Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

Since whey is one of the main proteins in dairy products, you may be wondering if taking whey protein supplements can cause acne.
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reasons why protein powder may cause acne
IGF-1 and testosterone levels go up when you eat whey protein, which can cause or make acne worse.

What Is Whey Protein?

Casein protein is the other type of protein in dairy milk. Whey protein is one of the two types of proteins in dairy milk. About 20% of the protein in fresh milk is made up of whey protein, and 80% is made up of casein. Both whey and casein proteins can be made into protein powders. Both are popular with athletes and bodybuilders, but whey protein is used more often.

Casein is a protein that breaks down slowly, but whey breaks down quickly, making it a better source of quick fuel for exercise. Both whey and casein are high in branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are thought to help build muscle, so they are the main source of protein in many protein blends that are used during workouts.

Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

Even if whey protein is good for building muscles, you may or may not want to weigh that against the fact that it can make your skin break out more. When I asked Dr. Lancer if whey protein causes acne, he said, “Yes, whey protein can cause acne.” What gives? He says this is because “whey protein affects the production of testosterone spikes,” and testosterone can cause spots.

What does it mean that the production of testosterone goes up? Simply put, whey protein may cause your body to make more testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone that is made by your endocrine system. Testosterone is good for us because it keeps our bones strong, but too much of it will make us produce more sebum. Sebum is the waxy oil that our sebaceous glands make. Too much sebum can cause clogged pores and acne.

Who Might Get Pimples From Whey Protein?

At first glance, you might think that people who are sensitive to dairy are the only ones who break out from whey protein. However, that is not the case. Dr. Lancer says, “Almost anyone who eats whey proteins can get testosterone spikes that can lead to blemishes,” and that whey-caused breakouts “can happen to adults, teenagers, men, women, and people of all different ancestries.” Since casein can also cause problems with testosterone production, if whey protein makes you break out, it’s likely that casein protein will do the same.

If you have more acne when you eat or drink whey protein than when you don’t, the easiest thing to do is stop eating or drinking it. Dr. Lancer says, “Limiting the amount of dairy you eat can help you avoid the testosterone spikes that can cause acne.” It’s important to note, though, that not all dairy products cause acne.

The American Academy of Dermatology says, “While cow’s milk may make you more likely to get acne, no studies have shown that milk products like yogurt or cheese cause more acne.” So, you can keep eating cheese, but if your acne is bothering you, you might want to stop drinking whey protein shakes (and opt for one of the below protein alternatives, 

Depending on what you put in your protein shake, acne can get worse

What you put in your shake may also have something to do with your acne. If you add skim milk, you might make the problem you’re already having with the whey and casein proteins even worse.

Skim milk has more milk proteins than regular milk. These proteins are added to improve the taste and consistency of skim milk.

“You might think that choosing a fat-free option is the healthiest thing to do, but Dr. Bowe says that skim milk has the most milk proteins of all the milk options.”

How to Deal with Whey Protein-Caused Acne

So, what should you do if you’ve been drinking too much and your skin is breaking out?

If you think your protein shake might be making your acne worse, try giving it up.

Dr. Feely says, “Take a break from protein shakes with whey for a few months and see if your acne gets better.”

Dr. Bowe says you can try shakes made with pea protein, hemp protein, or collagen protein instead. Make sure you also get enough protein from whole foods, like the 24 foods on this list that are full of protein and will help you build muscle.

But if you’ve been getting pimples, it might not be just your protein shake that’s to blame. It could be your whole workout routine.

“Bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells can clog pores, which can lead to acne flare-ups in athletes,” says Dr. Feely. “This can happen if they wear the same athletic clothes more than once, use a dirty towel, or share helmets and other protective gear.”

Alternatives to whey protein

So you’ve decided to break up with whey for a while, but you still want to get the protein you need? Don’t worry, there are a lot of tasty things to choose from:

Pea protein. This healthy alternative has minerals like iron and antioxidants. Pea protein powder has a good mix of amino acids, and one study found that taking whey protein powder supplements or pea protein powder supplements had the same effect on muscle growth.

Hemp protein. Hemp protein powder (yes, it comes from the cannabis plant) is a complete plant-based protein, which means it has all of the essential amino acids. Also in it are omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and fiber.

Collagen protein. Collagen is a good choice if you want a protein that will help keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy. It’s not a complete protein by itself, but it can help your joints recover after a workout.

Pumpkin seed protein. Pumpkin seed protein is a great source of protein for vegans, and it also gives you minerals like magnesium and zinc. Like collagen, pumpkin seed is not a complete protein, but it can help you meet your protein needs as long as you eat other protein sources throughout the day.

In Conclusion

Adding a whey protein supplement to your diet is healthy and helpful in many ways, especially if you are into bodybuilding, sports, or weight training. It is a great way to get stronger and heal your muscles. It can even help people lose a few kilos.

On the other hand, it is known to cause acne. Before you choose whey protein, you should know everything you need to know about it. If you aren’t sure, you should first talk to your doctor. Follow the label or what they tell you about how much to take. If it causes too much acne, you should try something else. Also, learn some simple tricks that can help you deal with the acne via dietary changes that whey protein causes.


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