Do Energy Gels & Electrolyte Powder Get Expired?


Any high-performing athlete could tell you about the importance of energy gels and electrolyte powders in our lives. However, we can easily store them for a long time and forget about consuming them, especially if we aren’t frequent users. Thus, it begs the question about their expiration and if it is alright to drink them past the expiration date.

So, do energy gels & electrolyte powder expire?

Energy gels and electrolyte powders come with a set expiration date. Electrolyte powders have a longer shelf life, going 3+ years without any problem. Meanwhile, energy gels can last anywhere between 8 to 12 months, depending on the quality of the ingredients and the packaging. The longevity of both the products depends on how and where they are stored.

The world is divided between the best time to consume, use-by date, and best by date, among other things. Here is a quick rundown on the top brands and their ideal time to consume:

BrandOffical ValidityExpiry Date Grace Period
Clif Shot Energy Gel18 Months From The Time Of PackingUp to 24 Months post-manufacturing.
Gu Energy Gels11 Months From The Date Of ProductionUp to 18-24 Months post-manufacturing.
SiS Energy Gel3 Months From The Date Of ProductionUndefined
Maurten Energy GelGenerally 7-8 months from manufacturingCould have altercations with taste, but never really goes bad.
Huma Chia Energy GelDoesn’t have an expiration.Can last forever if stored correctly.
Energy Gels Shelf Life/Expiry Dates

How Long Do Energy Gels Last?

Depending on the quality, energy gels last from two months to twelve months. The determining factor is the quality of ingredients, type of ingredients, and packing. Foil packing helps with longevity better than other methods.

However, there are two dates you should understand.

  • Best By Date: If you’re looking for a rich flavor, you will have to go with the best by date. It tells you the date the flavor will remain unspoiled. After that, nobody knows how it is going to taste.
  • Use By Date: Use by date shows you the exact date or time before which you should consume the product. You shouldn’t risk consuming any product past this date.

In most cases, a product past its best date is considered expired. But, it could still be consumed if it was stored right or if the product is still around the best date.

On a side note, from my humble experience of competing in a few dozens of long-distance endurance events such as Ironman triathlons and 100k+ UltraMarathons ( Check my bio for more), I found GU Roctane Energy Gel (Amazon Link) complemented with Stealth Energy Gel and Some other solid food every now and then to be the best combination for body and more accurately my stomach. The GU gel version with caffeine gives me that boost and the stealth Gel is just very gentle on the stomach which keeps me going but it’s hard to get your hand on some. As a substitute for Stealth, I would recommend trying SIS GO Isotonic Energy Pack (Amazon Link)

How Long Does Gu Energy Gel Expire?

Gu energy gels have a shelf life of 18 months from the date of manufacturing. Gu energy gel is more on the longer side of the expiration date. If you visit the official website, they claim that their products are fine to consume even 12-24 months after their best date.  (Source)

However, the company uses the best by date to inform the users of the best time to drink it. Most of their gels have a best-by date of 11 months from the manufacturing date.

Do Clif Gels Expire?

Clif gels will expire after 18 months from the date of manufacturing. You can also check their best by date at the bottom of the packing, at the seam. If you can’t find the date, get the one that has it. (Source)

You can try to boost the life cycle of Clif gels by freezing them or storing them properly.

Where Do You Store Energy Gels?

You can keep energy gels at room temperature almost anywhere. It can be in a bag that you carry around. However, you need to be wary of the hot climate. The hotter the climate, the worse it can get for the energy gels. Don’t consider the everyday hot temperature in summer as your average room temperature. It would be better to store them in a refrigerator.

You can also freeze the energy gels, extending their shelf life for a couple of months. But that’s about it.

The Packaging Factor

  • Energy gels that come with foil or multi-layered packing are longer lasting.
  • If they don’t get exposed to air or oxygen, that’s even better. The same applies to humidity and water.
  • If the packing isn’t damaged, you can expect the contents to be acceptable to consume past the expiration date.
  • If the packaging is damaged or leaking, the content isn’t OK to consume even before the expiration date.
  • In most cases, you will compromise on the taste

Can You Freeze Energy Gels?

You can freeze or cool your energy gels to extend their shelf life. Cooling of gel won’t impact the shelf life too much. It could even turn the gel thicker and less convenient to consume. In colder climates, it is advised to keep the gel closer to your body so that your body’s warmth will keep it intact.

Contents Of Energy Gels

  • Energy gels mostly have a mix of carbohydrates like sugar and glucose. They are fine to consume if your digestive system breaks down and consumes sugars.
  • Caffeine, tea extracts, flavoring agents, fructose, and such are also fine for consumption past the expiration.
  • Some energy gels will offer BCAA and other additional elements. Vitamins and minerals included. Their shelf lives could be shorter, but it shouldn’t impact the quality of these ingredients much.
  • Generally, it is not ideal to consume any energy gel with digestive enzymes past their expiration dates. These types of energy gels also have a shorter shelf life.

Can You Use Expired Electrolyte Powder?

Electrolyte powders are generally safer to consume than energy gels past their expiration date. Most electrolyte powders will last 3+ years from the date of manufacturing. It is not advised to consume anything past the expiration, but it is generally safe.

On a side note, if you are looking for an electrolyte source, I highly recommend Nuun tablets Energy (Amazon Link). Aside from the nice flavors offered, I think Nuun is among the few, if not the only electrolyte tablets that have caffeine in them. I have tested it for a while and just couldn’t find any better substitute.

Best Way To Test An Energy Gel Or Electrolyte Powder

  • Check the pack and see if there was any leakage.
  • Consider the storage where you found it. Was it ideal for long-term shelf life?
  • If only a day or maximum of a month has passed the expiration date, you can still give it a try.
  • First, taste a little bit to check the flavoring. It could have changed. Don’t consume if the contents release a foul smell or appear unsightly to consume.
  • Try to mix the contents with a glass of water for better solubility and use.
  • Always make sure to taste it first before consuming the entire content. See if you react to it. If not, then you can go ahead and consume it.

The Expiration Date Is There For A Reason

So, the bottom line is that energy gels and electrolyte powder come with expiration dates

The manufacturer would know better than us about their products. There is a misconception that they put expiration dates to increase the sales of the products. But that’s not entirely true.

The expiration date is there because almost anything can go bad. It is also for room temperature. If you have stored these in a hotter climate, it will spoil faster. Similarly, freezing it could preserve the contents for a more extended period.

 

sherifjallad

An extreme triathlete who have competed in dozens of triathlons including IronMans and Extreme triathlons.

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