Foods That Cause Acne – Change Your Diet for Clear Skin

woman with acne
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Acne is a common skin condition that affects almost all of us at some point. According to some statistics, 10% of the world’s population has acne. Many factors contribute to the development of acne, and your diet is one of those.

What you eat reflects on your face, whether like it or not. With that in mind, some foods help you achieve clear skin, and then some foods cause acne.

Even though there haven’t been any scientific data backing up that certain foods can contribute to acne breakouts, practice shows it is true. Therefore, we suggest avoiding these foods that cause acne if you like clear face.

You can reduce or prevent acne breakouts with just small changes to your diet. Read on how to achieve that.

How does your diet affect your skin?

More than 50 million people in the United States are affected by acne yearly. That makes acne the most common skin condition in the country. In most cases, acne begins during puberty, but it prevails during adulthood as well.

Acne develops when your pores become clogged with dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria or other impurities. In some cases, the clogging happens because your body is producing too much sebum, the natural oil that keeps your skin moisturized.

Clogged pores result in inflammation, which leads to pimples appearing on your face. During puberty, your body starts producing more Growth factor 1, or growth hormone. Certain foods raise the amount of IGF-1 (growth hormone). Avoiding these foods is crucial for preventing acne.

Top Foods that cause acne breakouts

Refined grains and sugars

refined grains

If you consume more refined carbs, you are more prone to acne. Foods high in refined carbs include refined grains like bread, crackers, pasta, white flour, white rice, and cereals. Foods high in sugar include sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages, but also sweeteners and refined sugar.

Refined grains and sugars can cause inflammation in your body, and as a reaction, pimples might appear. Your body is battling with the inflammation, and the production of more hormones during inflamed state can result in acne.

According to some studies, consuming sugars increases the risk of acne by 30%, while consuming refined grains increases the risk by 20%.

Your bloodstream absorbs refined carbs quickly, increasing blood sugar levels, which causes insulin levels to rise as well. When you have increased insulin production, your body also produces more of that growth hormone we talked.

Dairy products

Dairy products

There is no clear connection between how milk and dairy products increase the risk of acne. But the real-life situation shows it is true. Some theories suggest milk also increases insulin levels, which can contribute to acne breakouts, but also worsen acne severity.

If you have to drink milk, try to avoid cow’s milk. This milk stimulates your liver to produce more IGF-1 hormone.

Fast food

Fast food

When food has been dubbed unhealthy, it is clear you need to avoid. And that applies even more if you like to avoid and prevent acne breakouts.

Fast food is high in fat, refined carbs, and calories. And that is not the healthy fat your body needs. No, fast food usually raises cholesterol and triglycerides levels.

Consuming fast food regularly can also alter the way hormones work in your body. And as we noted before, hormone imbalance often results in acne breakouts.



Chocolate has been dubbed as an acne trigger since forever. There is no clear connection to why chocolate increases the risk of acne. Some studies show that dark chocolate, for example, does not increase the risk as much. Even pure cocoa powder can increase the risk of acne. And we know cocoa powder is quite healthy.

One reason why chocolate has been linked to acne is probably the high amount of sugar. Most chocolates are high in refined sugars, which as we said before, can cause a spike in your insulin levels.

With that in mind, try to limit chocolate, even a black one, during your puberty years. And if you are sensitive and prone to acne, chocolate might not be your friend.

Whey protein powder

Whey protein powder

The good news is that whey protein powder helps you build muscle. The bad news, however, is that comes with a price. While whey protein is popular as a dietary supplement, it does not help with acne. Whey protein contains amino acids that make skin cells grow and divide more quickly. That is the reason your muscles grow.

But these amino acids can also stimulate the production of insulin, causing acne breakouts on your face.

See the recommended hydrolyzed whey protein powders and know the feedbacks of other users.

Foods you are allergic to

Foods you are allergic to

This group is specific and unique for every person. If you are sensitive to certain foods, it will show up on your face. When you are sensitive to certain foods, eating them causes inflammation in your gut. And we explained before that an inflamed state is a perfect breeding ground for acne.

How to avoid foods that cause acne?

As we said at the beginning, with just small changes to your lifestyle habits, you can prevent and treat acne. Yes, you need the determination to avoid foods that cause acne.

Especially that sweet tasty chocolate. But it is possible. Here are some tips to achieve your goal of clear and acne-free skin.

  • Add fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, they are rich in vitamins and fiber, making you feel full and preventing cravings for sugary foods
  • Drink plenty of water and unsweetened tea to flush out toxins out of your body
  • Drink a glass of water and lemon juice in the morning to stimulate toxins flushing
  • Consume foods high in vitamin A, including carrots, papaya, spinach, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes, as vitamin A balances sebum production
  • If you absolutely have to consume chocolate, switch from regular milk chocolate to dark chocolate that is rich in antioxidants
  • Consume foods that are high in vitamin C, including citrus fruits, leafy greens, and more that help your skin produce collagen
  • Last, but not least, consume fatty fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that keep your skin supple

How to treat and manage acne?

If you are faced with an acne issue, you can do two things. One is to get some over the counter medications. Or you can try natural remedies. But no matter what you chose, you have to make changes in your diet and avoid foods that cause acne.

With that in mind, there are also some preventive precautions you can take to avoid forming of acne.

  • Wash your skin and face two times per day, and extra after sweating or playing sports
  • Wash your hair with shampoo regularly
  • Buy only oil-free skincare products
  • Avoid picking and scratching your pimples
  • Avoid exposure to the sun
  • Try to reduce stress in your life as much as possible

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