Does a Ketogenic Diet Increase Your Testosterone?

The ketogenic diet was originally developed as an epilepsy diet, and follows a low-carb protocol. Although not the same diet, Dr. Robert Atkins popularized a ketogenic weight-loss regimen based on principles similar to those of the original ketogenic diet. Neither the original ketogenic diet nor the Atkins diet leads to elevated testosterone levels. Some studies indicate that the low-carb approach may even lower testosterone levels.

Roast chicken on a plate (Image: OlgaPink/iStock/Getty Images)

The Ketogenic Diet

In the 1920s Dr. R.M. Wilders successfully treated instances of epilepsy in children using a diet regimen also known as the ketogenic diet. Though Wilders' dietary approach was successful, medical treatments soon became available and the much more complicated dietary approach no longer took center stage in the epilepsy community. The ketogenic diet is, however, still used to treat epileptics who do not get relief from conventional approaches and is widely used as a weight loss diet.

Mechanism of Action

The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic approach forces the brain to switch from using glucose to using ketone bodies, a byproduct of fat metabolism, as a fuel. This switch in brain metabolism, also known as ketosis, may have a calming effect on neurons, making it less likely that they enter an excitatory mode of the kind that can cause seizures.

The Atkins Diet

Unlike the anti-epileptic ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet is intended to be a weight-loss diet. It provides a higher carbohydrate intake and does not specify any required amount of protein and fat. During the induction phase, the carbohydrate intake is set at 20 grams a day. In later phases, up to 100 grams a day is allowed, so long as weight loss continues. Though the diet allows an unlimited intake of fat and protein, it would not work if you actually ate huge amounts of these foods every day. When the diet is successful, it generates a feeling of satiation after eating smaller portions of food.

Decreased Testosterone

There is evidence that both the original ketogenic diet and low-carb weight-loss diets reduce the blood levels of free testosterone. According to an animal study published in the September 2005 issue of "Epilepsy & Behavior," the original ketogenic diet lowers the blood levels of steroid hormones, such as progesterone and testosterone. Another study of obese women published in December 2005 issue of "Nutrition & Metabolism" found that a low-carb weight-loss diet, such as the Atkins diet, leads to reductions of testosterone and fasting insulin levels. Similar reductions in testosterone levels were found in an older study published in the February 1986 issue of "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism." The researchers suggest that ketosis is directly correlated with reductions in the blood levels of steroid hormones.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.