In school, we are taught that our bodies need protein to help build our muscles. It is also essential for growth, for healing, and to maintain a healthy immune system. People who are unable to get the daily recommended amount of protein through their food intake can take protein powder as a supplement. It can be added to meals or drinks or be made into a shake. It is best taken by people with intense physical activities like athletes or bodybuilders, to help build muscle mass or to help the body recover from tough practice sessions. It is also good for people who are recovering from any injury as it promotes healing. And it is also a healthy alternative for vegans who still need protein in their diet. On the other hand, it can also be taken by people who want to lose weight as protein makes you feel fuller longer, which does not encourage snacking in-between meals.
As with any food item, protein powder has a recommended “best before” date. It does expire, like any other food product. But since it is in powder form, it lasts longer than others, especially when you follow the storage instructions correctly. Consuming it before the “best before” date ensures you that you get the full efficacy of the ingredients.
But is it still safe to consume after the “best before” date? Technically, yes. However, it becomes less potent. This is due to the natural Maillard browning effect that affects milk-based proteins over time, which causes the protein to break down. When that happens, one of the amino acids in the protein, lysine, breaks down, which renders the powder incomplete. And since it is no longer “complete,” its promised effect to build muscles is diminished. But is it still safe for consumption? Yes. But why take it if it has lost its efficacy?
As a general rule, you know it is time to throw it away when: 1) it has been more than 2 years since you bought the product; 2) when it loses its flavor or when it tastes like cardboard; 3) when the color changes; or 4) when it smells off. Another thing to remember is that protein powder spoils right away when it comes in contact with water or heat. So if your container gets wet and you notice wet clumps inside, even if it is not yet past the “best before” date, it is most likely that it will turn bad earlier than the expiry date. So make sure to store it in a cool, dark, and dry place. This way, you will be able to enjoy its promised benefits longer.