What Is Keto Breath?

The ketogenic diet is a popular diet where you consume a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb lifestyle to reach your fitness goals.

The keto diet will force you to drastically change how you eat and the foods you’re consuming daily so you can reach a state of ketosis. 

Ketosis is a metabolic state that happens in your body due to eating a high-fat diet and your body needing to change fuel sources because it no longer can use the fuel from carbohydrates.

While ketosis is the state you want to end up in to achieve all its health and fat loss benefits, some side effects can occur. 

While it doesn’t happen to everyone, a side-effect of ketosis is something known as “keto breath.”

Read on to find out more about what keto breath is, its symptoms, its causes, and how you can eliminate it.

What Your Breath Smells Like In Ketosis

You’ll notice if you have keto breath because it can produce a very unmistakable taste and odor in the mouth. 

Yes, it is “bad breath,” but it smells a little different than what you would expect bad breath to smell like.

People have described the taste of keto breath as a metallic kind of taste. 

The smell can be a little fruity or an odor that’s a little more powerful, like nail polish remover.

A high-fat diet can lower your levels of breathable acetone, which is what makes the breath smell fruity (but not in a good way).

The Causes Of Keto Breath

We first need to understand what happens in our metabolism to see why keto breath smells the way it does and what causes it to happen.

As humans, we get our energy from the macronutrient breakdown of the food we consume. This is protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

In a typical diet filled with carbohydrates, our bodies break these down into glucose for energy. Our bodies break down carbohydrates before fat because that’s what it uses as energy first. 

Due to the restriction of carbs on the ketogenic diet, our bodies do not have enough carbs coming in to turn that into energy, and our glucose stores get depleted.

Now, our bodies go into ketosis and break down the fats we eat and our stores of fat to give our bodies the energy it needs. 

Once this happens, the fatty acids from our high-fat diet convert to ketones in our blood.

Ketone bodies are beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone and are released from our bodies through sweat, exhalation, and urine.

Acetone is a component of nail polish, so if your breath smells similar to this, you know you’ve reached ketosis. 

While it’s not the greatest tell, it’s one way of knowing for sure you’re in the fat-burning mode you want to be in.

Does Keto Breath Last Long?

It’s possible you may not experience keto breath while on the ketogenic diet.

If you do, rest assured that it is temporary and usually happens at the start of the diet. It tends to go away on its own as your body gets adjusted to your new eating style.

You may not want to wait this period out, so you can do things to make sure you don’t clear out every room you go into during this phase.

Getting Rid Of Keto Breath

Below are some tips you can use to freshen your breath up a bit as you adjust to a low-carbohydrate diet.

Drink More Water

Your body is going to be naturally removing the ketones from your body through urine and your breath.

This will cause your body to be dehydrated if you’re not drinking enough water to combat what’s leaving your body.

A good rule of thumb is to consume half of your bodyweight in ounces each day. 

This will help you flush out the ketones your body is producing, help with your overall weight loss plan, and have a noticeable impact on how bad your breath smells.

Consume Protein In Smaller Quantities

Protein is an essential macronutrient in any healthy diet, but it’s easy to consume too much on the ketogenic diet.

You should strive to have about 20-25% of your calories coming from protein, so use your favorite calorie tracking app to be sure you’re not going over your limits.

When our bodies break down protein, ammonia is produced and eliminated through our breath and urine. 

This is why our breath can smell, so reducing your intake of protein will help.

Oral Hygiene Basics

If you’re having issues with your breath, you want to at least make sure you have the basics down. 

Brushing at least two times a day and flossing may not completely reduce keto breath, but it certainly won’t add to it.

If bacteria is accumulating in your mouth, it will only add to the unpleasant smell, so practice good oral hygiene.

Cover Up The Odor

Mints and gum will be your best friends here. Just be sure you know what’s on the label of the gum or mints you’re putting into your mouth.

You don’t want to consume mints or gum with any calories in them. A lot of gum is sugary and will show how many carbs are on the nutrition label. 

If you’re unknowingly popping gum or mints all day long, you may be accidentally kicking yourself out of ketosis.

Increase Carbs Slightly

You should stay under 50 grams of carbohydrates per day to be compliant with the rules of keto.

So if you’re tracking your calorie intake, which you should be, on a daily basis, then you may notice that you have a little room you can play with if you’re only consuming around 20-40 grams per day.

Try increasing your carb intake slightly and check your body to see if it’s kicking you out of ketosis. If it is, then you’ll have to decide to wait out the process or adjust your carbs back down in a week or two once the dust settles.

Can Keto Breath Be Prevented?

While everyone is different, keto breath may not be preventative for you, but you can minimize the smell until it passes.

By doing what was mentioned above and playing around with your protein and carb levels, that may be what it takes to keep your breath from smelling. 

As mentioned earlier, reduce your protein intake and increase your carbs slightly to see if this makes any difference. 

Summary

While a ketogenic diet may cause the unwanted side effects of keto breath initially, you’ll be happy you stuck with the diet once you get past the beginning stages.

There are ways to reduce the smell that will help you out if you are experiencing bad breath.

Don’t give up! You’re right around the corner, and if you stick with it, you’ll be glad you did.

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