Can Whey Protein Cause Acne?

For some, fitness is a fad. For some, fitness is a lifestyle. Growing up I was always active, doing everything from soccer to motocross. With all of these activities taking a toll on my body, my parents made sure I was fed adequate meals and always had some form of protein before and after my sports. Usually, this was in the form of dairy or meat.

 

As I got older, I discovered a passion for weightlifting and at the same time, I began to research nutrition. Through that research I discovered whey protein and how it could help me achieve my weightlifting goals. From the age of 16 I started drinking whey protein shakes 2-3 times daily in hopes that it would help me bulk up. During this time I also started going through puberty and thus began the acne breakouts! From the age of 16, all the way until I was 20, my acne was pretty bad. I tried almost every face wash and home remedy out there and nothing seemed to work. It got so bad that eventually I decided to go to the dermatologist and get a prescription.

 

After several months of creams and antibiotics prescribed by the dermatologist, my skin still wasn’t getting a whole lot better. At this point I was hitting the gym 4-5 days a week and continuing to drink my protein shakes. Everyone thought the main contributing factor to my breakouts was the amount I was sweating was irritating my skin. I was torn between doing what I loved: pushing myself during my workouts - or trying 'not to break a sweat' at all in the hope I would stop breaking out!

 

I finally decided to go on Accutane, the strongest acne medication out there. I ended up having to get blood work done every month for 6 months to make sure my body was tolerating it. After the 6 months, my skin looked great and I was the happiest teenager ever! I was killing it in the gym and started to see tremendous progress. My skin was still clear so I continued to drink my protein shakes 2-3 times a day. Fast forward several months and the issue with my breakouts started all over again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I started to cut out certain foods to see if that would help to reduce my acne. I began to cut out foods high in sugar and fat, as well as the majority of dairy products. Nothing seemed to work. I finally decided to cut out whey protein to see if that was the cause. After a few weeks, I didn’t see much change so I started using it again. At that point, I decided it was time for round 2 of Accutane since it seemed to have worked last time. Six months later, my skin was clear again! Was my nightmare finally over? I sure hoped so.

 

I was now 22 years old and a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. I had learned about casein protein and its great effects as a slow release protein, so I started taking it before bed every night. I was now drinking 4 shakes a day: 3 whey and 1 casein. My acne acted up again. I was now on my 3rd round of Accutane.

 

After finishing the 3rd round, I again went back to my normal eating routine and began to drink whey shakes again. A few months later, I partnered up with Ora Organic after trying their plant-based products and absolutely loving them. One month after switching from whey protein to Ora Organic plant-based protein, my face began to stay drastically clearer than ever before! I finally connected the dots and concluded that even though whey protein has its advantages for some, my body doesn’t tolerate it well. After doing some more research, I learned that the hormones in milk products (and therefore whey protein) are known to stimulate sebum production. Sebum is oil secreted by your skin's sebaceous glands and therefore can lead to clogged pores when more is present than normal.

 

After many years of struggling to balance my want for clear skin and my dedication to fitness, I am thankful to have found a protein that is the best of both worlds. Ora Organic’s plant-based protein gives me what I need for muscle recovery through naturally occurring, plant-based sources, AND puts my skin at ease.

 

 

 


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