Some people claim the keto diet can increase testosterone levels, boosting their desire for sex. While there is limited research on the topic, this diet may help individuals with certain chronic conditions.

The keto diet is a very low carbohydrate eating plan consisting of a moderate amount of protein and a high amount of fat. Some studies indicate that short-term commitment to this eating plan may promote weight loss, but scientists have not verified its long-term safety. According to a 2021 animal study, the keto diet has been linked to heart scarring.

Some research, such as a 2021 study on people with chronic conditions, has shown a positive association between this diet and sexual functioning. In particular, it may benefit those with type 2 diabetes.

Read more to learn about the link between the keto diet and sex drive, how the diet affects the body, and more.

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The ketogenic diet may improve sexual function in certain populations, but there is relatively limited research on the topic.

A person’s sex drive is largely dependent on their testosterone levels. Having low levels can reduce libido, according to an older study from 2014. The research looking at how keto affects testosterone is not consistent — some evidence suggests it lowers the hormone, while other studies have found that it may actually increase it.

Some research has looked at the benefits of a keto diet in people with chronic health conditions. A small 2018 study of women with obesity found that after 4 months of a low calorie keto diet, the participants reported improved sexual function. However, they also reported weight loss, lower food and alcohol cravings, and better sleep. This indicated that the diet caused an overall improved quality of life, which included better sexual function and libido. Therefore, the diet did not independently cause these sexual improvements.

Another 2021 study of people with chronic conditions found that in adults with obesity and type 2 diabetes, the keto diet had links to lower food cravings, increased exercise, and better sexual function. Much like the previous study, these results indicate that the diet may improve the quality of life and overall health markers in certain individuals.

While a low calorie ketogenic eating plan has associations with improved libido and sexual function, it may not be a long-term safe option. There is limited research studying the long lasting effects of a keto diet.

Learn more about the advantages and drawbacks of a keto diet.

Some keto diet supporters claim that the eating plan can increase testosterone. While some evidence supports this, the research is inconclusive.

A small 2021 clinical trial involving 19 participants indicated that it may lower testosterone. The trial compared the testosterone levels of people on a keto diet with the levels of those on a standard Western diet.

However, some research has opposing views.

An older study from 2014 linked the diet to increased testosterone levels. Some of the participants followed a keto-style diet, and others followed a standard Western diet. At the end of 11 weeks, the people who ate a keto-style diet had higher testosterone levels than those who ate the Western diet.

Some research indicates the keto diet promotes weight loss in the short term.

It does this by replacing carbohydrates, which provide glucose, the body’s main source of energy, with fat. When a person’s carbohydrate intake is very low, the body breaks down fat for fuel. It converts these into ketones, which then become a source of energy.

Cutting out carbohydrates causes the body to shed water weight in a short time. This can make a person feel like they have lost a significant amount of weight quickly. However, they have simply lost water weight, not fat. In the long term, the diet can promote fat loss. Research has shown that keto can increase satiety, help preserve lean muscle mass, and decrease a person’s calorie intake.

The original aim of the keto diet was to treat epilepsy. Findings also suggest this eating plan may help metabolic disorders and some neurological conditions, including:

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, research only supports using the keto diet for doctor-managed epilepsy treatment. Although evidence suggests the diet may be effective for treating certain health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, more research is necessary to understand its long-term health effects.

The keto diet can cause both short- and long-term side effects.

Short-term side effects

Effects from the keto diet that typically go away within a few weeks include:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • tiredness
  • lack of exercise tolerance
  • insomnia

Long-term side effects

The 2021 study explains that the keto diet generally only works for weight loss in the short term. Its restrictive nature makes it hard for a person to maintain.

Additionally, very low carbohydrate diets, such as the keto diet, may lack vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals within plant foods.

At present, there is limited research looking at the long-term effects of the keto diet. While much is unknown, a 2021 research article says potential long-term effects include:

Finally, the large amount of fat consumption that the keto diet involves may pose other health problems. Diets high in saturated fat may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic, or ongoing, health issues. Researchers have not studied the keto diet’s long-term effect on cardiovascular disease.

Learn more about the side effects and risks of the keto diet.

Some research suggests that the keto diet may improve sexual functioning and increase libido in people with chronic health conditions. It may be particularly beneficial for people with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

However, research has not shown a direct link between keto and sexual health. It is likely that because the diet improves the overall quality of life in people with certain health conditions, sexual improvements are a positive side effect.

There is limited research on the long-term implications of the keto diet. Individuals should also contact a doctor or dietitian before starting a new eating plan.