The keto diet, which stands for ‘ketogenic’ diet, is a low-carb, high-fat diet linked to a variety of health benefits, from weight loss and lower risk of some diseases to better health of the brain.
Of course, while that’s nice to hear, you’re reading this because you want to know whether the keto diet really boosts testosterone.
The answer to that is yes. Several studies show a link between folks who follow the keto diet and higher testosterone, although results tend to hinge on whether the person doing the keto diet is going hard in the weight room.
Let’s look closer at the keto diet and figure out if it is something you should look into with greater interest.
Keto Diet Explained
The keto diet virtually eliminates (or comes very close to it) carbohydrates from your diet. It’s exactly as that sounds – to do the keto diet, you dramatically cut down on your carbs and replace them with fat. This puts your body in ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns more fat for energy.
As well, the keto diet turns fat into ketones – by-products of the breakdown of fatty acids in the liver – which the brain uses for energy.
Done right, the keto diet can improve your health in a variety of ways. For example, the keto diet can lower your blood sugar and insulin levels, which may help you avoid diabetes down the road. It may also lower your body fat, which can protect against heart disease. The keto diet may even help you sidestep further serious, life-threatening diseases as well.
What is Ketosis?
When you do the keto diet, you’re aiming for your body to achieve a state called ‘ketosis’. This is a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for fuel rather than carbs.
This happens when you significantly lower your carb intake. In turn, this lowers your body’s supply of glucose – sugar – which is your body’s main fuel source for your cells.
To achieve ketosis through the keto diet, you’ll need to lower your daily carbohydrates down to about 20 to 50 grams a day and load up on fats instead. In other words, you’ll probably eat more dairy, meats, fish, eggs, nuts and healthy oils, like olive oil.
With the keto diet, you’ll also need to limit the amount of protein you eat. That’s because the body can convert high protein intake to glucose, which makes ketosis more difficult to achieve.
Intermittent fasting can further help your body achieve ketosis. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most common involves limiting your daily food to an eight hour window, and not eating for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
Sorry to say, but your ice cream and Netflix is out the window with the Keto diet.
How Does the Keto Diet Affect Testosterone?
A recent study found that men who are overweight and/or who struggle with obesity may benefit from the keto diet. The study’s methodology: study the effects of a very low carb and high fat diet among 17 men, all of whom were obese.
During the study, the men lost a substantial amount of weight to lower their percentage of body fat, which increased their testosterone..
The average age of the men in the study was 41, and with an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 36.4 – firmly in obesity territory.
When the study started, the men had an average total testosterone level of 2.5 nanograms per liter (ng/mL). That’s on the ‘low end’ of testosterone for men, although their levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that moves protein throughout the body in your blood flow, were in a normal range of 24.2 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).
Throughout the study, each man followed the keto diet and took in no more than 800 calories each day for four weeks. At the end of the study, the men had lost an average 9.3 kilograms (20.5 pounds) and reduced their average BMI by 3.1 points.
Going by their BMI, on the study’s conclusion, each man continued to be affected by obesity. However,each man had lost an average 6.5 kilograms – 14.3 pounds – by the time the study finished.
Just as noteworthy – even more so for you, the reader who wants to know if the keto diet can actually boost testosterone levels – their total testosterone levels went up by an average 0.89 ng/mL. And their sex hormone binding globulin increased by 10.94 nmol/L during the same time.
What This Means
It means there appears to be a positive link between the keto diet and the ability to boost testosterone, but more research is needed. The study suggests the keto diet can boost testosterone in men with obesity, but little is known about how it might affect men with lower BMI than the men in the study.
Also, while the increase in testosterone documented in the study was noteworthy, it may not be statistically significant. Along those lines, the study did not explore whether the increase in testosterone led to an improvement of traditional low T symptoms, like low sex drive and poor sleep.
On top of that, also consider that low testosterone levels don’t automatically mean you should revert to the keto diet. There may be more urgent health issues at play when you have low testosterone, and that’s a conversation you’ll want to have with your doctor.
Other Benefits of the Keto Diet
While there appears to be a link between the keto diet and its ability to boost testosterone levels, there are other reasons you may want to try it as well.. Among other benefits, the keto diet may help you:
Lose Weight – A variety of studies show the keto diet can help you lose weight. As well, with its emphasis on fat, you may find the keto diet is so filling that you lose weight without counting calories.
Lower Risk of Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes – Diabetes is a health condition characterized by high blood sugar and reduced insulin function. Because the keto may help you lose body fat, it may also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Lower Risk of Other Health Conditions – The keto diet is further linked to lower risk of other urgent health concerns, from heart disease to epilepsy. Research is ongoing, however, and the studies we have to date on the keto diet are far from conclusive.
How to Do the Keto Diet
You’re still reading. Are you still interested in doing the keto diet?
If this is a route you’d like to explore, keep it short – at least to start. Going by the study results, rapid weight loss had a positive effect on testosterone levels. This increase appeared to be in men who struggled with obesity.
It’s unknown if the keto diet will boost testosterone in men whose levels are already in the normal range – one of several reasons why you’ll want to start the keto diet for a short amount of time.
Keto Diet: Getting Started
To do the keto diet, you will likely want to speak with a certified dietician. He or she will look at your background and your food preferences, and create a keto diet meal plan for you accordingly.
Your keto diet food plan will likely have these foods:
Meats – Including red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon and turkey.
Fatty Fish – These include salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel. As a bonus, these also tend to be high in heart and brain-friendly omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs – Either pastured or omega-3 whole eggs – which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Butter and Cream – These include grass-fed butter and heavy cream.
Cheese – Think unprocessed cheeses, which can include cheddar, goat, blue, cream and/or mozzarella.
Nuts and Seeds – These can include walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and chia. As an aside, walnuts also appear to have a positive effect on sperm count and sperm quality.
Healthy Oils – Like you might expect with a description like that, healthy oils include olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
Avocados – Speaking of avocados, they’re a staple of the keto diet. They’re low in sodium too.
Low Carb Vegetables – These include green vegetables, tomatoes, onions and peppers, among others.
Condiments – These are salt, pepper, herbs and spices.
Keto Diet – Yes or No?
Assuming you’ve run it past your doctor, and they’ve given you the all-clear to try the keto diet, and you’ve spoken with a certified dietician, it may be worth a shot.
The keto diet appears to have a positive effect on testosterone levels, although more research is need to verify this link, and to explore the connection between the keto diet and testosterone levels in non-obese volunteers.
Remember too that low testosterone is a conversation with your doctor. There may be other issues at play if or when this issue creeps up – and that may not be something the keto diet alone can fix.
Still, the keto diet shows potential not only to increase testosterone but may also help you lose weight and lower your risk of health concerns related to obesity. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and give the keto diet the old college try, it’s a good bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Don’t forget you can also combine the keto diet with TestRX – a natural testosterone boosting supplement. Read all about it here in our post, “Introducing TestRX Testosterone Booster.”