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intermittent fasting kills libido

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  • intermittent fasting kills libido

    Hi all,

    I've done intermittent fasting a few times in the past, the first time I did it for a whole year. I also did it again recently.

    Before fasting, I used to eat 5-6 small meals a day, and train at the gym 1-3 times a week. I always stuck to the 5-6 small meals a day approach because that's what I always read was best. I had to eat every 3 hours because if I went longer I became very hungry and that hunger would make me feel sick if I waited too long. Then intermittent fasting became a big thing a few years back, and I decided to try that.

    I started doing the 16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating plan. I would get up in the morning and my first meal would not be until 11am my last meal would be at about 7pm. So I had two meals a day. What I found very quickly is each meal increased in size substantially and I was eating 2 to 3 times more food in each meal. I was surprised at how easy it was and I also found it very convenient.

    What shocked me more was how long I could now go for without food. I could easily last the 7-8 hours between meal 1 and meal 2 without getting hungry. I perhaps felt a minimal level of hunger coming on as it was coming up to meal 2 but it was never much. When I got up in the morning, I could easily last until 11am, I could even go a lot longer if I had to, I just didn't feel hungry.

    I saw this as a great thing, no more hunger, no meal having to constantly have my next meal planned, back from when I ate 5-6 small meals a day.

    The trouble is, my desire for sex had diminshed greatly. It wasn't gone completely, I could still perform. It's the desire to have it in the first place that was almost gone. Also, the sex itself when I did have it wasn't so great for me any more. During this long period I tried tweaking many things, I tried over eating on calories to make sure it wasn't from a calorie deficit. I tried eating more fats, carbs, protein, everything. Nothing seemed to help.

    I realised it could be the fasting and so I did a lot of reading about it and found that numerous other people online had reported the same thing. However, Some people were claiming the opposite, that it increased their libido, and I can't explain that, so I have ignored that.

    I decided to stop fasting, I started eating breakfast as soon as I got up and started to eat 3 to 4 meals spread throughout the day. After eating 2 massive meals a day, it seemed difficult to go back to 5-6 small meals again. So 3-4 meals spread evenly so at least I wouldn't be fasting any more seemed sufficient.

    I found that in very little time at all my sex drive returned and sex started to become more enjoyable again. Bingo.

    Several months and everything had been back to normal for a while, I accidently slipped back into a fasting routine again (life pressures). I ended up having my first meal at around 2pm and my second and final meal at around 8-10pm (16 hour fasting). I noticed my desire for sex became very low, and then realised what I was doing. So I started eating breakfast as soon as I got up, and my sex drive returned to a good level again. At the time I was doing some intensive googling and reading research papers and whatnot and found several papers that linked libido to the hunger hormone, Ghrelin. Ghrelin raises to makes you hungry. Studies found that increased levels of Ghrelin increased libido and low levels of Ghrelin had the opposite effect. I made sure not to fast any more.

    Another year has passed since then and once again I found myself reading about the advantages of intermittant fasting, paticularly on life extension. I'd like to live for a long time, and so would my partner. So we thought we'd give fasting another shot, this time with no dieting involved in any way, and no gym training, just fasting by itself.

    Our sex recently has been great, but in almost no time at all, since starting to fast again, my sexual desire is gone and sex itself is not very good any more. It happened again.

    I'm dissappointed because I find fasting itself easy and convenient. It's great to feel hardly any hunger at all and the part I like the most is the studies showing the health benefits and most importantly the possibility for fasting to enhance life expectancy. But, if fasting is going to lower my libido so drastically, and make sex less enjoyable, It's not something I want to be doing.

    The only thing is, nobody is really talking about this. Everything just chimes on about how great fasting is, and this really sucks considering it's something I want to do but feel forced to stop due to what it seems to be doing to my libido.

    So for that reason I have decided to post here. I have spent ages searching for the answer online, searching for different terms such as "Gherlin and libido" "Ghrelin and fasting" and so on. There is some stuff out there. There is a person on another forum who is convinced that her loss of Ghrelin due to an operation on her stomach has killed her previously very high sex drive There is also several studies to be found. One study on rats found that Ghrelin supplements increased the sexual activity of rats:

    Other studies think they have found a link between low ghrelin and low sex drive in men:

    Last, another study on Ghrelin in fasting humans reported "We found a significant decrease in ghrelin levels over a 24-h period (Fig. 3⇑) which was not observed in non–fasting subjects " -

    And there is even more data out there on the link between Ghrelin and Libido, and fasting and Ghrelin. I'm no scientist, but it seems obvious to me that if Ghrelin is the hunger hormone and is directly linked to libido, and it rises to make you feel hungry, and fasting almost completely gets rid of hunger, then it makes sense that by doing daily fasting and removing hunger that you are also lowering your libido at the same time.

    It would seem to make sense from an evolutionary perspective. If fasting daily the body is going for long stretches without food and it could assume that food is not widely available, and so reproduction could be hindred by this, hence the lower libido. It also fits with the idea that an organism which does not reproduce will live longer as a result. Intermittant fasting is strongly believed to increase life expectancy.

    Remember three times I've done fasting, once I even did it for a year. Each time I lost my libido along with my appetite. After stopping fasting my regular appetite returned, and so did my libido. There is quite a bit of data and studies supporting that libido is tied to appetite with Ghrelin being the hormone responsible and there is data showing that fasting lowers Ghrelin.

    One other thing I've noticed. I don't know if it's related but I find it interesting. After really good sex, I feel hungry. When fasting this never happens. The sex is never that good and I am not hungry afterwards. It's interesting because it links great sex (that happens when my libido is strong) with hunger immediately afterwards.

    Some futher information which could be of use. I typically have sex in the evening a few hours after my main meal. When fasting, my last meal is around 7-8pm and it's a monster of a meal because it's my 2nd and main meal of the day and last meal before my 16 hour fast begins. Studies already show that fasting decreases Ghrelin and I am guessing that in the hours following that main meal my Ghrelin levels are probably suppressed to even lower, extremely low levels. Perhaps that is the problem?

    The only other thing I have to go by is that certain religions have periods of fasting, ramadan for example. It is claimed this helps them to abstain from sex.

    Does anyone else have anything to offer? Anyone have experience or knowledge of this? I'd really like to get to the bottom of this because fasting is something I wanted to do, but feel like I can't if has serious consequences for my libido.

    A bit more on Ghrelin here: Ghrelin has numerous functions. It is termed the ‘hunger hormone’ because it stimulates appetite, increases food intake and promotes fat storage. When administered to humans, ghrelin increases food intake by up to 30% by circulating in the bloodstream at the hypothalamus, an area of the brain crucial in the control of appetite. Recently, ghrelin has also been shown to act on regions of the brain involved in reward processing such as the amygdala. -

    Ghrelin is linked to how pleasurable activities are, not just eating, but other pleasurable activites too, including sex. I know that when I ate 5-6 small meals a day and became intensely hungry if I went too long without food, the pleasure I got from eating was much greater. It seems to influence sex in the same way. Daily 16 hour fasts lead to large appetite reduction, reducing the desire and hence the reward from eating food. Could it also be reducing the desire and reward from sex?
    Last edited by cm00; 01-20-2016, 08:26 AM.

  • #2
    You have answered your questions FOR YOURSELF about what you need to do. Many different types of appetites are related; decide which lifestyles appeal most to you.


    • #3
      Are you eating the same amount of food meazured in calories? An energy deficit will often lower libido, so if IF makes you eat less, then it may be the total food intake that causes this.
      "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

      - Schopenhauer


      • #4
        Thread: bodyfat and libido.
        Yep, you can hunger away your sex drive, in my opinion. IF does influence your hormones!


        • #5
          At least you're having sex!


          • #6
            I was just going to link to this thread on your thread, gergirl!

            cm00, don't discount the fact that fasting causes a rise in cortisol, which lowers testosterone - to a greater degree in women than in men.
            Last edited by GoJenGo; 01-20-2016, 01:41 PM.
            Life is not a matter of having good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.

            - Robert Louis Stevenson


            • #7
              Originally posted by GoJenGo View Post
              I was just going to link to this thread on your thread, gergirl!

              Don't discount the fact that fasting causes a rise in cortisol, which lowers testosterone - to a greater degree in women than in men.
              Yeah ascesis is not "not needing" it is lost of ability. I have read recently.


              • #8
                I experienced this too in the past, but i do believe there is a time and place for intermittent fasting. If your training regularly like you are/were CM, intermittent fasting is probably not the best approach. Perhaps you might be able to get away with eating on an empty stomach, but after that, one would definitely need to eat more.

                During rest periods, like say if your taking a week or 2 off, you may be able to get away with IF. As GoJenGo pointed out, fasting raises cortisol, so for those people whom already have cortisol issues, fasting definitely wouldn't be the best approach!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cm00 View Post
                  Daily 16 hour fasts lead to large appetite reduction, reducing the desire and hence the reward from eating food. Could it also be reducing the desire and reward from sex?
                  Not in my experience.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                    Not in my experience.
                    I concur, I IF almost every day and have not found it to be an issue re: sex drive.
                    Recent Blog:



                    • #11
                      Originally Posted by cm00
                      Daily 16 hour fasts lead to large appetite reduction, reducing the desire and hence the reward from eating food. Could it also be reducing the desire and reward from sex?
                      If you are feeling a "large appetite reduction" or cortisol increase or libido loss from IF, in my opinion, you are not fat-burning adapted. If you are fat-burning adapted, the only change you experience should be the source of the fat you burn, from dietary fat when eating - to body fat when fasting. Autophagy will have barely started 16 hours in, hence your glycogen store will only have been depleted very near the time you break the fast. Your "carb needs" should have been supplied with that, UNLESS you were heavily exerting yourself, physically while fasting.

                      I'd suggest there are other causes to the loss of libido which may coincide timewise with IF, but are not due specifically to IF.
                      Last edited by John Caton; 01-21-2016, 03:44 AM.
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                      • #12
                        I have nothing to back this up just personal observations and ideas. After a spinal cord injury, my mobility went waaayyy south. I found it very difficult to process carbs and accidentally stumbled into LCHF diets. Then I read that they were a real thing. Then i learned about IF and love it.

                        I had the same problem with sex drive but realized that it wasn't the IF that was doing it directly but the lack of nutrients I was getting from my IF. I continued IFing but increased nutrients, and fats. Now at 33 i have the sex drive if a 16YO.

                        I say all of that to say, take a good look at what your eating while IFing.