If you eat a high glycemic diet with foods like white bread, sugary soda, white potatoes, and white rice, you will experience insulin spikes. This we know. What we don’t know (sorry Josh) is whether this sort of diet will directly affect acne.

Scientists hypothesize that a high glycemic diet and its resulting insulin reaction will result in higher levels of hormones (IGF-1 and androgens) which may contribute to clogged pores and increased skin oil production.

When it comes to high glycemic diets in particular, scientists also postulate that eating this way may lower the amount of beneficial proteins (IGFBP-3) and natural retinoids, which help keep skin cell growth in check and pores from becoming clogged.

However, as is becoming customary in my research on diet and acne, we do not have enough research to make any strong correlations. The only 2 studies which have been done on glycemic load and acne have been performed by the same group of Australian researchers, led by Robin Smith, and while acne lesion counts appear to reduce on low glycemic diets, results are inconclusive. What stands out most sharply is the lingering question of whether glycemic load leads to decreased acne symptoms or whether it is the weight loss that tends to go hand in hand with this sort of diet that causes the reduction in acne. To answer this question, we need data on whether a reduction in acne symptoms is sustained after weight loss has leveled off. Until then, I’m happy that the scientific community is at least starting to investigate.


Leave a Reply

  • Josh

    Haha, wow. I’m honored to be mentioned, i think. Good info even though we still don’t have answers but that gets me thinking. What if we did a mass “study”, among whoever on acne.org wants to participate, whenever we get enough info to form a heavy hypothesis to what may help clear acne. Of course it would not be nearly as accurate as studies being performed by scientists who pay their guinea pigs but we could try the honor system. People do a lot of things like that in the message boards with various ideas. But i think it would mean more being led by Dan or another Acne.org worker person. Just an idea!

  • UsNck

    If this is true, it sucks! :))

    I love white bread and white rice..not giving it up. :))

  • Tyler

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  • Elizabeth

    I’m a longtime acne.org reader and have used Dan’s regimen for about five years. While it’s helped control things somewhat, I continued to get cysts and other types of inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.

    Over the past 15 days, I haven’t eaten any sugar or processed foods containing sugar or natural sweeteners, with the exception of a tiny bowl of yoghurt with maple syrup or honey late in the evening. To my great delight, my skin is clearer than it has been in years (I’ve had acne for about 25 years and have tried just about everything except for Accutane). Normally I get new nodules and cysts every few days.

    I should note that the rest of my diet is quite low-glycemic, too — lots of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, etc. Very little dairy and hardly any meat. But that’s never brought on the kind of improvement that I’ve seen over the last weeks.

    This is purely anecdotal, of course, and too short a time frame to draw any real conclusion. But I’d definitely give it a try if you suffer from persistent acne!

    P.S. Dan: regarding your lingering question,* I haven’t lost any weight in the two weeks I’ve eliminated sugars. Probably because I allow myself the occasional no-sugar treat like pizza or cappuccino with a croissant 🙂

    * “What stands out most sharply is the lingering question of whether glycemic load leads to decreased acne symptoms or whether it is the weight loss that tends to go hand in hand with this sort of diet that causes the reduction in acne.”

  • Simon

    I’ve always considered diet a factor in acne, so one day decided – based on my own conclusions – to go low GI.

    My results suggest high GI is a trigger in major breakouts. However, low GI does not eliminate my acne. So I guess it’s just one of those increasing factors, like irritation.

    Keep up the research, Dan! 🙂

  • joe

    I tried one of the low glycemic diets, basically involving eating onlu naturally-occuring food (no bread, cereals etc) Mainly meat, veg, eggs & fruit & nuts. And to my amazement it works not partially but COMPLETELY – on days when I managed to completely do this all my spots deflated, and no new ones formed. On the occasion I managed to do 2-3 days in a row, my skin was 10x better as it appears all the spoys naturallu go down if no new oil is produced to ‘inflate’ them.
    It’s hard keeping it up – now I just do this brekfast & lunch but still my skin is improving all the time and no new breakouts ever happen