The ketogenic or keto diet is a diet that aims to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume so your body produces ketone bodies, which come from fat degradation. People who eat a keto diet get most of their calories and nutrients from protein and fat. On a keto diet, only around 5% of your daily calories will come from carbohydrates.
It has been claimed that the keto diet and testosterone are positively correlated, but there’s contradicting evidence on the matter. So what’s the link between keto and hormone levels? Keep reading to find out.
Does the keto diet increase testosterone?
The truth is that, despite the claims you can find online, there is mixed scientific evidence regarding the link between eating a low carb diet and testosterone levels. Different studies have produced mixed results, and more research is still needed on this topic.
According to a small study presented at the 23rd European Congress of Endocrinology (e-ECE 2021), a very low-calorie keto diet was linked to higher total testosterone levels after 4 weeks, especially in men who were overweight or obese. However, the diet used in this study consisted of less than 800 calories per day. Extreme calorie restriction can lead to long-term health problems and should always be supervised by a healthcare professional.
A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a keto diet could boost testosterone levels and lean body mass among men who practiced resistance training. However, this study also found that a traditional Western diet could also lead to increased lean body mass and lower fat mass.
But on the other hand, a study published in the journal Nutrients found that a keto diet lowered testosterone levels among bodybuilders.
A short-term keto diet could increase testosterone and aid in weight loss, but the long-term safety of the keto diet hasn’t been determined. According to The University of Chicago Medical Center, some of the risks associated with the keto diet could include:
- Upset stomach
- Decreased energy
- Mood swings
- Low blood pressure
- Kidney stones
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Disordered eating
The link between keto and sex drive
Evidence on the link between keto and libido is also inconclusive. A different study published in Nutrients found that following a keto diet could help improve sexual function in adults who suffer from chronic diseases. But there are other ways to boost libido if the keto diet isn’t for you.
Some people who follow the keto diet report having lower libido after starting the diet, which is then followed by a surge in their sex drive. Sex hormones are derived from cholesterol, which could explain why eating more healthy fats may lead to higher libido. However, this effect isn’t the same for everyone, and the keto diet hasn’t been approved for low libido treatment.
Keto diet and erectile dysfunction
Obesity, heart disease, and a sedentary lifestyle are closely linked to erectile dysfunction. A short-term keto diet could be helpful for weight loss, which could help improve your sexual function in the long run. However, other diets can also achieve healthy weight loss.
Just like with any other dietary plan, you should always consult a nutritionist or healthcare professional before starting a keto diet. This will help you determine whether the keto diet is safe for you and make it easier to achieve your weight loss goals.
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Single-Arm Study Finds Very-Low Calorie Ketogenic Diet Could Improve Testosterone Levels in Men - endocrinologynetwork.com
Ketogenic diet: What are the risks? - uchicagomedicine.org