A high-protein, low-carb diet can put your body into ketosis -- a state where your body is burning fat instead of glucose for energy. When you limit your carb intake, your body has to use stored fat for energy, which can be a short-term way to lose a few pounds. When your body burns fat, by-products called ketones are released. You'll expel most of them in urine and perspiration, but some will be expelled in your breath -- and ketones don't smell good. According to a survey by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 40 percent of people following a low-carb diet reported having bad breath.
Don't try to cover bad breath with mints or gum. Instead, brush your teeth more often. Brush, floss and scrape your tongue to help clear the ketones from your mouth. Scraping the back of your tongue will help get rid of most of the problem. Practice good oral hygiene two to three times daily.
Drink more water. Keeping your mouth moist may help dispel "keto breath." Drinking water will help restore the proper acid/alkaline balance in your mouth. If your mouth is dry in the winter, try a humidifier in your bedroom. Drinking lots of liquids will also help you pass more ketones in your urine, rather than through exhalation. Remember, exhalation is another means for your body to rid itself of waste.
Eat carbs. The only way to truly stop the bad breath caused by ketosis is to take your body out of ketosis. You can choose to eat low-glycemic index carbs that have little effect on your blood sugar, or high-protein carbs such as legumes. Eat more vegetables and fruits for sweeter-smelling breath.
If your body can't expel ketones quickly enough, too many may build up in your bloodstream. The buildup of ketones in your bloodstream can lead to a life-threatening coma, called ketoacidosis. Vomiting, exhaustion, shortness of breath and confusion are warning signs of ketoacidosis.
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Analysis of Health Problems Associated with High-Protein, High-Fat, Carbohydrate-Restricted Diets Reported via an Online Registry
- Bad Breath: Learn About Bad Breath Remedies and Treatment Options
- Anne Collins: High Protein Diet Dangers
- American Diabetes Association: Ketoacidosis