Can keto cause shortness of breath?

(Karen) #1

I started doing keto about 3 years ago to help control IBS. I started at 20g carbs for the first month. I had the keto flu (tired, not feeling well, etc.), but it didn’t pass after the first week. That whole first month I felt awful: lethargic, foggy, and I was chronically short of breath, which wasn’t a symptom I saw listed anywhere. So, after that month, I increased my carb intake to closer to 40g per day and I felt a lot better. At the time I theorized it was because I didn’t have much of my own fat to burn (I’m naturally “underweight” by arbitrary norms) and so assumed I just needed more carbs than other people in order to function. I was still in mild ketosis but felt energetic, etc. I would still get short of breath when exercising, so I started making an electrolyte drink and having that before I exercised and that helped a lot.
Fast forward about a year: I found myself being less and less strict about my diet. I was still eating low-carb, but not exactly keto. My IBS worsened a bit, but not enough to make me feel I needed to stay in ketosis all the time. This is where I stay for about another year.
Then, last fall, I started getting back into running. I’m training to run a 5K with my teenager who runs track. I kept being short of breath when running. Then as the weeks/ months went by, I started being short of breath just normally through the day. I even started waking up at night feeling like I couldn’t get enough air. I remembered that electrolyte drink I used to make and started drinking that again. It definitely helped a lot but didn’t solve the problem entirely.
Now I want to get back into ketosis to improve my strength and stamina for running. Every time I try to get below 50g carbs/day I find myself not being able to breathe well frequently. But interestingly, I can now breathe better when I am running than when I’m at rest. I don’t know what to make of that unless it is related to BP.
I keep scouring online info about ketosis and I can’t find anything about shortness of breath being a common symptom. Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, what was the cause? How did you deal with it? I’ll be seeing my GP in August for bloodwork and I hope I get some sort of answer and I hope I don’t have to see a cardiologist or pulmonary doctor. We’ll see.

(Edith) #2

I don’t know if this is the same thing, but I used to get something called air hunger. I wasn’t really short of breath, but I would feel like I couldn’t get a deep enough breath. I felt like I had to work extra hard to get enough air into my lungs by deliberately taking an extra deep breath.

I learned about something called histamine intolerance and it turns out I was eating a lot of histamine containing foods. Other symptoms included a stuffed nose every night and an eye that watered for seemingly no reason. Anyway, when I reduced the amount of histamine in my diet, the air hunger, watering eye, and stuffed nose went away. In fact, my sense of smell greatly improved.

I don’t know if air hunger is what you have, but if that seems like an apt description, you may want to look into histamine intolerance.


I had the following a decade ago when I was eating feedlot meat and vegetables. Mostly chicken. Nobody would think I had atherosclerosis by how thin I was but I had it from the junk meat. Couldn’t run because I would run out of breath.

(Edith) #4

Ya know what’s interesting? I tried buying grass fed beef from two different farms in my area. I’m guessing, I don’t know for sure, that grass fed beef may be hung longer than feedlot meat due to the fact it is leaner than the feedlot meat.
I had a lot of histamine trouble from the grass fed meat. My nose would stuff up and I would get really itchy after eating it. That doesn’t happen to me from the beef I buy from the grocery store.

(Bunny) #5

It’s called PH balance your blood is becoming more acidic (very hard to breath) rather than it’s usual alkaline when your running because your probably making a lot ketones your not really using for fuel yet because your not fat adapted which takes around 6 months or 27 weeks to become truly ketogenically adapted.

You really need to breath deeper or learning how to breath differently before you run; like Wim Hof who can climb in altitudes (mountain sickness) that require oxygen and he does not?

That’s why I like using a CPAP machine when sleeping because it enhances your energy levels (more like astronomically) during waking hours relative to atmospheric pressure so you can move your body mass much faster relative to prior oxygenation input.

Right now I’m really interested in experimenting with inflatable hyperbaric chambers.

(Karen) #6

“Air hunger” does sound more like what I’m experiencing rather than shortness of breath. I just hadn’t heard that term before. But, yes, it is like I can’t get a deep enough breath to feel satisfied. And I am frequently congested. Thanks for the tip! I’ll look this up. :slight_smile:

(Give me bacon, or give me death.) #7

It has been so long since I was diagnosed with asthma that I no longer recall the diagnostic criteria, but I do remember that I presented with an unexplained cough and significant allergies. I had scratched myself with my shirt off while waiting for the doctor, and he noticed the resulting welts (a sign of allergies) as soon as he opened the door of the examination room. Combining that with the cough, he finished making his diagnosis before fully entering the room.

You might consider getting tested for allergies or asthma. I had assumed that my growing shortness of breath was a natural consequence of getting older and fatter, but once the inhalers started working, it became clear that my lungs just needed help. (This was in spite of the fact that, even with my bronchi at their worst, I still had more lung capacity than most people. The problem was that I wasn’t getting enough air for me, even though it might have been enough for someone else.)

I have found over the years since that my need for nasal and pulmonary inhalers waxes and wanes with environmental influences. Right now, after three years of a ketogenic diet, I find that I am doing well on just a daily dose of antihistamine.

So get checked out. There might be something they can do to help, and you might be amazed.

(Karen) #8

Thanks, Paul! I will ask my doctor about that when I go in, in August. I know I’ve developed some allergies as I’ve gotten older that I didn’t used to have.