What you’re getting yourself into
Diving into the science of sex drive, and why an all-meat diet can be the ultimate aphrodisiac for both men and women
Many people are blissfully unaware that the mission statement that birthed the vegan movement was to clamp down on the masturbation epidemic. This was at the peak of the temperance movement, an attempt to combine minimalism with self loathing.
Meat was named and flamed for its ability to ignite the passions, through the divine visions of an epileptic prophet who spotted the route for the redemption of the human species.
Amongst all their delusions of utopian grandeur, this may have been the one thing that the vegan movement got right. Which makes it a shame that they have since pivoted past the initial objective and made it about epidemiological cancer and anthropomorphised animal rights instead.
Because meat, and red meat in particular, is a force for fostering healthy libido, while a vegan diet resembles nutritional castration.
So let me give you one more big reason to attempt our species-appropriate diet.
1. Balancing Out The Hormones
The defining factor in healthy libido is the delicate dance between testosterone and estrogen. Too much of one, and too little of the other, can consequently lower sexual desire. This is a common point of concern for overweight testosterone deficient men who wage pharmaceutical warfare.
Before supplementing, they have low libido, because they’re too low on testosterone. Then they take testosterone, but too much of that testosterone gets converted to estrogen via aromatase. Now they have too much estrogen, and libido is still in a pickle.
Then these disgruntled men go with the conventional wisdom and add an aromatase inhibitor alongside their testosterone. But that ends up nuking estrogen altogether, and libido remains nonexistent.
With women, the same rule applies, except with estrogen instead of testosterone weighted as the dominant hormone in dictating healthy libido. Post menopausal women who take estrogen replacement therapy can improve their sex drive, but rising estrogen levels also increases sex hormone binding globulin, which lowers free testosterone and increases the imbalance between the two. The effect on libido is more reliable and magnified when taking both estrogen and testosterone.
Clearly, you’d want your sex hormones to operate in some semblance of harmony, and opting for pharmaceuticals will often make the situation more lopsided. So the solution would be to fix the glitches taking place at the grass-roots of your metabolism, and the only proven tool for that is nutrition.
A large part of what can cause imbalances in the testosterone : estrogen ratio are the twin threats that normally come hand in hand: insulin resistance and fat gain. Insulin resistance is positively associated with estrogen and progesterone, while being inversely associated with testosterone. In other words, it provides an environment of suppressed testosterone production and high estrogen levels.
Much of that will be due to the fact that fat stores are where aromatase happens, the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This is a necessary process, hence why aromatase inhibitors prove to be a terrible idea.
But it’s about balance, and the more insulin resistant you are, the fatter you’re likely to become, and that leads to increased aromatase activity that depletes testosterone and raises estrogen.
Nothing erodes insulin resistance more than a ketogenic diet that’s devoid of seed oils. Carnivore happens to fit that bill perfectly. As a weight loss tool, it’s unmatched. This already makes for a strong case as the diet that can bring back your flagging sex drive.
2. Providing Healthy Cholesterol Levels
You know what diet will slash your sex hormones better than any other? A vegan one, thanks to its wonderful ability to lower cholesterol and run you deficient in nutrients that provide the materials the body needs to build your sex hormones.
Cholesterol is the precursor to testosterone and progesterone. Nothing powers healthy cholesterol levels, and therefore testosterone, like saturated animal fats. The “healthy” plant-based alternatives like seed oils artificially lower cholesterol levels by swamping the body with phytosterols that the body can’t use and must get rid of at the expense of absorbing cholesterol.
Fibre also impedes the absorption of cholesterol, as evidenced by a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who followed a high-fat, low-fiber diet for only 10 weeks resulted in 13% higher total testosterone than men eating a low-fat high-fiber diet.
A carnivore diet based on red meat would naturally boost your testosterone and progesterone levels by providing the necessary precursor: cholesterol. This is magnified by the lack of fibre and plant fats that would otherwise lower cholesterol levels.
3. Prime Source Of Zinc
Along with cholesterol, zinc is the other compound most critical for testosterone production and libido. And once again, this isn’t exclusive to men. One randomised control trial (RCT) on post-menopausal women showed that “the use of zinc supplementation significantly improved sexual desire, arousal, orgasm and satisfaction.”
Beyond zinc, there are plenty of other compounds almost exclusively found in animal products, that play key roles in healthy libido. Carnitine, carnosine, COQ10, Vitamin K2, and Vitamin D3 are all strong drivers of sexual function.
4. Removing Estrogenics
Estrogenics are compounds that bind to your estrogen receptors and emit weaker signals. This can have the consequence of disrupting the hormonal balance and therefore libido.
The source that most are aware of is phytoestrogens, a defensive toxin that is found in a range of plants like soybeans, flaxseeds, cabbage, spinach, wine, and tea. This is why a generation of amateur bodybuilders have been afraid of the implications of getting their protein fix from soy milk.
But soybeans aren’t the only thing to be worried about, as there are plenty of estrogenics just waiting to pounce.
Source Of Estrogenics
1. Phytoestrogens (Plants)
2. Mycoestrogens (Mold)
3. Atrazine (Herbicide)
4. Alkylphenols (Soap)
5. BP & 4-MBC (Sunscreen)
6. Red No.3 & 40 (Food Colouring)
7. Parabens (Fragrance)
8. Phthalates (Plastic Additive)
9. BPA & BPS (Plastic Ingredient)
10. EE2 (Birth Control)
Now you’d be right in arguing that carnivore doesn’t automatically solve all of these issues. But it does get you off to a great start by eliminating at least 4 on that list. At the very least, you’d be significantly cutting down on your daily exposure to estrogenics and allowing your hormones some respite from these pretenders.
5. Improved Blood Flow
Having healthy blood flow is a critical part in optimising libido, since that’s precisely why viagra and cialis are such heavy hitters in the pharma industry. You need it for both the arousal and the climax.
Those two pharmaceuticals do their dirty work by increasing nitric oxide production, which improves blood flow by causing the vessels to dilate. Having high blood glucose and insulin levels can significantly impair the release of nitric oxide. The creation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) downstream from sugar overload can also cause the blood vessels to further constrict.
In the meantime, there are compounds in red meat that increase blood flow. COQ10 and carnitine both improve endothelial dysfunction and nitric oxide production. So a carnivore diet takes off the brakes on nitric oxide and provides the building blocks to charge up the process.
6. Dopamine Reset
Finally, we can’t discuss sexual arousal without tackling the big elephant in the room: dopamine. This magical molecule drives our reward seeking behaviour, and repeatedly spiking it leads to the draining of the central reservoir that dictates your motivational levels. Incessant spikes, lower dopamine levels, and a lowered appetite for things that require any busy work. Like sex. Not just that, but your enjoyment also takes a hit, because you’ve become resistant to the effects of dopamine.
Nothing saps and makes you resistant to dopamine, like an addiction, which happens when the dopamine reward pathway gets short-circuited. One such potential addiction is sugar, which activates the dopamine and opioid receptors much the same as cocaine.
It’s real, and it plays a big role in why most weight loss programmes are destined to fail. But in the scope of this article, a sugar-laden diet can rob you of sex drive by erasing your motivation and enjoyment.
The solution isn’t that different to cocaine either: abstain altogether. Whether you’re addicted or not, pulling away from the grips of sugar will allow your dopamine levels to replenish, resensitise your enjoyment of the simpler things in life, and get you gearing up for a more front-foot approach.
Obviously, sugar is just one potential drain on your dopamine tank, and there are plenty of other classic offenders in the ADHD modern lifestyle.
- Video games
But what dropping sugar will do, is give your brain the respite it needs to start reevaluating your other life choices. Stepping off the sugar rollercoaster and hopping on the ketone rolls royce will drastically lower inflammation, balance out your neurotransmitters, and give you the motivation you need to seek out things that will help speed up the process of replenishing that dopamine pool. Which are the painful things in life.
- Lifting heavy
- Cold exposure
- Heat exposure
These tools may feel uncomfortable, but that’s the point. Enduring the discomfort will cause dopamine levels to hike up in the aftermath and can lead to a buzz that lasts for hours.
The simplistic approach to optimising dopamine is that seeking out pleasure depletes dopamine and leads to more misery and apathy. Whereas seeking out pain increases dopamine and builds up wellbeing and motivation.
Does A Ketogenic Diet Tank Your Free Testosterone?
It’s worth underlining a couple of points that I’ve made in this article on libido.
1. Libido isn’t as simple as increasing one hormone – You need a balance in testosterone, estrogen and progesterone to foster your sex drive. This is where a diet that fixes that underlying metabolic conditions, like high blood sugar and excess aromatase in fat stores, will outperform the application of pharmaceuticals like testosterone and estrogen replacement therapy.
2. The diet alone isn’t sufficient for optimal libido – Maintaining healthy dopamine mechanics and avoiding excess estrogenic activity will require you to tackle other obstacles across your lifestyle. That isn’t to say the diet alone can’t rescue your sex drive, but why stop at that when you’ve come so far?
There are also two complicating factors that are worth tackling. The first one being the fuss people make about how a ketogenic diet raises SHBG levels, which can bind to free testosterone, the ones that actually do the heavy lifting. So in other words, higher SHBG supposedly prevents your testosterone from doing its duties. The key word being, supposedly.
Funnily enough, this mechanism has been shown to improve the symptoms of PCOS.
But that’s not the only confounder on this simplistic take that high SHBG levels is inherently a bad thing, since it’s also been correlated with better metabolic health and increased muscle hypertrophy. The fatter you are, the less SHBG you have. The more swole you are, the more SHBG you have.
One way to explain this is to point out that SHBG doesn’t ‘inactivate’ your testosterone and prevent it from entering tissues, since there are still sites that specifically bind to it: RSHBG and megalin. So while seeing your SHBG levels skyrocket might be a cause for concern, it’s very much still a functioning part of the testosterone mechanics, and shouldn’t be a molecule to be limited at all costs.
One potential supplement that could be used to control SHBG, is boron, which is best used in the form of ionic boron acid.
The second confounding factor, and the more poignant one, is that your libido is always going to be negatively affected if you’re undereating. This can be an issue if you jump into a carnivore diet with the fat phobia and portion control that’s already been drummed into your feeding behaviors.
If you’re restricting fat, restricting calories, and pushing the fasts too hard, you will run into issues that compromise healthy sex drive. Carnivore is extremely potent at suppressing appetite, which makes it considerably easier to under eat, and that often defines the point of failure where many people throw in the towel.
Whether it’s inadequate fat, imbalanced electrolytes, over-reliance on organ meats, something will cause the metabolism to start glitching out.
But if you eat fatty red meat, liberally, and avoid going hungry for long spells, you’ll more likely be getting everything you need. And then some.
It is worth pointing out that many of the libido-raising factors I etched out here aren’t solely found in a straight carnivore diet.
You can get many of the same benefits while still including carbs, just as long as you prioritise fatty red meat, lower fructose, limit estrogenics, and eliminate seed oils. In other words, a low carb, low toxicity, meat-based diet. That’s a template that should be achievable for anyone.
Carnivore just happens to make the process much simpler and fast tracks the process of eroding insulin resistance. Your path to an insatiable libido becomes much more challenging to mess up.
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