Pre-workout supplements are designed to boost energy levels, increase focus, and enhance endurance during workouts.
They are usually available in powdered form and contain a mix of ingredients like caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, and sometimes creatine.
So does pre-workout expire? Pre-workout powder normally has an expiration date or a best-by date, but other factors can indicate whether your supplement is at its prime or not. Despite their widespread use, many users are often unsure whether these supplements expire and if they lose their efficacy over time.
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Does Pre-Workout Expire or “Go Bad”?
If you’ve spent a decent chunk of funds on a pre-workout supplement, you probably want to make sure that it doesn’t go to waste. You may be tempted to use a pre-workout after its technical expiration date because, you think, “can this stuff really go bad”? Like most food and supplements, ingredients made for consumption eventually perish.
Reputable supplement companies are required to place an expiration date on the supplement packaging. This date is often two years after the manufacture date.
Understanding Expiration Dates
Expiration dates on food products are straightforward — they indicate when the product is no longer safe to eat. However, the expiration dates on supplements, including pre-workouts, are less about safety and more about potency. Post-expiration, the product is not necessarily harmful, but the effectiveness of the ingredients may diminish. Therefore, while consuming pre-workout past its expiration date may not cause immediate harm, it may not deliver the desired benefits.
The expiration date on your pre-workout supplement also represents the manufacturer’s guarantee. Up until this date, the manufacturer assures that the product will maintain its quality and efficacy as advertised. Beyond this date, the manufacturer no longer guarantees the product’s integrity, which could be critical if you’re aiming for specific fitness goals.
How to Tell if Pre-Workout is Expired
It’s always recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using products or supplements, and this includes adhering to the expiration date. Companies invest in research to best determine the optimal timeframe that a product will deliver the intended results without causing any additional side effects.
Similarly to food, sometimes your senses are a good resource to employ rather than solely relying on expiration dates. Some key indicators that your pre-workout has gone bad prior to the expiration date are unusual smells, tastes, or excessive clumping. An expired pre-workout doesn’t necessarily mean the supplement has become harmful, but it might make it less enjoyable or more difficult to consume.
If your pre-workout has a foul or stale smell, this is a telltale sign that it’s time to throw it out.
If you can see mold growing on your pre-workout, it’s best to throw it out and start fresh. Consuming products with mold can cause significant gastrointestinal (GI) distress.
There is a difference between not liking the flavor of pre-workout and tasting flavors that aren’t meant to be a part of the flavor profile. If your powder tastes a bit “off,” it likely is.
Some pre-workout powders clump more than others, but if yours is doing so more than usual, it could be expired. If not stored properly, moisture can creep in and cause the powder to clump and reach expiration sooner than the expiry date. Also, if it’s too clumpy to mix properly, it may be past its prime.
What Happens if You Take Expired Pre-Workout?
The most likely thing that happens from taking an expired pre-workout is nothing, meaning that it has become ineffective.
In other cases, an expired supplement may cause GI discomfort like gas and bloating. These aren’t typical symptoms of taking pre-workout, so consider what may be causing this if you do experience these side effects.
Consuming moldy pre-workout powder can cause its own set of issues, like food poisoning. If you see any mold on your pre-workout, throw it out!
Is Clumpy Pre-Workout Bad?
Older pre-workout may tend to clump more than a freshly bought powder, but this isn’t always a bad thing. Also, some supplements contain more hygroscopic ingredients than others. These ingredients (like glycerol, citrulline, citrulline malate, and creatine nitrate) tend to draw more water, which increases the moisture content thus leading to clumping.
If you try to mix your pre-workout in a shaker or blender bottle and it remains clumpy, the powder may be too far gone. However, if your powder goes clumpy, you can always unclump pre-workout by putting it in a blender to make it powdery once again.
How to Prevent Clumping
Don’t remove the silica packet. While it may be tempting to remove the silica packet (“Do not eat” packet) from your container, this is an important addition to the supplement to keep moisture out.
How Long Can You Keep Pre-Workout in Water?
It’s generally recommended to drink your pre-workout right after mixing it. If you’d rather not, once you mix pre-workout in water, you should aim to drink it at least within the day (12 hours max). This is because certain ingredients like creatine can begin to degrade and lose their efficacy.
How to Know if Pre-Workout is Working
First, make sure you drink pre-workout approximately 30 minutes before a workout to feel its maximum benefits. If you drink expired pre-workout, it may not work as well as intended.
Understanding if a pre-workout supplement is working depends on your personal fitness goals and how you feel during and after your workout. Typically, pre-workout supplements are designed to enhance performance, increase energy, improve endurance, and reduce muscle fatigue. You should feel an immediate boost in your energy levels and focus within 60 minutes of consumption. During your workout, you may notice you’re able to exercise for longer periods, lift heavier weights, or complete more repetitions.
However, everyone’s body responds differently, and the effectiveness can vary. If your pre-workout isn’t enhancing exercise performance as much as usual, it may have lost its potency.
How to Store Pre-Workout
Adequately storing your pre-workout supplement products will help extend their shelf-life and ultimately save you money. It also ensures you’ll be using your products at their optimal efficacy.
It may be tempting to pierce open your new powder supplement as soon as you get it in your hands, but it’s best to wait until you are ready to use pre-workout before breaking the seal. As soon as it’s exposed to air, the shelf life starts decreasing. An unopened supplement that’s past expiration is more likely to still be effective than one that has been previously opened.
Perhaps most importantly, pre-workout supplements should be stored in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. You can even store it in the fridge to ensure a stable environment, especially if you live in a particularly hot and humid environment that can make your pre-workout lose potency faster. Humidity is your pre-workout’s worst nightmare.
Ensure the supplement bag or container is sealed tightly. It’s normally best to keep your supplement in its original packaging in case the manufacturer specifically designed it this way for optimal storage conditions. If you have a vacuum seal for other kitchen products, this is a great tool to use to prolong your bagged powders’ life span.
If your pre-workout expires, it’s usually best to chuck it out and replenish your stores with a new one. When it comes to health and fitness, it’s typically best to err on the side of caution. However, if your senses tell you that it is usable and you are noticing exercise enhancement benefits, your technically expired pre-workout may still be all right to use.
If you’re looking to buy pre-workout supplements, it’s always great to educate yourself to get the most bang for your buck. If you know how to store pre-workout supplements, this can be of benefit and extend the shelf life of all your supplements, not just pre-workout.
Before starting any new dietary supplements, check with your doctor or consider booking a consultation with a nutrition and fitness professional.