Why athletes have clear skin and how you can, too!

Professional athletes have enviable skin, and we know it’s not just clever photography or heavy makeup. In fact, professional athletes are notoriously barefaced in front…
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Athletes rarely wear makeup, so how do they keep their skin so healthy? (Shutterstock)

Professional athletes have enviable skin, and we know it’s not just clever photography or heavy makeup. In fact, professional athletes are notoriously barefaced in front of the camera because they are primarily filmed doing whatever activity they do best, and who wants to wear lots of concealer while running a marathon or winning a tennis tournament?

But why is it that athletes have such clear complexions? Though they can afford the high-end products celebrities swear by, there is a much simpler and more sensible reason behind it: clean eating and plenty of exercise.

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Gone are the days when we were told diet had nothing to do with skin clarity. The fact is there are lots of foods out there that can trigger skin inflammation, and people with food allergies or intolerance can attest to this.

Lactose intolerant people, for example, may experience a reaction to dairy products in the form of skin irritation, and research published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology successfully linked a diet filled with simple carbohydrates like sugar, potatoes and pasta could increase hormone levels in the body and cause acne.

“A high glycemic load can raise blood glucose and insulin levels in the body. When these levels spike, hormone levels also rise, and can trigger acne,” explained to Yahoo Health dermatologist Eric Schweiger, who created an “acne food pyramid” to help treat his clients.

So why do athletes have relatively clear skin? Because they eat clean, and not just a little clean. Professional athletes are professional athletes because they keep their bodies in the best physical condition possible. This means a tightly controlled diet of healthy, whole foods like lean protein and fruits and vegetables and plenty of water.

Do they indulge once and a while? Sure, but it is very infrequently, and they don’t go overboard.

Athletes also know how to make positive food decisions, focusing on what they an eat and not what they can’t. This provides them with positive reinforcement and builds healthy eating habits.

Stay hydrated while exercising

In addition to eating clean and exercising, athletes drink plenty of water. (Shutterstock)

“I like to encourage the attitude of listening to your body and indulging when you really have a true craving or just simply want something decadent,” said Keri Glassman, founder of Nutriouslife, to Yahoo Health.

“It’s not ‘I can’t eat the chocolate cake,’ it’s ‘I can have the blueberries.’ When you do this, you don’t want to indulge as much and when you do just have to have something it’s much easier to have a small slice [of cake] and move on.”

Diet is only one part of the equation for an athlete’s healthy skin, however. Physical exercise everyday is also a big factor. WebMD indicates physical exercise increases blood flow and helps eliminate toxins from cells quickly. Though it is the liver that actually detoxifies the body, exercise can remove waste from cells at a faster rate. In addition to this, exercising can decrease stress, and decreasing stress deceases stress hormones which can cause acne outbreaks.

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“We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant,” dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, told WebMD.

The bottom line is: If you want clear skin, you know how to do it, but how badly do you want it? Are you ready to cut out all processed food and snacks and pick up a regular exercise routine? If the answer is ‘no’, accept that you will have to deal with the occasional blemish or outbreak.