Your protein powder is making your acne problem worse; it turns out that you are probably right. More and more people (and not just teenagers and bodybuilders) are starting to have the frustrating experience of choosing between an acne-free face and their health and strength. Fortunately, you don’t have to make this choice. There are a few simple solutions for protein acne that don’t involve throwing out all your protein powder or starting horrible acne treatments like accutane. Below we have listed several brands and compared them on qualities relevant for acne-prone skin. For more detailed information, continue reading after the chart.
|Pure Therapeutics Daily Vegan Protein Vanilla Flavor||Yes||Yes||No|
|NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate||No||No||No|
|Pea Protein Isolate - Vegan, Non-GMO, Lactose, Soy and Gluten Free||Yes||Yes||No|
|Paleo Protein Egg White Powder||No||No||No|
|Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50 Protein Supplement||Yes||Yes||No|
The biggest reason that everyone is getting acne from their protein powder is this: Major protein companies are using shockingly low quality ingredients in their factories. Unfortunately, over the last few years it’s becoming clear that many manufacturers are in the business of cutting costs by slashing the purity of their ingredients. This not only affects the amount of actual protein in the powder (that’s right, it’s very possible that you are getting cheated out of protein. Check this list of powders to see if you’re wasting money on counterfeit protein) but this unethical behavior also affects your health in general, and that includes skin health too. If you’re putting something in your body, it should be as pure and close to nature as possible, not some lead-filled, GMO sludge from China! The more natural a product, the less impurities and chemicals it contains. Unnatural ingredients like this absolutely increase your acne. (And by the way, the more natural protein you get, the better it’s gonna taste.)
You are going to pay more for a premium product, but trust us, it really is worth it. When it comes to your health, always get the best. That’s a rule to live by. Just browse around for protein powders and see what you can find. Two good things to search for are “GMO-free” and “grass-fed” and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find a pure, natural product.
Whey Too Much Lactose
Ingesting impure, unnatural ingredients isn’t the only culprit for those with acne-prone skin though. A pretty large number of people find themselves still suffering with acne, even when they cut out all the low quality, unhealthy, factory processed food from their lives. For these people, it’s very likely that whey protein itself is causing their acne. There’s two big reasons for this. Number one: Whey is a dairy product, and dairy is a big no-no for a lot of people with acne due to the lactose content. Some people can digest lactose perfectly well, other people (probably the majority of people) really can’t, and this inability to fully digest the lactose shows up as acne. The other reason that acne prone people should avoid whey protein is related to hormones, IGF-1 in particular. In addition to containing lactose, whey is also well-known for increasing IGF-1 production in your body. IGF-1 is a naturally occurring hormone, a form of insulin which causes muscle growth among other things. This is actually a big part of the reason why whey is so good for bodybuilding and strength training. Unfortunately, this is also the downside to whey for victims of acne. Recent studies have found that the IGF-1 which whey protein increases is also clearly linked to acne. (See below) This negative of IGF-1 doesn’t bite everyone, but if you’re one of the unlucky ones, then watch out! For still unknown reasons, it appears that women are significantly more likely to suffer from this annoying effect of IGF-1.
If the lactose content in whey protein is causing your acne, you don’t actually have to stop taking whey protein. All you need to do is use whey isolate instead of whey concentrate. These are both types of whey protein, but whey isolate has no lactose in it. Whey concentrate, the more common (and cheaper) form of whey protein, is chock-full of lactose. Whey isolate protein powder can be harder to find in stores, but it’s pretty easy to find online. We advise that those who suffer from chronic acne use a zero carb protein powder. Carbohydrates increase IGF-1 production, which we discussed above as a culprit for acne. Not many people realize that their protein powder probably contains quite a few grams of carbs, and even fewer people realize that this could be causing them to get acne! (it could be causing them to fail to lose fat, but that’s another story) So if you want less acne, buy zero carb whey isolate protein powder.
You’ve Got Options
Unfortunately, for some people, zero carb whey isolate just isn’t enough. If you find that you are one of these people and whey itself is causing your acne, then you need to try a different sort of protein. Fortunately, there are actually a ton of different sources used to make protein powder. Whey protein powder is by far the most popular, but this is only because it’s cheapest to produce. There are plenty of other types of protein powder that work just as well as whey. For acne though, we recommend you avoid any protein powder made with corn, wheat, or gluten. Just check the ingredients list for these three. Even if you don’t have a definite problem with these ingredients, it’s better to stay on the safe side here. A lot of people find that their immune systems can’t handle these common allergens very well. You may have been eating corn on the cob for years without realizing that it was responsible for your acne. It sounds silly, but it’s actually very possible!
Bro, This Shake is Egg-cellent
Egg protein is frequently recommended as an alternative to whey protein. It’s your best bet if you are very sensitive and break out easily, but still want an animal protein source. While it’s not unheard of to have an egg allergy (which can manifest as acne), it’s a lot more common to be allergic to whey. We advise that you experiment with your protein powder. Keep going down the line, choosing more and more hypoallergenic protein sources. Each time you change to a different protein powder, use it for a few weeks and see if effects your acne. Alternatively, you could skip all that and just choose the sure-thing, the near-guaranteed acne-free protein powder. Keep reading for that!
Hormones and Acne
It would be best to avoid soy protein if you get acne, since the phytoestrogen content of this protein source is well known to alter your natural hormone levels. Unstable, spiking hormones wreak havoc on those of us who get acne, as any teenager can tell you! However, if you still have your heart set on soy protein, you should choose soy isolate to minimize the potential damage to your skin. Soy isolate has the least phytoestrogen content of all soy proteins. You should know that there are a lot of other plant-based protein options available these days however.
Planting Your Flag Against Acne
If you still find yourself having acne trouble from protein powder, even after eliminating whey, soy, gluten, corn, wheat, and egg, then you should select a plant-based protein source such as pea protein, hemp protein, or rice protein. It is extremely rare to have any sort of allergic reaction, including acne, from these protein powders. Just make sure to avoid soy.
Of all these powders, the one most often recommended by severely acne-prone people is pea protein powder. Pea protein is virtually guaranteed to not give you acne, since it is almost completely hypoallergenic. This is why most people with bad protein related acne typically recommend pea protein powder as the best to avoid breakouts.
Clear Skin and a High Protein Diet – Yes It IS Possible!
Finding a protein powder that won’t cause you to get acne can be a seriously frustrating issue to face, especially if you are a teenager or someone just getting into fitness, but it really doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is identify the true source of your protein acne, and then choose a type of protein powder that doesn’t contain your banned ingredient! We hope that this guide will help you do just that. Keep in mind as well that you are not alone here. Getting acne from protein powder has actually become quite a common problem in the last few years. There are quite a few manufacturers out there producing lower quality protein with impure ingredients and for those of us prone to acne, this can spell disaster for our sensitive immune systems. You may have to spend a little more than you did in the past to get a high quality product for yourself, but we think you’ll agree that it’s worth it. Clear skin and a healthy body always are!
For more information about the link between IGF-1 and acne, take a look at this study.