Sometimes what’s needed to boost libido isn’t a specific food, but sufficient calories. In a 2010 multi-centre study including the department of psychiatry at Toronto General Hospital and universities in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, two thirds of 242 young women age 18 to 32 who had eating disorders that restricted calories reported low sexual functioning. The study concluded that a low body weight is associated with sexual anxiety, a loss of libido and avoidance of sexual relationships.
Being too thin can also hinder fertility, says Sierra, by disturbing the delicate interplay of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries, preventing regular cycles. ‘It can also affect the synchrony involving signals to the uterine lining, so that even if you produce an egg, the lining won’t be getting enough nutrients to sustain a pregnancy.’
In general, she recommends a body mass index between 18 and 24, which is in line with Health Canada’s recommendations for men and women.
Since fat is needed for producing sex hormones, avoid an extremely low-fat diet, and stick to healthy types of fat such as olive or canola oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts such as almonds or walnuts.
Being too heavy can impair your sexual functioning, too. Sierra says being overweight can cause hormonal imbalances and, if you’re trying to get pregnant, can disturb the growth of a healthy egg. In men, a big belly keeps the sperm too warm, affecting their quality and motility. Tsang adds that reaching a healthy weight often improves a person’s sex life. ‘My clients often say that when they lose excess weight, they’re happier in the bedroom.’