Last updated:March 22, 2023
There are so many things that can affect your sex drive and libido. From the way you’re feeling, the things you eat, to your hormones, the list is seemingly endless. Which is why there’s no reason to feel somewhat strange or even ashamed about your sex drive, whether you consider it to be high, low, or average.
Today though, we’ll be talking about a very specific aspect that may be having an effect on your libido. That is, the keto diet. Don’t know what the keto diet is? Allow us to give you a brief explanation.
A keto diet, otherwise known as the “ketogenic diet”, involves eating a very low amount of carbohydrates and replacing them with fat in order to help your body burn fat for energy. When this diet is followed, a person will put their body into a metabolic state called “ketosis”.
Why do some people follow a keto diet? Because it’s been said that it may help them lose weight or assist them in lowering certain risks for specific diseases. There are different types of keto diets, but the most popular ones are the standard ketogenic diet and the high protein ketogenic diet.
Does Following the Keto Diet Affect Your Sex Life?
Getting into the jucier details, you may be wondering if the keto diet can affect your sex life. Well, there’s not much research to go on, but some studies have found some interesting results.
To break it down, a person’s sex drive is hugely dependent on their levels of testosterone. When you have lower levels of testosterone, you’ll be more likely to have a lower sex drive, for example. Interestingly however, there are opposing views on whether consuming a keto diet raises or decreases one’s level of testosterone.
For example, older data suggests that a keto diet can increase levels of testosterone therefore raising their libido, but a 2021 clinical trial found that it may actually lower the levels of the hormone.
On the other hand, this is not the only way in which the keto diet can affect one’s sex life.
Improved Sexual Functioning on a Keto Diet
Testosterone aside, a 2021 study followed subjects with type 2 diabetes as they took on a keto diet. The results found that there was a positive association with this diet and their sexual functioning.
Then, in 2018, a four-month study was undergone on women with obesity. By the end of this study, it was found that these women had improved sexual functioning. Why? There is no clear cut reason. For one, these women were found to have lost weight, which could have contributed to higher levels of self-confidence and thus, a higher sex drive.
These test subjects also found to crave food and alcohol less, and enjoyed better sleep. All of these factors could then be the reason why they had higher levels of sexual functioning. Simply put, the diet most likely made them feel better about themselves, physically and mentally, which can have a huge effect on one’s libido.
In a 2021 study, the same conclusion was found as above. The test subjects, adults with obesity and type 2 diabetes, too had less food cravings and found that their sexual functioning increased.
In other words, the keto diet itself may contribute to the overall improvement of one’s quality of life.
Does Losing Weight Increase Levels of Testosterone?
Having said all of the above, we’ve come to the conclusion that losing weight by following the keto diet may just have a positive effect on one’s libido. But is there a link between losing weight and an increase in levels of testosterone?
According to Dr Anna Cabeca, “being overweight is a huge contributor to sex hormone imbalance; in particular, body mass index (BMI) is correlated to lower levels of testosterone”. With this, it’s natural to assume the opposite to the true: having a lower BMI would equal higher levels of testosterone and a higher level of libido.
Then, as we mentioned, if we look at other factors that may come about with the keto diet, such as weight loss and better sleep, this too could be why the above-mentioned test subjects experienced a boost in libido during their keto diet.
On the flip side however, when someone eats a lot of carbohydrates but these carbohydrates aren’t being used by the body as energy, they get stored as fat. This, in turn, increases their BMI and results in lower levels of testosterone and a lower sex drive, according to Ketologic.
Stress, Carbohydrates and Your Sex Life
To look at things from a different angle, and according to Dr Cabeca, a “high-carbohydrate diet means that the adrenal glands crank out more stress hormones like norepinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol. These stress responses, especially elevated levels of cortisol, have been shown to decrease sex drive and arousal”.
To further prove this point, the National Institute of Health did a study on how cortisol affected a woman’s sexual arousal. They found that “the women who showed an increase in cortisol had lower scores on the Arousal, Desire, and Satisfaction domains of the Female Sexual Function Index”.
In layman’s terms, a high-carb diet can cause an increase in stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can reduce your sexual arousal. This is because the body is dealing with perceived threats.
All in all, it does appear as though a keto diet can be beneficial to one’s sex life. Whether it is to do with high levels of testosterone, low levels of stress, or simply the way in which one feels about themselves if they’ve lost weight during a keto diet.
It’s evident that what you put into your body matters, and has an impact on your everyday life in general.
But, it is important to note that there is very limited studies on the matter. More specifically, there is a lack of long-term research on the implications of the keto diet. For that reason, it’s important to talk to your doctor or health care provider before you start a new eating plan.