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Is It Safe to Use Expired Protein Powder?

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If you're not the type to religiously down a protein shake after every workout, it can be hard to use up those huge tubs of protein powder before the sell-by date. And while we admit to using things like milk a few days after the bottle says it's expired (after innocently asking our roomate to give it a taste, of course), do the same rules apply to protein?

Most likely, yes, reassures Robert Wildman, Ph.D., R.D., chief protein officer of Premier Protein. He says that since protein powders are such dry products, there’s little risk of bacterial growth or spoilage. (Try one of 3 Clean Vegan Protein Powders We Love.)

What can happen is that they’ll stop tasting so great, he says. “The sell-by date is usually a year or more out, but after a long enough period, the intensity of the flavors can start to fade. It’s still safe to eat, but that’s when you might want to start cooking with it instead.” Wildman likes to add it to smoothies, pancakes, muffins, or even sprinkle it over oatmeal. (We'd suggest one of these 12 Sweet Ways to Sneak Protein Powder into Your Meals.) 

To keep your protein powder tasting great for as long as possible, store it in a cool, dry place, like your pantry. And keep it off the top of the fridge; the heat and humidity can cause it to degrade faster, says Wildman. And if you are planning on using it past the expiration date, mix up a little in water and do a smell- and taste-test before using it. If it seems rancid or off in any way, trust your nose and ditch it. He also recommends tossing any protein powder once it’s a full year past the sell-by date—just to be on the safe side. (Or forgo the powder entirely for the Next Big Protein Trend: Crickets.) 

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