Whey Protein Could be Causing my Acne!?


Sorry in advance if this post grosses anybody out, but today, I’m gonna talk about acne! I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve always had bad acne. I started getting pimples in middle school (just like everyone else), but I always thought once I got older, they would go away. I assumed once I was an adult, I’d have clear, pimple-free skin. WRONG. I’m 22 years old, and I still get acne!

Before I talk about the connection between acne and whey protein powder, it’s important to understand that people don’t get acne from “not washing your face enough.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I’d have enough money to pay off my college debt.

Since middle school, I’ve washed my face every day (usually twice a day). I tried prescription acne medicine. I tried Proactiv. I tried different kinds of makeup. I tried changing my pillow case every 2 days. I tried almost everything, but I still have pimples! Luckily, my acne isn’t near as bad as it was back in middle school, but it’s still worse than most people my age. It’s embarrassing, and I won’t leave the house without covering up my face in makeup.

The other day, I stumbled across an article on Reddit that said whey protein could contribute to acne, so I did some research. Here’s what I discovered.

Why could whey protein cause acne?

According to AcneEinstein, a growth hormone in whey protein known as insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is thought to accelerate muscle growth, as well as acne production. The higher the IGF-1 levels, the more sebum (oil) your skin produces. This could set off hormonal acne.

Is this a problem for everyone?

AcneEinstein explains that whey protein can increase your risk of getting acne, but it won’t give acne to everyone. You might be at a high risk if you experience the following:

  • oily skin
  • insulin resistance with elevated blood sugar levels
  • aggravated acne after eating sugar and simple carbohydrates

Is the acne worth it?

According to AboutLifting, whey protein can help with fat loss and muscle gain, so acne might not be that big of a deal. Bodybuilders probably won’t mind acne because they’ll be seeing muscle gains, so it’s not that big of a deal.

Is whey protein the only cause of my acne? 

Nope. AboutLifing explains that whey protein might cause acne outbursts in some people, but diets high in calories, sugar, and chemicals put us at risk for acne (and other worse health issues).

How can I cut back on whey protein?

There are lots of other sources of protein out there besides whey. Meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, tofu, quinoa, and eggs are all excellent sources of protein. If you are still interested in supplementing protein, try vegan protein, such as hemp protein, brown rice protein powder, and pea protein.

After doing all of this research, I decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to cut whey protein from my diet. I figured I’ll give it a try for a couple months and see if I notice a difference in my acne. I won’t change anything else because I want to know if whey protein is the real cause for my acne. Today is the first day I’m going without it, so I’ll keep you guys updated on my results!

Have any of you experienced acne related to whey protein?


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6 thoughts on “Whey Protein Could be Causing my Acne!?

  1. I’ve heard about all kinds of side effects to whey protein but I haven’t experienced the acne. I hope you can get yours taken care of because it’s no fun.

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