It is not easy to follow a diet with the extremely low amount of carbs. When a person embarks on the ketogenic way of living, he or she expects positive changes happening to the body. It is very ironic then that one of the surest and telltale signs of religiously following a keto diet is bad and stinky breath. For most keto diet followers, during the first month or so of the changed diet regime, an unpleasant breath is fairly common. Some followers term it as ‘metal smell’. Some even describe the feeling to be more of a ‘metallic taste in the mouth’ in addition to the smell. This is definitely not the desired result of following an unconventional and somewhat difficult diet plan.
However, this ‘keto breath’, despite being inevitable has certain reason and remedies. Let us explain them now.
What causes keto breath
Keto breath usually commences soon after a person starts on the keto diet and persists at least until his body becomes fully fat-adapted. It is hard to not get a keto breath. And the reason is pretty simple. As the body moves into the ketosis state, it starts converting fats into ketone bodies. Ketone bodies include beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone. These ketone bodies are produced in normal and healthy amount during ketosis. But these are the very reasons for ketone breath. Acetone especially can be detected by the smell of breath. This is one of the most common after effect of following a keto diet. Surprisingly, this is also the surest sign of knowing that your body has actually transitioned in the ketosis state. In fact, the deeper a person is in the fat burning carb-deprived state, the more evident and easy the smell of keto breath becomes.
Numerous studies have proved the relation between deeper ketosis state and keto breath. There are devices available, known as ketone breath test monitor that can gauge the levels of acetone in your breath and inform you about the amounts of ketones your body is producing. There is a medical reason for the keto breath, namely in the functioning of lungs and blood vessels that supply to them. As ketones circulate in the blood, they come in contact with the tiny air sacs in the lungs. Once these ketones get exposed to the air present in the body, they are expelled as gases with the peculiar smell of acetone. Hence, the ketone breath.
The duration of Keto Breath
It is also surprising that the duration and intensity of ketone breath vary from person to person. Some people are fortunate enough to never experience the bad ketone breath. This holds true even when they are following the ketogenic diet with all its decorum. Others, for instance, feel it more like a taste rather than odor. However, for most of the people, keto breath starts between week two and week five as the body starts adjusting to the fat-burning mode. It also goes away slowly as the body is fully adjusted to keto way of living. Because the body becomes efficient at burning ketones for getting energy, the excess ketone bodies circulating in the body (and causing keto breath) drops significantly.
Treating Keto Breath
Despite the fact that keto breath confirms the success of following the keto diet, you do not have to live with the unpleasant odor even if it lasts a couple of weeks. There are quick and simple remedies available that help keto diet followers with this unsolicited and awful side effect. Even if the bad smell of keto breath cannot be fully eliminated, its intensity can be lessened so that it does not bother you a lot.
1.Increase water intake
The excess ketones produced in the body are excreted via urine and sweat. So a very intuitive solution to keto breath is increasing the water in taking preferably with a pinch of salt added to increase electrolytes. This helps in picking the excess ketones present in the body and flush them out of the body readily. This way they will not give that bad odor to your breath. In place of plain water, naturally flavored water can also be used. But you need not compromise on the basic premises of keto diet. There should be no artificially added sugar and definitely no carbs.
2. Take more care of your mouth
It is always a good idea to increase the number of times you brush your teeth once you start experiencing the keto breath. Because it is a temporary phase, brushing your teeth with increased frequency does no harm rather help combat the bad smell. Desirable results can be achieved if you floss daily or swish with a good quality mouthwash after every meal.
3. Take help from chewing gums and mint
This is usually not as easy as it sounds especially if you are looking for organic ingredients. Keto friendly chewing gums and mints are especially hard to find because of the sugar levels requirement and zero carbs prerequisite. It is a wise idea to first look for these keto friendly gums and mints online and stock them. PURGum has a good variety of keto friendly gums available in six distinct flavors: spearmint, cool mint, peppermint, cinnamon, pomegranate mint, and wintergreen.
4. Use chlorophyll tablets
Mint and chlorophyll tablets function two ways. They not just freshen up your breath, but also have the latent effect of deodorizing. Chlorophyll especially helps in balancing off smells through the body so this is both a defensive as well as an aggressive strategy to keep keto breath at bay.
5. Give time
This is the simplest and the most cost-effective solution. Since you can be sure that the bad breath goes away on its own, patience and waiting it out sometimes is all you can do if you do not have time to manage other remedies.
6. Go easy
This perhaps should be the last remedy to be pursued. Some people find that very little increments in the amount of carb intake (as little as 5g per day) helps to address the bad keto breath. Because everybody has a different tolerance to carbs, some people can have as much as 40-50 g of carbs per day and still be well in the process of ketosis. This is slightly risky though and requires a careful balance. While trying to get rid of keto breath, one should not get out of the ketosis state that is the very essence of a ketogenic lifestyle.
It should be noted that the keto breath does not vary irrespective of the amount of protein you consume. Lower protein meals and high protein meals have equal chances of leading to keto breath. It is basically the decreased carb quantity that kick-starts the ketosis and causes this undesirable side effect. In the event that all other remedies fail, increasing the carbohydrate intake significantly helps you get out of the ketosis process and can stop keto breath in few hours.
If none of the solutions listed above work to solve the issue of bad breath, it might indicate that the ketogenic lifestyle is not feasible for you unless you can live with keto breath comfortably. It is still advisable to wait and let the keto breath go away with time as your body becomes fully adjusted to keto style and starts enjoying the wonders it brings.
Khalid Irfan is a Fitness expert who enjoys spending time in gym. He also enjoys being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise as well as researching new topics to expand his horizons.