Keto breath is a common complaint new people on the keto diet have.
I want to address what keto breath is, why a keto diet causes bad breath, and lastly, how to stop bad breath on a ketogenic diet.
What Causes Keto Breath?
I have to tell you about how ketosis works in order for you to understand why you get keto breath in the first place.
Ketosis happens when your body has burned off all the excess stored temporary energy in your body and is now utilizing fat in your body or the fat you eat as energy.
You’ll be in a state of burning carbs and burning fat at the same time, which is 100% normal. When you restrict carbs dramatically, like on a ketogenic diet, your body is forced to turn to fat for fuel.
As you burn more and more fat, your body will create ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are a by product of fat metabolization. In other words, anytime you burn fat, wether its from the fats you ate or the fat that exists in your body, your body is creating ketones.
There are 3 main ketone bodies, but I don’t think it’s important to get into them in this article. Acetone is one of them and that’s what is likely causing your breath to smell bad.
This is important:
The ketone bodies that are generated from burning fat is “energy” your body can use (instead of using glucose). In fact, your brain prefers ketones over glucose to function!
HOWEVER, when you are in the state of becoming keto adapted, that is, your body is NOT fully able to burn fat for fuel, you will have excess ketone bodies in your body. Excess ketone bodies is BAD for your health. Either your body utilized them for energy or it needs to get rid of them.
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Your body gets rid of excess ketone bodies through your urine and your breath.
And that’s how KETO BREATH happens. It’s when your body has excess ketone bodies that is excreted through your breath.
This is just as important, if you didn’t catch it….
KETO breath only happens when your body is NOT fully able to use the ketone bodies your body produces when it burns fat. This basically only happens when you are NOT fat adapted yet. In other words, your body is not fully able to use ketone bodies. And this is also why keto breath only affects new people who are beginning their keto journey.
Keto breath is temporary. Once you become fat adapted, it means your body will be fully able to utilize the ketone bodies you make, and you will no longer be excreting excess ketones (acetone) through your breath and urine. And it means you wont have stinky keto breath anymore.
How To Stop Keto Breath
The actual honest answer is…. you can’t.
It’s simply a by product of becoming keto adapted and it’s something you’ll just have to bear with until you are fully keto adapted.
BUT, there are a few things you can do to manage your keto breath so it doesn’t stink as much. There isn’t a lot you can do, but here are a few winning strategies”
1. Drink more water and stay hydrated
Keto is already a dehydrating diet. You should be drinking more water anyways. With respect to keto breath, when you are very well hydrated, you will encourage ketones to leave through your urine instead of your breath. So better to have smelly pee than a smelly mouth.
2. Eat less protein
Sometimes bad breath on a keto diet is really because you eat too much protein. Excess protein can make your breath smell like ammonia.
Make sure you eat around 1gram of protein per KG of body weight. Take your weight divided by 2.2. For example, if you weigh150 pounds and divided it by 2.2, you should be eating around 68 grams of protein per day.
How much protein you eat depends on your fitness goals. If you’re working out, you probably want to get more protein in during your workout days. But the main thing is to not eat too much excess protein. Not only can it kick you out of ketosis, it can make your breath (and urine) bad as well.
You also want to make sure you eat a 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carb mix.
3. Cut back on the fat you eat
Remember that ketone bodies are a by product of fat metabolism. So whenever you eat fat, your body will prefer to use this fat for fuel first before it taps into your body’s fat source.
SO, if you are consuming more fat than you need, your body may be in a state of creating excess ketone bodies beyond what you should normally be making.
If you are in a state of eating too much fat, cutting back on dietary fats can help you produce less ketone bodies and therefore help reduce keto breath during your adaptation phase.
4. Use mouthwash, breath fresheners, or essential oils
One way to temporarily mask the smell of your breath is to use sprays, gums, rinses, or whatever to wash your mouth and freshen it. Make sure to get keto friendly things. Chewing gum with high carbs or flavors can take you right off your keto tracks. So be mindful of these things.
It’s a temporary fix you can use throughout the day to stay pleasant while you interact with people.
Again, keto breath is a temporary symptom of ketosis. You gotta just do what you gotta do until you become fat adapted.
5. Avoid common foods that make your breath bad
This is a common tip but I think it’s worth mentioning.
If your breath is really bad from ketosis, eating garlic is only going to make your mouth smell like a sewer. That doesn’t sound kissable whatsoever. So avoid foods that cause bad breath during your adaption phase, and reintroduce them when it’s time.
Ketosis Breath Will Pass
As I mentioned earlier, keto breath is a temporary thing that you can’t do that much about. You just do what you can do while you wait for it to pass by.
So that might sound bad, it’s actually good news. Because if keto breath was permanent, and it really made your mouth smell horrible, that’s a really really crappy side effect of a diet.
SO, my last tip would be to be patient!
It will pass 🙂
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