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Keto Diet For Men: Is This Low-Carb Diet Good For Men’s Health?

7 min read
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Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Table of Contents

The ketogenic diet is popular among both men and women for its touted medical benefits such as weight loss and blood sugar control. Here we explore if the keto diet is different for men than women and how it affects men’s health, workout performance, and libido.

Is The Keto Diet Different For Men?

The ketogenic diet—or keto diet as it’s commonly known— is a low-carb, high-fat diet that contains a moderate amount of protein. 

A typical keto meal breakdown will be 55-60% of fat, 30-35% of protein, and 5-10% of carbohydrates [1]. This means that if you eat 2000 calories a day, you will limit your carb intake to a mere 20-50 g. 

When you’re eating fewer than 20-50 g of carbs consistently for a few days, your body enters into the state of ketosis, thus breaking down fat for energy instead of carbs [2]

The nutrient ratios and other diet rules will remain the same whether you’re a woman or a man. However, given the basic differences in men vs. women, there can be some variations in how keto affects your body. 

In fact, one particular research study conducted on mice reported that the keto diet works better for males than females [3].

One reason for this is the male differences in body composition, hormones, and metabolism compared to women. 

Men Tend To Have More Muscle Mass Than Women

Men generally have a higher muscle mass, whereas women tend to have more fat mass [4]. This leads to an increased metabolic rate in men, making them lose weight faster than women following an equivalent diet regimen, such as keto. 

Men Have A Different Hormonal Composition From Women

Men have higher testosterone concentrations, while women have higher estrogen concentrations. 

Research studies have found that estrogen plays a significant role in how the keto diet affects the female body [3]. Moreover, women’s hormonal levels fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycle and their lifespan, which will also influence the weight loss process [5] [19]. Luckily for men, they don’t face this problem and lose weight faster, following the same rules and restrictions.

Men Have Larger Protein Requirements Than Women

The average man with a sedentary lifestyle needs around 56 g of protein/day, while the average woman needs around 46 g [18]. This definitely depends on factors such as physical activity levels, but this means you need to adjust the macro ratio accordingly while on keto.

Benefits Of Keto For Men

Both men and women can benefit from keto. However, there are some particular advantages a keto diet has for men. In this section, we will discuss a few overall benefits while highlighting the specific benefits of the keto diet for men. 

Keto Will Help You Lose Weight

While the keto diet helps weight loss regardless of gender, research has shown that fat loss can be seen specifically in men [6].

One mouse study, in particular, showed that the presence of female sex hormones such as estrogen limits ketosis, thus hindering weight loss with the ketogenic diet [3].

Keto Will Help You Control Blood Glucose Levels

A very low-carb diet like keto has been shown to improve blood glucose management [7]. This effect, however, also seems to have a gender bias. The previous study we described reported that male mice showed better blood glucose control than female mice [3].

The Keto Diet Will Increase Testosterone Levels And Improve Testicular Function

Previously, there was confusion regarding whether the keto diet increases or decreases testosterone levels. One recent literature review published in 2022 confirms that the keto diet improves testosterone levels [8]

The authors, however, stress that more research is needed to explain the mechanism behind this increase. Other research studies also report that a keto diet can improve testicular function in men who suffer from metabolic hypogonadism [9].

This surge in testosterone translates to increased libido in men as well as improved exercise performance [10] [11]

Keto Will Help You Preserve Lean Muscle

It has been scientifically proven that ketogenic diets help protect muscle mass when you pair them with exercises [12]. You can even build muscle if you do it right.

Risks Of Keto For Men’s Health

Despite these benefits, a diet high in fat and low in carbs can bring about various health risks as well. Below we discuss some of the health risks associated with a ketogenic diet.

You Might Get The “Keto Flu”

Keto flu refers to a host of symptoms that include fatigue, low libido, nausea, sleep problems, headache, and brain fog [13] [14]. While these symptoms are usually temporary, they may still be challenging while they last.

You Might Be At Risk Of Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies

The keto diet restricts most—if not all—fruits and certain vegetables. As you know, fruits and vegetables are the main sources of vitamins and minerals in your diet, and restricting them puts you in danger of getting nutritional deficiencies without proper supplementation.

There’s An Increased Risk Of Heart Diseases

Due to the higher consumption of saturated fat, your LDL cholesterol (your “bad” cholesterol) levels can go up, which will increase the threat of heart disease [15]. Since men generally have a higher risk of heart disease than women [16], this risk factor especially applies to men.

You Might Get Kidney Problems

Research has shown that the keto diet can elevate the risk of kidney damage [17]; thus, it is not recommended if you have kidney issues.

Keto Diet For Men: What To Eat And What To Limit

The keto diet obviously comes with certain food restrictions. Carbs are almost completely off-limits, and so are most fruits. 

Some vegetables are allowed, depending on their starch content. While fat is allowed in higher amounts, you should be mindful of the type of fats you’re eating in order to keep your diet healthy and protect your heart as much as possible. 

Here’s a list to make things easier for you:

Food You Can Eat

  • Cooking oils
  • Seafood
  • Meat and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products such as butter, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other non-starchy veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus
  • High-fat fruits such as avocado and olives
  • Keto-friendly nuts
  • Berries

Foods to Avoid

  • Starchy vegetables – potatoes, beets, corn
  • Most fruits 
  • Sugary foods
  • Starchy foods

Tips For Men On The Keto Diet

  • Pay attention to your protein intake. Proteins help build and preserve muscles. It’s important to keep your protein levels in check while following the keto diet.
  • Choose healthy fats over highly saturated fats. Saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, so it is recommended to limit fatty meat like sausage, bacon, butter, and certain oils like palm or coconut oil. 
  • Stay hydrated. As your glycogen reserves get low when your body becomes depleted of carbs, the body’s ability to store water will also go down. Drinking plenty of water can counteract this effect and keep your body hydrated.
  • Keep track of your macros. Track your macros to see if you’re staying within your macro ratios to remain in ketosis.

Consult With A Healthcare Provider Before Starting Keto

While a high-fat, low-carb diet offers several benefits for men, it might not be suitable for everyone. 

Furthermore, long-term data on keto diets are not yet available, so it’s best to use it as a short-term strategy for weight loss. You can even try modified keto if you’re not yet ready to try the classic keto diet.

The ideal approach is to consult your doctor or nutritionist and get a personalized opinion before starting your diet regimen. 

So, Is The Keto Diet Good For Men?

Summarizing these facts, we can say that keto is a good option for both men and women who are trying to lose weight and control certain disease conditions. While keto may be especially effective for men for weight loss while preserving muscle mass, it’s important to always get clearance from your doctor. 

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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