Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

Have you finally mustered enough courage to try whey in hopes of building muscle but instead found yourself breaking out like a teenager on the threshold of puberty? If so, this article is for you.

I’ve received a few emails from folks who feel frustrated about how whey has made them break out. One girl is having trouble with ‘bacne’ (back acne) while one guy has pimples growing all over his face. It’s not a pleasant experience and is, in fact, enough to put you off of supplements for a long time. But hopefully we can understand the reason whey causes breakouts in some folks and not others.

Why do I get acne?

Acne, is largely caused by genetics. If your family is known for oily or overly productive oil glands, chances are quite a few of you up and down the family tree have struggled with pimples and acne. There are some studies, however, that have linked whey protein supplementation to acne breakouts, especially for those who are prone to pimples. Personally, I struggled with breakouts during my late teen years but surprisingly have never had any of the same issues when I started supplementing with whey protein. It’s possible that my hormones aren’t responding to the whey in a similar fashion as others’ do.

What’s in it?

Milk and dairy products contain hormones that could increase sebum production and that’s what leads to pimple problems. Whey protein (as well as other dairy products) contains IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor-1. This is a hormone believed to be responsible for muscle growth. It’s been linked to increase sebum production in the skin. When you consume whey, an insulin spike occurs in your body, which then leads to an overgrowth of skin cells and an excessive production of sebum (or oil), which means your skin cells multiply too fast so your pores get clogged more often with dead skin cells. The IGF-1 behaves like paste or glue and binds your dead skin cells together keeping them stuck in your pores instead of naturally being expelled. For those who are prone to breaking out, this usually results in acne.

What do I do now?

If you’ve tried all you could and have come to the inescapable conclusion that your acne breakouts are caused by whey protein consumption, then the best thing to do is immediately discontinue use of it. Go see your doctor and get a check up, maybe even do an allergy test to see what else you might be sensitive to. If you are bummed (as I would be) to know you have to lay off the whey, there are other options. You can check out beef protein supplements, or try vegan and plant-based protein powders that most supplement stores carry. You can also get protein from meat, poultry, and fish and perhaps just increase your consumption if you feel you’re not getting enough protein.

You can check out Nutrition Depot and choose from their wide selection of protein supplements. You can order online and they deliver straight to your doorstep.




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