Have you ever heard the term “caveman breath”? If you are on a ketogenic diet, chances are, you have. And you have most likely heard the term, from those who are critical of your keto diet. While they may not be completely wrong, they may not be completely correct in their assumptions of the status of your ketosis breath.

First off, bad breath can have a few different sources. So, it is not fair to assume that someone who is following a ketogenic diet has bad breath caused by the diet, when it could be other factors.

The food we eat can cause bad breath. If you have ever sat by someone who has eaten garlic, you know it. Garlic and onions have a reputations for causing undesirable breath. And they seem to stay with you for a couple of days. For some people, garlic and onions can cause digestive upset. This can also be a cause of bad breath, if you are not digesting certain foods properly. You tend to see this in folks with lactose-intolerance. If you are trying to improve and get rid of bad breath, it is a good idea to limit these foods for a couple weeks. You can then try re-introducing them in small amounts, and see how your body reacts. 

Another cause for bad breath is poor dental hygiene. If you are not consistently removing large chunks of food from between your teeth, that could be your problem right there.

If you have eliminated all the options above, and you still have bad breath, it could be "ketosis breath" from burning ketones. When your body is using ketones as its primary fuel source, it is removed from the body in the form of exhaling and urination. This may cause an odd scent, which is usually sweet or fruity. It is a very different smell than halitosis, which is very unpleasant due to tooth decay or gum disease.  


Ketosis breath cure:

Keto bad breath will usually dissipate on its own, but until that time, there are a couple of options to help you feel more confident being around others.

  • Avoid certain foods, such as garlic, onions, fish, and dairy if you suffer from lactose-intolerance.
  • Maintain proper dental hygiene. That means brushing daily, flossing when needed, and scraping your tongue, which removes a considerable amount of bacteria from your mouth.
  • Chew mint, which smells great, and naturally cools your mouth. You can chew other herbs as well, such as parsley and fennel, which smell wonderful and taste delicious.


Don’t let the opinions of other deter you from your desire to begin a ketogenic lifestyle. Just remember, “keto bad breath” will clear up on its own in time.

Samantha Stephenson, Primal Health Coach, ACE CPT 


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