Uncover the Mystery: Why Does Your Pee Smell Like Popcorn?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Have you recently started keto and noticed changes in your urine smell? Sweet-smelling or popcorn-scented urine isn’t anything to worry about and may indicate that you are doing keto right.

It can take your body some time to adjust to the powerful metabolic changes of ketosis, and it's not uncommon to experience side effects of keto-adaptation, including keto flu and strong-smelling urine.

Let’s look at why your pee smells like popcorn and how you can quickly eliminate urine odor.  

Woman smelling an unpleasant odor

What causes your urine to smell like popcorn?

While your diet or fluid intake can influence the odor of your urine, sudden and extreme changes in urine smell can indicate underlying health conditions, including urinary tract infections or diabetes.

However, if you recently started keto and intermittent fasting and noticed that your urine smells sweet, it’s unlikely to be caused by a serious medical issue. 

As your metabolism enters ketosis, your liver breaks down stored fat for energy and generates ketones, which have a sweet, popcorn-like scent.  

During the early phases of keto, ketone levels rise, but your body isn’t yet very efficient at using ketones as a fuel source. This can cause a buildup of ketones, leading to changes in body odor, keto breath, and urine that smells like popcorn. 

What is ketosis?

The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet that shifts your metabolism into fat-burning mode. 

As your body breaks down fat, your liver creates large quantities of ketones, a type of acid and a very efficient fuel source. In fact, your heart, brain, and muscles prefer ketones as an energy source compared to relying on sugars and carbohydrates.

Ketosis occurs when ketones enter your circulation and are used as fuel by your tissues and cells. To maintain fat-burning and stay in ketosis, consume no more than 20 to 50 grams of net carbs daily.

Watch the video below to learn why ketosis can cause your pee to smell like popcorn.

What to do about pee that smells like popcorn

If your urine has an unusual smell after starting the ketogenic diet, it doesn’t mean that keto isn’t right for you. As your body adjusts to ketosis, unpleasant odors will diminish, and there are plenty of steps you can take in the meantime to combat popcorn-scented urine.

Stay hydrated

Ketones are excreted through the kidneys, and dehydration can lead to high ketone concentrations in your urine. To avoid unpleasant odors, increase your water intake. 

A simple urine test can measure urinary ketones and helps to determine if they’re the likely reason for your sweet-smelling urine. 

Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables

Follow Healthy Keto® and consume plenty of green leafy veggies like collard greens, watercress, and spinach, which are rich sources of chlorophyll.

Research suggests that chlorophyll, a bright green pigment, acts as an “internal deodorizer” and can help with ketone-related body odors.

Adjust your protein intake 

Excessive protein intake can cause changes in urine odor, especially during the early stages of keto-adaptation. 

Adjusting your protein intake and following Healthy Keto will help your body transition into ketosis faster, which typically improves urine odor.  

Urinary test strip

Other causes of smelly urine

Keto-related urine smell isn’t anything to worry about. However, in some cases, smelly pee can indicate a serious health condition that may require immediate medical attention.

Symptoms, including unquenchable thirst, sweet-smelling urine, and fatigue, can indicate untreated or undiagnosed diabetes or gestational diabetes, a type of temporary diabetes that can develop during pregnancy.

There is evidence that strong-smelling urine may be a sign of ketoacidosis, a serious but rare complication of excessive buildup of ketones in the blood. However, it’s important to note that this life-threatening metabolic state is unlikely to occur due to a ketogenic diet and typically only affects individuals with type 1 diabetes. 

Woman sitting on a toilet

Key takeaways

Keto-related changes in urine smell aren’t a medical concern and will likely clear once your body fully adapts to ketosis. 

Staying hydrated, eating chlorophyll-rich foods, and following Healthy Keto will help your body adjust to keto fast and keep keto-related odors at bay.


1. What is the smell of diabetic urine?

Diabetic urine has a sweet-smelling odor caused by excess sugar being excreted from the body via the kidneys.


2. Why does my pee smell like buttered or burnt popcorn?

Pee that smells like popcorn can indicate diabetes, excessive alcohol use, or dehydration. However, if you recently started keto, it’s most likely that increased ketone levels are the reason behind the changes in your urine odor. 

3. Why does my pee urine smell like popcorn?

Popcorn-scented urine can indicate health issues, including diabetes, gestational diabetes, or ketoacidosis. 

Pee with a distinct popcorn smell also is a common side effect of transitioning to ketosis and typically goes away once your body fully adapts to using ketones as a fuel source.

4. How do I get rid of the popcorn smell in my urine?

Keto-related urine smells typically disappear once your body is fully adapted to ketosis. Following Healthy Keto, staying hydrated, and eating plenty of green veggies will help your body adjust to ketosis fast and can reduce urine odor. 

5. Why does my pee smell bad on keto?

When doing keto, your liver produces large amounts of ketones, a metabolic by-product of burning fat as a fuel source. Ketones have a distinct smell that can cause changes in body odors, including pungent urine, keto breath, and keto crotch.  

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