Eliminating Fats And Acne

high fat donuts

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 eliminating 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 proteins 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 may 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, so 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 my fitness pal or chronometer to really see how many grams of fat are in your meals and snacks.  You may be surprised! 

Studies link saturated fats toward acne.  Saturated fats include trans fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids so try to reduce specifically saturated fat intake too.  

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. 

Products To Reduce Acne

If you're having acne breakouts, a good way to clear sebum from the pores is with regular gentle exfoliation containing glycolic acid.  We recommend a pumpkin enzyme masque 1-2 times a week.


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: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835893/

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Is there a reason why we are lumping saturated fat with the unsaturated fats? They serve different roles. The unsaturated fats are more unstable in the body and demand more antioxidants to cope with the increased peroxidation. Don’t forget that branched chain amino acids also spike insulin.



@KENNETH LEE JONES. That’s amazing! I personally know someone whose skin is so sensitive that they’ll get so many breakouts right after one or two days of eating carbohydrates and high glycemic foods! Acne can be such a complex topic.



@VLAD. We know it’s so difficult, but treating yourself once in a while won’t hurt!



It’s always such a struggle to give up on sweets. :(

Kenneth Lee Jones

Kenneth Lee Jones

63, male, who’s had acne breakouts forever….mostly on chest/back/shoulders. It’s not like cysts, but more superficial. I use 10% benzyl peroxide and that helps a lot. Recently went on a diet to get ripped abs. When I got to my lowest weight(131 lbs at 5 ft 8), I noticed my skin on those body parts looked clear and young and I was amazed. A friend said the skin on my back had totally cleared and looked amazing. My diet was high protein, low fat/ and lower carbs. Was it that combo? Was it just lower body fat? I don’t know, but two weeks after crashing my diet with high carbs, my skin broke out and looked terrible again.

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