- Why protein shakes can cause pimples
- How do skin blemishes develop?
- Do you get pimples from protein powder?
- Acne and pimples caused by protein powder: What you can do about it
- Can I eat protein powder without getting pimples?
- Conclusion: How to enjoy your protein shake without getting pimples
Why protein shakes can cause pimples
Acne is a skin condition that is relatively common in both teenagers and adults.[¹] The condition causes pimples, especially on the face, back, but also on the shoulders and chest. There are many causes of blemished skin, including excessive activity of the sebaceous glands[²], genetic factors[³] and changes in hormone levels, for example during menopause[⁴] - stress can also make the condition worse.[⁵] Less well-known triggers come from diet, especially dairy products. They are associated with the development of pimples and acne, but the connection remains controversial.[⁶]
Whey protein or whey protein is one of the most important proteins in products made from milk. Therefore, the question arises whether there is a connection between the intake of (Whey) protein and the development of pimples and acne. In our guide, you will learn whether acne and pimples can be caused by consuming protein powder, what to do about pimples caused by protein powder and whether there is a way to consume protein powder without getting pimples.
How do skin blemishes develop?
Pimples occur when dead skin cells mix with excess oil from the sebaceous glands. This mixture clogs the pores of the skin and causes swelling. Bacteria can colonize in this mixture and lead to inflammation and pus formation.[⁷]
This inflammation is a defensive reaction of the body in which the white blood cells attack the bacteria. Pus is formed and a pimple becomes visible on the skin.
Do you get pimples from protein powder?
Nobody normally gets pimples from just taking protein powder. Although there are some studies that establish a connection between the consumption of dairy products (which usually include most protein powders) and the development of acne, these studies are still insufficient. In addition, not all dairy products are associated with the development of acne.
Diet can play an important role in the development of acne or blemishes - dairy products are often cited as a major culprit. A review of several studies found a significant association between dairy consumption and the development and severity of acne in both adolescents and adults.[⁸] However, these studies were observational, meaning they cannot demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship. The studies in the review also relied on self-reporting of dairy consumption and acne development, which may not have been entirely accurate.
Not all dairy products could be linked to the development of acne in the studies, for example, yogurt and cheese.[⁹] However, consumption of milk and dairy products has been shown to increase a hormone associated with the development of acne, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).[¹⁰]
Whey Protein and Pimples
Whey protein is one of the two main proteins in milk - the other is casein protein.[¹¹] Whey is the liquid part of milk that settles out when cheese is made. To be processed into Whey Protein, the whey goes through a multi-stage filtration and drying process. Protein powders with Whey are especially popular with strength athletes. The protein it contains helps build and maintain muscle.
Since Whey is a dairy protein and there is a controversial link between dairy and acne, many people believe that Whey protein shakes cause pimples or even acne. There are only a few case reports of acne associated with the use of Whey protein supplements in bodybuilders and strength athletes.[¹²] [¹³] However, these do not provide strong evidence to support the claim that whey protein powder causes acne or pimples. Unlike a controlled study, these few case reports lack a control group, so evidence of specific causes of effects is very limited.[¹⁴]
However, due to genetic factors (many people with acne or blemished skin have a family history of acne), some people are more prone to develop acne when they consume certain foods, including protein from Whey protein shakes.[¹⁵] In addition, oily skin, humid environments, hormonal imbalances, lack of sleep, obesity, and high-fat and high-sugar diets are associated with an increased risk of acne.[¹⁶]
Acne and pimples caused by protein powder: what you can do about it
If you suffer from blemished skin - whether the pimples are caused by eating protein powder or for other reasons - you should take a close look at your diet. This is important for a healthy skin appearance, so you should pay attention to a balanced diet. [For example, the trace elements zinc, iodine and vitamin C can contribute to a healthy complexion.
Strength athletes whose skin reacts to protein powder but who still don't want to give up their protein shake should make sure to consume only high-quality Whey protein. Switching to a protein powder made from a plant-based protein source may also help.
Can I also consume protein powder without getting pimples?
When it comes to protein shakes and pimples, it really depends on what type of protein powder you are consuming and what quality it is.
Whey protein supplements remain popular to help build muscle - unfortunately, substances known to cause acne, such as anabolic steroids or precursors of anabolic steroids, have been detected in supplements, especially those marketed to bodybuilders.[¹⁸] [ ¹⁹ ] [²⁰] Adding ingredients not listed on the label to dietary supplements is illegal, but it does happen. Therefore, it is important that you are well informed when it comes to the ingredients in Whey Protein and other supplements.
In general, there are two common types of whey protein supplements on the market: whey concentrate and whey isolate. Compared to Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate is more processed, resulting in higher protein content, lower calorie count, and less lactose and fat. Whey Isolate is therefore also excellent as Whey without lactose for people with lactose intolerance. Therefore, Whey Protein Isolate is more expensive than Whey Protein Concentrate. However, those who do not have lactose intolerance or do not strictly watch their calories can also very well use Whey Protein Concentrate. The third type is Whey Protein Hydrolysate, which is mostly consumed by professional athletes. This is also a whey protein, but the protein has already been broken down into peptide chains by hydrolysis and can therefore be absorbed more quickly by the human body.
To make sure that you buy a protein powder with high quality, you should go for products that have been independently tested - like the protein powders from ESN.
Looking for a protein powder with a very high protein content with little fat and lactose? Try our ESN IsoWhey Hardcore Whey Isolate!
Conclusion: This is how you enjoy your protein shake without getting pimples
Fearing blemished skin or even acne on your face or body, you don 't have to give up your protein shake. While there is weak evidence that certain dairy products may be linked to the development of acne, there is no solid evidence to support the claim that whey protein, for example, causes pimples.
In general, protein powder does not give you pimples and you do not have to fear an acne outbreak. Who nevertheless would rather do without Whey or does not tolerate products from milk, can also fall back to a Vegan protein powder fall back.
It's important to look for excellent and tested quality when buying protein powders and supplements - that way you can be sure you're not ingesting any unwanted substances with your shake.