Does pre-workout go bad?

If your gym gains have plateaued, consider taking a pre-workout that will match up to your expectations. There are many questions about pre-workouts and if they are the right tool to help you meet your fitness goals. Do they even work? But what happens if you leave pre-workout? Will it go bad?

If you are pretty serious about your workouts, you will have considered pre-workout to provide the missing energy levels. With such an amount of hype over pre-workouts, even casual gym-goers must be considering using them. 

But what happens if you leave your pre-workout in your gum bag or at the back of the kitchen cabinet without using them? Can you pick up where you left off?

This article delves into pre-workouts to find out if they go bad when not used or when they pass their expiry date. We answer many frequently asked questions providing you with factual information about pre-workouts.

Let’s get into it.

Do pre-workouts expire?

Yes, they do. Your pre-workout will have an expiry date on the container or bottle they are sold in. However, does this mean you can’t use the pre-workout after its expiry? 

The expiry date on the container is the manufacturer’s prediction of when the peak performance of the ingredients will reach the summit of their potency. After the expiry date, you can expect the ingredients to degrade over time.

But degrading ingredients should not be an issue if you have one container of pre-workout. The problem arises when you purchase pre-workout supplements in bulk, so you have years of supplements to get through.

The deals on pre-workouts can save you a lot of money if you buy in bulk, so you inevitably have pre-workouts sitting around for some time.

However, if the pre-workout is unopened, it should last significantly past the expiry date.

The expiration of products relies on a few things, first, the ingredients. Second, how they have been stored, and third if the container is open and has been exposed to air.

The main ingredient of the pre-workout is likely to be caffeine. Caffeine is a stable chemical that lasts long before it expires.

The other ingredients will be sugars and amino acids in proportions that are safe to consume.

However, if you have pre-workout supplements that contain fats, they will go bad after the expiry date. For instance, fish oil will turn rancid.

Do pre-workouts need to be refrigerated?

Not always. The fridge should be cold and dark with limited moisture. If your pre-workout is open, it is not a bad place to store it. 

If your pre-workout is open, it should be sealed tightly before placing it in the fridge. The big concern for pre-workouts is moisture. Clearly, the powder is as dry as a bone, making it easy to mix with water.

The moisture is going to do two things. First, it will make the free-flowing pre-workout powder form into clumps making it harder to mix into water. Once moisture is introduced, leaving a container slightly open or sitting on the side for a while will introduce bacteria or mold.

Second, you have introduced the potential for bacteria growth in the container. And even mold spores. If you remove the container from the fridge on the way to the gym, the container is now the perfect environment for mold spores to grow.

Unopened containers of pre-workout can sit in the garage if it is cool and dark, or they will happily sit in the pantry away from direct sunlight and other heat sources.

Do you need to keep pre-workouts covered?

If you have an open container of pre-workout, you are inviting problems that are potentially going to ruin the product. The bottles have a screw top, so make sure it’s sealed tight. If the pre-workout is stored in the fridge, it has to be in an airtight container.

It should be consumed quickly if you have mixed your pre-workout ready for drinking. You can take it along with you in a sealed bottle for a gulp during your gym session.

If it’s not been consumed after your training session, discard the contents and start with a fresh pre-workout.

Are pre-workouts safe?

In general, you would have to say a hesitant yes. The FDA does not have any authority when it comes to training supplements.

The biggest issue with today’s pre-workout supplements is the possibility that they include stimulants or potentially harmful chemicals. Although many items fall into this category, the Food and Drug Administration still has certain alternatives that fall into this category (FDA). 

Although this is the case, the FDA only has limited authority over supplements like pre-workout. Therefore, the manufacturers of those products do not need to demonstrate their efficacy, safety, quality in order for them to be put on the market.

Caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, citrulline malate, BCAA betaine, L-theanine, L-tyrosine, and taurine are a few effective and secure substances. To a certain extent, caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine are safe.

No more than five grams of creatine, three to four grams of beta-alanine and 400 mg of caffeine should be present in a given product. People may develop some kind of addiction to pre-workouts due to the high amounts of caffeine they often contain.

Do unopened containers of pre-workout go bad?

Yes. The ingredients used in pre-workout will expire at some point, and you can notice subtle changes in the product that has passed its best before or expiry date.

Here are some pointers to indicate your pre-workout is turning bad.

  1. The powder is clumping in the container. Moisture has entered the powder, and its at the end of its life. If it is consumed, it will take longer to mix. If the clumps remain, the product will take longer to get into your bloodstream, affecting your performance.
  2. Mold, If moisture has entered the container and the product has clumped, you can be confident that mold is going to follow, Don’t be tempted to scrape away the mold. Mold places its roots deep into the product contaminating every grain of powder.
  3. Color. If the product has changed color, it indicates something is wrong; dispose of it.
  4. Smale. If the product has a different odor or smells funky, it definitely turns bad and should be discarded immediately.
  5. Consistency. Pre-workout at the end of its shelf life may be challenging to mix and will not absorb into the water.
  6. Taste. the absolute litmus test if the product is bad. If the product tastes sour or strange, discard it immediately.
  7. If you have experienced none of the above, but you have noticed a drop in your performance in the gym, it could be that the pre-workout ingredients have expired and are not as effective.
  8. Physical symptoms. If you have an upset stomach, unusual bowel movements, bloating, and gastric pain, discard the pre-workout.

How long does pre-workout last in the fridge?

If the pre-workout has been mixed, it should last for  24 hours, but not longer than that. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to leaving pre-workout in the fridge.

An open container of pre-workout will last to the expiry date and beyond if the container is sealed tightly.

Unopened should last well past the expiry date, but there is no need to store them in the fridge.

Does pre-workout go bad in the freezer?

In theory, anything food stored at 0℉ or below should last indefinitely, but the truth is food doesn’t last forever in the freezer, and your pre-workout will degrade over time. It is hard to be specific about how long a frozen dry powder will last in the freezer because there are no studies.

There could also be the argument of why you would freeze a sealed dry powder, and it would be reasonable to think a dry powder in the freezer would have the same shelf life as out of the freezer.

But when it comes to mixed pre-workout, it is a different story.

Put your combined pre-workout in the freezer if you prefer your shake to be extremely cold or have a slush-like consistency.

Just be aware that the pre-workout beverage grows when it freezes. Therefore, be careful not to overfill your shake because doing so could harm the shaker.

Shakes made in metal containers can explode in the freezer. You have been warned!

How long will pre-workout remain frozen?

Pre-workouts are also great in slushies and smoothies. You can even try it as a jello shot.

What about a pre-gym pre-workout ice pop? It freezes perfectly and is a refreshing way to consume your pre-workout.

The bottom line

Pre-workouts last a long time, years if they are sealed. Open the pre-workout when you need it and not before.

Freezing your pre-workout is a novel way to have smoothies or ice pop, but it works, so why not give it a try?

Does pre-workout go bad? Yes, it does, but it takes a long time if you store the pre-workout correctly. The shelf life and expiration can be two or three years.

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas Lampi and I work as a fitness writer, nutritional consultant and personal trainer. My favourite exercise is the bench press and my favourite food is pizza!

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