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Eliminating Fats And Acne

By: Kate E. 

After eliminating dairy from my diet, my skin was clearing for a good period of time and I was eating how I normally would – but without meat and dairy.

I then started to break out again and the spots were big and red – much worse than they were when I was getting them from dairy. At the time, I was eating a lot of hummus and avocados for snacks (both of which are very high in their fat concentration).

I was so angry about what was happening because I thought I had found the fix with the dairy so I did more research and came across an article by Dr. McDougall that talked about how consuming a high level of fat can cause acne in some people – not all, but some.

High fats and acne have a correlation.

According to a recent study in 2020 with 24000 surveyed adults, 

The likelihood of having current acne was significantly higher in those who consumed: 

  • high-fat foods such as milk or high fat meat
  • high sugar food and drinks
  • Had a diet high in the combination of high-fat and high-sugar foods. Compared with those who never had acne, respondents who currently had acne were 54% more likely to consume a high fat and high sugar diet.

While it doesn’t necessary mean that the actual fat causes acne, it could be components of the food affecting parts of the body in different ways.

For example some high fat foods include dairy – which there is evidence dairy protens can increase acne. 

Since I already eliminated dairy, the high level of “healthy fats” I was consuming were clearly giving me problems.  If you believe in face-mapping, this suggests I had digestive issues as the spots were mainly on my forehead.

We definitely need fats in our digestive system to receive essential fatty acids and absorb certain vitamins and nutrients properly,  but lots of people over-consume and this shows on their body and skin.

Fats take longer to digest than carbs, for example, so when you combine high fat meals it is possible that it’s causing digestive issues like indigestion or acid reflux. 

High Fat and Carbohydrate Diet Increases Sebum Production

Consumption of fats and carbohydrates also lead to an increase in sebum production, which is a fatty oil secretion from the pores of our skin. 

Excess sebum production from the pores can cause more acne when the pore becomes infected by bacteria and causes inflammation (a pimple).

The bacteria thrive off the sebum and will continue to live. Eliminating excess fats from your diet makes sense to prevent this right? The less fat you consume, the less you will have in excess through your system so the less you will have causing blockages in your pores to feed a pimple!

You can go and spend a heap of money with prescriptions to reduce sebum production, to lessen inflammation and kill bacteria – but there is always a simpler way. You need to attack the cause and bring about the cure yourself with the right diet modifications. 

As Dr. McDougall said, “Everyone knows that acne is related to surging hormones during adolescence, but to blame acne on puberty is like blaming heart disease on old age.  People get more heart disease as they get older, but only when they eat the wrong diet.” So true! And it has definitely worked for me.

By eliminating more fats from my high fat diet, my acne has cleared up so much. It has simply cleared up digestive problems,  and decreased my sebum production. I feel lighter with more energy, my skin gets less oily throughout the day and my breakouts have cleared completely.

This method has definitely worked for me – and I notice it when I eat an avocado, for example, my skin doesn’t look as good the next day. Feel free to do more research on this topic about fats and acne and remember, this might not work for everyone but it did for me so of course, I’d say to give it a try!

How To Reduce Fat Intake

Sometimes it may seem like you aren’t consuming a lot of fats, but high fats can be hidden in many common foods. You can use an app like fmy itness pal or chronometer to really see how many grams of fat are in your meals and snacks.  You may be surprised! 

Make sure you aren’t replacing your fats with too many unhealthy processed carbs too because as mentioned above high carbohydrates can also increase sebum.  Try to get good quality protein in your diet and more high fiber whole grain carbs from vegetables.   It’s still important to have fats, so you are just reducing the amount, not completely eliminating. 

Do you notice if a high fat diet causes acne for you? 


Association Between Adult Acne and Dietary Behaviors: Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study

Sebaceous gland lipids: