- Low-carb diets for men may affect your testosterone levels, but more research needs to be done.
- Any form of weight loss tends to increase your libido and help with erectile dysfunction (ED), but the jury’s still out on whether low-carb eating is healthy.
- A weight loss plan incorporating healthy eating, exercise, and new weight loss device Plenity can help with healthy weight management.
Low-carb diets for men, such as the Atkins and keto diets, are incredibly popular. While research is conflicting and ongoing, that hasn’t stopped wild claims with varying levels of proof from circulating, including an argument over whether or not low-carb diets are bad news for your libido. The topic is complicated and highlights how complex our sex drives and sexual health really are.
How Do Low-Carb Diets Work?
There are a number of different approaches to low-carb diets. The ketogenic diet (keto for short) cuts carbs almost completely in favor of a high fat and moderate protein diet. Others will modify diets to reduce or eliminate the carbohydrates in them as much as possible or a proven but naturally low-carb eating plan like the Mediterranean diet.
Before you make extensive changes to your diet, talk to your doctor about your needs and your goals. You should also pair it with an exercise plan and have a long-term approach in mind. Also, remember that everyone’s body is different. There is no one best diet; one that works for someone else may not be the best choice for you.
Low-Carb Diets for Men: Good or Bad for the Bedroom?
Like any argument on the internet, this one breaks down into two sides.
The first side, advocated by people on these low-carb diets, will point to studies like this one from 2014 that found increased testosterone in men on a keto-like diet. They’ll also point out that your body uses lipids like cholesterol to build testosterone.
The other side will cite other studies, including this one, that have found just the opposite and point out that we need carbohydrates to build various other hormones.
The truth is that the big, broad studies just haven’t been done. Almost all research we found for and against was of very small samples and with specific groups, like bodybuilders or male college students. But there’s a bigger problem with both arguments: Neither really understands how your body makes and distributes testosterone.
Low-Carb Diets And Testosterone: Is There Any Effect?
It is true that extremely low testosterone can affect your sex drive. Yet, the body doesn’t just wildly produce testosterone whenever you give it enough fat, either.
Testosterone is tightly regulated by the body, which has a specific use for most of it, binding it to tissues as a reserve, what’s called bound testosterone. What little remains, called free testosterone, is what helps regulate things like muscle building and your sex drive. Your body generally tries to maintain a specific level of free testosterone, which slowly declines as we age.
While there are specific things you can do to increase your free testosterone, adding more cholesterol to your diet isn’t one of them. In fact, another study proponents of either side of this argument are unlikely to bring up found no change in the hormones of men on a weight-lifting regimen, regardless of their diet.
Nor does adjusting testosterone instantly fix issues like ED. One study of men with hypogonadism, or exceptionally low testosterone production, found that even when they had their free testosterone supplemented, it wasn’t a bulletproof cure.
There is a noticeable effect, but the relationship between low-carb diets and libido is more about why you diet than what you eat.
Weight Loss Increases Your Sex Drive
We tend to view sexual desire in men as a matter of flipping the right switch or filling a meter. Sexual desire is complex, tied to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Overall, weight loss tends to improve libido in men, and it doesn’t matter how that weight loss happens. A change in diet, more physical activity, or bariatric surgery — anything that brings down your weight tends to bring up your sex drive.
Weight loss is also key to managing a number of chronic conditions that affect your libido, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Less weight means your body doesn’t have to work as hard at rest, carry as much weight on its joints, or otherwise spend as much energy to function, so it can turn to other pursuits. Weight loss is part of the “big four” lifestyle changes that help with ED for this reason, along with quitting smoking, regular physical activity, and reducing your alcohol intake.
There’s also a psychological side to losing weight and libido. With healthy weight loss, you’re making goals, being proactive, and probably feeling good that you’re looking better. That sense of well-being can help lift the stress you might be feeling over your weight and help put you in the mood.
On a deeper level, conditions like obesity tend to go hand in hand with depression, which can affect libido and even cause sexual dysfunction. Losing weight isn’t a magic cure for mental health concerns, but if you’re struggling with your body image or your overall condition, observable progress can help with the emotional side of low libido and ED.
Low-Carb Diets For Men Aren’t The Only Weight Loss Option
None of this should be taken as saying low-carb diets aren’t worth it. Depending on your lifestyle, diet plan, and exercise level, some form of low-carb diet might well be worth pursuing. That said, they aren’t for everyone, and there are other options that may work better for you.
You may want to consider the Plenity weight loss device, a new way to lose weight that has been cleared by the FDA for anybody with a BMI over 25. Plenity isn’t a diet supplement. Though you take it in pill form, it’s not a medication.
You swallow a capsule twice a day, with lunch and dinner. Plenity works by making you feel full faster by turning into an inert gel that’s safely passed through the gastrointestinal system.
Weight Loss For Men Is More Than Just Diet
If you’ve tried every diet out there without success, maybe it’s time to try something new. To learn more about Plenity, watch this video and check out our Plenity welcome pack. To find out if Plenity is right for you, we offer a complimentary consultation with a U.S.-licensed physician, who will write your prescription and get a one-month supply quickly and discreetly to your door. And when you shop with eDrugstore, shipping is always free.
Dan is a long-time freelance writer focusing on technology, science, health, and medicine, with a lifelong interest in physics, biology, and medicine. His work has taken a particular focus on scientific studies “beyond the headlines,” reading the study to more closely examine the results.