Keto is king when it comes to low carb diets. The ketogenic diet follows a stricter regimen than the popular Paleo, Atkins and South Beach diets. Whereas these three common diets place more emphasis on protein intake, the keto diet focuses more on fat. And the diet can produce fantastic results. But the ketogenic diet has one drawback which gets more attention than it deserves, and it has a lot to do with protein. Keep reading for more about that.
The major complaint people have is bad breath.
The smell has been compared to fruit or nail polish. Whatever the scent, people in modern, civilized society don’t forgive easily when it comes to smelling good. And bad breath can knock you off a few rungs on the social ladder.
Keto Breath? How To Easily And Quickly Cure Yourself Today
But those of you going through the keto diet should know having fruity breath is not a bad thing. Furthermore, you will discover your breath problem is easily remedied.
Below we’ll first look at what your body is doing during ketosis. Then, read why your breath smells the way it does and what expectations you can have during your diet. Then steps you can take to rid yourself of this keto dragon breath.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis occurs when your body burns fat stores for energy. Your insulin levels drop when there is a scarcity of carbohydrates. This drop in insulin levels leads to lower enzyme activity which stores carbohydrate-derived energy or fat. But this lower enzyme action is crucial to a successful keto diet. Because when your body is fasting on carbohydrates of 50 grams/day or less, your sugar (glucose) levels nosedive. Your body does not have enough energy. You need an alternative fuel source to burn for the body to function. Studies have shown that keto bodies produce more energy compared to glucose due to ketosis metabolic effect.
Ketosis Breath – Why Is This Happening To Me
One of the results of keto fasting is the overproduction of a metabolized molecule called acetyl coenzyme A (CoA). Overproduction of CoA produces the molecule bodies of ketogenesis. And one of those keto bodies is Acetone. Acetone moves through your bloodstream to the liver where glucose is created. And acetone is what gives you “keto dragon breath.”
Smells Like Fruit or Paint
You may be familiar with Acetone. Acetone is found in household paints, plastics, varnishes and printing ink. People on keto diets often think their breath smells like nail polish or sweet fruit. Others have referred to a sweet funk or even mothball smell. For many keto dieters, this is an unpleasant experience. And some think acetone build-up is a bad thing.
But acetone is not some foreign, dangerous chemical. Acetone is produced naturally in our bodies and the body of all living animals whenever fat is metabolized. Having keto breath means you’re doing the diet correctly and should start seeing results of your effort.
Metallic Taste and Teeth Plaque
A positive consequence of being on the keto diet is lowering plaque build up on your teeth. This occurs because you have lowered your carb intake. Remember carbohydrates metabolized to sugars, the main cause of plaque build-up in your mouth. Reducing carbs reduces sugar and reduces plaque build up.
Reducing carbs reduces sugar and reduces plaque build up
A metallic taste in your mouth is also the result of your acetone production. The taste is part of the diet which goes away in time. It’s important to note a metallic taste can also be the result of different medications. A metal taste may indicate serious health issues concerning your central nervous system and should be addressed once you are out of ketogenesis. But healthy keto dieter often experiences metal-mouth flavor during ketosis.
Keto Breath or Bad Oral Hygiene
Bad breath is a form of halitosis which should not be confused with the mouth odor of someone in the outset of a keto diet. Bad breath can occur from improper oral hygiene, types of food or dry mouth. Bad breath may also be an indicator of sinus issues or disease. Though, ketosis can and will often give the dieter a dry mouth which can contribute to bad breath. Being in ketosis dehydrates your body.
This is because your body is missing the sodium and water it normally pulls and stores from the carbohydrates you are no longer consuming. But the distinct acetone smell you notice from being in ketosis is different. This odor comes from your internal ketone bodies. Brushing your teeth and watching what you eat may help your ‘other’ bad breath but doing so will not cure keto breath.
How Long Will Keto ‘Stink Breath’ Last?
How long will your ketosis breath last? The good news – not forever. But there is a period most people go through during the diet where your breath can smell like paint or melon. This temporary state varies among fasters. Usually, it’s a couple of weeks to a month. In rare instances, it can be longer.
This will depend on the individual. During ketogenesis, your breath smells fruity. But once your body adjusts and attains a balanced state, you move out of ketogenesis. At this point you become keto adapted. Being committed to a low-carb diet to lose weight and allow your body to adjust to its new fuel source takes patience. So be patient. After a few weeks, you’ll come up smelling like roses.
How To Get Rid Of Ketosis Breath?
Now that you understand what ketosis is doing and why it affects your breath, there are steps you can follow to bring your fresh breath back.
Eat More Carbs
Firstly, don't go eating donuts to up your carb intake.
If your carbohydrate intake is much less than the recommended limit for ketosis (50 grams per day of net carbs), consider eating a little more. More carbs might help offset or even eliminate keto breath. But remember to monitor your keto levels and stay under the 50 grams a day to maintain your ketosis state. Special breath analyzers are available to help measure your levels and keep you in check.
Drink More Water
When in ketosis, your insulin levels drop from your low carb intake. The drop sends a message to your kidneys that it’s safe to purge the water and sodium it retained for processing the carbohydrate glucose. This purge leads to dehydration which can cause dry mouth and bad breath. Drinking more water with some salt ensures you maintain fluids and lessens bad breath.
There is also another important reason to drink lots of water during ketosis. Remember, acetone is flowing around your body and is the cause of keto breath. Your body removes acetone through respiration and urination. Drinking more water causes you to use the bathroom more. The more you remove excess acetone through urination, the less acetone you have on your breath.
But be careful of sports drinks when hydrating. These drinks often contain sugars which can knock you out of ketosis.
Eat Less Protein
Being on the keto diet requires more protein and fat. But consuming 3 to 6 grams of protein a day can kickstart your bad breath as the protein is broken down. One, you have more ketones flowing around to break down the fat. Two, protein breaks down into nitrogen which converts into ammonia. Ammonia is another bad breath smell people complain about when on keto. Simply lowering protein intake by a couple of grams will help eliminate bad breath.
protein breaks down into nitrogen which converts into ammonia
If Go for a Brisk Walk
Walking is a low-impact, low-cardio exercise most people can do. Walking or any low-intensity cardio uses beta oxidation to burn off your fat stores versus high-cardio which uses glucose. And burning off your fat stores is the goal with keto. While you’re walking briskly, you’re burning the excess ketones in your system. You are also getting rid of the acetone through respiration. So by the time you’re back from your slow jog you’ve improved your breath. Brisk walks also have the benefit of aiding digestion and helping with bowel movements.
One of the last ways you might try to mask your breath is through peppermint oil. Many people may be tempted to go for gum. But gum comes with its own sugar alcohols like sorbitol. So gargling water with a few drops of peppermint oil is perfect.
But again, this won’t cure or remove your fruity-smelling breath, but it will help to mask the odor. Remember, it is the acetone from the ketone bodies in your system that are making your breath smell this way. But a little gargling with some peppermint may do the trick.
The real key to getting over keto breath is having patience. Sticking with the diet long enough will move you out of your ketosis state and into a balanced, keto-adapted state. Your body and breath will return to its previous fragrances.
And then feel confident about getting close to someone and having another shot at that slow dance.