Keto Sex Drive
The Science Behind the Low-Carb Diet & Libido

Keto Sex Drive

It's the question everyone wants an answer to, but no one wants to be the one to ask: Are the keto diet and the sex drive incompatible?

It's a legitimate question. After all, making such a fundamental change in the way your body operates must impact your libido to some degree.

It wouldn't seem natural if it didn't.

But precisely what is the extent of that impact and is that impact positive or negative?

To understand the issue, we need to understand:

  • How fat consumption and sex drive are related
  • How hormones that regulate sex drive are affected by burning fat for energy

Most people don’t spend any time thinking about the link between fat and sex until they are forced to contemplate the keto lifestyle.

And even then, the effects of ketosis on the libido typically come up as a kind of an afterthought.

fit partners

People will be talking to a friend about what's going to happen to their body when they purge their diet of carbs and start consuming more fats and the friend will ask something like, “So, what is the relationship between keto and sex drive anyway?" [1]

The would-be keto dieter then stops in their tracks and, with wide-eyed concern, whispers "That's a good question."

The bad news is that ketosis will likely have an impact on your libido.

The good news is that the effects may well be more positive than negative. [2]

Your Sex Drive During the Different Stages of Keto

confused about the different effects to the sex drive

Male and female sex drive is heavily driven by the levels of sex hormones.

For women, it’s the balance of estrogen and progesterone, while for men it’s testosterone. No prizes for you for knowing this already.

Now, while these are collectively called sex hormones, they do a lot more than just influence your libido in a positive way.

And there are several things that can influence the levels of these hormones resulting in a loss of sex drive.

But what exactly can you expect during the different stages of keto? Will you still be looking for some adult fun in your life?

Let’s start with the good news.

Once you adapt to the keto diet and your body kicks into ketosis, a lot of hormonal changes will start happening including sex hormone levels increasing because of the added fat intake.

In addition to that, weight loss and exercise also have a direct impact on boosting your sex hormones.

So, the better you stick to keto and the more you exercise, the more fun you'll have in the bedroom.

However, there are some negatives to account for as well. And that’s during the induction phase when you can encounter keto-flu symptoms.

Fatigue and even utter exhaustion and mood swings are common, and during that stage, a bit of bedroom action will probably be the last thing on your mind.

But don’t worry, this will pass. In a matter of days you’ll start notice some positive improvements.

Now let’s take a look at what actually causes these hormonal changes in more detail.

The Correlation Between Fat Intake and Hormone Levels

Fortunately, we live in a time where if you can imagine a health and diet-related question then chances are someone has already studied the implications of that question.

Keto and sex drive are no exception. So let’s look at what’s been discovered.

Effects on Women and Estrogen

For most women, this will come as a bit of a surprise, but the amount and type of fat intake in your diet will have a direct impact on sex hormone levels including estrogen, estrone, and estradiol.

Essentially, high-fat diets will increase estrogen levels, especially with healthy fats.

woman with a lot of estrogen

At the same time, low-fat diets would lead to decreases in estradiol and testosterone.

Most of the time this only becomes a problem during menopause when hormone levels dip significantly, and you don’t want your diet to make things even worse.

So, what does that mean for keto? Is it good or bad news?

Fortunately, keto aims at adding a lot of healthy fats to your diet, and those will help boost your sex hormone levels.

As a result, it isn’t uncommon to notice an increase in libido. Make sure your partner is prepared for this!

But what about other functions of your body that are influenced by sex hormones?

Can Keto Make Your Period Heavier?

Yes, keto can make your period heavier, especially in the early stages.

Some women have also reported lighter periods, but it does seem like during the first few weeks it can be unusually heavy and uncomfortable.

Most women report that this settles down though, but if you have any concerns about it, then a quick conversation with your doctor may be the best approach.

Can Keto Make Your Period Early?

Yes, keto can make your period arrive early, but it’s more a case of resulting in an irregular pattern.

This, however, is not uncommon with diets that aim at rapid weight loss. Losing a lot of weight fast has an impact on the balance of your estrogen and progesterone levels.

If your period arrives with extreme regularity, then a sudden change in the cycle is actually quite likely.

However, this should settle down again as your body adjusts to the diet.

Does Keto Make You Fertile?

The good news is that keto does improve women’s fertility.

The reason for this is that carrying extra weight or being obese makes it a lot more difficult for women to conceive.

In addition to the positive effect from the lost pounds, keto also helps to balance insulin levels.

Effects on Men and Testosterone

man with a lot of testosterone

In the late 1990s, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study wherein some men had their levels of dietary fat restricted while others had theirs increased.

Similar to what was discovered among women, the levels of fat in the diet of these men had a measurable effect on the standards of the male sex hormone testosterone. [3

Less fat in the diet, less testosterone.

More fat, more testosterone.

Because testosterone plays a vital role in regulating the male sex drive, the implications of the study were clear.

From sex drive to muscle mass and overall energy levels, a lot of important health and life functions hinge on testosterone.

Does Keto Increase Testosterone?

Yes, keto does increase testosterone levels in men because of a direct link to the amount of fat intake.

With the aim of keto being a drastic shift from carbs to fat, there will be a significant increase in fat intake.

Especially in the early stages of a keto diet it can result in quite an increase in testosterone, which can also have a positive effect on muscle growth.

Can Ketosis Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

No, ketosis will not cause erectile dysfunction, and in many cases quite the opposite can be the case.

The reason for this is that male sex drive and the ability to achieve erection are directly linked to testosterone levels. As keto provides a larger volume of healthy fats, this will actually increase testosterone, creating the exact opposite effect.

3 Reasons Why You Still Have a Low Sex Drive

In some cases, people may find that the pounds are melting away on the keto diet while they consume the essential healthy fats yet their sex drive hasn't either returned or been enhanced, whichever may be relevant for them.

What might be going on in such cases? Well, there are a couple of possibilities:

couple inside the bedroom
  • You might still be in transition - If you have committed to the keto diet (as opposed to trying to achieve shortcut results with keto supplements), it's going to take some time to transition into a state of true ketosis. Sometimes that transition occurs over the course of 2 or 3 days and sometimes it might take a couple of weeks before a person has completed the development. 
  • Alcohol may be getting in the way - Some folks attempt to go keto without taking into consideration the impact their favorite beer or whiskey will have on their efforts. Mostly, if you thought you could achieve sustainable ketosis while still enjoying your favorite craft beer on a regular basis, you'll probably need to think again. Many beers are loaded with carbs, which is what creates the legendary "beer belly." So if you're drinking beer or another alcoholic beverage that's packed with carbs but you've eliminated most carbs from your solid foods then you'll be taking one step forward and one step backward in your efforts to achieve ketosis, and you won't be able to enjoy the benefits, including the keto sex benefit.
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    Be patient - You shouldn't expect to experience an increase in your sex drive while you are still going through the change. It's more likely you'll experience symptoms of the so-called “keto flu” which may include irritability, diarrhea, a lack of focus, sugar cravings and mild insomnia. But don’t worry, those too will pass.

10 Foods That Can Help Ramp Up Your Keto Sex Drive

Some keto friendly foods are more likely to produce a bump in your libido than others. The 10 best foods for this purpose are:

  • 1
    ​Eggs
  • 2
    ​Blueberries
  • 3
    ​Broccoli
  • 4
    ​Salmon
  • 5
    ​Spinach
  • 6
    ​Tuna
  • 7
    ​Blackberries
  • 8
    ​Pumpkins seeds
  • 9
    ​Dark chocolate
  • 10
    ​Sardines
foods that can ramp up your keto sex drive

To improve your diet on keto and sex drive, try to stay away from processed foods if you possibly can and limit the amount of dairy you eat.

Keto and Sex: Enjoying the Benefits

The keto diet and sex drive don't have to be mutually exclusive ideas. If you give yourself time to transition to ketosis and don't undermine your efforts by drinking lots of beer (or even soda for that matter) then you should experience greater sexual vitality and enjoyment. 

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet and shares it on Ketogenic Supplement Reviews. You can find me on: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.