While people search for methods of naturally boosting testosterone, some people have been turning to major lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. One of the most popular diets right now is the ketogenic, or keto, diet, a method of controlled starvation that doesn’t just help you lose weight – it may well help improve your testosterone levels.
What is the Keto Diet?
In a Ketogenic Diet, you consume certain types of food at a rate that alters the body’s metabolism. People on keto diets tend to consume less than 20g of net carbohydrates per day. During a keto diet, people dedicate 5-10% of their diet to carbs, 20-25% to protein and 60-75% to fat.
Over time, this diet will put the body into a state of ketosis, where fat is burned for fuel. This results in weight loss, greater overall health, and – most pertinent to people hoping to naturally boost testosterone – higher testosterone levels.
The Ketogenic diet was introduced originally as a treatment for epilepsy back in the 1920s. The very first historical reference to the Ketogenic diet was in 1911 when 20 children and adults with epilepsy were treated through the use of starvation. The patients reported that their seizures were actually less severe when they were fasting.
Fast forward to modern day, and the Ketogenic Diet has found a resurgence in popularity. The diet is still used as a starvation technique to treat childhood epilepsy, but it’s found quite a niche among people hoping to generally lose weight and improve their health.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are a few different types of ketogenic diets to choose from. Each has its own benefits and is tailored to alter different levels of carbohydrates and protein to your diet.
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
This is the kind of keto diet normally reserved for the average individual looking for an all-purpose version of the diet. Here, practitioners eat a moderate amount of protein and 20-50g of carbohydrates per day.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
This diet is tailored for active individuals and is meant to maximize the results of their workouts. A moderate level of protein is recommended here as well. This time, however, carbohydrate consumption should happen 30 minutes to one hour before or after exercise – this way, the higher metabolism you gain around this exercise period will help burn off food faster.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
This diet is specifically for bodybuilders or athletes who frequently engage in high-intensity training. In addition to eating a moderate amount of protein, practitioners engage in carbohydrate loading days specifically for this type of ketogenic diet.
CKD typically involves two phases: the first phase, when the person ingests 50g of carbs, and the carb-loading phase, where they eat 450-600 grams of carbs.
High Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD)
This one is for the people who are looking for to modify the Standard Ketogenic Diet with more protein to build more muscle. This one involves eating higher amounts of protein, but no more than 50g of carbs per day.
The Relationship Between Keto and Testosterone
The point of the Ketogenic Diet is to trick the body into thinking that it is starving, so the breakdown of fat for fuel is significantly higher. This is beneficial primarily for people who are trying to lose weight. For those who are looking to increase their testosterone levels, the Ketogenic Diet can work towards that end, provided it’s done under proper medical supervision.
High-fat foods contain a high amount of cholesterol, which is an organic compound found in all human cells. Cholesterol keeps the cellular membrane intact, making it necessary to survive. When cholesterol breaks down (a process known as biosynthesis), one of its end products is testosterone. The ingestion of higher fat foods leads to higher cholesterol intake, which in turn increases testosterone synthesis.
Finding natural ways to boost your testosterone can be beneficial, especially for those who suffer from low testosterone. However, too much cholesterol can lead to heart problems and high cholesterol. To that end, any attempt to go on a ketogenic diet, particularly with the explicit goal of optimizing testosterone levels, should be conducted under medical care and the recommendation of wellness professionals.
Alongside the benefits of cholesterol intake on testosterone creation, research shows benefits in people who followed the ketogenic diet and a resistance-training program. One study concludes that there are favorable changes in body composition, performance, and hormonal profiles for male participants when they followed the keto diet in combination with resistance training. Testosterone levels, in particular, increased significantly over the eleven weeks of the study.
More generally, however, the body naturally produces more testosterone when it’s in better shape – higher fat content and lower muscle mass are consistent with lower testosterone production.
Not only can the ketogenic diet stimulate testosterone production by keeping your body’s metabolism focused on breaking down cholesterol, over time one’s improved body composition can create an environment better suited to natural testosterone production. Insulin resistance is higher in fitter bodies, which then results in a greater ability for the body to produce testosterone.
Does the Ketogenic Diet Boost Testosterone?
It is hypothesized that a high-fat diet will increase testosterone levels, and because the Ketogenic Diet is high-fat, many individuals are interested in this diet. But will you increase your testosterone if you eat the Ketogenic diet?
According to The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry, the answer is yes. For the 30 healthy, middle-aged men in the study they conducted, a reversible hormonal change occurred as a result of the keto diet.
This research illustrates that following a higher-fat diet may increase the testosterone in your body in comparison to a low-fat and high-carb diet. Keto is a low-carb diet first and foremost, which may impact levels of testosterone as well, but more studies need to be done to confirm this causal relationship.
Testosterone-Boosting, Keto-Friendly Fat Sources
If you want to start a ketogenic diet to boost testosterone, here are some foods that can serve the dual purpose of being keto-friendly and creating an internal environment conducive to testosterone production:
- Olives and Olive Oil
- Coconut and Coconut Oil
- MCT Oil (Medium-Chain Triglycerides)
- Butter from Grass-Fed Animals
- Grass-fed Animal Meat
- Raw Nuts (like macadamia and almonds)
How to Get Started with the Ketogenic Diet to Boost Testosterone
When engaging in lifestyle changes such as the ketogenic diet, or supplementing your existing efforts with Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), it’s best to consult with wellness professionals like those at Renew Vitality.
For a consultation, contact Renew Vitality to get started on a guided, professionally supervised HRT that would seek to bring the benefits of testosterone and the Ketogenic Diet today.
This content was reviewed by Dr. Gary Kawesch. Dr. Kawesch graduated from Yale University, getting his degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He then got his medical degree at the UCLA School of Medicine. He completed his internship in internal medicine at USC’s Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, and his ophthalmology residency at the UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. For over 18 years, Dr. Kawesch was one of the foremost ophthalmic surgeons in the US and has consulted with and was a team doctor for seven professional sports teams in California. He continues to work with the Oakland Raiders. He trained with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and helps men increase their vitality, lifespan and overall healthspan.