Sex and dieting

If you have entered or are thinking about a fat loss phase, we all may have experienced feeling a little “hangry” or don't now why we are snappy at times. When we don’t connect the dots to realize just how much being in a calorie deficit can influence other areas of life.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a sex and relationship booster in the long run - when dieting, your libido levels may very well take a dive, especially if you go really intense with the dieting. 

Why does this happen?

Sexual desires in women are closely tied to the levels of sex hormones (both androgens and estrogens). Of course, there are many variables in this - such as how attractive you find your partner, what your current stress levels are, how well you are sleeping, and more. Being in a calorie deficit, especially if it’s quite aggressive, affects the production of these hormones, making you much less inclined to pursue sexual activity. 

If you look at it from your body’s perspective, this is really no surprise. When the energy supply is limited, all available resources need to be allocated to bodily functions that are essential for survival - and while having sex and getting pleasure by yourself or someone else is a lot of fun, it’s not really on the priority list when you are not getting enough energy.

While humans have learned to enjoy intimacy for pleasure, our bodies still perceive this as a baby making business and if there is not much food being added to our bodies, there is not much point trying to get it on because your body will be fighting to keep itself in ‘survival mode’.

Balancing sex life and dieting

Having a healthy and fun sex life may not even be a massive issue if you are not currently pursuing a relationship, but understandably, for those coupled up or are simply enjoying romantic adventures, a reduced libido may be very frustrating and if not spoken about can cause further tension and issues, that can easily be resolved.

However, it is also true that remaining in a calorie deficit may be necessary for your specific goal - so here are some tips on mastering your balancing act:

1.    Have an open conversation with your partner. 
Explain why your goals are important to you, and that this is just a temporary phase. Addressing the potential things / feelings that may come up, they should not take personally. If you communicate this, they may feel rejected, assume there is something wrong with them, or take the frustration out on other issues.

Remember - they don’t know what they don’t know.

2.    If you’re constantly very hungry, it may be time to up your calories.
A calorie deficit that’s too severe for your body composition and goals can lead to quite serious health consequences, with lower sex drive being just one of the symptoms. If your periods have stopped, or you’re constantly feeling depleted and lethargic, it’s time to review your regime. If your trainer cannot help you with this, speak to a health care professional (dietitian, a doctor, nutritionist). They will be able to guide you in a healthy way that won’t hinder your goals – or more importantly, your health.

3.    Ensure your diet is balanced.
Just because you’re in a calorie deficit, doesn’t mean that you can’t put well-rounded meals on your plate. Focus on getting most of your calories from whole foods, and eat plenty of veggies to get those micros in. Poor diet can be a downright mood killer on its own. Let’s be real – no one wants that.

4.    Stay active.
Regular exercise is a known sex drive booster - thanks to the endorphin rush and reduced stress levels. You work out – you then feel good about yourself, you then act different and more confident around your partner – they will notice and then the sparks should be flying! 

5.    Take care of yourself
Try to reduce additional stress levels and ensure you have a great sleep routine. As mentioned above, other lifestyle factors can be major contributors too.

I hope these insights and tips will help you to understand your body better and find a happy medium when working towards your health goals.

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