Keto diet word on notebook with measuring tape and fork on green background, top view

How the Keto Diet Impacts Testosterone and Cortisol

Testosterone production relies on the presence of cholesterol as it serves as a component for steroid hormones. The keto diet, known for its abundance of cholesterol and healthy fats, has the potential to increase the substrate for testosterone synthesis.

Several studies have indicated that low carbohydrate diets can elevate testosterone levels in men when compared to high carbohydrate diets. This phenomenon could be attributed to factors:

  1. Low carbohydrate diets can lead to decreased insulin levels, which in turn impedes testosterone production.
  2. Inflammation reduction, achieved through low carbohydrate diets may play a role in enhancing function and elevating testosterone levels.
  3. Optimization of body composition wherein body fat decreases while muscle mass increases due to low carbohydrate diets can have an impact on testosterone levels.

Nevertheless it is important to note that not all studies have consistently found effects of low carbohydrate diets on testosterone levels. Some studies have shown differences or even a decline in testosterone levels after following a low carbohydrate diet. There are explanations for this variability:

  1. Low carbohydrate diets can result in increased cortisol levels, which may suppress testosterone production.
  2. Thyroid function may be affected by low carbohydrate diets subsequently influencing testosterone levels.
  3. Nutritional deficiencies or imbalances including deficiencies in zinc or magnesium caused by low carbohydrate diets can have an impact on testosterone levels.

It is crucial to acknowledge that individual responses and factors beyond diet also contribute to testosterone regulation. Thus,further research is required to understand the relationship between low carbohydrate diets and testosterone levels.The impact of the keto diet on testosterone levels can differ based on different factors including age, weight, activity level, genetic predisposition and existing medical conditions. It's important to note that the keto diet may not be appropriate for everyone, particularly individuals with conditions such as hypogonadism, hypothyroidism or adrenal insufficiency.

How the Keto Diet Impacts Cortisol

Plate with a Keto Diet Food

The production of cortisol is regulated by the adrenal (HPA) axis, which responds to various stimuli, like stress, infection, inflammation, exercise or fasting. The keto diet can influence cortisol levels through its impact on the HPA axis in ways.

Certain studies have discovered that low carbohydrate diets might result in increased cortisol levels in men when compared to high carbohydrate diets. This could be attributed to a factors:

  1. Low carbohydrate diets can prompt a starvation response in the body leading to the release of cortisol to enhance energy availability.
  2. Low carbohydrate diets may cause dehydration, imbalances or keto flu symptoms. These factors can elevate stress levels thus increasing cortisol production.
  3. Low carbohydrate diets can potentially decrease levels, which may impact mood and sleep quality. This disruption may contribute to heightened stress and cortisol levels.

However it should be noted that not all studies have observed effects of low carbohydrate diets on cortisol levels. Some studies have found no difference or even a decrease in cortisol levels after following a low carbohydrate diet. This could be due, to reasons Low carbohydrate diets may enhance insulin sensitivity resulting in reduced cortisol secretion.

Restricting carbohydrate intake in diets has been observed to facilitate the production of ketones. These ketones have been associated with benefits, such as reducing inflammation and protecting the brain. Consequently, the resulting effects may aid in decreasing stress levels and the release of cortisol.

Additionally, adhering to a low carbohydrate diet can potentially influence the adrenal (HPA) axis gradually diminishing its response to stress. This adjustment has the potential to contribute to decreased levels of cortisol.

However, it is important to note that the impact of the ketogenic diet on cortisol levels may differ depending on factors like age, weight, activity level, genetic disposition and existing medical conditions. It is crucial to consider these factors before deciding whether this diet is appropriate for an individual. Moreover, individuals with stress, anxiety, depression or insomnia should exercise caution when considering the keto diet, as it might not be suitable for everyone.


In conclusion, the keto diet can have an impact on testosterone and cortisol levels, which can vary depending on factors. The keto diet has the potential to increase testosterone levels by enhancing the availability of cholesterol, while reducing insulin and inflammation. On the other hand it might also lead to a decrease in testosterone levels by elevating cortisol levels impairing thyroid function and affecting status.

Cortisol levels may be elevated through a starvation response that arises from the keto diet resulting in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or symptoms similar to keto flu. However, it is important to note that the keto diet can also have the effect of reducing cortisol levels by improving insulin sensitivity, promoting ketone production, and adapting the HPA axis.

The effects of the keto diet on testosterone and cortisol levels can influence aspects of your health and performance. These hormones play a role in processes such as function, muscle mass, bone density, mood regulation, energy levels, metabolism, immune system function, blood pressure and blood sugar regulation.

To ensure a safe approach to the keto diet, it is advisable to consult with your doctor and regularly monitor your hormone levels. It's essential to follow a nutritious keto diet tailored to your unique needs and goals or you can also try keto fat burners. By doing so you can optimize your hormone balance and reap the benefits of the keto diet while safeguarding your overall well being.

Kayla Thomas


Kayla Thomas, a 34-year-old sports and fitness coach living in Connecticut, USA. With seven years of hands-on experience, she's all about helping folks get fit and strong. Kayla's fitness journey began when she was a sports-loving kid, and she followed her passion to college, where she earned a degree in Exercise Science and picked up personal training and sports coaching certifications. But what really lights her up is empowering women through fitness, breaking barriers and making fitness feel welcoming for everyone. Her clients see her as not just a coach but a motivating friend. In her downtime, you'll find her swimming and cycling, always on the move. And you can follow her fitness journey on Instagram – she's all about sharing that empowerment vibe.