What causes bad breath on the ketogenic diet and how to combat it?

Halitosis, or bad breath, is a common side effect of the ketogenic diet due to the increased production of ketones in the body. As someone who has experienced this first-hand, I understand how frustrating it can be to deal with the social and personal implications of keto breath. In this blog post, I will discuss the science behind bad breath on the keto diet, and provide you with tips on combatting it to ensure you can continue reaping the many health benefits of this lifestyle without the unpleasant side effects. For more information on this topic, you can also check What to Do About Keto Breath From a Low-Carb Diet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ketosis and increased acetone levels: The ketogenic diet can cause bad breath due to the increase in acetone levels in the breath, a byproduct of ketosis. This is commonly referred to as “keto breath.”
  • Combatting bad breath: To combat bad breath on the ketogenic diet, staying well hydrated, practicing good oral hygiene, chewing sugar-free gum, and adding more fresh produce to your meals can help mitigate the issue.
  • Use of sugar-free mints and mouthwash: Incorporating sugar-free mints and mouthwash can also help freshen breath and combat the acetone smell associated with keto breath. Opt for products containing xylitol to prevent any additional carb intake.

Understanding Bad Breath on Ketogenic Diet

Obviously, bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common problem among those following the ketogenic diet. The diet’s emphasis on high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb intake can lead to a distinctive change in breath odor for many individuals. Understanding the underlying reasons for this occurrence can help individuals better manage and combat this undesirable side effect.

The Science Behind Ketone-Induced Halitosis

When you are on a ketogenic diet, your body enters a state of ketosis, where it starts burning fat for fuel and produces ketone bodies. These ketones are released through breath, urine, and sweat, and can contribute to the distinct odor often associated with ketosis. Acetone, one of the ketone bodies, is volatile and gives off a characteristic sweet, fruity smell that can be detected on the breath. This process can play a significant role in the development of bad breath while on the ketogenic diet.

Common Contributing Factors

There are several common factors that can contribute to bad breath on the ketogenic diet. In addition to the release of ketones, reduced saliva production, which can accompany low-carb diets, can lead to dry mouth, allowing bacteria to thrive and produce foul-smelling compounds. Furthermore, certain foods commonly consumed on the ketogenic diet, such as garlic, onions, and cheese, can also contribute to halitosis. Additionally, inadequate hydration can exacerbate the problem, as water is essential for maintaining proper saliva production and flushing out oral bacteria. Though bad breath on the ketogenic diet is a temporary and manageable issue, it can be an unwelcome side effect for many individuals.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Bad Breath

Not only is it important to know how to combat bad breath on the ketogenic diet, but it’s also crucial to take preventative measures to avoid it in the first place. By implementing a few simple strategies, you can reduce the likelihood of experiencing unpleasant breath while enjoying the benefits of the keto lifestyle.

Hydration and Its Role

Hydration plays a vital role in minimizing the occurrence of bad breath on the ketogenic diet. When the body enters ketosis, it tends to eliminate more water, leading to dehydration. This can result in dry mouth, which in turn contributes to the buildup of odor-causing bacteria. To combat this, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep your mouth moist and flush out any bacteria that may cause bad breath. Adequate hydration is key to maintaining oral health and reducing the risk of halitosis while on the keto diet.

Dietary Adjustments

Modifying your dietary choices can also have a significant impact on preventing bad breath while following the ketogenic diet. Avoiding highly odorous foods such as onions and garlic can help reduce the likelihood of developing unpleasant breath. Additionally, incorporating fresh herbs and spices like mint, parsley, and fennel into your meals can help neutralize odors and keep your breath fresh. Finally, regularly chewing on sugar-free gum or mints can stimulate saliva production, which is essential for cleansing the mouth and combating bad breath.

Remedies and Solutions

Now that we’ve discussed the causes of bad breath on the ketogenic diet, let’s talk about how to combat it. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, you can check out this article on Keto Breath: What is it? How Do You Get Rid of it? for more information.

Oral Hygiene Practices

When it comes to combating bad breath on the ketogenic diet, maintaining good oral hygiene practices is crucial. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and using a tongue scraper can help remove food particles and bacteria that contribute to bad breath. Additionally, using an alcohol-free mouthwash can help kill odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. Don’t forget to stay hydrated as well, as a dry mouth can worsen bad breath.

Supplements and Natural Remedies

If you’re still struggling with bad breath despite practicing good oral hygiene, you may want to consider supplements and natural remedies. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth, while chlorophyll supplements have been shown to neutralize odors and freshen breath. Chewing on fresh herbs like parsley or mint can also help mask bad breath.


On the whole, bad breath on the ketogenic diet is largely caused by the increased production of ketones, which can result in a side effect known as “keto breath”. However, there are several strategies you can implement to combat this issue. It is important to stay well-hydrated, practice good oral hygiene, and consider using sugar-free mints or chewing gum to freshen your breath. Additionally, incorporating more low-carb, non-starchy vegetables into your diet can help to balance your body’s pH levels and potentially reduce the severity of keto breath. By being mindful of these factors, you can effectively manage bad breath while on the ketogenic diet.

Can the Ketogenic Diet Cause Bad Breath and How to Address it?

Yes, the impact of ketogenic diet can cause bad breath due to the increase in ketones produced. This fruity-smelling breath, also known as “keto breath,” can be addressed by staying hydrated, practicing good oral hygiene, using sugar-free gum or mints, and consuming more fresh herbs like parsley.


Q: What causes bad breath on the ketogenic diet?

A: Bad breath on the ketogenic diet is often caused by the production of ketones, specifically acetone, which is excreted through the breath. When the body is in ketosis, it metabolizes fat for energy, leading to an increased production of acetone and other ketones. This can result in the characteristic “keto breath” that some individuals experience.

Q: How can I combat bad breath while on the ketogenic diet?

A: There are several ways to combat bad breath while on the ketogenic diet. Firstly, staying well hydrated can help to dilute the concentration of ketones in the breath. Brushing your teeth and tongue regularly, using a tongue scraper, and flossing can also help to remove any food particles or bacteria that can contribute to bad breath. Chewing sugar-free gum or using sugar-free mints can provide a temporary solution by masking the odor. Some individuals find that using a mouthwash specifically designed for combating bad breath can be helpful as well.

Q: Are there any specific foods or supplements that can help with bad breath on the ketogenic diet?

A: Some foods and supplements have been suggested to help combat bad breath on the ketogenic diet. Adding more parsley, cilantro, or other chlorophyll-rich foods to your diet may help to neutralize bad breath. Additionally, consuming probiotic-rich foods or taking a probiotic supplement can help to promote a healthy balance of oral bacteria, which may reduce the occurrence of bad breath. Finally, incorporating more crunchy, fiber-rich foods into your diet, such as celery or carrots, can help to stimulate saliva production and aid in the cleansing of the mouth.

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