Is your breath starting to smell a little funky on the ketogenic diet? Don’t worry, ketosis breath is a common side effect. Here are easy, simple ways to get rid of it.
Going on a low carb diet has become a popular way of losing fat and helping to treat some health conditions.
The essence of low-carbing is to get most of your calories in the form of fat, protein, and leafy greens, rather than starchy carbs.
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While there are many benefits to starting a low carb diet, you can also experience several unpleasant side effects. The common one we’re going to discuss here is ketosis breath and how you can get rid of it.
What is Ketosis Breath?
When you go on a strict low carb diet, you’ll probably notice that your breath begins to have a unique, fruity, and sometimes even nail-polish-like smell. To understand why this happens, it helps to have a little background on how your body reacts to a low carb diet.
Firstly, the body’s main energy source is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. When you go on a low carb diet, your body is unable to find any of this fuel, so it enlists it’s backup option: burning fat for energy (1).
When your body begins to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar or carbs (yay, fat loss!) it produces substances called ketones in the process. This state is also referred to as “ketosis,” which is where the nickname “keto” in keto breath comes from.
The main way your body burns off ketones is through urine and, you guessed it, exhalation. The problem with ketones is that they also contain acetone as part of their makeup, which is what gives them their characteristic fruity/nail polish remover smell. Most people don’t enjoy this smell as it’s often strong enough to detect on yourself just by breathing.
How to Fix Ketosis Breath
While the loss of body fat is a fantastic side effect of a low carb diet, keto breath (and sometimes even body odor) is not. If you’re experiencing keto breath, keep reading to discover how to get rid of it.
1. Drink More Fluids
As you decrease your carb consumption, you also decrease the amount of water being retained by your body, since carbs hold more water than protein or fat. This can result in a dry mouth, which naturally contains less saliva to help wash away bad bacteria and odors. In addition, water can also help keep the correct pH balance in your mouth, which can reduce odor.
While drinking water won’t directly dampen keto breath, it will help keep your mouth fresher to avoid lingering smells.
2. Amp Up Your Oral Hygiene
Of course, while you can’t brush away keto breath, you can reduce clinging odors by amping up your oral hygiene routine. Aside from brushing and flossing, make sure to clean your tongue using a tongue scraper, since cleaning the tongue has been shown to be even more effective at removing bad breath than brushing alone (2).
Also, consider oil-pulling with coconut oil. Oil-pulling involves swishing an oil in and around your mouth for up to 10 minutes a day to remove bacteria and deep clean the mouth. Using coconut oil will help kill any additional bacteria in your mouth and lighten your breath.
3. Reduce Protein Intake
Keto breath is often only associated with the acetone given off by ketone bodies, but in truth, another aspect of low carb dieting could play a role: high protein consumption. When you switch to a low carb diet, your food choices also change, leaving you with protein and fat as your major calorie sources.
When protein is broken down by your body, it produces ammonia. If you’ve ever been to a hospital, you know ammonia is a very potent odor. Consider that the more protein you consume, the more ammonia you will be giving off, which could combine with the acetone smell from your ketone bodies and make your breath smell even worse.
Instead of eating more protein during your keto diet, try consuming more fat instead to reduce this odor.
4. Make a DIY Breath Spray
Nowadays, we’re lucky to have access to natural and organic breath sprays, mints, and mouth rinses. Visit your local health food store and pick up some of these so you can conveniently mask your breath whenever you need to.
Alternatively, you can whip up a breath spray of your own using peppermint essential oil and cinnamon. Both help fight bacteria and their natural smell can mask keto breath (3).
DIY Cinnamon and Peppermint Breath Spray
DIY Cinnamon and Peppermint Breath Spray
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 drops peppermint essential oil
- Bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add the peppermint essential oil and cinnamon, cover, and let them infuse for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a small bottle with a spray lid.
- Use as needed.
5. Wait It Out
If you can push through keto breath for a few weeks, you’ll probably notice that the problem disappears. Many theorize this is due to your body becoming accustomed to this new fuel source. Regardless, two weeks seems to be the magic number for when keto breath will start easing up.
6. Slightly Increase Carbohydrate Intake
This might not be what you want to hear, but if you can’t wait for ketosis breath to go away on its own, you might want to try eating more carbs. This doesn’t have to be a lot more – just enough to get you slightly out of ketosis. Think 70 to 100 grams of carbs per day vs. less than 50 grams.
In addition, you can also try adding intermittent fasting to your regime instead of remaining in ketosis. Intermittent fasting involves eating only during a certain time window of the day (for example from between 11 am and 7 pm) and fasting the rest of the day. Many people claim this has similar benefits to being in ketosis, but without the negative side effects.
(Read This Next: 14 Common Causes of Bad Breath and How to Freshen Up)