Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

The majority of people just look at the shelf life or use-by-date that appears on their pre-workout supplements. But the unfortunate reality is that these types of products can go bad for a few other reasons as well.

In the best case, the ingredients will simply not provide the benefits they are supposed to. But it could also happen that the supplements make you sick.

As this is something that accidentally happened to me a while ago, I decided to put this guide together.

Is It Safe To Drink Expired Pre-Workout?

No, generally speaking, it is not safe to drink expired pre-workout. The reason is that you could experience some pretty unpleasant side effects.

Let me just say that a gurgling stomach and severe gas are not exactly two things you want to suddenly experience in the middle of a set of deadlifts. Believe me, you can do without that kind of embarrassment.

Most supplement companies will also have clear guidelines printed on the label that warns about not exceeding the use-by-date for this very problem.

But you also need to consider how long a tub is open for if you want to avoid ingredients becoming ineffective.

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Does It Expire Faster Once The Container Is Open?

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Yes, supplements will generally expire faster once the tub or packet has been opened. With some pre-workouts or whey protein powders, this could mean using it up within 8 weeks, which is actually quite a short period.

Other products will be suitable for 3 to 4 months, but I advise my clients not to exceed 3 months.

The problem is that while some of pre-workout ingredients like B vitamins and minerals may last a long time, amino acids have a tendency to start breaking down with age. Take BCAA in a pre-workouts, for example.

Problems can also appear based on how the product is stored, and I’ll get to some tips for that below.

The USDA says products containing a use-by date may still be safe after that date, but it may not be of acceptable quality. To help preserve the quality, always store protein powder in the container it comes in.
- Sara Lindberg, Health and fitness writer

How Long Can You Use It Once It’s Mixed?

This is another problem that some people encounter, especially if they need to mix a supplement in the morning before they leave the house, but don’t actually intend to drink it until later in the day.

If you’re going to drink it within 12 hours, then you should be fine, as long as it’s not exposed to severe temperature fluctuations.

Taking it at least 30 minutes before gym time is ideal even if you’ve mixed it a few hours prior, especially if you’re taking the supplement for better pumps during your workout.

This could cause a breakdown in the protein structure[1], which could lead to lower energy levels and exercise performance, along with other potential adverse effects.

How Do You Know If Your Supplement Has Gone Bad?

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You know if your supplement has gone bad if it starts to show one of these 4 signs.

1 - Smell

Make sure you’re familiar with the normal smell of your supplements when you first open the tubs. If it starts to have a foul or stale smell, then that could be an indication that it has been open for too long.

2 - Clumpy

This is one of the biggest problems that you can encounter with all workout supplements. Once the vacuum seal is broken, moisture is likely to get into the container, and this will start to make the fine powder rather clumpy.

3 - Doesn’t Mix

Another good indicator that your supplement is no longer good is when it doesn’t mix easily. In most cases, you can just use a shaker, but if you suddenly find that the powder remains unmixed with a chalky texture, then it could be time to get rid of it.

4 - Mold

This would be a very obvious sign that something is wrong, and is most often the result of not storing products correctly and allowing them to get damp. Always get rid of moldy powder as you could get some pretty nasty food poisoning from it.

Tips For Avoiding It From Going Bad Too Soon

Over the years, I’ve been able to get some great tips from colleagues and clients about how you can make sure your supplements don’t go bad.

Here are the 4 tips I would give you:

1 - Tighten The Seal

With tubs that have screw-on tops, it’s important to make sure that you tightly fasten the top. Avoid the thread misaligning as this could result in air and moisture getting in.

For the resealable bags, always push out any air before sealing it and then check that the bag is fully closed.

2 - Store In The Right Place

Avoid keeping the containers out in the open, especially where they can be exposed to direct sunlight. This may cause significant temperature fluctuations that could reduce effectiveness.

3 - Keep It Cool

If you have space in your refrigerator, then that’s where it should be stored. It’s cold and dark, which may reduce it from spoiling prematurely [2].

4 - Buy The Right Size

I know how tempting it is to get a great deal on those mega tubs. But unless you have a pretty hardcore workout regimen, you could end up with a tub that is open for a very long time. Just buy products that will get you through about 2 to 3 months.

FAQs

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Is clumpy pre-workout bad?

Yes, in some cases, clumpy pre-workout is bad, as it may indicate that it’s past its usable date. If it’s still within the shelf life, then you may need to use a blender to get rid of a lumpy texture.

How do you unclump pre-workout?

You may be able to unclump pre-workout by slowly heating it up to reduce the moisture. However, this could impact the effectiveness, so the best option would be to use a blender rather than a shaker.

Can you keep pre-workout in the fridge?

Yes, you can keep pre-workout in the fridge, and it’s actually one of the best places to store it. Because it’s cold and dark, it may significantly reduce the risk of moisture and mold causing problems.

Can you mix pre-workout early?

Yes, you can mix it early, but I would avoid doing so more than 12 hours before you plan to drink it. Also, make sure that it remains at the same temperature for that time to avoid it losing its effectiveness.

More information on when to take your pre-workout here.

Make Sure You Check Your Supplements Regularly

Now that you know what to look out for, it’s important to regularly check the pre-workouts you use, especially if you’re not taking them on a daily basis.

I also suggest that you use a sharpy and write the date you opened them so that you avoid keeping them for longer than 3 months. Remember that a DIY pre-workout can expire quicker than store-bought ones, so that’s another thing to consider.

If you have some other tips you’d like to share, then head over to one of our social media pages and leave a comment.


References:

  1. http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/protein_denatured.html
  2. https://www.livestrong.com/article/532561-how-to-keep-protein-powder-fresh/

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