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  5. Does Whey Protein Really Cause Acne?

If you are a fitness enthusiast and indulge in regular exercise, you might be complementing your regular diets with whey protein as your workout supplement. But is it causing acne?

Whey protein offers a plethora of unique benefits concerning your health, besides helping you with muscle growth and managing weight. But it is also known to cause acne.

Let’s take a closer look at what whey protein is and how you can prevent acne caused by whey protein.

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is basically a blend of proteins that is found in whey, the liquid that is left after milk is strained or curdled during the process of making cheese. It is a natural by-product of cheese production and is a strong source of high protein that contains all essential amino acids. Whey protein is key in building and repairing your muscle strength, hence it is commonly used as a nutrition supplement. It is also known to support weight loss. As compared to other proteins, whey protein is easily digestible. It has certain effects on your immune system as well [1]. Whey protein is available in different flavours. However, you can mix it with milk or water too.

Types of Whey Protein

There are multiple types of whey protein available in the market which includes:

1. Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey Protein Concentrate is the most common type of whey protein. It is also the most recommended whey protein for bodybuilding and tastier than the others.

Whey protein concentrate has about 80% protein and low levels of fat and carbohydrates when compared to other types of whey proteins. It contains amino acids that are extremely important for your body. The protein percentage depends on how much whey protein you are consuming. A low-level consumption will have 30% of protein and high-level consumption will have up to 90% of protein concentration. [2]

2. Whey Protein Hydrolysate

Whey Protein Hydrolysate is easily digestible. It is a pre-digested form of protein that gets easily absorbed. Usually, it is used in food formulas for infants and other medical supplements. This type of whey protein influences your insulin level and spikes it up to 28% to 43% [3].

3. Whey Protein Isolate

It has 90% of protein concentration and lesser amount of fat and lactose. Many important nutrients that are commonly found in whey protein concentrate are absent in whey protein isolate.

What Are The Benefits Of Whey Protein?

1. Builds Muscle Strength

Whey protein is popular among bodybuilders and weight trainers as it helps to build and repair muscle strength. It releases anabolic hormones that can boost your muscle growth. High protein concentration and essential amino acids influence your muscle strength. Many health professionals admit that whey protein can boost muscle growth faster than other protein supplements. It also prevents muscle loss, improves your stamina, and makes your body appear toned and fit.

2. Promotes Weight Loss

A high-protein diet protein can support weight loss. When you eat more protein, it reduces your appetite and naturally up you end up eating less calories. It boosts your metabolism and eventually burns calories, and helps you maintain your muscle mass at the time of losing weight. According to a report, [4] a double-blind parallel-arm study was conducted for 12 weeks. The subjects were given dietary supplements of whey protein to achieve weight loss. The subjects lost a significant amount of body fat at the end of the study period. Whey protein can also work to reduce weight among HIV patients, as per a study.

3. Reduces Cholesterol

Whey protein also has a positive role to play in lowering your cholesterol levels. A study was conducted to determine the effect of whey protein on lipid and insulin. 70 overweight people (both men and women) were given whey protein supplements for 12 weeks, and experts noticed a decrease in their all-over cholesterol level. [5]

4. Controls Asthma

Whey protein is known to improve immune response among children who are suffering from asthma. A report established that children suffering from asthma were given 10 gram of whey protein twice every day for at least one month. Soon their immune responses were showing improvements [6].

5. Treats Type 2 Diabetes

Whey protein may cure Type 2 Diabetes, a chronic disease which is recognised by high blood sugar level and high functioning insulin hormones. Whey protein regulates your blood glucose levels. It makes sure that the blood sugar level stays at a healthy limit. [7]

6. Effective In Reducing Inflammation

When any of your body parts get injured or damaged, your body responds by showing signs of inflammation and others like redness, bleeding etc. While it is easy to get rid of short-term inflammation, chronic inflammation may indicate a serious underlying condition. A survey suggests that proper doses of whey protein supplements are highly effective for lowering levels of body inflammations. [8]

7. Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is extremely common among adults. It makes way for several heart diseases. Many studies have confirmed that the consumption of dairy products help to reduce high blood pressure. Dairy products have bioactive peptides called ACE-inhibitors (angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors) that help to reduce blood pressure. Whey protein has lactokinins that are ace-inhibitors and significantly controls your blood pressure.

8. Anti-Cancer Benefits

Even though not much research has been done on whey protein’s anti-cancer properties, one study established that whey protein concentrate is used in cancer treatment. [9]

Why Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

Many people have complained about acne breakout after consuming whey protein supplements. As mentioned earlier, whey protein contains a high level of amino acids. Milk contains 9 essential amino acids and dairy products have always been linked to acne breakout. Being a byproduct of milk, whey protein is also associated with acne. It’s because whey protein increases the production of IGF-1, a hormone that again tends to increase your sebum production, thereby causing acne breakouts.

Moreover, it can also initiate the production of hormones (androgens) that stimulates your oil glands to an excessive degree. Such that it clogs your pores, leading to acne breakouts. Also, the milk proteins can interfere with the blood sugar processing ability of your body, thus, causing skin inflammation. Naturally, the sebum production increases, resulting in acne.

Recent studies have established a strong link between whey protein and acne vulgaris [10].

Possible Side Effects Of Whey Protein

  • Allergic Reaction (If you are allergic to cow milk)
  • Stomach ache
  • Kidney Problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling nauseated
  • Constant Fatigue
  • Unwanted fat gain
  • Gout
  • Swelling up of facial parts
  • Osteoporosis (bone disease)
  • Ketosis (Increased ketone bodies in your blood)

Usually, health experts recommend only 1–2 scoops which is around 25–50 grams daily after your workout. However, make sure to check the label of your whey protein supplement to get the instructed dosage. If your regular diet consists of more protein, you may not need to add a supplement. Whey protein provides high protein intake, use only if your daily diet lacks it.

What Are The Alternatives For Whey Protein?

1. Pea protein powder

2. Casein protein powder

3. Soy protein

4. Egg white protein

5. Brown rice protein

6. Lentils

7. Nuts

8. Oily Fish

Which Protein Doesn’t Cause Acne?

Usually plant-based proteins do not cause acne. Moreover, plant-based or vegan proteins are said to be more healthier and rich in nutrition when compared to animal proteins or whey proteins.

How To Prevent Acne Breakouts Caused By Whey Protein?

1. Reduce the amount of whey protein consumption if you are experiencing acne.

2. If the condition does not improve, stop consuming whey protein completely.

3. Look for alternatives. Go for plant-based or egg-based protein powders.

4. If you are a gym person, try not to wear extremely tight clothes while exercising or heavy weight lifting. Your cloth will rub against your skin harshly which can lead to red itchy acne breakouts.

5. Shower immediately after jogging, gymming, swimming or any kind of weight lifting to stop triggering acne.

6. Avoid using dirty towels, re-wearing dirty athletic wear or sharing helmets. There are chances of accumulation of bacteria or oil that can clog your pores.

7. To stop acne you need to hydrate your skin effectively. Drink sufficient amounts of water to keep your skin hydrated and acne-free.

8. Use a medicated acne treatment ointment formulated with benzoyl peroxide to prevent breakouts.

9. If you are someone with acne prone skin, avoid consuming food high in sugar content or carbohydrate.

Wrapping Up

Adding whey protein supplement to your diet is healthy and beneficial in many ways especially if you are into bodybuilding, sports, and weight training. It works wonders to build your muscle strength and repair it. It is even helpful for people who want to shed a few kilos from their body weight. However, it is also known to cause acne breakouts. Know everything necessary about whey protein before you opt for it. If you are not sure, get in touch with your doctor first. Follow their instructions about the dosage or go by the product label. If it’s causing excessive acne, switch to its alternatives. Also, learn simple hacks that can help you manage your acne problems caused by whey protein.

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