Taking a pre-workout powder is a popular way to boost your energy prior to a workout. If you’re into fitness or bodybuilding, you’ve probably wondered if a bottle of pre-workout sitting in the pantry can go bad and if it expires, whether you can still use it.
Once you open a pre-workout container, the clock starts ticking as its potency decreases. The good news is that most pre-workout products have a decent shelf life. While most powdered pre-workout powder can last anywhere from a year and a half to two years before it starts to degrade. The downside is that there are several environmental things that can determine if your supplement is safe to take.
Can pre-workout go bad? Here’s what you need to know about pre-workout shelf life and expiration before you consume your workout supplement.
Does Pre-workout Go Bad?
Yes, just like fat burners, protein powders, and energy drinks, pre-workout powders can go bad after their use-by-date. This is a date that is printed on the container usually on the bottom. Once your pre-workout hits this date, it is considered expired.
While this doesn’t mean that your pre-workout will smell or taste bad once the supplement reaches this date, manufacturers typically don’t advise using the powder beyond the use-by-date.
Many pre-workout ingredients will stay good for some time after the expiration date. Keep in mind that the ingredients will continue to degrade over time, faster in some conditions than in others, and may no longer work as they were intended.
If you open an older container of pre-workout and opt to use it past its expiration date, it’s best to use it within 4-8 weeks to avoid letting the supplement sit open too long. Pre-workout that is too old, sits open, too long can break down or spoil.
Stimulant and ingredients, such as caffeine, guarana, and creatine, tend to go bad fast, while pre-workout in general is sensitive to air, light, moisture, and heat.
How Can You Tell If Pre-Workout Has Gone Bad?
The expiration date on pre-workout products means that ingredients lose their influence and become less potent after that date. They also tend to spoil faster once you open the container.
It's pretty easy to detect when a pre-workout goes bad. Check for these conditions that indicate that it’s time to ditch the old pre-workout and get a new container:
It Has a Foul Smell
This is the first thing that you’re likely to notice. It’s always a good idea to know what your normal pre-workout product smells like. That way, you’ll know immediately if it’s taken a turn for the worse.
Since pre-workout supplements should be odorless, if your supplement smells moldy or rancid, that means that it’s time to toss it out.
Don’t consume any of the pre-workout if you smell a bad smell after opening the tub, since bacteria grows quickly and it can make you sick if you drink any of it.
If you do have an opened container of pre-workout powder, try to use it up as quickly as possible. Within 8 weeks at most. And keep the container lid tight.
It’s Changed Color
If the powder has turned a funny color since you last opened it, this is also a sign that the supplement has gone bad. Throw it away immediately if the color is different than usual.
There are Lumps or Clumps
Once you break the seal on your pre-workout tub, airborne moisture can invade if it's not stored correctly. This can make the pre-workout powder turn into clumps. Not only can lumps in your pre-workout indicate the presence of mold or mildew-causing moisture, but it also means that your mix isn’t as potent as it used to be.
When in doubt, throw it out.
What Does Clumping In Pre-Workout Look Like?
This container of Jocko-go pre-workout has started to clump even though it is not past the expiration date. You will see that some pre-workout powders have some slight clumping when first opened.
This is ok. Just shake it up, and most of it should settle back into a fine powder. This tub though is missing its silica gel pack and that is likely why it started to clump.
It's fine to use though.
Doesn’t Mix Well
A normal pre-workout powder should have a fine consistency that dissolves quickly when you add liquid. Pre-workout that has gone bad will mix slowly or won’t mix all the way.
If you notice that your pre-workout drink won’t mix like usual, this is a sure sign that your supplement has spoiled.
Note: Check your pre-workout’s nutrition label for creatine monohydrate. It’s not water soluble and will settle to the bottom of your cup or bottle. This is normal and not an indication of that your pre-workout powder has gone bad.
What Does Dry Pre-Workout Look Like?
This container of Optimum Nutrition pre-workout is powdery and smooth. There are no clumps thanks to the moisture-absorbing silica gel pack you can see next to the measuring scoop.
Ideally, this is what all of your pre-workout powder should look like if its been stored and used properly.
This one’s a given, but we’ll cover it anyway. If you open your pre-workout mix and are hit with a nasty smell and spot white, black, or colored mold growth hanging out in your pre-workout tub, shut that thing down right away.
Never consume moldy pre-workout mix, since this could trigger an asthma attack, or cause a severe allergic reaction or food poisoning.
On the other hand, if your pre-workout mix has passed the expiration date but looks, smells, and mixes right, then you should be safe to use the mix. Just make sure to use it up within a short time to avoid risk of spoiling.
How to Know When Pre-Workout Expires?
This depends on your specific supplement. While most supplement products have an expiration date stamped on the container, this date refers to unopened products. Most products are good from 6-12 months.
If you usually open a pre-workout tub and use it up in a month or two, you don’t need to fret that it's going bad during that time. Most pre-workout products are packaged in a 30-day supply, so it’s likely that you will finish them long before they expire.
If you find an old container shoved in the back of the cupboard, this can be a different story.
Once you unseal a container of pre-workout mix or capsules, the clock starts counting down towards the expiration date. Keep an eye on the expiration date and if you notice that you no longer get the energy boost from your pre-workout mix, ditch it and open a fresh one for optimal results.
How Long is Pre-Workout Good After Expiration?
Depending on the brand and how it is stored, many pre-workout products should stay good for up to six months after expiration.
Is it Safe to Drink Expired Pre-Workout?
It’s usually not advised to use pre-workout after expiration, since this could cause some harmful results like nausea, stomach upset, or food poisoning.
This is something that you will need to decide on a case-by-case basis. If you haven't opened the can, it's up to you to check if it looks and smells fine. A good rule of thumb is to throw away opened containers once they pass their expiration date. You can avoid lots of old, opened containers sitting in your cabinets by only opening one can at a time (note: I am guilty of not throwing them out)
What Happens When You Take Expired Pre-Workout?
If your pre-workout powder has stayed in cool, dark conditions, it’s likely to last past the expiration date. When stored in a place that’s exposed to light and air, pre-workout is more likely to go bad.
What happens if you use a pre-workout that’s expired?
In best the case scenario, taking an expired pre-workout may still be safe, but it won’t be as effective as a supplement. You may notice that you don’t get your usual boost of energy that you need to power through your workout. It’s best to toss expired pre workout powders.
Worst case scenario, a can of pre-workout that is very old can cause gastric issues like pain, discomfort, or gas. While this typically passes quickly, you’ll want to avoid this unpleasant side effect at the gym.
I’ve heard of people adding more “expired pre-workout” to a mix to offset the chance that the ingredients have lost effectiveness. Don’t do that. It’s a waste of time. Toss it out and get another.
Does Pre-Workout Go Bad After You Mix It?
On most occasions, you are most likely to mix your pre-workout just prior to using it. But there are times when you might want to make it ahead of time before work or heading to the gym. With proper storage and food safety habits, you don’t need to worry about your pre-mixed pre-workout supplement going bad in that time. It will last over night and possibly a bit longer, although it won’t taste fresh.
Final Thoughts On Pre-Workout Gone Bad
When it comes to pre-workout powder products, it’s best to stick with the expiration date stamped on the bottle. There's a reason why the manufacturer put it there.
If your product is unopened, you can often get away with using the expired product if it smells, looks, and tastes like it should. Toss any opened containers that have passed their expiration date to avoid possible health issues.
It’s best to use fresh, unopened products or use your opened bottle up in a month or two to give your workout performance the best possible results.
How do I keep pre-workout powder dry?
Keep the lid tight. Don’t throw away the silica gel pack. It contains, silica, which is a desiccant that draws in moisture to help keep the powder dry. This is especially useful after opening a container of pre-workout to extend its life.
How do I keep my pre-workout powder from getting clumpy?
Keep moisture out. This means keeping the lid on and tightened, don't remove silica packs, and don't use wet spoons or measuring scoops.