If you’re new to keto, you may have heard that the keto diet causes bad breath or what’s commonly called “keto breath”. You may even have it yourself. Keto breath is often described as “fruity,” metallic, or even like nail polish remover. But don’t worry, not everyone on a keto diet gets keto breath. Those who do, can rest assured that it’s short-lived, and there are some things you can do if you find yourself with keto breath.
What Causes Keto Breath?
You can have the absolute best dental hygiene on the planet and still end up with keto breath when you enter ketosis. Unlike basic bad breath, or halitosis, which is typically due to poor oral hygiene, keto breath is a direct result of your body transitioning from burning carbs for energy to burning fat for energy. In other words, it’s a sign that what you’re doing is working!
When your body converts to burning fat for energy instead of glucose, the by-product is ketones. The body produces three kinds of ketones: beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone. The most common cause of keto breath is the third ketone, keto acetone. When you first start producing ketones to replace glucose for fuel, the body often creates more ketones than your body will initially use. So, the body disposes of this overabundance of ketones through the breath (exhalation, hence the smell) and urination. Once your body has no more glucose stores to draw from for energy and starts getting more efficient at using ketones for energy, keto breath typically resolves itself.
However, there are other reasons for keto breath.
Not hydrating enough (dry mouth) can influence keto breath, too. The ketogenic diet is a natural diuretic, so it’s not uncommon to become dehydrated when starting a keto lifestyle.
Consuming Too Much Protein
Protein can break down into sulfur compounds and lead to an ammonia smell on the breath.
How to Help Keto Breath
If you’re not dehydrated or eating too much protein, an acetone smell on your breath is a good indicator that you’re in ketosis. In fact, one of the signs people look for when aiming to achieve ketosis is keto breath. But that happy fact doesn’t make the smell any better. So, what can you do? Plenty!
- Give it time.
As we mentioned above, the body will eventually use ketones more efficiently and keto breath should clear up.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Not only does hydrating help to prevent bad breath from dehydration, but also it can help to “wash away” the acetone breath, as well as flush out ammonia from protein.
- Add crushed peppermint or spearmint leaves to your water.
It will help mask any odor and freshen your breath.
- Track your protein.
Too much protein contributes to an ammonia smell on the breath. Make sure you’re staying within your macros.
- Slightly increase your carbs.
Start by adding on 5 grams per day, being sure to monitor your ketones and glucose to ensure you stay in ketosis. Slightly increasing carbs may help to counteract the over-abundance of ketones the body initially produces.
The Final Word
Keto breath is temporary and will go away in time. Also remember, it’s a good sign that your body is doing what you want it to do—reaching ketosis and all the amazing health benefits that come along with it.