Health And Wellness, Protein Powders

Whey Protein and Acne: Let’s Clear the Air!

I’m sure you’ve heard the rumor, “whey protein or a high protein diet can cause acne.” Don’t remember?

Let me paint the picture for you: You set out on your fitness journey, start going to gym and decide to build some muscles. Bulking requires an insane amount of protein and whey protein might be the way to go, with 24g protein per serving (I mean that’s a lot of protein).

You are just about to purchase it and your mother goes “Hameeda k betay ne liya tha yeh powder, daanay nikal aye thay us k mu pr, doctor ne bataya isi powder ki waja se hua.”

And now you’re skeptical and worried that Pakistani protein powders are fake or there’s some fishy business going on here.

Let us help you with the problem, your mother’s right about Hameeda’s son (She’s always right tho 😇).

The problem is a little deep rooted but for now to answer the question, Does Whey Protein cause acne: Yes, it sometimes does cause acne and that is due to its dairy nature. While whey protein is passed through many steps of filtration at the cheese-making factory, the process still leaves a bit of lactose in there, and well, many Pakistanis are lactose intolerant.

Got your answer? I think you need us to dive a bit more into details because this is one of the worst myths about whey protein.

So, chaliye shuru krtay hen 🙂.

What’s the connection between Acne and Dairy?

Well, the connection definitely is there.

As you know, milk has two kinds of proteins, one is whey, and the other is casein.

Both these proteins have something inside them and that’s called “insulin-growth-factor-1.” This IGF-1 hormone can cause testosterone levels to rise and result in an acne breakout.

But you get our point right? If whey protein is causing it, any high protein diet can cause acne and especially the source of whey: milk. So, culprit here is the milk source.

Why does Whey protein take all the blame then?

Easy answer: the protein part of milk is causing you acne, right? So, whey protein is all that protein separated from the milk and refined for you. The vast amount of protein can cause this problem.

Does this mean to ward off whey protein for good?

No, this doesn’t mean you have to throw out any whey protein that you have. The problem, as we said, has a deeper root.

You see IGF-1 is not the biggest cause of acne in whey protein, that’s actually a minor thing and has a very less chance of impacting you because Pakistanis have a stronger immune system than most of the world.

What’s the cause for acne in Pakistan then?

The problem is something else. You see people in Pakistan generally don’t know this but 60% of us are lactose intolerant! (source)

This means most of us are intolerant to any kind of dairy products.

Sounds wrong, I know. But we here in Pakistan don’t get the test done for lactose intolerance and blame our illness on other factors.

We drink a lot of milk, chai, and God knows what, but we are kinda allergic to all of it.

So yeah, the acne issue also steps in here, whey protein is refined and filtered from milk. It’s a dairy product.

does high protein diet cause acne

But this filtration does not remove all of the lactose from the cheese. And since many of us are lactose intolerant, our skin reacts to it, and we end up with acne.

So, in conclusion, the acne you’re blaming on whey protein, you just might as well have gotten it from the milk you drink.

Actually, as whey protein is filtered and stuff yk, it’s actually much safer than drinking milk when you’re lactose intolerant, because much of the harmful stuff that might’ve hurt you has been taken out.

Why whey protein tho?

A question here is, why all the hassle to just get whey protein.

That you might already know but lemme just tell you a bit more.

Whey protein has a good protein profile (contains all the essential amino acids you need). Is much quicker to digest, makes you feel full more (you’ll need that to bulk 💪), and our body likes whey protein over others for tissue repairing.

So, you know, if you want to reap the benefits, try to know a bit more about your body.

What to do now? 

Easy, before buying anything. Get a test from your doctor, see if you’re lactose intolerant or not.

If you’re lactose intolerant, then you have the green light to ward off whey protein and go for plant-sourced protein powders instead, like soy or pea.

However, if you’re not lactose intolerant. Good News! You can buy whey protein 🎉.

Either way, you get to bulk up and stay healthy.

Side note: When buying whey protein, make sure the seller is transparent about all the ingredients and everything too, because yk.. 🙃

Take-Away Message

Okay, so today’s lesson: Know your body, then start your fitness journey.

The relationship between acne and whey protein has never been established to its fullest but most content you’ll find out there won’t cater to you as Pakistanis. As we’ve explained, for Pakistanis the real culprit is the lactose content of Whey protein.

And if you’re lactose intolerant it might be better to shift to an alternative protein powder.


1.      Informed choices

2.      Transparent ingredient sourcing

3.      Understanding your body’s needs

And to clarify, not all high protein diets cause acne, if you didn’t catch it yet. It’s a select few sources of protein, that are sourced from milk.

If you’re not lactose intolerant, whey protein remains as a valuable option for bulking up. But even if you are, there are some good options out there. Stay committed to your workout and to a healthier you!

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