Does Pre-Workout Cause Acne?

does pre workout cause acne

If you are a fitness enthusiast, you might have heard about pre-workout supplements. These supplements give notable results and improve your performance.

But some side effects are unavoidable. Let’s find out, does pre-workout cause acne?

Moreover, we will give you a detailed overview of keeping your skin clear while taking pre-workout.

Can Pre-Workout Cause Acne?

Maybe! Pre-workout triggers acne if you have acne-prone skin. But the side-effects depend on the properties of pre workout and personal health.

Acne occurs when some hormones like androgens are imbalanced, your contact with bacteria, or your sebaceous glands are not working correctly.

Formulation of pre-workout is a common culprit in this regard. Ingredients like caffeine, sugars, and branched-chain amino acids disturb the natural balance of hormones in the body, because of which the skin starts acting up.

Reasons for getting pre-workout acne

There can be multiple reasons for getting acne while consuming pre-workout drinks. Some of them are enlisted.

can pre workout cause acne

High Caffeine

Caffeine is the main ingredient of most pre-workout supplements. The high concentration of caffeine is problematic despite the positive effects.

Caffeine triggers inflammatory receptors that result in flushing and breakouts. Not only this, but caffeine also causes an increase in cortisol hormone which is released in the stress condition.

When the levels of cortisol increase, it simultaneously increases sebum production, leaving the sebaceous glands clogged.

Caffeine is a known diuretic that hinders the removal of toxins from the body due to excessive urination. So, your body is likely to get hydrated and resulting in skin-related issues.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are used in pre-workouts. These branched-chain amino acids are involved in protein synthesis and shorten post-workout recovery.

Study reveals that leucine has a significant role in enhancing sebum production that directly leads to acne.

The mTORC1 pathway is highly activated after leucine consumption, which increases androgen levels and sebum. This is how branched-chain amino acids contribute to pre-workout acne.

Artificial sugars

High sugars can be a reason for several health concerns. Artificial sugars interact with your insulin levels due to a high glycemic index.

High insulin levels disturb your hormones, causing skin issues like acne. The study claims that pre-workout with artificial sweeteners increases the risk of acne by 30%.


Whey is an essential protein in dairy products. Even the whey protein used in the pre-workouts is derived from cow’s milk.

Its amino acid richness helps in improving performance and relieves muscle from post-workout tiredness.

Keeping all the benefits aside, dairy products trigger acne. Dairy products contain natural growth hormones, but when the body digests milk, insulin-like growth hormone 1 (IGF-1) is released, which is a significant contributor to acne.

Tips for the prevention of acne caused by pre-workout

Tips For The Prevention Of Acne Caused

1. Cold showers

Cold showers post-workout can keep your skin in a better state by reducing oiliness. Hot showers damage your skin by opening a gland present on your skin.

The opened glands produce more oils that keep your skin greasy. Greasy skin can be a site of bacteria or result in acne. Cold showers keep your skin hydrated yet less oily.

Cold showers are also involved in increasing your white blood cell count. The greater the number of WBC, the greater their capacity to deal with acne-causing bacteria.

2. Milk thistle

Milk thistle has a list of benefits, but its protective effect on the liver is magical. Pre-workout supplement no doubt causes acne but using milk thistle simultaneously can result in better skin condition.

Instead of taking antibiotics for treatment, give milk thistle a try; it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

3. Fish oil supplements

Omega 3 is famous for its health benefits. EPA and DHA-rich supplements reduce inflammatory reactions caused by pre workout supplements.

Acne flare-ups can lower your self-esteem, but if you are looking for a natural way to deal with breakouts, then fish oils work best.

4. Take a break from pre-workout

If you are not sure whether pre-workout is causing acne or not, then give yourself a break of a month to see the results. If the acne starts to clear up during your break period, then possibly some ingredients are triggering acne.

Try to switch to a formula with different chemical composition or look for pre-workout drinks prepared naturally at home.

5. Deal with stress

Even in normal circumstances, getting acne can create some stress, and that stress is also contributing to acne flare-ups.

You must break this cycle to reduce the inflammatory effect on your skin that results in pre-workout acne.

6. Apply sunscreen

Your skin sweats more while you are working out. It opens your sebaceous glands when your skin directly interacts with harsh sunlight, and skin damage is expected.

Sunscreens reduce the chances of inflammation and damage, which will make your skin healthy and acne free.

Are there any pre-workouts that don’t cause acne?

Acne mechanica is common among athletes. Possible reasons are excessive sweating, heat, pre-workout and poor hygiene.

If you are not ready to give up on a pre-workout supplement, find the best suitable options for your fitness and skin.

Protein from egg, hemp, and pea sources is considered safe among most participants.

If you are looking for more organic properties, then beet and pomegranate extract is best for an intense workout and for your skin.

Beta-alanine is also considered safe for acne-prone skin participants.. Here is a list of some pre-workouts that don’t cause acne.

Type- Zero clean pre-workout

This is a caffeine-free supplement with natural sweeteners. It doesn’t contain allergens like gluten, soy, or gelatin. Moreover, it is a low glycemic index and promotes heart health.

Genius Pre

It is also caffeine free with natural sugar and stevia. It has no artificial flavors or colors. It is extensively involved in muscle pumping and efficiently promotes post-workout recovery.


Pre-workouts contain some harsh ingredients that can cause acne or worsen the condition of acne-prone skin.

Quitting pre-workout is not the right option, but it is wise to know the ingredient that your skin is not dealing well with.

There are pre-workout supplements available in the market with natural and non-problematic ingredients, as mentioned in the article.

Take care of your hygiene and stay hydrated for healthier skin. Consult a dermatologist and dietitian to figure out the root cause and lean over safe pre-workout options.

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