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Top 4 Ways Diet Affects Your Libido (& How to Increase It!)


by Hollie Dubose

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nancy Rahnama M.D. to ensure the scientific accuracy and integrity of the article. Reviewed by Dr. Nancy Rahnama M.D.

Have you ever been out for a date to a restaurant, ate perhaps a little too much, and returned home with your partner feeling like sex is just about the last thing you want to do? It’s not just being overfull that makes us feel unsexy, it’s also what we eat. Dr. Rahnama is the expert in all things nutrition, so we asked her about what you need to know about your diet and libido.

Top 4 Ways Diet Affects Your Libido  

1.     Eating Processed Foods Reduces Testosterone Production

As women, the idea of increasing your testosterone production doesn’t exactly sound appealing. However, without it, you’re libido is going to struggle. “If you’re eating highly processed foods, it’s going to affect your gut health,” Dr. Nancy said, “which can affect the absorption of certain micronutrients that are essential for testosterone production. Testosterone is essential for the libido.”

2.     Being Overweight Increases Estrogen Production

When you’re overweight, your insulin levels are going to be higher than someone who isn’t. (Hence why obesity often leads to Type 2 diabetes.) “With higher insulin levels, you’re more likely to convert testosterone to estrogen, which lowers the libido.”

3.     If You Aren’t Eating Right, You Likely Aren’t Happy with Your Body

Sex is a very physical activity, it’s all about what you feel and being present in the moment. If you don’t like your body and don’t want a partner to feel it, you aren’t going to want to have sex. It doesn’t matter how attracted to you your partner tells you they are, you’re going to be in your head worrying about how they feel the entire time. It’s not exactly the recipe for losing yourself in the moment. 

4.     Extreme Calorie Restriction Will Damage Your Libido

Conversely, if you’re extremely restricting calories, your libido is going to be low, too. If you’re over restricting your body feels that it’s in a stress state, because you’re not eating enough for it to function.

“If you’re in a high-stress state, your body knows that you’re not in a place where you can reproduce and it lowers the hormones that contribute to your libido, because there's no point in having sex right now. You wouldn't be able to sustain a pregnancy or have a viable scenario to bring your child into this world.” Dr. Rahnama said.

Remember that your body doesn’t “know” we have sex purely for pleasure, it only thinks about it in terms of reproduction. That's why women who are anorexic or under eat may miss their periods.

“The body is trying to conserve the eggs and won't ovulate because it knows that she couldn't carry a pregnancy, because she's in this high stress scenario of under eating and over restriction and being underweight.”

What Can I Do to Increase My Libido?

Clean Up Your Diet

Your first step should be to cut out foods that are bad for you and lead to weight gain and stop your gut from properly absorbing the nutrients in your food. Try to:

  • Avoid high-sugar foods
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Avoid white foods (for example, switch to brown bread, brown rice, and sweet potatoes)
  • Eat more fiber – this helps control your blood sugar levels
  • Ensure you’re getting a wide range of macro and micronutrients (it may be helpful to take a multivitamin, such as our Metabolic Multi)
  • Exercise portion control – make sure you don’t eat to the point where you are uncomfortable. When you start feeling full, it’s time to stop.

When you start eating more wholefoods, you’ll notice you feel lighter, more energized, and less sluggish. It’s difficult to fall into bed together when one or both of you is exhausted, so work on increasing your energy levels and avoid heavy foods if you think sex is on the cards.

Get Fit (Whatever That Means for You)

Another great way to increase your libido is to simply start feeling great about yourself! One of the best ways to feel better about your body beyond eating better is to tone up and get fit, in whatever way feels right to you. When you feel hot, you’re more likely to want to have sex! Go figure, right? So try to get a sweat on for 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week to increase you’re natural testosterone levels.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s natural libido varies – the “right” amount of intimate time differs from person to person. However, if you’re worried that it’s especially low or if you’re feeling frustrated by your lack of desire, looking at your diet is a great place to start.  

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