Should Protein Powder Be Refrigerated?

Protein powder is a popular supplement and a cost-effective way to ensure you perform, recover, and meet your daily required protein intake. Especially if you’re new to lifting, you may be unsure of how to store it. Should you keep your protein powder in the fridge?

Protein powder as a dry powder should not be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Continually taking your protein powder out of the fridge to a different temperature may cause condensation resulting in wet or spoiled protein powder before its expiration date. Protein powder needs to be stored in a cool, dry, and dark area. 

You may be interested in why you can’t store your protein powder in the fridge or freezer. What’s the best way to ensure your protein powder doesn’t go bad before its expiration?

Below, I’ll go over everything you need to know to ensure that your protein powder stays fresh. 

Do You Need to Refrigerate Protein Powder?

Keeping your protein powder as close to room temperature (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit) and not at a fridge’s cold temperature is essential. Moving your protein powder from your fridge to warm temperatures can result in condensation and cause spoilage before the expiration date. The same applies to storing your protein powder in the freezer.

On the other temperature scale, protein powder stored in hot, high humidity weather is also at risk of being spoiled before the manufacturer’s expiration date. Researchers concluded while monitoring the physical properties of why protein in unideal storage conditions showed that humidity affected the shelf life of the protein powder. 

How To Store Protein Powder

Direct heat, light, and moisture are protein powder’s worst enemies. Proper storage will ensure that the whey protein will not degrade faster over time than it is supposed to. One study I read (linked below) concluded that the protein powder stored at 77°F had to be thrown out before the 12-month period as the appearance had changed, indicating that spoilage had occurred. 

Fridge inside a kitchen.

According to multiple sources, the ideal environment to store your protein powder is a cool (close to 70°F) and dry place. Examples of perfect storage places for your protein powder include inside a drawer, closet, pantry, cabinet, or shelf that is not exposed to direct sunlight. 

Places on top of your fridge are not ideal as these appliances become hot or warm when they are running. Storing your protein in direct sunlight (windowsill or the countertop) will expose it to direct heat as well.

It is essential when storing protein powder to ensure that the container is airtight and sealed properly. You may need to decant your protein powder into a new container. Moisture and bacteria can enter an opened container and spoil the contents. If you are storing more than one tub/container of protein powder, only open or break the seal on the container that you are using.

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What Is the Shelf Life of Protein Powder?

Protein powder will keep for more than 18 months when properly stored and kept dry in normal conditions. It can have a maximum shelf life of 19 months before the bioavailability of the ingredients starts to decrease. These normal storage conditions are defined as 70°F and 35% humidity.  

When stored in areas with a higher percentage humidity of 45-65% humidity and the same air temperature of 70°F, the protein powder only had a shelf-life of 18 months. Protein powder was found to have a shelf life of only nine months when stored at 95°F.

Manufactures add additives such as lecithin, salt, and maltodextrin, which can increase the shelf life of protein powder to two years (24 months). Some manufacturers will also include vitamins or other additives that do not have as long of a shelf life as the protein powder itself. 

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How To Tell Your Protein Powder Has Gone Bad

Whey protein concentrate stored in 95°F temperatures showed decreased water activity. The compound formation became volatile, and there was a decrease in lysine (a vital amino acid needed for protein formation), and caking was observed. 

Man holding a cup filled with protein powder.

As each protein powder manufacturer tastes and looks different, take note of how your protein powder smells, looks, and tastes when you open it. 

If your protein powder does go bad, here are a couple of signs to look out for:

  • There will be a bitter or cardboard taste. Some protein powders don’t taste great to start with, but it should never be bitter or taste like cardboard.
  • The protein powder will smell sour or smell rancid, like sour milk. This occurs when the protein powder has been contaminated with moisture, resulting in the growth of bacteria.
  • The color of your protein will change color. For example, a pale vanilla protein powder may turn yellow if you notice that your protein powder is darkening instead throughout it out.
  • The protein powder will have wet lumps or start clumping. This is another sign that moisture has gotten into your protein powder container.

The Bottom Line

The FDA requires by law that an expiration date is visible on the container; this will help you to buy the freshest and newest protein powder on the shelves.

The FDA also has some confusing guidance about protein powder. If you want to learn more about what the FDA says about protein powder, check out this article I wrote!

Purchasing protein powder from a reputable brand that does not add majority additives and fillers will also ensure that your product does not go rancid sitting in your cupboards.

Suppose protein powder is something that you make use of every day. In that case, it is essential to store it appropriately in a dry, cool, and dark place to ensure that it does not spoil before its expiration or before you finish the container.

Suppose you are someone that gets excited about buying in bulk or buying the biggest tub “to last you.” It might be more beneficial to purchase only what you use in a couple of months to reduce the risk of spoilage.

Additional Sources

sciencedirect.comOpens in a new tab.

healthyeating.sfgate.comOpens in a new tab.

Pete Schenkel

My name is Pete Schenkel, and I've been into weightlifting since I was a teenager. Now, my main focus is growing Powerful Lifting and putting more information out there. In fact, I'm also currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer.

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