Hey there !
One month ago I did 5 weeks of extremly strict keto diet. I did this initially to lose the quarantine belly that made me unhappy. But in the process I had some unexpected results in regards to my acne.
Disclaimer: recommendations are based on my own experiences. Please do your research to further decide if this is something you wish to try.
The reason why I chose keto was for the quick results. I wanted something that would be effective and not take months to achieve. So keto was the answer.
If you are not familiar with what this diet is: the ketogenic diet is a protein and fat-rich diet that excludes carbs. It is generally recommended to keep the carb intake under the maximum of 50g per day. I did under 30g. To give you a clear picture, a medium-sized apple is approx 15g of carbs.
This pushes the body into survival mode. Esentially under keto, you burn your fat for fuel.
Astonishingly there’s sugar in low doses everywhere, so I used an app to track all my macros.
I was very successful with the diet, and it was easier to keep up than I thought because we already had a healthy lifestyle. Eliminate fruits and starchy foods and voila.
How the keto diet affected my acne
I lost my belly very fast! And I am so happy with how I look now. In the process, however, I also almost cleared out my acne. I was shocked. I am a sceptic when it comes to diet and skin health. Research shows an association but no direct link between certain foods and acne. So I always take everything with a grain of salt. As I previously mentioned I am diary free because my bowels don’t like it (didn’t get tested for allergies yet) and I never saw an impact on my face.
I say that the keto diet almost cleared my acne because I still had pimples, but they were sparse and small. Nothing to the likes of the adult cystic acne I suffer from.
So obviously I wanted to know how this happened.
The keto diet and acne – Glycation
Glycation is a process where sugar molecules attach themselves to other molecules, for example, proteins and fats. This sets off a chemical reaction that forms destructive molecules called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).
How this affects the skin you ask? Collagen and elastin are also proteins that keep our skin bouncy and youthful. Sugar can attach itself to collagen molecules and inadvertently destroy them. As you might already know collagen is already depleting as we age. The glycation process speeds up our ageing and can cause sagginess, wrinkles, spots, and inflammation aka acne.
Additionally, sugar will act as a dehydrator in our body. This will cause increased sebum production, clogged pores but also dull-looking skin.
A spike of insulin caused by the sugar intake also increases testosterone levels, leading again to more acne.
I won’t be getting in the more scientific mash of words because I’m not a scientist and you’ll be bored to death. But I think that you get the picture from these few examples of what sugar does to our body.
Ending keto and my fears
My boyfriend and I have looked into it and it turns out that a keto lifestyle is not recommended. Research shows that the best way to be healthy and have a long life span is to have a balanced diet. Excluding a whole food, the category is not recommended. Plus there is no research on how keto diet can affect you in the long run.
In addition to that, I do heavy lifting at the gym, and my performance slowly got poorer as I didn’t have any carbs to fuel me.
So I had to come off of it at some point. It was a slow process, as I gradually increased my carb intake every week. My plan is to stay low carb as much as possible, mostly trying to keep it under 100g. As we don’t eat processed foods or junk foods, this is easy.
I have switched where possible to “no added sugar” products, which makes life easier.
And I know that you’re wondering about it, did my acne come back? Yes, yes it did. I immediately noticed the difference in my skin, a surge of pimples and sebum production.
Given that this diet is not feasible in the long run, I consulted a dermatologist, and am now on Accutane. Hopefully, this will make it possible for me to no longer ask myself “can I eat this croissant”?
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