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When you’re trying to make gains in athletic performance, adding a pre-workout to your routine is a no-brainer. Pre-workout can boost cardio endurance to support weight loss and boost strength for bodybuilding. Of course, pre-workouts can only work their magic when they’re used as directed. 

RELATED: What to Look for in a Pre-Workout

If your pre-workout has been sitting around for awhile or looks clumpy, you may be wondering if it’s safe to use. Does pre-workout expire? To cut to the chase, yes, even the best pre-workout supplements can go bad and are subject to expiration dates

In this article, I’ll use my experience as a registered dietitian (RD) and share how long you can expect pre-workout to last, how to tell if it’s gone bad, and what to do if you have a stash of old pre-workout on your hands.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

What Is Pre-Workout?

In brief, pre-workout supplements are a multi-ingredient ergogenic aid—meaning they contain substances like caffeine—intended to elevate athletic performance by helping increase energy, strength and endurance, and post-workout recovery. 

Caine Wilkes throws back some Transparent Labs Pre-Workout.

There are many types of pre-workouts, like:

  • Stim
  • Non-stim
  • High-stim
  • Natural
  • Goal-based (e.g., muscle-gain, pump, weight loss)

Pre-workout also comes in several forms:

  • Mixable powder
  • Capsules
  • Chewable tablets
  • Gummies
  • Canned drinks

And ingredients that you’re more than likely to see included in a standard pre-workout formula are:

  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • L-citrulline
  • Beta-alanine.
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

How to Tell If Pre-Workout Is Expired?

We can all agree to pass on expired supplements, but does pre-workout go bad before its expiration date? Turns out, it can. Once you open a tub of pre-workout, it can become contaminated or spoiled from exposure to air, light, moisture, and/or bacteria.

Broken Seal

A new tub of pre-workout should be vacuum sealed. A broken seal indicates your pre-workout could have already been exposed to the elements and may have a shorter than expected shelf life. If the seal is broken, contact the manufacturer or the retailer you purchased from to see if you can make an exchange.

Mold

It should probably go without saying, but if your pre-workout powder contains mold, it’s time to toss it out.

Taste and Smell

In general, an open tub of pre-workout should be good for at least six months. If your pre-workout looks moldy, changes color, has a bad smell, or tastes weird once you mix it, it’s gone bad and needs to be thrown out. If you accidentally consume old pre-workout, you might experience digestive side effects, like an upset stomach or nausea.

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Clumping

Fresh pre-workout supplements start as a fine powder, but tend to form lumps or clump into a hard brick over time. Clumping is a sign your supplement has absorbed some moisture, but it doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. If there are no other signs of spoilage, you can use a shaker bottle or blender to help mix clumpy pre-workout.

best stim free pre workout multiple bottle and scoops

How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?

In general, unopened containers of pre-workout have a shelf life of one to two years, and opened pre-workout can stay good for about six months. The period of time a pre-workout can last varies depending on different ingredients, so always check the packaging for a use by date.

Supplement companies are not required1 to provide an expiration date, but pre-workout supplements from reputable companies will include this information. If you’re shopping in person, look for the expiration date on the top or bottom of the tub. If you order a pre-workout powder from Amazon or another retailer that doesn’t have an expiry date, return it or contact the manufacturer. 

best pre workout

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As for how long you have to take pre-workout once you mix it, the rule of thumb is to mix and drink right away. However, you can store mixed pre-workout in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight if you need to make it ahead of time. Any pre-workout that’s been mixed and sitting for over 12 hours should be dumped out.

Can You Still Take Expired Pre-Workout?

The expiration date on pre-workout supplements tells you how long the active ingredients can be expected to be, well, active. This information is supplied from the manufacturer. After that date, ingredients can start to become less effective, which means your pre-workout won’t do what you expect it to. 

Common ingredients2 in pre-workouts include B vitamins and stimulants, like caffeine, to pump up energy levels, as well as amino acids and ingredients that support blood flow to muscles, like L-citrulline and arginine.

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout Ingredients

Taking expired pre-workout may be a waste of time if these ingredients have lost potency. Technically, it might be safe to take an expired pre-workout, but if you feel like it’s not doing anything for you, it’s probably not. 

Can You Keep Pre-Workout from Going Bad?

When used as directed and stored with a bit of care, you can help prolong the shelf life and get your money’s worth out of your favorite pre-workout supplement.

Check Expiration Dates

For starters, take inventory and toss any old or expired pre-workout supplements. If you already have a surplus selection of pre-workout, organize them by expiration date, use what will expire first, and open only one at a time. If you’re tempted to stock up during a good sale or want to taste-test a bunch of new flavors at once, resist the urge and only buy the amount of pre-workout you can realistically use over the next few months. 

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Since light, air, and moisture accelerate spoilage and ingredient breakdown, pre-workout should be stored in a dry place away from direct sunlight. A dark cabinet, pantry closet, or even the refrigerator are good spots to store pre-workout. Check the label for specific storage instructions and recommendations.

RELATED: Best Stim-Free Pre-Workout

Tighten Your Lid

Moisture can contribute to clumping, so using a dry scoop and closing the lid tightly each time you use your pre-workout can help. You should also keep the silica packet that comes inside your package of pre-workout, since it’s designed to absorb excess moisture and keep your pre-workout powdery and ready to mix.

Drink Up

Once you mix your pre-workout drink, it’s best to drink it promptly since exposure to the elements can affect taste and ingredient quality.

RELATED: Best Cheap Pre-Workout

How to Store Pre-workout

I touched on this briefly in the section “Can You Keep Your Pre-Workout From Going Bad?” but you’ll want to store your pre-workout in a dry area removed from direct sunlight, such as a pantry. You’ll also want to make sure that your lid is tightly closed and secure after every use. Another thing you can do to preserve the life of your protein during storage is to leave the silica packet inside the container to keep your powder fresh and moisture-free. 

How to Fix Clumpy Pre-workout

Clumpy pre-workout can be caused by excess moisture in the container or if the product has sat unused for a length of time. You can prevent clumping entirely by following our advice for storing your pre-workout above. But, should you run into a clumpy situation, there are ways to fix it. 

A scoop of El Jefe Pre-Workout is about to be poured into a shaker cup.

The easiest way to sort your clumpy pre-workout is with a blender, you can dump the contents in and work out the lumps that way. If you don’t have a blender, then you can use a blunt utensil and some elbow grease to break up the powder. I’ve also seen placing a small bag of rice or a slice of bread to soak up the moisture as a clump-prevention hack.

Does Pre-Workout Expire: Final Thoughts 

Like other dietary supplements, pre-workouts contain active ingredients that can lose potency and effectiveness over time. Pre-workout powders can also spoil if they aren’t stored correctly or were improperly sealed during manufacturing. 

To ensure your pre-workout is working the way it should, be sure to check for an expiration date and use it by then. Expired pre-workout may technically be safe to consume, but it’s not going to benefit your workout as much. Storing your unexpired pre-workout powder in a cool, dark location, like a cupboard or even the fridge, can help keep it fresh for optimal results.

  • Unopened pre-workout supplements typically last one to two years and open pre-workout is good for about six months.
  • Reputable supplement companies will include expiration dates on pre-workout supplements.
  • Expired pre-workout is likely to be less effective than a new tub, so it should be discarded.
  • Pre-workout can spoil, so check older tubs or those nearing expiration for signs of mold and off color, odor, or taste.

We teste a lot of products at GGR, including 50+ pre-workout supplements. For more information, check out our GGR Supplement Testing Methodology

Does Pre-Workout Expire: FAQs

Is it OK to take expired pre-workout?

Technically, if your pre-workout is expired and not moldy, it’s probably still OK to consume. However, we don’t recommend it since active ingredients that provide fuel to muscles, boost energy, and support blood flow during exercise can become less effective—aka your pre-workout won’t do much to boost exercise performance—past the expiration or best-by date. Your best bet? Dump the expired stuff and start with a fresh container.

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout for Focus

How do you know if pre-workout has gone bad?

If you open a jar of pre-workout and see visible mold or the color looks off, it may have gone bad. The same goes if your pre-workout powder smells funny or tastes bad once you mix it. When in doubt, toss any pre-workout supplement that looks, smells, or tastes funky.

How long is pre-workout good for?

An unopened container of pre-workout should be good until the printed expiration date and most have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years. Once opened, the shelf life is shorter—about six months—since air, light, and moisture can invite contaminants, like mold, to grow and/or degrade the pre-workout ingredients.

A serving of pre-workout mixed with liquid is best consumed within 30 minutes to 1 hour before your workout, but it’s technically good for up to 12 hours from the time you mix it. Be sure to store mixed pre-workout in a sealed container in the refrigerator for best results.

Can I still use clumpy pre-workout?

Clumping isn’t a sure sign that your pre-workout has gone bad. Many pre-workouts are prone to clumping once you open them if they come into contact with moisture and/or humidity. If your pre-workout is clumpy but hasn’t expired and there are no other clear signs of spoilage, you can still use it. A shaker bottle or blender can break up the clumps so your pre-workout fully dissolves in liquid.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

  1. Supplement Frequently Asked Questions. National Sanitation Foundation. Available from: https://www.nsf.org/blog/consumer/supplement-frequently-asked-questions
  2. Jagim AR, Harty PS, Camic CL. Common Ingredient Profiles of Multi-Ingredient Pre-Workout Supplements. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):254. Published 2019 Jan 24. doi:10.3390/nu11020254

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