes.