Why Does My Breath Stink When I’m Dieting?

April 28, 2016  |  

Corbis

Corbis

During our morning conversation about life struggles and triumphs over Coke Zero and fruit snacks, a colleague of mine was telling me about the success she was having with a new diet. After making a commitment to bringing more lunches than buying them as well as generally watching her intake of calories daily, she had triumphantly lost four pounds in a little over a week. But with the success of shedding a few pounds towards her goal came one thing she wasn’t expecting: bad breath.

Over the past few days, her husband made mention consistently of her breath smelling a bit on the sour side. Just this morning, after giving him a kiss on her way to work, he couldn’t help himself: “Maybe get some sugar-free gum on the way home?”

She asked me if I had experienced less than fresh breath while working on my own weight-loss goals over the past year, and when I thought back on it, I actually had. While fasting at the beginning and the end of 2015 for 21 days (Daniel Fast: no meat, no sugar, no bread–pretty much nothing but fruits and veggies), my breath was kicking like Bruce Lee and Bruce Leroy combined. And because sugar-free gum has sugar substitutes that I was afraid would put me in violation of the fast’s rules, I decided to avoid it and breath mints altogether. Safe to say, lemon water was not helping my hit breath. But thankfully, my fiancé, who eats a lot of fish and onion, knew better than to say anything…

So what’s the deal? Why do some diets cause some of us to have harsher breath than we normally would?

According to experts, you can blame it on ketones. They’re a chemical released through the breath and the urine when your body is burning fat, and can cause both your urine and breath to be a bit on the strong side. And many popular diets, like the Atkins diet, are all about easing up on carbs. Ketogenic diets encourage your system to get its energy by burning fat instead of relying on your consumption of heavy carbs.

Kenneth Burrell, DDS, of the American Dental Association told WebMD that scrubbing your tongue, and going hard with hydrogen peroxide won’t fix your oral issues as you diet. And while low-carb diets are great for helping people to lose weight, introducing some carbs back into your diet is pretty much the only way to avoid a smelly mouth altogether–according to him.

But other experts say that drinking water throughout the day (don’t forget to put some lemon in there) and keeping some sugarless mints or gum in your bag is the way to go when you want to stick to a low-carb diet that has been working, but not emanate a sour odor from your mouth.

It’s interesting. People tell you the big ways in which your body goes through changes when you decide to commit to losing weight, but they rarely say anything about the small — and stinky — ways.

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