Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

With the summer comes pre-summer workouts, often to be better, healthier versions of ourselves.


In our quest to become healthier, we may even decide to take up exercise.


Depending on your fitness goals, you might be interested in adding a protein powder to your diet. But if you suffer from acne, before buying just any old protein powder off the shelf, be sure to read this.


If you’re looking for a protein powder, most of the ones you’ll see readily available at your local grocer are whey-based protein powders.

What is Whey Protein?


Whey is what is left after milk has been curdled and strained (and is then dried to make a powder).


It is a byproduct of the manufacture of cheese or casein.


Why Does Whey Protein Cause Acne and More Breakouts?


Unfortunately for acne sufferers, whey protein is often an insidious culprit of acne breakouts, so you’ll want to steer clear of it.


This is because dairy proteins stimulate insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling, and provide high amounts of leucine, a stimulator for mTORC1 activation which can lead to inflammation, and yes, acne.


To make matters worse, because dairy is often coupled with sugar in protein powder, whey-based protein powders will therefore yield even higher glycemic loads, which will further exacerbate its effects on the skin.


What the Experts Have to Say on This?


In fact, researchers recommend specifically and consistently that acne patients should restrict insulinotropic dairy proteins like whey-based protein powders.


Studies have found that teenage boys who used whey protein powders had more acne, especially acne that was resistant to treatment.


Think whey is just bad news for males? For girls there was also a significant association found between acne severity and consumption of dairy.


So Will Whey Protein Worsen Your Acne?


It could worsen it to an extent, but don’t fret, you can still utilize protein powders – plant-based sources like soy, brown rice and pea proteins are all great alternatives!


Studies increasingly show that dairy animal protein is not only high glycemic, but is also associated with high levels of IGF-1.


The same is generally not true of plant protein.


So if you’re looking to get fit this year and add protein powder to your routine to help amplify your results, reach for the plant-based protein and say no whey to whey.