Those dedicated to the cult of intermittent fasting or the ketogenic diet will be familiar with one of its unspoken side effects, which has nothing to do with increased muscle definition or your waistline.
Yep… we’re talking about bad breath and it’s even got its own Instagram hashtag.
While the regime is famed for its ability to give the dieter unbounded energy, laser sharp mental focus and unparalleled fat-burning capabilities, it’s time we talk about your body’s other awkward (and breathier) response.
To get down to it, we racked the brains of dentist and bad breath specialist, Dr Geoffrey Speiser of the Australian Breath Clinic, and fear not because non-judgemental advice is coming your way.
How does #ketobreath differ to normal bad breath?
So how do you know if your case of whiffy breath is because your diet is paying off, or is a sign that you need to revise your dental hygiene ASAP?
According to Dr Speiser there’s a definite way to tell.
He describes ketone-infused breath as having a “fruity alcohol type of smell”, versus the pungent notes of say ‘rotten egg-esque’ dragon’s breath.
Members from fitness forum BodyBuilding.com also describe the scent as “metallic” or even more delightfully so, as a kind of ” hamburger-meat” aroma.
Why does intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet cause bad breath?
As Dr Speiser explains, releasing ketones – a gaseous bodily compound – is a normal side effect of dieting and the breakdown of body fat.
“This would lead to ketosis,” he says. “Ketosis releases ketones which are a volatile odorous compound.”
Dr Speiser also says diets high in protein, such as the ketogenic or paleo can also lead to an increased chance of bad breath, but this smell differs from ‘ketone-infused’ breath.
“Bad breath comes from the breakdown of proteins into amino acids and waste products called volatile sulphur compounds (VLC). These VLC are the bad breath smells,” he says.