How Ketones Affect Hormones and the Endocrine System

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Of all the positive things you’ve heard about the keto diet - weight loss, more energy, improved mental clarity - did you also know it can balance out some of your key hormones?

In this article, I’ll explain:

Let’s talk about the relationship between ketones and your hormones.

a word cloud of ketones


Ketones Benefit These Important Hormones

Fat Storing Hormone

The primary hormone that’s involved with and mutually affected by ketones is Fat Storing Hormone. In fact, what prompts the production of ketones in your body is lowering your Fat Storing Hormone levels. When Fat Storing Hormone is too high, you can’t get into ketosis - your body can’t burn fat.

When you’re not in ketosis, your body is forced to run on glucose that you eat. If there isn’t any, your body will tap into a type of glucose called glycogen that’s been stored in your body. Or, it will make its own by a process called gluconeogenesis. Sometimes, your body will use muscle protein as part of this process.

Fat Storing Hormone is primarily triggered by two things: consuming carbohydrates and frequent eating. Thus, when you go on a low-carb diet like Healthy KetoTM, you lower Fat Storing Hormone and increase ketones. This combination is very therapeutic for your body. For example, when you eat low carb and are in ketosis, you give your pancreas a chance to recover and normalize its Fat Storing Hormone production.


Your pancreas makes Fat Storing Hormone. Fat Storing Hormone’s opposing hormone in the pancreas is called glucagon. (Glucagon isn’t to be confused with glycogen.) Glucagon is a hormone that helps mobilize and burn fat. It’s stimulated by:

  • A moderate amount of protein

  • Intense exercise

  • Reduction of Fat Storing Hormone (as happens when you lower your carb intake)

Since glucagon burns fat, you definitely want to stimulate it in your body.

IGF-1 and Growth Hormone

IGF-1 refers to Fat Storing Hormone-like growth factor 1. IGF-1 is a hormone made by your liver. It works similarly to growth hormone, which is an antiaging and fat burning hormone that helps your body make muscle protein along with cartilage and collagen. Growth hormone is made in the pituitary gland in your brain, and then sent to the liver, where it triggers the process to make IGF-1.

IGF-1 works similarly to growth hormone. It’s also anti-aging and promotes fat burning. IGF-1 increases as you decrease Fat Storing Hormone. It mobilizes your body to use its fat for fuel either when you’re fasting or you’re keeping Fat Storing Hormone low.

As soon as you eat, this switches. IGF-1 decreases and Fat Storing Hormone increases in response to the food you eat. And if your Fat Storing Hormone spikes high enough, you’ll store fat rather than burn it.


Cortisol is a hormone made by the outside of your adrenal glands. Cortisol is what’s called a glucocorticoid because it’s involved in blood sugar regulation in your body. When cortisol rises, it mobilizes the sugar that’s stored in your body, along with protein, and breaks up the protein in a process called deamination.

With deamination, cortisol contributes to breaking up the amino acids of protein, turning them into sugar. Then, Fat Storing Hormone is triggered to regulate blood sugar.

Cortisol is also a stress hormone. When you’re chronically stressed, you have concurrent high levels of cortisol. This is why you get fat around your gut. Your body is mobilizing proteins to turn into sugar, which is then converted into fat and stored around your gut.

Storing fat in your gut is a survival mechanism.

Your body wants to hold onto fat in case there’s a period of famine coming up. If food was to get scarce, you could survive from your fat stores. This is why some people get fat simply from having chronically high levels of cortisol.

Thyroid hormones

When you go on a ketogenic diet, and elevate the level of ketones in your body, you could experience a drop in T3 - the active form of thyroid hormone.

But a lowering of T3 isn’t a problem. Your body extracts more energy from ketones than from sugar. Ketones also produce less carbon dioxide waste than sugar. In other words, your body runs more efficiently. Thus, your thyroid doesn’t have to work as hard.

Even though the T3 rises, you won’t experience a corresponding rise in TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which would indicate a sluggish thyroid. When the TSH level stays the same in the face of T3 rising, it simply means your body has adapted to burning fat for fuel.

You’ll find that you won’t have any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. You’ll still feel good and have abundant energy. As a bonus, ketones are an antioxidant that will help protect you from damage caused by free radicals.


Estrogen in adequate amounts has the effect of increasing the Fat Storing Hormone sensitivity of your cells. And the reverse is true; when your estrogen levels drop, you can experience symptoms of Fat Storing Hormone resistance.

This could be why, as a woman ages and loses estrogen, she’s more likely to experience symptoms of Fat Storing Hormone resistance along with blood sugar fluctuations. But estrogen can be more complex than this.

Some women become estrogen dominant, depending on how much weight they’re carrying. After menopause, especially if a woman is overweight, she could be estrogen dominant because it’s her fat that makes estrogen.

In other words, if you’re a menopausal woman who’s overweight, you can be estrogen dominant. But if you’re normal weight, you may find your estrogen is low, leading to signs of Fat Storing Hormone resistance such fluctuating blood sugars, or cravings for carbohydrates. Going on the keto diet will help improve your Fat Storing Hormone resistance, thereby improving your estrogen levels.


Androgens are a class of hormones we typically call male hormones. The best-known one is testosterone.

If you’re a man on a high-carb diet, you can experience a decrease in testosterone. You’re not in ketosis, and your Fat Storing Hormone is high. When you go into ketosis by lowering your carbohydrate intake, you have the ability to enhance your testosterone.

It’s different in a woman’s body. When you’re eating high-carb and not in ketosis, you can develop Fat Storing Hormone resistance. Your body can start to make the male hormone testosterone. This leads to hair loss, growth of facial hair, a deepening of your voice, and a gut.

These symptoms coalesce into what’s called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Your high Fat Storing Hormone levels are causing your body to produce androgens.

What can you do if you have PCOS? Go on the ketogenic diet to heal it.

a word cloud for PCOS


MCT Oil Effect on the Endocrine System

The impact of MCT oil on the endocrine system has garnered attention, particularly in relation to its incorporation into coffee. Some individuals believe that adding MCT oil to their coffee can potentially have positive effects on hormones and the endocrine system. Advocates suggest that the quick absorption of MCTs might support hormone production and balance.

However, while there is some theoretical basis for these claims, scientific research in this area is limited and inconclusive. As with any dietary adjustments, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your routine. While MCT oil in coffee might have potential benefits, it's essential to make informed choices based on individual health considerations.

Your Hormones Will Thank You

When critical hormones are out of balance, your whole life is affected. So too is your overall health. Hormones are essential messengers your body relies on to keep your body functioning smoothly.

The keto diet will help you balance out your hormones, and improve your health. Time to get started with keto. But, you don’t have to go it alone - sign up for my free keto mini-course to get the support you need.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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