Can pre-workouts cause acne

Although pre-workout supplements are great for helping you through a workout and getting ripped off, they can cause some problems if you have acne-prone skin.

Can pre-workouts cause acne?

There is no easy answer to this question since the exact cause of acne is unknown. Apart from anecdotal evidence that some foods and ingredients cause or aggravate acne, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims.

Everyone knows that sugary and fatty foods are usually associated with acne.

A couple of small research experiments revealed that people on a diet with a low glycemic load, or a diet with a lot of whole foods, rich in fruits and vegetables, and little processed and refined products, had less acne. However, the evidence is relatively weak, and we can not draw any conclusions.

Why pre-workout can cause acne

Acne is a common skin condition that almost all people encounter in life. If you have acne-prone skin, pre-workout can cause acne. However, this does not necessarily mean that everyone who uses supplements before exercise will get acne.

Here are some possible reasons why pre-workouts can trigger acne.

Pre-workout contain a lot of caffeine

Many pre-workout supplements are packed with caffeine which increases your energy and helps you through your workouts. Before workouts, the typical amount of caffeine varies from 150-300 mg per serving.

But how is this related to acne?

Research has shown that caffeine has a diuretic effect on your kidneys. Caffeine makes you urinate more than usual, which affects your skin in a couple of ways:


First, urinating more than usual usually leads to dehydration of your body – including your skin. Now dry skin is not a problem for most people. However, when your skin is dehydrated, it produces oil to fight dryness, and it can cause problems for people with acne-prone skin. The oil your dry skin has to fight dryness can clog your pores and cause acne.


Furthermore, caffeine can reduce magnesium absorption, which causes you to urinate unused magnesium, so it’s recommend taking proven pre-workouts without caffeine. Magnesium is essential in reducing inflammation, and there is some evidence that acne is caused by inflammation.

Supplements are packed with artificial sweeteners

Some pre-workout supplements use artificial sweeteners such as sucralose to enhance the supplement’s taste. Artificial sweeteners may not seem related to acne, but researchers have discovered that artificial sweeteners increase insulin levels and insulin resistance in the same way that sugar does.

One study had 15 participants who took either 200 mg sucralose or a placebo every day for four weeks. The results showed that the participants in the sucralose group were more insulin resistant than the participants in the placebo group.

Another study revealed that participants who ate aspartame with a meal had significantly higher insulin levels than participants who consumed a natural sweetener with a meal.

Unfortunately for acne sufferers and people with acne-prone skin, insulin resistance may play an essential role in the development of acne. To reduce the risk of getting acne, you may want to avoid supplements that use sweeteners or try a proven all-natural pre-workout capsule form.

Pre-workouts contain ingredients that can cause acne

Hormonal changes aside, it is challenging to find the exact ingredient that can cause acne flare-ups if you have acne-prone skin.

But besides caffeine and artificial sweeteners, pre-workouts are usually packed with:

  • Protein
  • Creatine
  • Mass sessions (high-calorie supplements packed with protein, carbohydrates, and fats)
  • BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids)

The high carbon levels and whey protein usually cause the most problems.

Pre-workout supplements are usually filled with animal or soy-based proteins, artificial sweeteners, and a whole host of other not-so-natural ingredients. However, all foods with a high glycemic index can cause acne, as they cause high blood sugar and insulin peaks.

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