Many people believe that dairy and whey protein supplements are some of the major causes of acne. But this doesn’t prove that all acne cases are caused by whey protein.
Whey protein is a major source of protein derived from milk. It is mostly used as a supplement for muscle growth and fat loss. It is a dietary product common among teenagers and bodybuilders.
Although sometimes the prevalence of skin breakouts is linked to intake of dietary supplements. This doesn’t mean all acne breakouts develop from whey protein intake. There are several other contributing factors to why you may have acne.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a source of protein derived from milk. It is a major part of milk and a byproduct of cheese making.
This protein is composed of 20% water-soluble part of milk, higher levels of essential amino acids, and several other proteins.
It is usually sold as a dietary supplement in dry powder form and considered as a medicine, aphrodisiac, and skin balm.
It is chosen by people of all ages to help maintain and improve their health. Whey protein is also known to have antiviral properties, enhance immune defense and bone health, improve anti-oxidative activity, help protect against cancer and cardiovascular diseases and enhance the performance of physically active individuals.
Whey is a value-added ingredient in many food products. It is a source of biologically active compounds with essential functional attributes. It can be found in foods such as infant formulas, sport nutrition foods and beverages, and other food products.
Its existence dates back to the Middle Ages, during which it was a major component of salves used to soothe burns and cure various illnesses.
Whey Protein And Acne
Acne (acne vulgaris)is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the pilosebaceous unit. It affects your skin pores, which become blocked by hair, bacteria, and dead skin cells.
These blockages then produce pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and nodules. It is a condition prevalent in adolescence and young adults, about 80% of the population between the ages of 11 and 30 will experience at least one or more forms of acne, ranging from mild to severe.
Whey protein is very common among adolescents and bodybuilders. It is preferred by young adults and adolescents for faster muscle building. This is because of its biological components, which help improve physical performance and gain muscle mass.
During the process of cheese making, whey is isolated from coagulated milk. Whey protein is found in concentrated amounts in milk and dietary supplements used by teenagers and bodybuilders.
Dairy Products And Acne
It is still unclear how or why dairy products are linked to acne. This is because not all studies agree that milk is involved with acne and not everyone who drinks milk reports having breakouts. It is also possible that individuals who drink milk more often are more likely to have breakouts.
According to the American Academy Of Dermatology (AAD);
Among 10,000 boys and girls aged 9 to 15 years, those who drank milk were more likely to have acne, the boys were reported to have drank skim milk while the girls drank the most cow’s milk (whole, low fat, or skim)
Women who drank 2 or more glasses of skim milk had a higher 44% risk of having acne than others.
Patients aged 10 to 24 years with mild to severe cases of acne were recorded to have drank significantly more of cow’s milk.
There is not yet enough research to prove the connection between these two. There are various factors on how milk and other dairy products affect your body and cause acne.
Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?
Although there is no direct evidence on how or why whey protein causes acne. There are contributing factors to the effects of these supplements.
Whey protein like milk and other dairy products contain high glycemic and specific hormones that are more likely to trigger or aggravate acne skin breakouts.
Effects of dairy products that can cause acne include;
Hormones and Inflammation
Milk contains certain androgen hormones associated with acne breakouts. One of these hormones is testosterone, which is responsible for the development of reproductive health. Hormonal reactions and fluctuations lead to oiler skin, making you prone to skin blockages and breakouts.
IGF-1 Growth Factor
Farmers usually give their cows specific hormones, including the IGF-1 growth factor, this is to make them produce more milk. This hormone spikes up adolescence, the most prevalent stage for acne. High consumption of milk is more likely to increase the IGF-1 factor and trigger acne severity levels.
Who Is More Prone To Breakouts From Whey Protein?
The prevalence of acne varies for every individual as the source. Sometimes, dairy supplements like milk and whey protein may trigger or aggravate breakouts. However, this is not always the case, since there are various causes of acne and individual flare-ups often depend on specific trigger foods.
Again, records from The American Academy Of Dermatology (AAD) record that; “While cow’s milk may increase the risk of developing acne, no studies have found that products made from milk, such as yogurt or cheese, lead to more breakouts.”
Individuals most likely to have whey protein breakouts are those suffering from hormonal imbalance, metabolic syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Hormonal imbalance is more susceptible to whey protein breakouts because these supplements already comprise high glycemic and IGF-1 factor growth that can further aggravate skin conditions from fluctuating hormones. High blood sugar from metabolic syndrome is disrupted, while women with PCOS often have high levels of androgen.
Alternative Products For Whey Products
Best alternatives for whey protein include;
Lactose-free protein powder
This is a good option for lactose-intolerant individuals. It is an even better alternative because it contains more protein per serving.
Vegan pea protein powder
A protein powder is well known for its weight management abilities. It helps cut body fat and leaves you feeling full in between meals.
Hemp protein powder
Hemp contains a substantial amount of amino acids good for the development and recovery of lean muscle. It is also rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Besides these, it improves heart and joint well-being.
Soy protein powder
Soy protein is naturally high in protein and low in fat. It is a great source of protein for individuals looking to cut fat.
Egg protein powder
A top dietary source of protein for muscle building. It is naturally free of fats and carbs and mostly used by your muscles during digestion.
Brown rice protein powder
Brown rice protein powder is a great option for vegans and vegetarians. It is full of iron and suitable for individuals interested in limiting their carb intake.
How To Identify Quality Whey Protein Supplement
Whey protein, as well as casein, is one of the major proteins found in milk, it is popularly known for its attributes to muscle growth and fat loss.
Unfortunately, acne-causing substances have been detected in dietary supplements, making individuals who take them susceptible to acne. There have been reports on how individuals who use whey protein supplements develop skin breakouts like acne. Although this depends on the frequency of intakes and other factors.
Therefore, it is better to be informed of the whey protein and which is more likely to trigger or aggravate acne. There are 2 types of whey protein supplements available;
Whey protein isolate. A more concentrated process that contains higher protein, lower calories, and less lactose and fat.
Whey protein concentrate. Undergoes a simpler procedure and is mostly used by most people.
Whey protein isolate is more expensive and usually used by individuals who are lactose intolerant or closely watch their calories.
How To Deal With Whey Protein Breakouts
One of the best ways to deal with whey protein breakouts is to reduce and cut down on whey supplement intake. This will help you manage and ease aggravation.
This may not work for everyone because there may sometimes be other contributing factors involved. For instance, some individuals say their acne only got worse after other dietary products and foods like milk, pizza, French fries.
However, if you feel dairy triggers your acne, you should;
- Keep track of how much dairy you take, when and how it affects your breakouts
- Avoid dairy during breakouts. Do this and note if it helps improve skin condition or clear it up faster.
- If you experience long-term persistent acne breakouts, take a break and cut down on dairy products.
- Try out other treatment methods for acne, such as prescription acne medications and over-the-counter skin products.
To effectively treat and clear your acne, always consider the leading cause and other contributing factors. This will help determine the most suitable treatment option for you.