You’re probably not the only one among your gym-going friends who wonders if that expired container of pre-workout is really so bad to try. Maybe you’re waiting for a new container to come in and trying to stretch your old powder into just a few more workouts. But is it safe to do so?
Short answer: it depends. Here are a few factors you should consider to understand whether your pre-workout has expired. Learn how best to store it, and whether it’s safe to consume beyond expiry.
When Does Pre-Workout Expire?
Expiry date notwithstanding, yes, pre-workout can and does go bad. Research into commercial pre-workout powders shows that they may boost endurance and energy for performance. But it’s unlikely you’ll feel these positive effects if your powder is expired.
Many commercial pre-workout products will have expiry dates listed on the undersides of their containers. Each supplement or workout product’s shelf life depends on the brand and can be ingredient-specific. Generally, you’re looking at anywhere from 6 months to two years from the day you open your pre-workout product.
What Causes Pre-Workout to Expire Faster?
If pre-workout has a shelf life of up to two years, you may be wondering if there are factors that could make your pre-workout powder expire more quickly.
There are a few elements that contribute to how long your pre-workout will last, including:
- Moisture: Exposure to moisture is one of the main factors contributing to pre-workout expiry. Be careful to keep water or sweat away from your pre-workout powder if you don’t intend on mixing it right away.
- Light exposure: Too much sun can cause your powder to discolor, lose its potency or go bad more quickly. Be careful where you’re storing your pre-workout powder. A cool, dry place, like a pantry shelf, makes a perfect storage spot for dry powder. If you’ve already mixed your powder with water, store your mixture in the fridge. Make sure to drink it within 12 hours.
- Shelf life: Generally, commercial pre-workout powders can last anywhere from six months to two years after opening, when stored correctly. Make sure to keep your powders and supplements in a dry environment. Seal your containers and keep them away from sunlight, dust, or other contaminants.
How to Tell if Your Pre-Workout is Expired
How does pre-workout expire? Fortunately, there are a few telltale signs of expired or past-its-prime pre-workout that you should steer clear of using. Here are some ways to see if your pre-workout may be past its prime:
This one’s pretty obvious. If you see moldy bits or a layer of mould across the surface of your pre-workout powder, it is no longer safe to consume. Storing your pre-workout in overly damp environments can cause the powder to become moldy, so be mindful of choosing a dry location when it comes to proper storage.
Is your pre-workout discolored or a different shade than when you purchased it? Color changes can mean the powder has been exposed to too much air, light, or other elements that have caused the appearance to change.
Do you notice the buzz you’re getting from your pre-workout isn’t quite the same as when you first started using it? The powder may not be expired, but its effects can deteriorate, leading to potentially feeling weak or sluggish during your workouts.
Most pre-workout supplements use ingredients like caffeine, creatine, taurine or beta-alanine to stimulate your nervous system, increase the time it takes for your muscles to feel fatigued and reduce the perception of pain or effort expenditure. Although it is still possible to experience these effects in any workout, if you’re used to a pre-workout boost, you may notice a sense of feeling lethargic or tired.
Although it may seem like a potential sign that your pre-workout has gone off, clumpy pre-workout is not always expired. Pre-workouts usually come with silica packets inside to keep the products dry. If you removed the silica packet, your pre-workout may have come into contact with some water droplets that are causing clumping.
Keep your silica packets in the pre-workout container if you can. Once you mix your powder, shaking or stirring the mixture will help break up the clumps and make it more pleasant to consume. You can also toss your powder in the blender (no water) to break up clumpy pre-workout powder.
Is Expired Pre-Workout Safe to Use?
Ultimately, using your judgment like you would with any consumable food or beverage is key here. It’s often tempting to consume products that are expired when it’s just by a few days. But consuming pre-workout that has gone bad can come with potential health risks.
If your pre-workout is past its expiry date, it’s generally a good idea to err on the side of caution and throw it out. Some pre-workouts can begin to go off even before a printed expiry date, so if you notice mold, a bad smell or other signs your pre-workout has spoiled, do not consume it. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! It’s no fun to waste products or money but it’s never worth the risk of getting sick.
Pre-workout that is expired or too old can cause:
- Stomach aches: Expired products can lead to symptoms of nausea or diarrhea.
- Allergic reactions: If your pre-workout grows mold, it can trigger allergy symptoms. Mold allergy reactions can include things like sneezing, coughing, runny or itchy nose, and irritated eyes, throat, and skin.
Buying tip: It can be tempting to stock up on pre-workout, protein powder, or other supplements for big sales like Black Friday or Boxing Day. But keeping too many supplements floating around that you don’t regularly use only leads to more wasted products.
Keep track of how much pre-workout you use and buy accordingly. Buying smaller quantities can save you money (you won’t have to toss half a container after it’s gone bad).
Getting the amount right can also help you stay accountable for your workouts. You don’t want so much powder that you’ll end up wasting it. Having a sufficient amount of pre-workout can encourage you to make sure it gets used by scheduling those workouts!
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