The keto (low carb, LCHF or whatever you want to call it) diet isn’t all bacon, weight loss and happiness. One of the side effects of being in ketosis can be bad breath, also known as keto breath. Sometimes you get it when you’re starting out with a ketogenic diet and have the keto flu.
I’ve learned how to keep keto breath under control so it doesn’t bother me much these days. But when I get dehydrated I start getting that metallic taste in my mouth and know it’s probably keto breath. Luckily I know how to fix it now!
Who gets it?
Since I’ve been on my keto journey, I’ve encountered 3 types of people:
- People who don’t get keto breath at all – I don’t know why they’re so lucky. Ketosis just doesn’t seem to affect their breath at all. I have no idea why their bodies react differently.
- People who sometimes get keto breath – Some people don’t feel the keto breath for days and then suddenly it hits them. It can also be worse around the same time each day. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s when they’re starting to get hungry.
- People who constantly have keto breath – They have it 24/7, some of them can get rid of it temporarily with tricks (I´ll list some below) but some are unfortunately just beyond that.
Honestly, I’m not a medical professional and I can’t explain why everyone’s different when it comes to keto breath. You can have two people who eat the exact same low carb food, one of them gets it and the other one doesn’t. Maybe it has something to do with the individuals metabolism. I’d love to hear from anyone who can explain this to me.
What is keto breath like?
Most people describe it as a fruity, acetone like smell. It can be quite strong. Some people who suffer from it say that they can feel it and almost taste it, like a metallic, weird taste in the back of their mouths. If you’re not sure if you have it, try asking someone you trust.
What can I do about my ketosis breath?
I’d break this up into two categories. What you can do to mask the smell, and what you can do to eliminate the source.
Masking the smell:
- Chew sugar free gum. But beware that most of them have around 1 carb each piece and contain artificial sweeteners. I personally stay away from them these days because they give me a headache, but if you’re going on a date or something you might want to keep a pack of gum in your pocket.
- Chlorophyll & Mint tabs Some people swear by them. They’re chewable and freshen your breath.
- Good oral hygiene – This goes without saying, but brush your teeth at least twice a day, use mouth wash and use a Tongue Cleaner if you need one.
- You could try the Therabreath products A little pricey but I’ve heard good things.
These are all simply short term tricks to mask the bad breath. If you want to get rid of it, read on.
Eliminating the source:
- One of the best things you can do is drink a lot of water. You’re quite possibly dehydrated, so drink up.
- Drinking water is NOT enough though. You need electrolytes, especially sodium. What works best for me is chugging a lot of water and following up with either a bouillon cube in hot water or adding a bunch of salt to my water. The only way I can drink salt water is if I add some flavored electrolyte tabs. They are my life savers, seriously. Especially when I’m feeling a little off, like dizzy and weak. That’s purely an electrolyte problem.
- Eat more regularly. I know that one of the great things about the ketogenic diet is that you kind of lose your appetite and can go a long time without food. The thing is though, the acetone breath is a byproduct of your body burning ketones and the longer between meals, the worse the breath can get. Try munching a few berries or a piece of low cab bread in between the bigger meals and see if it helps.
- Relax. Stress can cause bad breath.
- Wait it out. I believe the ketosis breath is worst in the first couple of months. If i understand it correctly (and please, correct me if I’m wrong) there are two ways the body can turn fat into ketones, and this is usually the first, more direct pathway, but eventually (hopefully) your liver will start doing things a little differently and the acetone breath will fade away.
You know, it’s not all bad. At least it means it’s working, you’re in ketosis!