How the keto diet affects testosterone levels?
That is indeed, a very good question.
When embarking in such an extreme diet, it is essential to know the facts, the science done on the subject and how a change of diet can impact – positively and/or negatively – your health.
In this article, you will find a clear and simple answer to this question and some extra facts, because when it comes to any diet, the bigger picture is the cake… rather than the cherry on top of it.
Ready to sink your teeth into it?!
How the Keto Diet Affects Testosterone Levels
What’s a Ketogenic – or Keto – Diet?
You may have heard about it, since it’s the new “trendy” diet. However, besides the fad, the ketogenic diet has serious medical applications.
At first, this diet was found to significantly decrease the symptoms of epilepsy. So, it’s particularly useful for a disease that is incredibly hard to treat, since we don’t fully understand it.
So, how does it work?
Basically, a keto diet is a very low carb, high fat and moderate protein diet. The point being.. your body will start using fat as fuel, instead of carbohydrates.
The first week or so, it can be quite rough on your body – it’s what is often referred as the “keto flu”. Then, the process known as ketosis starts doing its magic – which means that your body will produce and use ketone bodies as fuel, instead of the glucose, found in carbs and sugar.
However, to fully use ketone bodies, it can take a few months, it depends on the individual. Not to worry, the rough period doesn’t last that long!
If anything, very physical people find it beneficial to do carb refeeds. So, every know and then, they will increase the amount of consumed carbs to improve physical performance.
But if you want to explore that part, you already need to be very familiar with the ketogenic diet and make sure you are as healthy as can be.
If you suffer from a liver condition or anything considered quite serious, please make sure to check with your doctor if this diet is advisable in your case. Nevertheless, some medical professionals are misinformed about the ketogenic diet. In these cases, seek a second or a third opinion, if needed. Finally, if you suffer from anything minor to moderately serious, do a thorough research on the diet and what it involves. You can never know too much. 😉
Keto & Testosterone Levels – Is this diet efficient to boost T levels?
In men, testosterone is mainly made in our testicles and the small remaining portion, is made by the adrenal glands.
After puberty, testosterone is mainly needed for healthy sexual reproduction, mood regulation, muscle mass, fat distribution, bone density, produce & maintain a good amount of red blood cells, sexual drive (libido) and sperm production.
However, as you probably know, testosterone levels decrease naturally with age.
So, what can keto do to reverse this so called “inevitable” decline?
Well, first of all, T can be boosted in several different ways. But diet remains one of the most important ones to increase T efficiently and keep the levels healthy on the long run.
In the case of the ketogenic diet, the theory is that higher levels of dietary fat can increase sexual hormones, including…testosterone.
A study has found that a diet of 25% dietary fat led the participants to have lower levels of testosterone. But this was reversed, when the men increased their fat intake from 25% to 40% (total). (1)
Similarly, another study found that men who ate higher amounts of dietary fat (overall) had 13% more testosterone than men following a low fat diet. (2)
How does that work?
To put it simply, fat is essential to build many things in the human body and particularly, hormones.
However, not all fats are worth it.
The adage…”a calorie is a calorie” couldn’t be more wrong. And that’s particularly true when it comes to dietary fat.
Margarine will not nourish you, nor will sunflower oil, fried foods, way too much red meat or anything that screams unhealthy (ice cream, cakes, plates with many shades of beige, etc.) !
On the other hand, seeds, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, olives, cold pressed coconut oil and coconuts, MCT oil (ideal to boost ketosis), nut butters (without added sugar and/or palm oil), grass-fed meats, dairy from grass-fed animals, etc.
These are the building blocks of testosterone and of the ketogenic diet.
How the Keto Diet Affects Testosterone Levels – Conclusion
So, basically the answer to “how the keto diet affects testosterone levels”…is something along the lines of: it affects it positively.
Still, like any drastic dietary change, a health check is required – just to make sure, your body can handle being in ketosis and the infamous “keto flu”.
Don’t worry, it usually only lasts a few day and while you may feel like sh*t, you are still more or less operational.
And frankly, to turn your body into a fat-burning, muscle mass building, testosterone boosting machine, in most cases, it’s REALLY worth it!
If you are given a go, from a health standpoint, go for it!
Additionally, associating intermittent fasting to the keto diet is a great strategy for weight loss and improving T levels.
Moreover, doing keto and intermittent fasting is far easier than doing intermittent fasting alone, since keto tends to significantly reduce appetite and cravings.
Last but not least, if you aren’t much into vegetables, it might be time to learn how to cook them properly. You will find many keto websites and communities that can help you with that….for free!
Don’t hesitate to reach out to other fellow “ketoers” if you want to join this lifestyle adventure.
This article was written by Michael King.
(1) Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men. Hämäläinen E, Adlercreutz H, Puska P, Pietinen P. J Steroid Biochem. 1984
(2) Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. J F Dorgan, J T Judd, C Longcope, C Brown, A Schatzkin, B A Clevidence, W S Campbell, P P Nair, C Franz, L Kahle. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1996