Does BCAA Cause Acne? 4 Reasons and 6 Symptoms

Breathe in, breathe out, and sweat – the key to fitness!

Healthy muscle, mighty strength, great stamina, and perfect shape don’t come overnight; how you exercise and what you eat matter most. When we talk about eating muscle-friendly food, supplements like BCAA must be there.

Branched Chain Amino Acids, aka BCAA, offers three essential amino acids, great for muscle growth and recovery. While its benefits are immense, one issue often arises – does BCAA cause acne?

BCAA can cause acne due to leucine, one of the essential amino acids. It triggers lipid production and the IGF-1 hormone, producing excess oil glands and leading to acne. Besides, intaking BCAA may increase testosterone levels that boost sebum production and cause acne.

Though more research is needed in this field, you can’t overlook the possibility of having acne for BCAA.

Does BCAA Cause Acne?

BCAA, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are three essential amino acids – valine, leucine, and isoleucine – your body requires for muscle growth and energy. It also significantly impacts your workout capacity and stamina.

Hence, the BCAA supplement is popular among Gym goers.

However, a debatable issue regarding BCAA is if it may cause acne. While some strongly believe it does, others are skeptical. The connection is someway connected with the correlation between gynecomastia and creatine.

Several studies suggest that BCAA can trigger acne, resulting in whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples on your skin. The main triggering factor can be leucine which stimulates the skin’s oil glands, produces more sebum, and clogs the pores. As a result, you face acne.

Acne usually occurs on your face, forehead, shoulders, and chest, and its severity may vary. Usually, you will have 6 noticeable signs of acne.

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Pimples
  • Papules –  tiny, tender, red bumps
  • Nodules or painful lumps
  • Cystic lesions.

Why Does BCAA Cause Acne?

Fitness is desirable; however, acne while achieving your fitness goal is not something you want. But BCAA may cause the unwanted issue.

Over Activated Protein-Complex

Your body contains mTORC1 – the protein-complex helping in healthy cell production and function. However, if this protein complex gets over-activated, it can start the chain reaction for acne. It happens due to excess cell development and sebum or oil production.

Now, which can over-activate mTORC1? It’s leucine – one essential amino acid present in BCAA.

Increased Sebum Production

Excess protein, especially leucine, activates lipid production, which triggers the oil gland and produces excess sebum. As a result, it blocks the pores on your skin and intercepts the regular oil release. This condition leads to excess oil, often bacterial inflammation in your skin that causes acne.

Increased Testosterone

BCAA, especially leucine, impacts your hormonal balance, especially testosterone, which can cause acne breakouts. Though testosterone is a male hormone, females also have it at a minuscule level. But how does testosterone cause acne?

Increased testosterone levels stimulate sebaceous glands – the oil-producing gland that dwells in hair follicles in your skin. It creates the oily sebum that maintains your skin’s suppleness and hydration.

However, sebum blocks the pores when produced in excess, trapping the oil inside. It causes bacterial accumulation that leads to acne.

Increased IGF-1 Hormone

Taking BCAA can impact Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 or IGF-1, which may lead to acne. Research suggests that IGF-I can stimulate sebaceous glands causing excessive sebum production. In addition, it can also instigate acne-causing bacteria in the blocked pores.

How To Control BCAA-Causing Acne?

If muscle growth is your goal, BCAA is one great companion for fulfilling the goal. But acne is an issue. However, you can take several steps to control acne caused by BCAA consumption.

Divided Portion

It’s one great option to control BCAA-causing acne without impacting your fitness goal. Instead of taking the required portion or powder in one shot – before or after the workout – divide the amount.

If you intake 20g of BCAA powder every day after your workout session, take it in half twice a day. It can energize you without impacting much on your skin.

More Water

Drink plenty of water while having BCAA. It will boost your digestion and keep you hydrated.

Healthy Food

Healthy food is the answer to healthy living. The same for acne. Limit your dairy and protein intake as it may trigger acne development combined with BCAA.

Besides, add foods to your diet that are highly nutritious and help in protein digestion. Eat colorful vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, healthy oils, and tea to help heal acne.

How To Treat Acne

Acne is usually caused by excess oil production that blocks the pores or bacterial infection. So the primary treatment is to reduce the oil and treat bacterial infection.

However, the treatment mostly depends on the severity of the condition.

Acne creams and gels containing Benzoyl peroxide and Salicylic acid.Oral Antibiotics, Retinoids, Hormonal Birth Control (For Women), Benzoyl PeroxideAzelaic acid.Benzoyl Peroxide, Oral Antibiotics, Topical Antibiotics, Topical Retinoids, Oral Isotretinoin.

Tips To Prevent Acne Breakouts

If you have mild or moderate acne, you can control the breakouts with home remedies and lifestyle moderation.

  • Avoid pricking or popping acne-prone areas as it may cause infection.
  • Wash your face with a mild soap or oil-free cleanser twice a day.
  • Avoid facial scrubs, masks, excess scrubbing, etc., as they may worsen acne.
  • Avoid oil-based cosmetics, sunscreens, face products, etc., and use water-based products to avoid clogged pores.
  • Avoid direct sun heat.
  • Wash your face or remove makeup before bed.
  • Shower after sweaty activities.
  • Consume nutritious food and plenty of water.

Is BCAA Worth It: BCAA Benefits

BCAA contains three essential amino acids crucial for muscle growth and energy. If you do intense strength training, BCAA may help you prevent muscle breakdown.

In addition, BCAA provides several benefits that can overshadow the non-severe side effects. It supports-

  • Increased appetite
  • Muscle growth
  • Muscle waste prevention
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Less muscle soreness
  • Muscle recovery
  • Fat burning
  • Reduced risk of liver cancer
  • Improved mental function.

What Are The Side Effects Of BCAA?

Besides acne, BCAA can cause other side effects that include-

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Headache.

BCAA vs. Creatine: Which Supplement Should You Take?

BCAA and creatine are both popular supplements among gymgoers. However, which one is better – there’s no particular answer to this question. Instead, it depends on your goal and preference.

Check for yourself and decide which supplement you need.

Formation3 Essential Amino Acids – Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine your body can’t produce.2 Two Amino Acids – Arginine, Glycine, And Methionine your body produces naturally.
BenefitsMuscle growth, Fat burning, Reduced muscle soreness, Rapid recovery, etc.Increased energy, Muscle mass, quick muscle recovery, increased muscle strength, etc.
Suitable ForFor lean muscles and fat cutting
For a low-calorie diet with insufficient protein
For aerobic exercises like cardio, gymnastics, strength training, and athletics.For vegetarians.
For strength and muscle mass
For energy during a heavier and longer workout.
For vegetarians.
Way Of Intake Good as both a standalone supplement or blend.Good as a blend. (even mixed in overnight oats)
Suitable TimeBefore and during the workout.Pre-workout.
LoadingNo need for LoadingNeed Loading in the first phase for around 5 days.

Now, if you ask me which is better, BCAA or creatine, the quick answer is both are excellent for increased performance, muscle growth, quick recovery, and strength.

And if you are a big fan of electrolytes, check out our blog on the difference between electrolytes and BCAA.

You can choose either one. But the best part is you can take them together, enhancing your strength and performance.

Bottom Line

BCAA, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, provides three essential amino acids that support muscle growth, recovery, and fat burning. However, does BCAA cause acne?

Well, consuming BCAA supplements can cause acne as it has leucine that triggers the oil gland and produces excess sebum. As a result, your pores get clogged by the excess oil, inviting bacterial inflammation. So, you encounter acne.

However, with controlled portions, a balanced diet, and lifestyle modification, you can manage the BCAA-causing acne. All you need is will and patience.

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