One of the most annoying side effects of the ketogenic diet is acetone breath. Acetone breath, sometimes referred to as “keto breath,” is a side effect of ketosis that causes those on the keto diet to report persistent foul-smelling breath. Acetone breath gets its name from the breakdown of fat as a primary source of fuel. While our bodies break down fat into multiple types of ketones, one type (acetone) is released via our breath.1
Most people report more intense acetone breath when beginning the ketogenic diet. In many cases, bad breath goes away on its own. However, if you find that, after a few weeks, you’re still suffering from keto breath, try implementing one or more of these strategies to improve your symptoms.
Lower your protein intake
If you are consuming too much protein, it’s likely the cause of your smelly breath. When protein is broken down, one of the byproducts is ammonia. Like acetone, ammonia is released from the body via your breath. When mixed with acetone, this can create a very foul-smelling breath, and compounds the fruity smell of the acetone.
If you are finding yourself with consistent keto breath, reassess how much protein you are consuming. If protein makes up more than 10-25 percent of your calorie intake you will likely find yourself with foul-smelling breath.
Try oil pulling
One of the causes of keto breath is a mixture of oral acetone getting caught up with bacteria lurking in your mouth. Oral hygiene can help tremendously when it comes to freshening your breath. In addition to brushing your teeth regularly, employing a few oral hygiene extra steps can help compensate for acetone breath.
A quick and comprehensive way to kill bacteria in your mouth is through oil pulling with coconut oil.2 To get started, all you need to do is place a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth, and let it melt on your tongue. Gently swish the melted oil around in your mouth and in-between your teeth. After swishing for 10 to 20 minutes, spit out the oil and brush your teeth. Be very careful to avoid swallowing the oil, as it contains all of the bacteria and toxins in your mouth, which can make you ill if consumed.
Staying hydrated is a great way to quickly improve the quality of your breath because it’s an instant way to flush bacteria from your mouth. You should aim to drink one ounce of water for every two pounds that you weigh. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should try to drink at least 60 ounces of water, or a little less than 8 glasses.
For instantly fresher breath, try adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil into your water, which will add flavor without the added sugar found in many artificial flavorings.
Acetone breath might be annoying, but you can combat it with proactive oral hygiene routine. The most important step is to avoid slacking on your standard daily care; remember to brush, floss, and use mouthwash daily in addition to these tips!