Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe for Men’s Sexual Health?

The Keto diet and men's health

Just a few months ago, People magazine highlighted 16 celebrities who have tried the ketogenic diet, a “high-fat, low-carb diet that’s taking Hollywood by storm.” The list included a few men, including Mark Consuelos, Al Roker and Tim Tebow.

While most of the celebrities on the list praised the diet, some people have even claimed that the ketogenic diet boosted their sex drive, the diet’s benefits have been debated for many years. Some experts have even called the ketogenic diet harmful to overall health: The ketogenic diet was named as the “worst fad diet” in an annual US News and World Report list.

Potential drawbacks of the ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is an extreme low-carb diet with suggested intakes of 20g to 50g of carbs per day, relatively high fat and moderate protein. This type of regimen can be problematic because a very low-carb diet may reduce your thyroid function, your energy levels and your libido. In addition, low-carb diets may increase the production of a stress hormone called cortisol and throw off your hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands, which help keep your hormones in balance.

Low carbohydrate consumption may also suppress the production of leptin, a hormone that regulates your sex hormones. Other ketogenic diet side effects may include some not-very-sexy conditions such as bad breath, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and sleep problems. And if you’re not planning on staying on a diet like this for the long haul, keep in mind that extreme weight fluctuation is really bad for your health.

Can the ketogenic diet boost your sex drive?

If you’re thinking about starting the ketogenic diet, I commend you for trying something new to get in shape. But I’d have to say I’m highly skeptical about the sex drive thing and about the diet in general. Here’s why:

Increasing your fat intake and getting in shape may boost your libido, but the ketogenic diet boosts your fat intake at the expense of other foods that your body needs. This is why it’s the ketogenic diet may actually reduce your sex drive. It may also harm your overall health.

Everything in moderation

For my patients who are trying to lose weight without harming their sex drive, I recommend a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, combined with regular, moderate exercise. (If you work up a healthy sweat a few times a week, you’re on the right track.) Don’t be afraid of fat in your diet, but cut back on overly fatty, processed and salty foods. If you’re overweight, you could be experiencing low testosterone levels, which have been linked to low sex drives, erectile dysfunction, and even a low sperm count. My patients who get in better shape often report lower stress, higher confidence, and more interest from their sexual partners—all of which tend to be libido-boosters.

Finally, if you’re having issues with your sex drive, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to help determine what could be causing this condition. Likewise, check with your physician before making a major change to your diet, just to make sure there’s no interference with another condition.

So, what should I do?

Fad dieting is not a sustainable method for the long-term goal of weight loss maintenance. Reducing calories is the key to losing weight and maintaining that weight loss. Maintaining a healthy exercise regimen will help keep the weight off, and keep you looking better. If you have low sex drive or energy levels, there may be health issues involved due to excessive weight. You should seek out a health professional prior to starting any diet, and make healthy lifestyle changes instead of continually trying fad diets.

If you want to find out more about sex drive, fitness or other men’s health issues, contact Dr. Harry Fisch in New York to request a consultation.

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