What to eat before sex to last longer

Eat These Foods to Last Longer In Bed, Doctor Says

If you want more stamina in the sheets, fuel like you would for a workout.

30-Second Takeaway

  • Aphrodisiacs are unlikely to improve your performance in bed, research suggests.
  • Eating a diet with a healthy balance of macronutrients—including complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats—may be all you need to  give your sexual stamina a boost. 
  • Foods high in zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and flavonoids may improve your stamina overtime.


ou’ve probably heard about aphrodisiacs—foods and herbs that allegedly give you a boost in libido and sexual stamina. However, the science around these supposed sex-drive amplifiers is very hazy. Meaning, slurping down a plate of raw oysters, indulging in dark chocolate covered strawberries, and downing ginseng tea likely won’t have much impact on your sexual well-being (1). The question is, what can you eat before sex to last longer?

“The thought of increased sexual stamina via aphrodisiacs may be more psychological than physiological,” explains sex therapist Aliyah Moore, Ph.D. “The anticipation of consuming these meals—which are frequently linked with passion and desire—may result in a placebo effect, and improve sexual performance.”

However, the idea that eating certain foods before sex could help you last longer isn’t totally distant from logic. One doctor who specializes in nutrition says the real answer to lasting longer in bed is surprisingly simple: Fuel yourself like an athlete. After all, sex is physical activity. 

About the Experts:

Dr. Kevin Huffman, D.O., is an osteopathic doctor. His specific areas of expertise include diet, nutrition, and holistic wellness.

Dr. Aliyah Moore, Ph.D, is a certified sex therapist, with an expertise in sexual health education.

What to Eat Before Sex to Last Longer 

The key to instantly improving your sexual stamina? Kevin Huffman, D.O. says it all comes down to consuming a balance of macronutrients (macros). 

Macros are the three main types of nutrients that make up calories in food, these include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (2). You likely have heard of bodybuilders meticulously tracking their macros to help them achieve major gains in the gym—and get high scores at competitions. But, athletes and health enthusiasts may try to track their macros in an effort to optimize their athletic performance and energy levels. 

By striking a specific balance of macros—which is around 45 to 65 percent carbs, 20 to 35 percent fats, and 10 to 35 percent protein—you can increase energy levels, promote muscle recovery, and improve endurance (3, 4). That’s not to say you need to track everything you eat, but being mindful of what foods you’re consuming may help you in more ways than one.

“All these macronutrients collaborate to guarantee that the release of energy is regulated—which can prevent drops, or surges, in your blood sugar levels,” Huffman says. He adds these fluctuations could deplete your stamina and energy during sex.

Fear not, tracking your macros is actually quite easy. Most athletes opt for a macro-tracking app, which uses your height, body weight, and daily activity to customize your exact macro split. The Edge’s fitness & nutrition editor Sydney Bueckert, NASM C.P.T., C.E.S., F.N.S., G.P.T., recommends the Carbon app (Layne Norton’s brain child) and Nutritionix, which has an extensive food library.

Learn how each macronutrient can support your sexual stamina, here.

Foods That May Improve Your Stamina Overtime

Complex carbs

There’s a reason marathon runners do carb loading prior to race day. 

“Carbohydrates are a quick energy source since they break down into glucose, readily utilized by the body for fuel,” Huffman says, adding that eating carbs before a workout (and in general) can help stave off fatigue. That’s especially the case during high-intensity or prolonged physical activity, such as sex. A review, found in a 2023 issue of the journal Nutrients, notes that eating carbohydrates before physical activity allows athletes to sustain performance for longer (5). 

But, not all carbs will give you a boost in energy. There’s two types of carbs: complex and simple (6). Complex carbs are made of longer chains of sugar, which are ideal for sustaining energy for a long period of time. Simple carbs offer quick, but short-lived, energy bursts due to their simple chemical structure.

To increase sexual stamina, Huffman recommends reaching for complex carbohydrates—like whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas—because they can help you stay energized. 

Grab these at the grocery store:

  • Potatoes (Idaho and sweet varieties included) 
  • Whole grains (think: quinoa and brown rice)
  • Legumes (black beans and lentils)


Lean proteins

Ordering a prime rib for dinner may seem like a great way to kick off a steamy date night. But, when you indulge in a heavy meal, such as a fatty cut of steak, your body increases blood flow to your stomach to help you digest it (7). Of all the macros, fat takes the longest to digest (8). In other words, eating a high-fat meal before sex can divert the blood flow needed for other parts of your body to your gut.

On the other hand, lean proteins—such as fish or chicken—can enhance muscle performance without added heaviness, notes Huffman. This can help you avoid experiencing any discomfort from bloating. 

Grab these at the grocery store:

  • Fish
  • Lean beef
  • Greek yogurt


Healthy fats

Eating healthy fats on a regular basis can bolster cell function overtime, according to Huffman. How can you find healthy fats? On a nutrition label, look for “polyunsaturated fats” and “monounsaturated fats” and avoid saturated and trans fats, which has been shown to increase your risk of heart disease (9, 10). Instead, opt for omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids—ALA, DHA, and EPA—don’t just support brain and heart health. Research shows that omega-3s may also increase blood flow, which can help you get (and maintain) strong erections (11). 

Plus, animal studies found that omega-3 fatty acids may have an antioxidant effect against BPF, an environmental pollutant that has been linked to sexual dysfunction (11). Male rats who were exposed to BPF—and that had toxin-related low levels of testosterone and nitric oxide—were given omega-3 fish oil supplements. The researchers found that omega-3 supplementation reversed the effects of BPF exposure and improved sexual function in the rats.

Grab these at the grocery store:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel) 
  • Seeds (flax, chia, and hemp)
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados

Other Nutrients to Prioritize In Your Diet 


There may be some truth to oysters improving sex drive. The salty shellfish provides the highest amount of zinc per serving than any other food (12). Zinc is an essential mineral that may support sexual function by increasing testosterone production, lowering inflammation, and promoting healthy erectile function (13). All of these benefits may have a hand in improving how long you can last during sex.

Grab these at the grocery store:

  • Oysters
  • Beef
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with zinc 



Flavonoids, a plant compound, may contribute to sexual stamina through their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (14). Reducing inflammation and oxidative stress may improve blood flow and circulation, which is essential for healthy sexual function (15). 

In addition, flavonoids may positively impact overall cardiovascular health, indirectly supporting your stamina by improving endurance and lowering health disease risk (16). 

Grab these at the grocery store:

  • Leafy greens
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes


Foods that Lower Your Stamina

Now that you’ve added some healthy food options to help increase your stamina in the bedroom to your shopping list, it’s time to reduce the consumption of the ones that may be hindering your performance.

In general, consider avoiding heavy meals (think: plates of lasagna, deep fried chicken, and your favorite fast food cheeseburger) before sex—particularly those laden with refined sugars or saturated fats—Huffman notes. “These foods may trigger erratic blood sugar variations, lethargy, and [digestive] unease”—all of which can negatively affect your mood—and stamina.

1. Melnyk, et al (2011). Aphrodisiacs from plant and animal sources—A review of current scientific literature.
2. IDDEP. Total Individual Macronutrient Intake.
3. Kelly, et al (2019). Utilizing Dietary Nutrient Ratios in Nutritional Research: Expanding the Concept of Nutrient Ratios to Macronutrients.
4. Malsagova, et al (2021). Sports Nutrition: Diets, Selection Factors, Recommendations.
5. Naderi, et al (2023). Carbohydrates and Endurance Exercise: A Narrative Review of a Food First Approach.
6. Lamothe, et al (2019). The scientific basis for healthful carbohydrate profile.
7. ScienceDirect. Intestine Blood Flow.
8. Hu, et al (2023). Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.
9. Medline. Facts about trans fats.
10. Medline. Facts about saturated fats.
11. Odetayo, et al (2023). Omega 3 fatty acid improves sexual and erectile function in BPF-treated rats by upregulating NO/cGMP signaling and steroidogenic enzymes activities.
12. NIH. Zinc
13. Besong, et al (2023). Zinc improves sexual performance and erectile function by preventing penile oxidative injury and upregulating circulating testosterone in lead-exposed rats.
14. Ullah, et al (2020). Important Flavonoids and Their Role as a Therapeutic Agent.
15. Higashi, et al (2022). Roles of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Vascular Endothelial Dysfunction-Related Disease.
16. Rees, et al (2018). The Effects of Flavonoids on Cardiovascular Health: A Review of Human Intervention Trials and Implications for Cerebrovascular Function.