Pre-workout supplements play a major role in the fuel your body uses to push through a workout. You don’t want second-rate, second-best supplements and you certainly don’t want supplements that go bad after only a few hours.
Pre-workout drinks that have been mixed can last over night and into the next day as long as they are refrigerated. Otherwise, they may lose flavor, discolor, and begin to odor. Pre-workouts that contain creatine might need to be stirred again if it has settled at the bottom and not dissolved.
Creatine has very little long-term stability in water, so if your pre-workout mix contains creatine, you need to drink it within a few hours of mixing it. However, it's best to drink it immediately after you mix it.
Factors Affecting Pre-Workout Mix Longevity
The creatine thing goes without saying. Creatine and pre-workouts lead the market in terms of purchases, mostly together. Creatine is very simple in its operation within the body and its overall effectiveness, however, people are beginning to gravitate away from mixing it in pre-workout drinks.
While it's completely fine to mix creatine with pre-workout and some pre-workout mixes already contain it, there is no longevity there. You need to drink it pretty quickly. The longer you wait, the more the creatine’s effectiveness in the body wanes.
Plus, there are studies that show caffeine and creatine are probably not the most effective when they are mixed together and many pre-workout formulas contain caffeine. There are other factors that affect pre-workout longevity as well.
- The type of pre-workout you’re consuming
- Chemical reactions in various mixtures
- Expiration of particular ingredients
- How you store it
- Creatine and caffeine have rapid breakdown times and potentially counteract each other
A lot of us take pre-workout mixes, and that’s great, but the vast majority of us aren’t chemists. We take stuff because it has proven efficacy and it's only natural to assume that mixing those ingredients will give you the best of every world.
For instance, caffeine breaks down rapidly in water, losing its effectiveness faster than other substances. Creatine has difficulty dissolving in water, especially when it's cold (for those who like to place their pre-workout in the fridge). Undissolved creatine has a lessened effect on the body.
You would be amazed at how often people don’t even realize their pre-workout is expired, especially if it's in powder form. People take expired pills all the time for a variety of maladies. In fact, the US ships expired antibiotics to third-world countries to combat illnesses there.
Expired medicine and pre-workouts may still function but they don’t function as well as they did when they were new. You should also spend some time looking at the ingredients label on the back of your pre-workout formula.
Some ingredients don’t work well with others. It's not to say they don’t work in your body at all, because they do. However, some have counteractive effects on others and the effect is exacerbated the longer the pre-workout mix sits in the fridge, unused.
Pre-Workout Time Management
Of course, no one wants to get up in the morning and start breaking out the blender, formula, milk, water, etc. and start mixing their pre-workout. It's not because they’re lazy, it's because we want to get into the meat and grind of our morning workout.
Being able to pop open the fridge and chug down some pre-workout mix on the way out the door is far more convenient. The truth is, you really should just suck it up and mix your pre-workout before heading to the gym.
If you look at your pre-workout mix container, it probably says you should mix and drink 30 minutes prior to your workout. Manufacturers don’t slap that little label on your container because they want to aggravate you.
They know the components in the pre-workout mix are at their absolute best when mixed and drank immediately, within 30 minutes of your workout session. You shouldn’t drink it right before you walk in the gym doors. Your body does need time to effectively absorb everything, hence the 30-minute label.
You can get away with mixing your pre-workout a few hours prior to your workout but it's almost guaranteed that you won’t get 100% out of all the ingredients in your pre-workout mix if you do it that way.
Keeping it in the Fridge
Remember, creatine and caffeine have difficulty in water and the latter is especially problematic in cold water. Some of the other ingredients may be fine but they’re bound to lose efficacy over time. You will never get the most out of your pre-workout formula by storing it in the fridge overnight.
But you will get something and that’s better than nothing at all. If you’re big into creatine and caffeine, you should consider a method of getting both of those in your body without storing them in a liquid mixture overnight.
Caffeine gives you that big energy boost and creatine is essential for flooding water to your muscles as they work and strain.
You should also avoid mixing your pre-workout in hot or warm water before storing it in the fridge, with the lone exception of creatine.
Hot water is bad for the essential ingredients of a pre-workout mix anyway. Jumping from hot to cold does more damage to its effectiveness.
How to Know Your Pre-Workout Has Gone Bad?
Maybe not necessarily bad but there is certainly something wrong with it. We’re not talking about lack of use but simple, overnight storage in the refrigerator. A lot depends on the pre-workout formula you’re using. Some are much better in the fridge than others.
- Powder supplements are consolidating in dry clumps
- It doesn’t pass the smell test
- It doesn’t taste like it does when you drink it immediately after mixing
- You notice a drop-off in your physical capabilities
- Changes in the color of your pre-workout
If you’re going to notice a difference in your pre-workout’s effectiveness in the gym, it's going to be because you went from one method to the other (drinking it right after mixing to storing it overnight).
If you’ve always stored your pre-workout in the fridge, do yourself a favor and try mixing and consuming it thirty minutes before your workout one day. See if there is a difference. If there is, you know you’re doing it wrong.
In terms of smell, whatever liquid you used is the true expiration date you need to worry about (milk). What it probably means is your mix is no longer the viable, explosive concoction it was when you first mixed it.
If you notice clumps of consolidated powder in your mix, that weren’t there when you mixed it the night before, it's a sign that the nutrients are breaking down. This is especially problematic with caffeine and creatine. But it can also be an effect of the other ingredients breaking down as well.
Pre-mixed Pre Workout Bottom Line
So Just how Long Does Pre Workout Last After Mixed? People store their pre-workout mix in the fridge all the time. We’re not saying that it's patently wrong to do so. Feel free to do whatever works for you.
However, there are existing studies and plenty of evidence that show your 8-hour storage in the fridge is resulting in a less potent mix (especially with creatine) than you could have had if you mixed it half an hour before hitting the gym.
References / Citations
Antonio, J., Ciccone, V. The effects of pre versus post-workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 10, 36 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-36
Jäger, R., Purpura, M., Shao, A., Inoue, T., ; Kreider, R. B. (2011). Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino acids, 40(5), 1369–1383. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-011-0874-6