Pre workout supplements provide a needed energy boost that enables users to optimize their time in the gym. But does pre workout go bad?
Because it comes in a dry, powder form many people assume pre workout will last indefinitely. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Pre workouts can and do go bad for a variety of reasons.
Below we’ll examine those reasons, provide some tips on how to tell when a pre workout has gone bad and suggest ways you can prevent your pre workout from going bad too quickly.
- Pre workout supplements can and do go bad for various reasons.
- Consuming pre workout after it’s gone bad may produce harmful side effects.
- Know the telltale signs that your pre workout has gone bad.
Does Pre Workout Expire?
Yes. Although manufacturers are not compelled by law to include an expiration date on supplements (1), they do so to protect consumers and their reputations. You should take note of the expiration date and make sure to toss any unused product once it expires. Why?
Because pre workouts lose their potency over time. This is especially true once they’ve been opened. But lost potency is not the only potential issue. Once the package has been opened the clock is ticking on bacterial contamination as well.
If you fail to store the pre workout in a cool, dry place you will only hasten the onset of bacterial growth and chemical decomposition (2). As a result, it’s likely the pre workout will take on a rancid quality.
Does Pre Workout Go Bad After Mixing?
Yes, but how long your pre workout lasts after being mixed will depend on several factors, including the ingredients, the type of container you store it in and, most importantly, the temperature it’s stored at.
As a general rule, it is suggested you do not consume pre workout more than 12 hours after it was mixed. If you wait longer than that there’s a chance the mixture will lose its potency and your workout will be a flat, low-energy affair.
In addition, if you let the mixed pre workout sit around longer than 12 hours before drinking it there is a good chance bacteria will take hold and you could end up experiencing some very unpleasant side effects.
How Long Will Pre Workout Last After Being Opened?
There is no single “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question. It really depends on a number of factors, including the specific ingredients in a particular pre workout, whether you store it properly, how often you use it and more.
As a general rule if you store it properly you can expect it to last from 6 to 9 months depending on the ingredients. As far as powdered supplements go that’s neither the top of the list nor the bottom.
It should be noted too that different ingredients will go bad faster than others. Amino acids for example won’t last as long as B vitamins. So by the time you approach the bottom of the tub, you may not be experiencing the same robust benefits you were when you first opened it.
That is one of many factors that support the idea of only buying a few months’ worth at a time. That way you’ll always enjoy optimal benefits and you shouldn’t have to worry about the powder going bad, as long as you store it properly.
Does it Help to Keep Pre Workout in the Fridge?
If you put mixed pre workout in the fridge immediately after mixing it you may be able to glean more than 12 hours of usefulness from it, but not much more.
That said, storing unmixed pre workout powder in the fridge is not recommended because once removed from the fridge condensation inside the package could hasten spoilage of the contents (3).
Can I Drink Pre Workout if It’s Expired?
You can but you shouldn’t. There’s always an outside chance that if you drink pre workout that has recently passed its expiration date that nothing untoward will happen to you. But do you really want to take that chance?
A better approach is to make note of the expiration date when you buy the pre workout and toss it when it expires. If you are working out regularly and you don’t buy it in huge quantities odds are you’ll be at or near the bottom of the tub anyway when that expiration date rolls around.
How Can You Tell If Your Pre Workout Has Gone Bad?
Besides the expiration date stamped on the tub, there are some other signs you should be aware of that indicate your pre workout has gone or is going bad, including:
Clumps: Once you break the seal on your pre workout moisture will get into the container and have a variety of effects on the contents. One of the most noticeable effects is that the powder, once light and fluffy, will start to clump up. You can still use it as long as it hasn’t expired, but clumps are telling you that the end is in sight.
A foul or rancid smell: Pre workout powder isn’t going to smell like fresh-cut roses but it shouldn’t smell rancid either. When you first open a new tub of pre workout take a whiff and make a mental note of the smell. If, when you’re halfway through your tub of pre workout, you notice the smell has changed or taken on a foul or rancid character it’s a sure sign of spoilage (4) and you should toss it.
The powder doesn’t mix well: If you notice your pre workout isn’t mixing as thoroughly as it used to it’s a sign something is amiss. If you go through your usual mixing routine and discover unblended powder at the bottom of your glass or you notice a chalky texture to the drink, these are sure signs something’s not right.
Loss of benefits: You take a pre workout so that you can approach your exercise routine with more energy. So you shouldn’t feel flat during your workout. If you do, or you are having trouble reaching previous performance levels, expired pre workout may be the culprit.
Mold anywhere inside the container: If the pre workout has been stored in a warm, damp place or is simply a month beyond its expiration date and you notice mold anywhere inside the container, don’t drink it (5), throw it out. It doesn’t matter if the mold is on the powder itself or confined to the lid. Throw it out.
An upset stomach after drinking: You may not have noticed a rancid smell or mold inside the container, but if you experience an upset stomach after drinking your pre workout it’s a pretty good sign the pre workout has gone bad. The same is true if drinking the pre workout causes flatulence.
How to Prevent Pre Workout From Quickly Going Bad
Being that it’s made with organic compounds pre workout is destined to go bad. But there are things you can do to prevent your pre workout from spoiling before its time, including:
Always store it in a cool, dry place
We have already discussed how heat accelerates the deterioration process when it comes to pre workout. To prevent that from happening, always keep yours stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
Keep it sealed up tight
Air and moisture are the enemies of all foodstuffs, even powdered supplements. If you want to ensure your pre workout makes it to the expiration date make sure you seal it up tight after every use. If yours came in a resealable bag be sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing it up.
Keep it out of the refrigerator
You will find some who recommend keeping pre workout in the fridge. Don’t. If you keep your pre workout refrigerated you risk condensation forming inside the tub once you remove it from the fridge. Condensation will lead to bacterial growth and accelerated chemical breakdown.
Don’t buy too much
It may be tempting to try and save a few bucks by buying pre workout in bulk. The problem is long before you reach the bottom of that huge tub your pre workout will likely go bad and you’ll have to throw some, if not most, of it out.
Keep it sealed up until you’re ready to use it
As soon as you break the seal on the pre workout the clock starts ticking. So don’t open it as soon as you get it home. Instead, wait to open it until right before you need to use it the first time.
Shake it up
A lot of times it’s the little things that make the difference in how long pre workout lasts: not storing it in a cabinet over the stove, not putting it in the fridge and stirring or shaking it up from time to time. Stirring or shaking will help prevent it from clumping up.
Don’t remove the desiccant packet
Finding a large desiccant packet inside your tub of pre workout can be something of an annoyance, but it’s there for a reason. The desiccant packet contains a compound that attracts and absorbs moisture and is used in many products (6). Not all desiccant packages are considered benign, however. If you find a cylindrical desiccant packet in your pre workout you should remove it to prevent the possibility of choking on it later (7).
The best way to ensure your pre workout does not go bad is to not buy too much and to use whatever you buy. It’s a case of “use it or lose it”. By simply letting it sit on the shelf unused you are certain to lose it.
Pre workouts have been shown to be safe and effective (8). But pre workout powders are subject to the same harmful effects of heat and moisture as any other powdered supplement and will inevitably go bad over time. How much time depends almost entirely on the specific ingredient list and how the product is stored after it has been opened.
If you plan on mixing pre workout for later use you should make sure you consume it within 12 hours of mixing. Waiting longer than that could subject you to negative side effects including upset stomach ache, nausea and flatulence.