Strong Ammonia Smell

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by SolarEnergy, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    After a workout, feels like everything's smell around me is tainted with ammonia.

    Then once in the shower, my soap stink pure ammonia.

    Only occurred to me 4 or 5 times in the last 10 years, once this week.

    Can I conclude without a doubt that this symptom is a direct consequence of protein catabolism and that therefore my feeding strategy is lacking protein intake or what?

    I am not looking to understand all underlying mechanisms, just to know if I can use this symptom to draw a solid conclusion about anything that might be wrong.

    Thanks
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you're burning protein but not necessarily catabolizing muscles, the ketoacidosis can just as easily be related to protein in your stomach. IOW, it's just as likely that you're consuming plenty of protein and lack the glycogen and blood glucose to fuel your efforts.

    For instance strong ammonia smell is common for folks training while on low carb diets and increasing protein intake is typically not what they need. Take a look at your overall diet in terms of healthy carb intake and also in terms of critical half hour refueling after each workout. It's certainly possible that you need to increase protein intake, but not very likely on typical western diets and your symptoms point more directly to low glycogen and blood sugar than low protein.

    -Dave
     
  3. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Thanks Dave, are you sure about all of this?

    Note that I have other clues that tend to confirm that I may have suffered from unusually low glycogen pool prior this workout, so it is likely.

    'Course, I still fear muscle catabolism, so let me ask you.
    - Can this symptom be related to muscle catabolism?
    - Can muscle catabolism occur without any ammonia smell?

    Reason for me to keep a small doubt in the back of my head is that like I said, I've experimented this only few times in the last 10 years of sometimes very intense training.
     
  4. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Yep, check out some of these links:

    http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=326
    http://69.44.181.203/Article.7+M504248dbaa3.0.html?&cHash=7537f27e30
    http://www.starling-fitness.com/archives/2006/11/18/ammonia-scented-sweat/


    And yes, it's possible you're catabolizing your muscles, but again the best remedy is to make sure you're topped up on glycogen when you train and to make sure you refuel with carbs and some protein immediately after training. Athletes do require a bit more protein then non athletes, but not as much as most folks think.

    This quote from "Advanced Sports Nutrition" by Dan Bernadot says it really nicely:
    -Dave
     
  5. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    All right Dave, thanks a lot.

    - My diet doesn't contain that much protein, especially prior working out
    - My glycogen level was probably dangerously low prior/during and after this workout which was a 60min SST workout that felt like a 60min 100%FTP
    - That workout had been preceded by several rides, running and swim workouts without any day off
    - As a result of this unusually low glycogen level, I wasn't able to metabolize fat (just an assumption here). Takes decent level of sugar in order to burn fat (again an assumption).
    - Since my diet doesn't contain that much protein, and that I typically don't eat prior working out, and that this problem doesn't happen very often (not even once a year), then I conclude that I was probably metabolizing my own muscle that day

    Thanks again
    Charles
     
  6. Spunout

    Spunout New Member

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    It is fine. It means you are working hard enough for long enough.

    Like any workout, make sure you are fuelled, hydrated, and address carb needs post-workout.
     
  7. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    funny you should say that cause it was the purpose of the workout.

    At the end of a long and productive segment of days with no interruption, I just wanted to make sure I'd empty the tank before taking a brake. Just overdid it a bit. What's funny is that I didn't feel any wall, ride although more demanding than expected was still sweet at times. VI 1.04 though, so this may have been little tough on sugar.

    Reason why I take it with some concern is that I did know I had to fix few aspects of my diet before it occurred. So... :eek:
     
  8. Pendejo

    Pendejo Member

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    I get the same thing coming from the sweat on the back of my neck. I think it's worse during the warmer weather, and the longer the ride the more pronounced it is. I eat a ton of carbs (I'm a vegie), and I believe I get more than an adequate amount of protein from nuts and cheese.
     
  9. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    From what you wrote, I assume to kind of indirectly blame this on some sort of dehydration factor.

    It's funny you should mention this because I used to think that it was related to electrolytes depletion (which I believe is kind of rare). Reason for this, is that I first experimented this while working out in Gym (cross-training). Back then, at the same time the issue would pop up, my clothing would be all covered with Salt (and probably other electrolytes as well).

    One other point to note is that I never really noticed that my sweat was smelling ammonia. Everything around me smells ammonia, and my soap and shampoo stinks!

    Maybe it occurs when some of my ammonia sweat gets in my nose... possibly.

    I am not sure at this point, could be 2 different issues, could be the same issue. Anyway, reason for me to blame it on nutrition is that there are probably no bad consequence if I am wrong.
     
  10. ezzrider

    ezzrider New Member

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    You already have had multiple replies but - I live in Central Florida where the temperatures routinely range in the mid to high 90s with 90%+ humidity. I routinely sweat and there is an ammonia smell although not as strong as you have detailed. I eat plenty of carbs in my diet. I am interested also in what exactly causes the ammonia smell but I have had it for years when heavily sweating.
     
  11. fordguru

    fordguru New Member

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    i too have had this smell. thought it was weird i blamed it on the new air fresh my wifey bought. a little info about me. i ride on empty unless i am gonna ride for more than 90 min.
     
  12. ezzrider

    ezzrider New Member

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    I always hydrate myself. I ride 25 miles a day 5 or 6 days a week. I have noticed the ammonia type smell in my cotton shirts (sweating) that I wear around the house and outside when I am not cycling. I probably do not drink enough water when I am not exercising. When you are not properly hydrated your urine with have a strong yellow almost orange color.
     
  13. ezzrider

    ezzrider New Member

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    I found this on an internet search "An ammonia odor is caused by infection with Helicobacter, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers, or by eating too much protein. Ask your doctor to draw a blood test for helicobacter. If it is positive, you can be cured with antibiotics. If it is negative, you may need to eat less meat, fish, chicken and dairy products. When you take in more protein than your body can use immediately, your body strips ammonia from protein to make you smell like ammonia.":eek::eek::confused::confused:

    Also this - "
    Based on this explanation, it is clear that your sweat will smell like ammonia only if an excessive amount of amino acids are being used for energy, or you are not receiving adequate water. This helps us find a solution to the problem. The next time you smell ammonia, don't worry. It doesn't mean that your muscle tissue being broken down, and it doesn't mean that you're doomed to stink for the rest of eternity. Consume a nutritious meal immediately after exercising - a balance of lean protein and whole, unprocessed carbohydrates - and then increase your carbohydrate intake throughout the day, or add a small "snack" prior to your next workout. An apple a day can help keep the ammonia smell away! "
     
  14. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Thanks to all of you for your input.

    Few thoughts...

    First, like I originally described, my concern wasn't related to the smell of my sweat, but rather to the fact that just about anything around me would smell ammonia.

    By reading all your answers though, I came to a conclusion. The reason why everything around me smells ammonia is more than likely due to the fact that a significant volume of sweat is coming into my nose, probably head sweat that I end up breathing.

    So I am no fool (yet).

    Few days ago, I went for a short workout late morning after having had a weight gainer shake as a breakfast. These contain 40grams of protein. Workout was only 50min long, done at little under 100%FTP. Slight ammonia smell once again. That time, likely due to this shake I had just finished digesting before the ride.

    I found an abstract here where "Carbohydrate-protein (CHO+Pro) beverages" were tested in the context of time to exhaustion cycling event done at a moderate rate. I am not interested in the results as much in the mere fact that they are testing 'em.
    (ref: Influence of carbohydrate-protein beverage on cycl...[Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008] - PubMed Result )

    I will add further testing in a near future. Will probably test a 90SST ride with nothing other than proteins in my belly. I am probably going to stink big time:eek:
     
  15. rickote

    rickote New Member

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    I now this is an old thread in a forum of cycling. But I was trying to research what is this ammonia kind of smell in my shampoo / soap when I take a shower after workout and found this thread. I just do 20 minutes of treadmill and as soon as I hit the shower and use the soap, boom it is this unbearable ammonia kind of smell. I became veg last year, and I consume proteins only from a very small amounts of cheese, nuts, and oils.
    1-The smell is definitively from Soap / Shampoo reacting with something in my sweat and not sweat by itself. I can shower without soap and the smell is not there.
    2-I tried like 5 different soap / shampoo brands and some recreate the smell stronger than others, but it is really unbearable

    Some of the posts suggests that eating some after/before? workout can help to mitigate this? It would be great to know if somebody has succeed on this? Maybe some special "orgasmic" soap?

    Thanks.
     
  16. CyclinYooper

    CyclinYooper New Member

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    Did you mean "organic" soap? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/ROTF.gif
     
  17. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    In this context, I tend to agree with you Rick.

    I'd avoid orgasmic Shampoo as it may lead to peaking too early in your 20min intervals ;-)

    But ammonia free organic Shampoo sounds like a promizing option!
     
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