Everything You Need to Know for Proper Protein Powder Storage
Protein powders are concentrated sources of protein from animal or plant foods, such as dairy, eggs,soy, rice or peas. Once the protein is extracted from a food, these powders are turned into dietary supplements that many people use to help build muscle, aid in weight loss and repair body tissues.
While protein powders are made from whole foods, protein powders are stored very differently than the foods they’re made from. For example, egg white protein comes from eggs; however, you shouldn’t keep egg protein powder in the refrigerator like you would with a carton of eggs. (Also, egg protein can last months longer than eggs themselves. This means the expiration dates of protein powders are also different than the expiration dates of whole foods they come from.)
Keeping your protein powder fresh requires proper storage — but are all protein powders stored the same? Where should you keep your protein powder? How do you know if your protein powder has gone bad?
Below, find out everything you need to know about protein powder storage.
Where should I store protein powder?
Whey is one of the most popular protein powders on the market, especially among bodybuilders and people who regularly do resistance workouts. It’s most commonly used as a post-workout protein because whey protein is quickly absorbed (particularly when supplementing with whey protein isolates). When a protein is absorbed fast, the body can immediately begin its muscle repair and rebuilding process. Whey protein also contains more of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine and valine. While all essential amino acids are important for building muscle, leucine is the one that kickstarts muscle building. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Dairy Science titled “Physical and chemical changes in whey protein concentrate stored at elevated temperature and humidity,” whey protein powder has a shelf life of at least 18 months when stored under normal conditions. These normal conditions are defined as 70°F and 35% humidity.
Most kitchen pantries, cabinets or closets meet this description.
For the study, researchers monitored the physical properties of two batches of whey protein concentrate under less-than-ideal storage conditions in an effort to learn how hot, humid areas affect the shelf life of protein powder. Whey protein concentrates with 34.9 grams of protein per 100 grams and 76.8 grams of protein per 100 grams were stored for up to 18 months under conditions such as elevated temperature and high humidity. The samples became yellower much earlier than they would have under normal conditions. The whey protein stored at 95°F were actually removed from the study within a year because of their concerning appearance. When stored in sealed bags, the samples had a shelf life of around nine months at 95°F. Researchers concluded protein powders can go bad much sooner — including before the listed expiration date — if they’re not stored under cool and dry conditions or if their containers are not properly sealed.
The recommendations for other protein powders like pea protein, brown rice protein and egg protein aren’t much different than those for whey protein. You want to keep your protein powder in a cool, dry environment with the temperature as close to 70°F as possible, such as in the pantry or inside a kitchen cabinet.
A quick list of ideal storage places include:
Inside the pantry
Inside a cabinet
In a drawer
On a wall shelf that does not get direct sunlight
In a closet
Remember: The key is to keep your protein powder room temperature or “cool,” not freezing or cold. You shouldn’t store protein powder in the refrigerator or freezer, as the frequent change from hot to cold as the container is taken in and out may cause condensation and cause your protein powder to go bad before its expiration date.
Also avoid the other end of the temperature spectrum — warm or hot. If you place your protein powder in a space that’s typically warmer than 70°F, or any area with high humidity or moisture, you run the risk of spoilage or shortening your protein powder’s shelf life.
As for storage containers, you can store your protein powder in a tightly-sealed tub, pouch or zip-lock bag. Most brands design their packaging with proper storage in mind, so if your protein powder comes in a pouch, you shouldn’t need to transfer it to a tub or canister (or vice versa). As long as the protein powder is stored in reusable packaging that can be securely sealed and kept in a dry, dark place, your protein powder should be fine in its original packaging. If your protein powder comes in a tub, just make sure the lid is twisted on tightly after each use; if your protein powder comes in a resealable pouch, make sure it’s sealed airtight after each use. Keep all packaging away from sunlight and water, as heat and moisture are the biggest risks to the shelf life of your protein powder.
Whether you keep your protein powder inside a cabinet or on a shelf in your pantry, it’s probably a good idea to store your protein powder front and center among your products, so you always remember it’s there. You don’t want to do a pantry clean-out and discover a batch of protein powder well past its expiration date.