Dietary Causes of Low Libido

Dietary Causes of Low Libido

Getting lost in a moment of passion is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but all too often we get caught up in our heads and can’t fully be present in the moment. If you can relate to this, it might be time to take a look at your diet.

There are many negative factors that may affect your libido, from your diet to the amount you sleep. In this article, we'll find out how your diet may be sucking the life out of your libido.


What factors can negatively affect libido?

  •  Diets that are high in sugar can increase fat storage, which affects the endocrine system. Fat drives the production of estrogen which causes an increase in sex hormone-binding globulin, which gathers free testosterone and reduces libido. If this is combined with you feeling less sexy, it can severely impact how much you want to have sex.
  •  Being overweight. Alongside the potential heart issues that can stem from being overweight, having regular sex can prove difficult for those who are obese from a physical perspective since can be quite physically challenging.
  •  Yo-yo dieting. Those who quickly lose or gain significant amounts of weight may experience issues with their libido.
  •  Being underweight can also affect libido for women as sex hormones are made from fat. So, if you less fat than you need, you are not producing enough sex hormones.
  •  Too little or too much estrogen : if you are taking more estrogen than you need, whether in the form of birth control or as a hormone replacement, this may lead to weight gain, which can lead to low testosterone levels. It is important to keep your hormone's in a balanced state. Too much is as bad as too little.
  •  Lacking certain vitamins in your diet can also lead to low libido. Vitamin D, Magnesium, and zinc are important to maintaining optimal testosterone.

Other factors that may be contributing to a low libido

  •  Not getting enough sleep. Your libido can also be negatively affected if you don’t sleep properly. One interesting study of healthy young men found that the subjects’ daytime testosterone levels went down by as much as 15% over a week of sleep restriction to five hours per night. A lack of sleep also often prompts us to rely on coffee and energy drinks, skip exercise, and choose high sugar foods because we want that quick hit of energy.
  •  Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Those with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or chronic stress may find the act of sex difficult. Since sex often requires a relaxed mindset, self-confidence, and trust in the other person, it can sometimes make matters worse. While it’s often easier said than done among people with mental health problems, it’s important to make time to rest, relax, and reset your mind. If you have been feeling stressed or under mental strain, focus on picking the right foods - it can be easy to get takeout so you don’t have to cook, but this can make things worse.
  •  Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is a hormone-driven condition that can also affect the sex drive. Those with PCOS tend to have elevated levels of androgens, like testosterone, causing low libido and low sexual satisfaction. This is an example of how too much testosterone leads to low libido. From a psychological standpoint, PCOS may also indirectly affect sex drive as it decreases a woman’s chances of having children, which may contribute to low self-esteem and depression. Many women with PCOS find success in reducing their symptoms and increasing their libido by reducing (or in some cases eliminating) refined carbs and sugars.

Each person’s libido is unique but often changes as people age and go through different phases of life - up and down. Usually, a slight change in sex drive isn’t something to worry about, and most people know themselves well enough to notice what’s normal. If you’re unhappy with your desire to spend time in the bedroom, improve your diet and make sure you’re getting regular exercise so you feel your best. If you do these things and still don’t feel yourself, it is worth speaking to your doctor to check there isn’t an underlying issue that’s making it difficult for you to desire sexual pleasure.


Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.