I Limited Carbs for a Month—Here's What Happened to My Skin

I Limited My Carb Intake—Here's How Carbs Affect Your Skin

Photo:

Courtesy of Samantha Pouls

I'm a self-proclaimed carb lover. If there's a doughnut or croissant in my path, you can bet I'll always be the first one to reach for it. In my teenage years, adults used to tell me how lucky I was because my diet didn't seem to have any effect on my weight or my skin. In fact, I had what some would call a near-perfect complexion. So when I turned 25 and my skin spontaneously broke out into a valley of acne, I was reluctant to believe that it was due to my diet. After all, I had made it past my troublesome teenage years without more than a handful of pimples to show for it.

At first, I took the medical approach. I tried everything from blue-light therapy to chemical peels to prescription medication—but nothing helped. I clumped on foundation in hopes of hiding the redness, but I still had to deal with the minefield of bumps across my cheeks and the self-esteem issues that came with it. Eventually, my mom suggested I change my diet.

I Limited My Carb Intake—Here's How Carbs Affect Your Skin

Photo:

Courtesy of Samantha Pouls

According to Harvard Health, the same direct culprits behind teenage acne can contribute to adult acne, but "there are also some indirect factors that influence the aforementioned direct factors." One of these common factors is "diet, which can influence inflammation throughout the body."

So with nothing to lose, I set out to fix my diet and hopefully cure some of my acne along the way.

The Prep

I Limited My Carb Intake—Here's How Carbs Affect Your Skin

Photo:

Courtesy of Samantha Pouls

After talking to my doctor about foods that might be causing inflammation within my body, I decided to try out the ketogenic diet. This meal plan includes eating no more than 50 grams of carbs a day, which basically adds up to a lot of leafy vegetables, some fruit, and a lot of protein. The diet also eliminates foods that have a high glycemic index, which expert Emily Ziedman, MS, warns can cause your blood sugar to rise quickly and "contribute to the progression of acne." Ziedman says, "there's a clear correlation between a high-carbohydrate diet and acne—especially when it comes to highly processed carbs and sugar."

With my mind set on getting rid of my acne, and maybe losing a few pounds along the way, I set out to try the keto diet. My doctor provided me with an easy guideline and shopping list to follow, and with a few words of encouragement, I was off.

What Happened During the Diet

How carbs affect your skin

Photo:

Nadine Greeff/Stocksy

On Monday morning, with a refrigerator full of fish, chicken, and eggs, I began my 30-day journey. The first two days were easy. I boiled six eggs and ate two for breakfast each day, with the third one waiting for me as a 3 p.m. snack. For lunch, I chopped up some broiled chicken and mixed it together with olive oil, feta cheese, and olives to make a chicken salad, and for dinner, I went with tilapia with a side of grilled red peppers. I found that I actually felt very full throughout the day and didn't have any cravings for the cookies and cakes I was so accustomed to eating.

All of that changed by the third day. By Wednesday, I was craving fruit—something I never thought I would crave—and I was incredibly thirsty. Although I was eating salmon and chicken, I was picturing pineapple and mango. But with my goal of hopefully getting rid of the bumps on my face, I pushed my cravings to the side and stuck to my plan.

My Go-To Foods

I'm not going to lie to you—this meal plan takes a lot of prep, and you will always be doing your dishes, but I found a few favorite foods along the way that I would definitely suggest trying out in order to keep yourself satisfied.

#1: Hard-boiled eggs sprinkled with salt and pepper

#2: Chopped cucumbers sprinkled with salt and dipped in mustard

#3: Breakfast sausage with two scrambled eggs sprinkled with feta cheese

#4: Chicken salad with olive oil, olives, and celery

#5: Butter lettuce wraps stuffed with ground beef or turkey, topped with bell peppers and shredded cheese

#6: Three-egg omelet with mushrooms and spinach

#7: Dark chocolate bites

#8: Cut-up strawberries sprinkled with low-calorie sweetener

#9: Taco bowl: shredded iceberg lettuce topped with cut-up tomatoes, ground beef, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, and topped with low-calorie ranch dressing

How carbs affect your skin

Photo:

Courtesy of Samantha Pouls

The Results

I Limited My Carb Intake—Here's How Carbs Affect Your Skin

Photo:

Courtesy of Samantha Pouls

At the end of the month, I couldn't believe what I saw when I looked in the mirror. My face had almost completely cleared up. The bumps that had once dotted my lower jawline and cheeks were completely gone. I had some red marks left over from the various times I tried to get rid of my own pimples (don't be like me), but I actually felt confident in my own skin, and I wasn't afraid to leave the house without putting on a full face of foundation.

Aside from feeling like I could audition for a skincare commercial, I also felt like a recharged battery. Whereas I once felt sluggish and exhausted by the end of the day, I now actually wanted to go out after work, and I was eager to go to the gym in order to expel all of my energy!

The diet was hard at times, and you're definitely going to get tired of eating so many eggs, but in my opinion, if you're looking for a natural way to clear up your skin, this method is amazing! Just double-check with your doctor first before embarking on any kind of diet. Even though I'm no longer strictly eating keto, my diet has changed for the better, and I've found a way to incorporate the items I love back into my meals in a healthy way. My skin has completely cleared up, I have so much energy, and I even lost a few pounds along the way.

Next, Fun Fact: These 7 Vitamins Can Solve Your Acne Problems

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