How the keto diet really affects your sex drive

Food and sex are important parts of life, but how much do we know about how our food choices affect our sex drive? In recent years, the keto diet has gained immense popularity for its potential benefits, ranging from weight loss to improved mental clarity. However, one aspect that people might not consider with this low-carb, high-fat diet is its impact on sexual health.

While you probably didn’t start your keto diet to improve your sex life, you may be happy to hear that it might have a positive effect on your libido. On the other hand, there are cases where aspects of the keto diet can negatively impact it. Let's explore some of the ways the keto diet really affects your sex drive.

How the Keto Diet May Improve Your Sex Drive

Improved Hormone Balance

One of the key mechanisms through which the ketogenic diet may influence libido is by impacting hormonal balance. Carbohydrates play a role in insulin production, and insulin levels can, in turn, affect sex hormone regulation. With a reduction in carbohydrate intake on the keto diet, insulin levels may stabilize, potentially leading to improved hormonal balance. One study in 2021 found that the keto diet may be especially effective for those with type 2 diabetes in improving sexual function.[1]

Research suggests that maintaining stable insulin levels can positively influence the production of sex hormones such as testosterone. It is important to note that research is mixed on this, as some studies have suggested it may have the opposite effect. Testosterone is crucial for both men and women concerning libido and overall sexual well-being. [2]

A keto diet can be especially high in tryptophan, the amino acid necessary to make serotonin, the “feel good” hormone in the body. Tryptophan is especially high in things like red meats, cheese, and nuts. Adequate serotonin is needed for balanced mood, which can play a role in sex drive.

Increased Energy and Stamina

The keto diet is known for enhancing energy levels and promoting endurance, thanks to the efficient utilization of ketones as an alternative energy source. This boost in energy might translate into increased stamina and endurance, which could potentially help out in the bedroom.

However, it's important to note that individual responses to the keto diet can vary. While some people report enhanced energy levels and libido, others may experience an initial dip in energy as the body adapts to the diet.

Boosts Self Confidence

Weight loss is a common goal for many individuals adopting the keto diet. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight can positively impact self-esteem and body image. These factors can influence sexual confidence and desire

Additionally, shedding excess weight may contribute to improved vascular health, positively affecting blood flow throughout the body, including the genital region. Adequate blood flow is crucial for arousal and sexual function.

Getting the Right Nutrients

While the keto diet restricts carbohydrates, it emphasizes the consumption of healthy fats, proteins, and nutrient-dense foods. Proper nutrition is essential for overall health, and certain vitamins and minerals play a role in sexual function. For example, adequate levels of zinc and vitamin B6 are associated with healthy testosterone production.[3]

On the other hand, deficiencies in essential nutrients can negatively impact sexual health. Therefore, ensuring a well-rounded and nutrient-rich keto diet is crucial for supporting overall well-being, including sexual health.

How the Keto Diet May Hinder Your Sex Drive

While the keto diet may play an important role in improving libido, there are cases where the opposite may be true. Age, sex, and duration of the diet may play a key role. Here are some ways that the keto diet may negatively impact sex drive.

Negative Effects on Hormones

Drastically reducing the intake of carbs may actually cause an increase in cortisol, the “stress” hormone. Prolonged increased cortisol can lead to things like insulin resistance and weight gain. While this may not directly affect your sex drive, it may contribute to a decrease in libido if body image is a concern.

For women, estrogen is another hormone that can be thrown out of balance.The combination of elevated estrogen and cortisol can lead to a decrease in thyroid function, which can also lead to weight gain. [4] Perimenopausal and menopausal women may be especially at risk for hormone imbalances due to their particular need for calcium and fiber.

How long you stay on the keto diet may be a factor too. Long term low-carb diets can lead to a decrease in Leptin, causing an inability to regulate our sex hormones.

Nutrient deficiencies

While a keto diet can be full of healthy fats it can also lack in other key nutrients. The lack of fiber, vegetables, fruits and whole grains can lead to deficiencies in vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in particular.

Chronic nutrient deficiencies can lead to dysregulation of many systems in the body, to include your hormones. You may see a decrease in libido as a result of these imbalances.

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Low Energy

While the keto diet can cause a significant increase in energy for some, it may have the opposite effect for others. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, so going into ketosis is quite an adjustment. When people begin the keto diet, they often experience symptoms of the “keto flu,” such as low energy, headaches, nausea, constipation and dizziness. [5] While these symptoms should pass, they may temporarily affect your sex drive.

Other factors that may play a role

Your keto diet may affect your sex drive, but it certainly isn’t the only thing to consider if you are noticing a change. Before you make any dietary changes, you may want to consider other factors. Here is a list of other things that could be to blame:

  • Medications
  • Depression
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Chronic Illnesses
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress
  • Lack of, or too much, exercise

Likewise, you may not be able to give keto all the credit if you have noticed an increase in your sex drive. This could be a result of many things, including improved relationships, stress management, and proper exercise.

While much more research is needed about how the keto diet may affect sex drive, some evidence suggests that individuals may experience changes in libido, energy levels, and overall sexual well-being while on this diet. It's important to approach the keto diet with a focus on balance, nutrient density, and individual needs to ensure you reap those potentially positive effects and skip the bad ones.

Sex is an important aspect of life, and understanding the body’s response to the keto diet can help you make informed decisions about your health. As with any lifestyle change, consulting with healthcare professionals or nutrition experts is advisable. It is important to take all factors, to include sexual health, into consideration to choose a diet that is right for you.



  1. Abboud et al. Effect of Ketogenic Diet on Quality of Life in Adults with Chronic Disease: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.
  2. MedicalNewsToday.Does the keto diet affect sex drive?
  3. PubMed. Zinc status and testosterone levels of healthy adults.
  4. Lawrence, E. Why Long-Term Success on Keto can be Challenging for Women
  5. MNT. Why does the keto diet cause flu-like symptoms?

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