Am I suffering from Keto bad breath?

Having bad breath is embarrassing. Not knowing that you have it can be disappointing. Self-diagnosis of bad breath can be difficult. As mentioned in my last email, bad breath can be a result of many causes, not just simply as straight forward as a rotten tooth or bad food choices. Now, to not incriminate any of my patients, I’ve decided to use myself as an example for this email to demonstrate how doing the right thing for your body may not always seem to produce the best results and sometimes you may be bargaining with more than you ask for.

I believe many of you who follow my weekly blog is aware that I’ve started my weight loss journey almost four months ago. During those four months, I have made tremendous progress and have achieved a staggering weight loss by the end of it. Changing my diet and a strategic workout plan has served me well in achieving my goals. However, many of you don’t realise is that during the first two months, I was suffering from episodes of bad breath. I’m usually very conscious about how my breath smells because I’m in a profession where talking and engaging with my patients are my daily routine and having a fresh breath will make my verbal recommendations more welcoming. The bad breath I was experiencing was nothing like a normal bad breath caused by dry mouth or food residues in mouth. I noticed that brushing my teeth or having mints only give it a quick and temporary fix, and hours later I’m back to square one.

The more I researched, I quickly concluded that I might be suffering from bad breath caused by the low-carbohydrate diet (aka the keto breath). Low-carb diets may be good for my waistline, but it certainly did the opposite for my breath. I’m sure most of you have heard of the ketogenic diet (or the keto diet). But for those who haven’t, it is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet designed to help you achieve the state of ketosis. Now, some of you might ask me what ketosis is? Well, when you consume carbs on a daily basis, your body normally gets energy from burning carbs, fat and protein. Your body typically breakdown carbs or glucose first before torching that fat you’ve got around your waist. However, when you are on a low/no-carb diet, your body doesn’t have enough carbs available to use as fuel and hence begins to torch your fat for energy.

Technically, the diet I went on was not a keto diet because I consumed a large amount of protein. However, the limited amount of carbs that I was consuming was enough for my body to start burning my body fat for fuel instead, which is what I wanted to achieve. We need to understand that burning fat occasionally for fuel does not lead to ketosis and bad breath. However, if your body constantly relying on fat for fuel instead of carbs, ketosis will occur and leading to the production of a by-product called ketones. When ketones starting to accumulate in your bloodstream, you’ll slowly notice your breath becoming to smell rotten sweet resembling the smell of nail polish remover. That is very true because our body will convert some of the ketones produced into acetone.

On the bright side, if your breath stinks, you’re probably doing a fantastic job of sticking to that low-carb diet, and you are on the track of losing that stubborn love handles. I’m getting a little side-tracked here, but one thing I always warn people is not to overdo the keto diet because when your body stay in a ketosis state long enough, your body will start to burn muscle instead of fat which is opposite to what we sat out to do in the first place.


Some of you might ask me – “So how long does keto breath usually last for?


That is a great question – it depends. Some people will only have it for days while others might have it for weeks or even months. But rest assured that it is only a temporary experience because our body is smart enough to adjust to low carb intake even though keto breath is a temporary thing, most people will continue to have bad breath because of their protein-rich diet. This is because ammonia is produced when protein is broken down. When ammonia in your bloodstream reaches your lungs, it will be exhaled and creating a strong breath.

If you are suffering from keto breath, oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing will only give you are a temporary fix. The bottom line is that you need to fix the root cause of the problem – your diet. I’m not saying you must stop your keto diet which is giving you great results. But you must modify it to fix bad breath. If you want to maintain a state of ketosis, I would then advise you to increase your carb intake by a fraction. For example, if your daily carb intake was 40 grams. Then I would suggest giving 50 grams a go to see if it does improve your bad breath. To ensure that you are still in ketosis, you could use a ketone breath analyser to monitor your level after increasing your carbs intake.

If maintained in a ketosis state not necessary, then I would suggest you to consider trying a diet that’s well balanced but moderately low in calories. Try cutting your calorie consumption by 300 each day and consume a variety of fruits and vegetables that contains un-refined carbs. This method should help you burn fat without giving you bad breath which typically associated with the ketosis state.

As always, if you have any questions related to your health, please don’t hesitate to flick me an email or pop in for a quick chat. I trust that you all know where to find me.

To your health,