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What is Ketosis Breath?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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Ketosis breath is a condition that often develops when a person's body enters a state called ketosis. In most cases, ketosis is brought on by a general lack of carbohydrates in a diet. This is usually due to people intentionally following various low-carbohydrate diet plans, although it is also possible for people to enter ketosis for other reasons or by accident. When the body enters ketosis, it starts burning different chemicals for fuel, and these produce some unpleasant-smelling gasses that can escape when a person breaths out.

Ketosis is the name for the condition a person’s body enters when it has to rely mostly on fat for fuel. Generally speaking, carbohydrates are the main fuel used by the body. Fat is usually kept as a backup, even though it is technically more efficient for many activities. When there are no carbohydrates available, the body has to switch gears, and it goes into a hyper-fat-burning mode, which eventually causes ketosis breath and a few other symptoms.

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The ability to burn large amounts of fat is the primary reason why people go on low-carbohydrate diets. The specific carbohydrate level allowed by the different diets is often quite variable. Some may require a person to almost completely remove carbohydrates from the diet, while others may only require a moderate reduction. Some of the diets don’t actually put a person into ketosis, and they can still generate weight loss because they tend to reduce a person’s overall daily caloric intake by making them fuller. Over time, this can potentially lead to certain symptoms, including ketosis breath, a lack of energy, and excess thirst.

Scientists are generally split regarding the potential health hazards of ketosis. There are many experts who suggest ketosis can be extremely damaging to the body over time. Others bring up the point that some diets in certain parts of the world involve up to 90% protein without causing any health problems. For example, the traditional Inuit diet of the aboriginal people of colder regions of North America had a very low carbohydrate intake, and there are no proven health problems associated with their way of eating. Many experts suggest that the Inuit people were able to get all the nutrients their bodies needed in order to survive through mostly animal sources, but some still say the issue hasn't been studied enough.

Most experts say that the best way to lessen ketosis breath is to stop using a low-carbohydrate diet. In cases where that is not an option, many people may choose to use breath mints and other over-the-counter halitosis remedies. Some people also recommend drinking more water than usual.

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anon993834
Post 5

No one dies from being in ketosis. They die from being in keto-acidosis which is entirely different.

Type 1 diabetics with uncontrolled blood sugars go into ketoacidosis. This is really a misnomer. At first, they didn't know what was happening, but they did know they could measure excess ketones in the person's urine so they named the condition ketoacidosis. But ketones in the urine are simply a by-product of losing weight. They are not dangerous.

And when a diabetic is in ketoacidosis, it's only a symptom, not the cause.

anon990716
Post 4

Ketoacidosis is different from ketosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when blood sugar levels are extremely high along with very high fat levels. In ketosis, very few carbs are consumed, so it is impossible to get ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is the dangerous health issue.

burcinc
Post 3

@discographer-- Actually, the ketosis experienced by diabetics and the ketosis experienced by dieters aren't exactly the same. Ketosis in diabetics is far more serious and dangerous. The amount of ketones in their blood go up to extremely high levels and becomes toxic. A dieter will not experience such high levels. Some dietitians also say that ketosis and ketosis breath will occur in the beginning of the diet but will go away as the body adjusts. I'm not sure if there is any truth to this. I'm on a ketogenic diet right now, so I guess I'll find out soon.

discographer
Post 2

@serenesurface-- I agree with you. A distant relative of mine was a type 1 diabetic and actually died from ketosis. So I don't know why anyone would think that ketosis is a safe state to be in. Anyone with ketosis breath should see a doctor right away.

serenesurface
Post 1

About whether ketosis is dangerous or not, I think it depends on the individual, how high their ketone levels are, their background and general health. There may be cultures in the world who survive on a mostly protein diet. But it's possible that their bodies and DNA adapted to this diet. Their metabolism might be functioning a little differently for this reason.

A society, on the other hand, which has mostly lived on high carbohydrate diets will probably not do well on a low carbohydrate, high ketone diet. For this reason, I believe that for Americans and for most of the world, ketosis is dangerous and should be avoided.

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