Although there is no concrete evidence available so far, pre workout supplements are known to cause acne, rashes, and a few other skin issues. Many of them contain caffeine, sugar, creatine, and other ingredients that are clinically proven to cause skin breakouts. But, don’t worry; even if you have sensitive skin, choosing the right pre workout and following a healthy routine can help reduce the chances of getting pimples.
Read on to find out why pre workouts can cause acne and what you can do to avoid this side effect.
📖 Related Article: Not just skin breakouts, pre workouts are infamous for causing digestive issues. Thought you might be interested to know why Pre-Workout Makes You Poop?
Why does pre workout cause acne?
Pre workouts are meant to help you improve your athletic performance by boosting your energy levels so you can do more reps and train for a longer duration.
Ever wondered how it can give you those magical powers suddenly? It's because of its energy-boosting ingredients, which are caffeine, sugar, creatine, branched-chain amino acids, and some micro vitamins and minerals.
Pre workouts often upset the digestive system which causes acne
Most pre workout supplements contain magnesium.
It is clinically proven that consuming extra magnesium before training can boost performance in athletes by boosting their metabolism. (1)
However, magnesium is infamous for causing digestive issues such as indigestion, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, etc., especially when taken in high doses. And, poor digestion is directly linked to skin issues.
So, the presence of magnesium is one of the key reasons why pre workout causes acne.
💡 Quick Tip: If you are taking pre workout supplements, you should use probiotic supplements too. Amazing Grass Greens Blend Superfood is one of the top-rated all-natural probiotic supplements that can help keep your gut healthy while taking caffeine and magnesium-rich pre workout.
Amazing Grass Greens Blend Superfood
The High caffeine content of pre workouts can cause acne
Numerous studies have proven that caffeine is a natural performance enhancer (2). It can help improve aerobic endurance as well as muscular strength and endurance. It can enhance focus and alertness during workouts. That's why it is a major content of all pre workout supplements.
But, it comes with its own set of side effects. While excessive caffeine doesn’t directly cause acne, it triggers the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol triggers the production of excess body oil, which ends up clogging the pores and causing skin breakouts. Caffeine also causes a spike in the insulin level, which could worsen your acne situation.
Many pre workouts are loaded with artificial sweeteners which cause acne
Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are used as taste enhancers. They do not contain any calories and yet artificial sweeteners are about 600 times sweeter than natural sugar.
Numerous studies have concluded that artificial sweeteners can cause a severe spike in your blood sugar level and disrupt your hormonal balance (3). These are two major reasons why pre workouts can cause acne even in people who do not have sensitive skin. Artificial sweeteners are also associated with numerous health risks such as stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, and even premature death.
Now, I don’t want to scare you. There are plenty of pre workouts that do not have any form of false sugar. You just need to find the right one. Rogue Fitness Ascent Pre-Workout is one such product I came across. If you want to go for an all-natural supplement, Legion Pulse Pre Workout is a great option.
💡 Quick Tip: If you are looking for a keto-friendly pre workout, try RSP Nutrition AminoLean Pre Workout Powder. It is a gluten-free and sugar-free product with natural caffeine.
RSP Nutrition AminoLean Pre Workout Powder
Dehydration could be a reason why pre workout causes acne
Just in case you didn’t realize, caffeine is diuretic i.e. it makes you pee more than you usually do. Now, you will be losing a lot of water in two ways; by urinating more and by sweating more, which you will do because of the nature of your training.
If you do not drink sufficient water, you may end up dehydrating yourself, including your skin. And won’t realize it because dehydrated skin is actually more oily! Your body produces more oil to combat the dryness. This excess oil clogs the pores and causes acne.
Some other acne-causing ingredients in pre workout supplements are:
- BCAAs i.e. branched-chain amino acids
- Mass gainers
How to reduce the chances of getting acne from pre workout
Stop taking pre workouts
Acne is just one of the side effects. These supplements are associated with high blood sugar levels, liver damage, kidney damage, cardiovascular issues, etc. although there is no scientific evidence available so far to prove anything.
If you are training for competitions, you may have to take a pre workout so you can pump more iron in the gym. But, if you are a fitness freak or someone who loves to have a well-toned body, you can skip these supplements and look for natural alternatives such as peanut butter or protein shake such as Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder. Banana and oats smoothie is another great option if you want to go all-natural. All of these are protein-rich foods. Since they do not have caffeine or artificial sugar, they may not provide you with the instant fuel you need but, they will help you build muscles more safely.
📖 Related Article: Want to avoid pre workout supplements but don’t know how to start? Here is an interesting article on Getting Used to Working Out Without Pre-workout.
Stay hydrated to reduce the chances of getting acne from pre workout
You should consume at least 50% more water than your daily recommended limit. The more the better. Water will help flush the toxins that you may have gotten from the excessive caffeine and sugar content of your pre workout. It can help control the spike in your blood sugar level. Your skin will stay moist, which is really important to prevent acne.
Take a cold shower after workouts
As soon as your heart rate and body temperature have returned to normal, which could take 30 minutes, go for a cold shower (or lukewarm depending on the weather). Cold showers help boost immunity, which helps reduce the chances of breakouts. Cold water also helps reduce skin inflammation, regulate the production of sebum, and close skin pores. It gently cleans the skin without washing off the natural oil. All these can help keep your skin healthy.
I am not too fond of supplements but you may go for all-natural fish supplements, milk thistle supplements, probiotic supplements, etc. to control the acne situation with pre workouts. There is no scientific evidence that proves their effectiveness but they are still widely used and people have found them useful. Zazzee USDA Organic Milk Thistle Extract Capsules and Sports Research Triple Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil are some of the best-rated products I have found for you.
While buying a pre workout, you must read the buyer reviews and see how many of them got acne after using it. If the number is too high and if you have sensitive skin, you shouldn’t take a chance with it. Acne could take weeks to go even after you stop the supplement. And, sometimes it may leave scars on your face. So, be careful with these supplements and do not take them unless you genuinely need them.
1- Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance?- National Library of Medicine
2- International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance