Following a ketogenic diet plan for years now has made me realize and appreciate its potential for meeting your health and fitness goals, especially if you do it right.
Now, you might be wondering why I wrote a separate article discussing the keto diet for men. Isn’t it similar for both sexes? Actually, there are special considerations due to their differences in physiology and goals.
Here, we cover the basics of keto, explore how it affects the male body, and the ketogenic diet for men vs. women.
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat approach that triggers ketosis – a metabolic state where your body burns fat and produces chemicals called ketones. Ketones are alternative fuels to glucose (which is a byproduct of carbohydrates).
Men on the keto diet should limit their total carbs to 20-50 grams per day to reach ketosis. The lower your carb intake, the sooner ketosis happens. Avoid starchy foods like rice, bread, potatoes, cereals, and pasta. Prioritize quality fats and proteins like eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, leafy greens, and low-sugar fruits.
Why the Keto Diet is Good for Males
Yes, going low-carb works for a lot of men. The human brain and body can operate even with little to no carbohydrates. As a matter of fact, they can thrive and perform better.
For example, in a randomized clinical study, 15 overweight or obese men and 13 premenopausal women were asked to follow either a very low-carb keto diet (VLCK) or a low-fat diet (LF). Both genders responded favorably to VLCK.
Men specifically lost more body mass, total fat mass, and trunk fat mass on VLCK versus LF (1). This is just one study to give you an idea.
6 Benefits of Keto Diet for Men
Below, you’ll find more specific keto diet results in men by looking at its advantages.
1. Keto diet for men causes weight loss
Weight loss becomes harder to attain as we age. That’s no secret. You pack more fat and lose muscle as you get older, especially if you’re not exercising and optimizing your protein needs.
That is why the keto diet plays such a big role in helping you reach your weight loss goals. A randomized controlled trial involving 63 obese men and women showed how a low-carb diet was effective in achieving weight loss in 6 months compared to a conventional diet (2).
As for how much weight you can lose, that depends on various factors like activity, stress, and specific food choices. A safe weight loss rate would be 1-2 pounds per week, according to the CDC (3).
2. Keto diet for men preserves and builds muscle
A common myth about the keto diet is that it leads to muscle loss and strength due to the lack of carbs. That’s because carbs cause the release of insulin which supports muscle growth. But that doesn’t paint the whole picture.
If done correctly, by making sure you get optimal amounts of protein, keto preserves muscle mass. You can even use the keto diet to build muscle, strength, and improve your overall physique.
For example, in a study, 12 healthy men switched from their regular diet to a carb-restricted diet for 6 weeks. Some of the foods they ate included meat, eggs, fish, cheese, and various nuts and seeds. While the subjects lost body fat, surprisingly their lean body mass increased (4).
As mentioned, make sure to eat enough protein to optimize muscle and strength gains on keto. Aim for 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
3. Keto diet for men may boost testosterone
Wondering if the keto diet can fix low T levels? As it turns out, the answer is yes. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of having low testosterone.
In a study involving 1,667 men ages 40 and above, it was found that every 1-point increase in BMI was related to a 2% decrease in testosterone (5).
The ketogenic diet improves your testosterone levels in two ways. One is the reduction of carbs leading to weight loss. Second is an increase in dietary fat will support hormone production.
4. Keto diet for men may reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is when you have fat in your liver. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and smoking increases your risk of this condition. NAFLD is strongly associated with insulin resistance.
A lifestyle change such as keto reduces insulin resistance, helping prevent or even reverse NAFLD. In a small study, 5 patients with fatty liver were required to follow the keto diet for 6 months with a daily intake of less than 20 grams of carbs. This intervention resulted in weight loss and an improvement in fatty liver (6).
5. Keto diet for men reverses type 2 diabetes
Going low-carb can help people with diabetes by inducing weight loss, controlling blood sugar levels, and improving insulin sensitivity.
Virta Health developed a 1-year program in which T2D patients reduced their carbs and were also closely monitored. This resulted in a decrease in A1C and medication use. Other positive effects included a decrease in triglycerides and an increase in good cholesterol. Their blood pressure also improved (7).
As you probably already know, food plays such a huge role in affecting your blood sugar. Eating high amounts of carbs raises blood sugar to above-normal levels. As long as you maintain a low-carb diet, you won’t have to worry about diabetes returning or worsening.
Before you go keto, discuss with your healthcare provider. They may have to create a personalized plan so you can do this as safely as possible.
6. Keto diet for men increases energy levels
Optimal energy gets you through the day. It boosts your sense of well-being. If you’re often struggling with tiredness, you might want to reconsider your food choices. Your high-carb diet, to be specific.
While carbs can give you an extra edge in sports and fitness activities, overindulgence causes fatigue. Switching from carbs to fat as your primary energy source helps you to have stable energy.
Take note that better energy doesn’t happen overnight. Those who go keto for the first time will experience temporary fatigue as part of the keto flu. Once you get past this transition phase, you’ll feel better than ever.
Keto Diet for Men vs. Women
How women follow the keto diet can look different from men. Some of the factors that affect their progress or results include the following:
Women’s hormones can be very sensitive to changes in their diet. Some women can reverse PCOS on keto while others find that it disrupts their periods. If you’re a female, make sure to listen to your body.
Re-evaluate your keto diet. Are you doing it properly? For example, are you prioritizing nutrient-dense, whole foods? Are you getting enough calories? You might also need to examine your lifestyle. Maybe you’re under a lot of stress that’s also affecting your hormones.
Men tend to lose weight faster than women
When it comes to weight loss, men seem to achieve it more effortlessly. One good reason is that men pack more muscle than women. Muscle is metabolically active. It burns more calories even at rest (8).
Women pack more fat for a purpose: To prime their bodies for childbearing.
However, don’t let this discourage your female friends or partner from pursuing keto. Aside from maintaining that healthy low-carb life to continuously burn fat, incorporate weight-bearing exercises to develop lean body mass.
Men want to look bigger, leaner, and stronger
Men, in general, would like to look strong, thus the interest in bodybuilding. If you’re looking to use the keto diet for body recomposition (lose more fat, build more muscle) then you need to get keen on the numbers.
Know your macros. Take your protein requirements more seriously. Experiment with higher carb days or carb cycling. Find a strength training routine that you enjoy and can give you the best possible results. You might want to check out this great resource Ketogains for more in-depth knowledge.
The keto diet results in male health, fitness, and performance. I personally believe that this way of eating can change the lives of a lot of men worldwide.
One final note: Sex differences on keto shouldn’t serve as a hindrance in reaching your goals, whether you’re a male or female reading this article. Get the most out of your low-carb journey by following a personalized approach. Do what works for you in a healthy, sustainable way.
- Volek J, Sharman M, Gomez A et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. 2004 November 08
- Forster G, Wyatt H, Hill J et al. A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity. 2003 May 22
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing Weight. 2022 September 19
- Volek J, Sharman M, Love D et al. Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet. 2002 July
- Harvard Health Publishing. Obesity: Unhealthy and unmanly. 2011 March 01
- Tendler D, Lin S, Yancy W et al. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot study. 2007 January 12
- Melillo G. Dr Bobeck Modjtahedi Discusses Trends in Telehealth for Diabetic Retinopathy. 2021 August 10
- Mayo Clinic. Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories. 2020 November 10