A few years ago, you’d have been forgiven for not knowing much about protein supplements. These days, however, it’s pretty much impossible to go the gym, supermarket or even a coffee shop without being bombarded with powders, shakes and snack bars all promising up your intake of this essential nutrient.
But new research, reported by the Metro, suggests that one particular type of protein – whey protein – could actually be damaging our skin.
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A recent trial that looked at male athletes who consumed whey for bodybuilding purposes found that “while 50% had acne at the beginning of the study, after eating the whey protein, 100% developed acne.” On top of this, another piece of research looked at 30 adult athletes – 22 of whom used whey protein, and 14 of whom struggled with skin problems. The report concluded that “employment of protein-calories supplements demonstrated a significant association with the onset and exacerbation of acneiform lesions.”
However, while these findings are undoubtedly interesting, the majority of research in this area is either tenuous or pending. So, should we be taking this link seriously? Or is it still too early to tell?
Well, one person who has taken a close look at the link between whey and acne is dermatologist, British Skin Foundation spokesperson and regular NetDoctor contributor Anjali Mahto. In a blogpost for The Huffington Post, she highlights the link between dairy products (including whey) and acne. She says:
“Cow’s milk is made of two major proteins, and whey is one of them. Proteins such as whey are made up of smaller sub-units known as amino-acids. Whey proteins contain a high level of an amino-acid known as leucine. Leucine (along with another few amino acids in milk – isoleucine and valine – if you’re interested!) has been shown to promote insulin and IGF-1 release – which may be associated with acne development.”
“There is no doubt that there is emerging evidence that diets that are high in processed carbohydrates (high glycaemic index) and dairy can be linked to the development of acne. At present, the link seems to be stronger with high GI foods than dairy itself but it’s there… So, should we be asking ourselves if over-indulging in [whey products] can contribute to the acne process? The honest answer is, I don’t know, but it literally is food for thought.”
As a lifelong acne sufferer herself, Anjali thinks the best course of action is to monitor the effects of whey consumption on your skin, while consuming it as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
“Everything in moderation! I will limit my whey protein intake to see if it makes a difference. Anything that can potentially help my acne! Whilst I don’t think dermatologists should be treating acne with diet alone, I think the time for us to be closed-minded has gone, and it may prove to be a useful adjunct in the future in addition to the tried and tested acne therapies that we know work.”
If you’re worried about the effect whey could be having on your skin, why not switch to a vegan protein? Get it now for £18.95, Amazon.co.uk.