Whether you are new to the ketogenic diet or considering starting, you may be wondering how this way of eating will affect your hormone levels. Men, in particular, may be wondering how testosterone is affected on keto?
Studies show that testosterone levels in men have plummeted. This isn’t particular to one city or state; it’s happening around the entire country here in the United States.
While factors such as pollution and exposure to environmental estrogens do play a big part, diet and exercise are still the two most important ways to remedy and prevent low testosterone levels. 
Does the keto diet help or hurt testosterone levels in men? Let’s explore what testosterone is and how the ketogenic diet might be just the thing you need to naturally increase your t-levels.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a sex-steroid hormone. Both men and women have it, but the body of a man produces up to 15 times more testosterone. While it assists in many bodily processes, testosterone is most notably associated with the following:
- Sex drive or libido
- Sperm production and fertility
- Muscle development
- Strength development
- Fat burning and distribution
- Bone mass
- Red blood cell production 
What is Low Testosterone?
Experts agree that when a man has a testosterone level of 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) or below, this is considered low testosterone. It can be influenced by genetics and environment, but lifestyle decisions also play an essential role.
When a man has low testosterone levels, the following symptoms are commonly reported:
- Decreased interest in sex or a low sex drive
- Mood swings, especially depression
- Low sperm count or infertility
- Testicular shrinkage
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increase in body fat, especially in the breasts
- Loss of bone density
- Low red blood cell count
Can the Keto Diet Increase Testosterone Levels?
Maybe, but it certainly won’t hurt your testosterone levels. Early studies suggest that eating a high-fat diet could promote healthy levels of testosterone. One study found that subjects eating a ketogenic diet produced more muscle mass, burned more fat, and had higher levels of testosterone when compared to those subjects on a high-carbohydrate diet. 
Other Ways to Increase Testosterone Levels
Outside of choosing a healthy diet that focuses on whole food options while minimizing or eliminating processed foods, you can do more of the following:
- Exercise: Studies show that working out is one of the best ways to naturally boost testosterone levels. Resistance training has been shown to support testosterone production. I’d recommend a workout program consisting of weightlifting for building muscle and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for cardiovascular training. 
- Sleep: Instead of binging on Netflix until 3 a.m., focus on getting more sleep to increase your testosterone. Studies show that sleep deprivation results in lower levels of testosterone. 
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- Travison TG, Araujo AB, O’Donnell AB, et al. A population-level decline in serum testosterone levels in American men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92:196-202.
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- Vaamonde D, Da Silva-Grigoletto ME, García-Manso JM, Barrera N, Vaamonde-Lemos R. Physically active men show better semen parameters and hormone values than sedentary men. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Sep;112(9):3267-73. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2304-6. Epub 2012 Jan 11.
- R. Leproult, E. Van Cauter. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011; 305 (21): 2173 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.710
David James Sautter is a fitness writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education, he earned certifications as a NASM-certified personal trainer, NASM-certified fitness nutrition specialist, and ACE-certified sports conditioning specialist. Merging his two passions, he has been the driving creative force behind articles, e-books, and training guides that cover a range of health and fitness topics with an emphasis on the ketogenic diet.