Can A Keto Diet Cure Acne?

keto diet acne

You might have heard that many people are following a keto diet for it’s incredible effects on weight loss but some are claiming that the low carb diet has also cured or at least vastly improved their acne.

You just have to look at the before and after pictures people are posting on Instagram and Facebook to see the difference it has made to them.  On the other hand some have said the keto diet has made them break out. So what’s going on here? Let’s take a look.

Role of Diet In Acne

According to early studies, diets that are high in refined carbs and sugar are said to worsen acne. However, after an experimental research failed to show a link between acne and certain foods, the diet is no longer seen as a contributor to the skin problem.

But the tide has turned yet again, for according to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology:

Based on the data summarized, dermatologists should encourage their acne patients to minimize their intake of high glycemic index foods.

Also Dr. Mark Hyman talked about the link of high carbohydrate diet to acne on his blog:

large randomized prospective controlled trials (the gold standard of medical research) found that people who had higher sugar intake and a high glycemic load diet (more bread, rice, cereal, pasta, sugar, and flour products of all kinds) had significantly more acne.

A 2007-controlled study done on 43 young men who were acne-prone has found that a low-glycemic diet could lead to a reduction of acne lesions compared to a high-glycemic load diet. In addition, the group belonging to the low-glycemic load have experienced a decrease in their insulin and androgen levels, improved insulin sensitivity, and weight loss.

On the other hand, the other group belonging to the high-glycemic load diet has shown an increase in insulin level and weight.

Related reading: Is A Low Carb Diet The Same As Low GI?

Keto Diet and Acne

Although tightly controlled research in carb restriction for acne treatment is yet to be done, many people have reported that their skin has become clearer, thanks to the low carb or keto diet. In addition, there are various logical reasons why lowering your intake of carbs would be useful in treating acne. Here are some of them:

Lowering of insulin level – an elevated insulin could stimulate the production of sebum, androgens, and skin cells, and this will set the stage for acne growth. If you’re going to follow the keto diet, your level of insulin will dramatically decrease, which also prevents the growth of acne.

Anti-inflammatory – inflammation is one of the reasons behind the progression of acne. Following an extremely low carb diet like keto has been shown to help reduce inflammation, which prevents acne progression.

Decrease in the insulin-like growth factor or IGF-1 – low carb diets like keto can help to lower down the level of IGF-1. Just like insulin, IGF-1 has the tendency to increase the production of sebum, which plays an important role in the development of acne.

Related reading: Why a Keto Diet Can Make You Look Younger

Why can a keto diet cause acne? 

According to a recent article in Men’s Health a 2015 study found that high-fat diets increased the production of sebum on your skin, which can increase your risk for acne.  Ross C. Radusky, MD, dermatologist said:

A keto diet wreaks havoc on your skin. Ketosis is stressful on the body, at least in the beginning. It can throw many of your bodily functions out of whack, causing everything from bad breath to constipation. But it also wreaks havoc on your skin.

If your version of the keto diet involves eating a lot of dairy, it may contribute to acne flare-ups. A 2015 review published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology showed a link between diets high in dairy and an increase in acne-causing sebum.

In Conclusion

While the evidence that a keto diet can help cure acne is still in the preliminary stage, there are various reasons to believe that low carb diets, most especially the keto diet, can help to cure acne.

By choosing to live a ketogenic lifestyle, you are minimizing your insulin levels and lowering inflammation, which could lead to a clearer, healthier, and acne-free skin.

On the other hand  Perri Halperin, a registered dietitian at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City says:

Nutrition and skin health are highly individualized and multifactorial. In other words, it’s hard to say for sure if the keto diet will cause acne for you specifically.

If you have tried everything else to cure your acne then it’s certainly worth trying the keto diet but make sure that you keep dairy products low.

Acne image credit


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