Keto and ED: What You Need to Know

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Keto, short for ketogenic diet, has gained immense popularity over the past few years as a way to lose weight, increase energy levels and improve overall health. This high-fat, low-carb diet is known to put the body in a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. 

While there are many reported benefits of the ketogenic diet, there has been a growing concern about its potential impact on sexual health, particularly in men. Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects millions of men worldwide, and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that keto may have an impact on this condition. 

So, today, we will explore the relationship between keto and ED, and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not keto is right for you.

Keto Briefly Explained

The ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has been gaining popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits. The goal of the diet is to put the body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. By significantly reducing carbohydrate intake, the body is forced to use stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss and other potential health benefits. 

The diet typically consists of high-fat foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and healthy oils, while severely limiting carbohydrate intake from foods such as bread, pasta, and sugar. While the diet may not be suitable for everyone, some studies have suggested that it may help improve certain health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and neurological disorders. However, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional before starting the diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.

Erectile Dysfunction Briefly Explained

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that affects men of all ages, characterized by difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection sufficient for sexual activity. ED can be caused by a variety of factors, including physical, psychological, or lifestyle-related factors. 

Physical causes may include underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, as well as hormonal imbalances. 

Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression can also contribute to ED. 

Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a lack of exercise can also increase the risk of developing ED. Treatment for ED may vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition, but can include medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy. 

It is important for men experiencing symptoms of ED to speak with their healthcare provider for proper evaluation and treatment.

Can a Keto Diet Impact Your Erection?

The flat answer is, no one can really definitively say as of yet. There is anecdotal evidence in both directions. After all, it does make sense that keto could either improve or harm your erection. Let’s take a look at the cases for both.

The Pros

On the one hand, proponents of the ketogenic diet suggest that it may improve erectile function by reducing inflammation, increasing testosterone levels, and improving blood sugar control. By reducing inflammation, the body is able to function more efficiently, and this includes the vascular system responsible for erections. 

In addition, testosterone plays a crucial role in sexual health, and some studies have suggested that the ketogenic diet may increase testosterone levels in men. Lastly, by reducing carbohydrate intake and relying on fat for energy, the ketogenic diet can help regulate blood sugar levels, which may be beneficial for men with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that can contribute to erectile dysfunction.

In fact, a study involving 40 overweight men revealed that following a very low-calorie ketogenic diet resulted in both increased testosterone levels and improved testicular function. But keep in mind other factors may have also been at play, and that this was a small study.

The Cons

On the other hand, critics of the ketogenic diet argue that it may actually harm erectile function by reducing nitric oxide levels, which are essential for the dilation of blood vessels that lead to erections. In addition, some studies have suggested that the high fat content of the diet may contribute to atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries, reducing blood flow and potentially leading to erectile dysfunction.

This does logically make sense, but it’s safe to assume that only long term keto would be harmful in this way. If you’re trying keto just to lose weight, it’s less likely that you’ll experience ED. However, long term high fat diets can lead to cardiovascular health problems as well as other serious health concerns.

The Verdict

Overall, more research is needed to fully understand the potential impact of the keto diet on erectile function. It is important for men considering the keto diet to speak with their healthcare provider to discuss any potential risks or concerns, especially if they have a history of cardiovascular disease or other health conditions that may impact erectile function.

The Dangers of Long Term Keto Diets

While the ketogenic diet has been shown to have short-term benefits such as weight loss and improved metabolic health, there are potential dangers associated with following this diet in the long-term. One of the biggest concerns is the potential impact on heart health. The high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol intake from a typical keto diet can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Another concern is the impact on gut health. The keto diet can be low in fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. This can lead to digestive issues, constipation, and other gastrointestinal problems.

There is also some evidence to suggest that the keto diet may have a negative impact on bone health. The diet can lead to a loss of calcium, which is essential for maintaining strong bones. Additionally, the high levels of acid in the body resulting from a high protein intake can lead to a loss of bone density over time.

Lastly, there is some concern that following a strict ketogenic diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies, particularly in vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. This can have negative impacts on overall health and increase the risk of chronic diseases.

While the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for some individuals in the short-term, it is important to consider the potential risks associated with following this diet in the long-term. As with any diet, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.

Plant-Based Low-Carb and Keto Options

If you're still going to try keto, it may be best to occasionally substitute your high-fat animal-based foods with plant-based options. Here are some plant-based low-carb and keto options that you can consider adding to your diet:

Non-Starchy Vegetables: Vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and peppers are low in carbs and high in fiber, making them ideal for a plant-based keto diet.

Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds like almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are high in healthy fats and protein, and low in carbs, making them great for keto snacking.

Coconut Products: Coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut flour are low-carb and high-fat options that are perfect for cooking and baking.

Avocado: Avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit that is high in healthy fats and low in carbs, making it an excellent addition to a plant-based keto diet.

Soy Products: Soy products like tofu and tempeh are low in carbs and high in protein, making them ideal for a plant-based keto diet.

Berries: Berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are low in carbs and high in fiber, making them a great option for a low-carb, plant-based dessert.

It is important to note that while plant-based options can be beneficial for a keto diet, it is still important to monitor your nutrient intake and consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you are meeting your dietary needs.

Final Thoughts

Your health is no joke, so when it comes to your diet, it's extremely important that you choose to eat in a way that supports your overall well-being. While the ketogenic diet may offer some benefits in the short-term, it is important to consider the potential risks associated with following this diet in the long-term. If you do choose to follow a keto diet, incorporating plant-based options into your meals can provide additional health benefits and help mitigate some of the potential risks.

Erectile dysfunction is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on a man's quality of life. While there is some anecdotal evidence suggesting that the keto diet may impact erectile function, more research is needed to fully understand this relationship. If you are experiencing symptoms of ED, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options.

Overall, the most important thing you can do for your health is to eat a balanced and nutritious diet that meets your individual needs. Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the best dietary plan for your specific health goals and needs.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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