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powerful ammonia smell after exerci
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diesel1104 posted:
I live in Florida and sweat profusely during exercise. On my long run days, 80 to 90 minutes, I can lose as much as 4 to 5 lbs of sweat. I normally run early and on an empty stomach. After running, i smell powerful almost overwhelming ammonia odor. My wife says she can't smell it. Is my body in ketosis? is it in my head? I am on a high protein diet, although not necessarily a low carb diet. I want to make sure I'm not damaging my kidneys or something else. Thanks for any advice or info.
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No1UKnowHere responded:
It's not in your head and it's not ketosis. This is exactly what happened to me last year before I found out I was overtraining and under-eating.

You're putting your body in a catabolic state and that means it's creating energy from amino acids. This is a chemical reaction that takes an amino acid molecule, strips the nitrogen atom from it, and processes what's left into glucose and then energy.

Typically, the nitrogen atom is passed on and converted to urea by the kidneys and later excreted as urine, but in some cases, the chemical reaction may be so overwhelming that the kidneys can't process all of the incoming nitrogen so it is instead converted to NH3 and excreted through your sweat glands.

You can't stop your body from going catabolic, but if you're running 80 to 90 minutes a day you should be drinking in excess of a gallon of liquids (preferably water) per day to help your kidneys do their job. Also, you need to make sure that you're getting adequate caloric intake at proper macronutrient levels so your body has places to go for energy.
 
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R_Weil responded:
You are in all likelihood smelling acetone on your breath which can have a metallic quality or smell just like ammonia like you are describing. Acetone is one of three ketone bodies, and ketones are the byproduct of fat metabolism. They occur in the body when people go on low carbohydrate diets, when people lose weight, when people do lots of aerobic exercise, or any combination of the three. Ketones are common and generally not dangerous unless you have type 1 diabetes, as they generally do not rise to dangerous levels before the body metabolizes them. They are a source of fuel for skeletal muscle as well as the brain and will not interfere with your performance. Make sure you stay well hydrated.
 
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diesel1104 responded:
Thanks so much for your reply and input. I have lost almost 25 lbs in the last 4 months and i am currently dieting, running, biking, and lifting weights both for strength and the aerobic benefits (no rest between sets). I do drink a lot of water, but may need to reevaluate my caloric intake before these long runs.
 
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john2233 responded:
I jog 4 miles in 50 mins. I smell the ammonia only if I workout within 2hours after a meal otherwise the smell is not there at all. I think the source of the smell is the use of the newly digested protiens as an energy source
 
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R_Weil responded:
You are smelling acetone on your breath which can have a metallic quality or smell just like ammonia. Acetone is one of three ketone bodies, and ketones are the byproduct of fat metabolism. They occur in the body when people go on low carbohydrate diets, when people lose weight, when people do lots of aerobic exercise, or any combination of the three. Ketones are common and generally not dangerous unless you have type 1 diabetes, as they generally do not rise to dangerous levels before the body metabolizes them. They are a source of fuel for skeletal muscle as well as the brain and will not interfere with your performance. Make sure you stay well hydrated.
 
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hankeye replied to R_Weil's response:
No1UKnowHere and R_Weil have provided two seemingly well informed responses that seem contradictory to me. No1UKnowHere says it is not ketosis but rather a catabolic state. R_Weil says it is ketones from fat metabolism (ketosis?). Both recommend staying well hydrated but No1UKnowHere prescribes more macronutrients, while R_Weil suggests that this is a not dangerous result from losing weight.


I am 15-days into a 30-day juice fast where I am only consuming fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices; 7-pints per day. I probably could be consuming even more water, and I will increase my h20 intake. I am also working out by going to 4 or 5 one-hour spin classes per week followed by 45 minutes of resistance training. For the last few days I have been occasionally smelling the strong odor of ammonia that is not detectable by my girlfriend. I've lost about 10 pounds in the last 15-days of this program, 190 to 180 lbs, 5'10", 38-year-old male.


My question is: am I not taking in enough macro-nutrients (or protein specifically) to support my workouts, as No1UKnowHere suggests, or is burning more calories than I take in the only way to lose the weight that I should lose, as R_Weil's answer suggests to me?
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to hankeye's response:
You're consuming virtually no fat so your body is burning as much as it can from what is stored. Plus you are in energy deficit and losing weight quickly — more than 0.67 pounds a day, or 4.7 pounds a week. That's a 2345 calorie deficit each day. The result of burning lots of fat, and especially with rapid weight loss, is the production of ketones, and that is what you are smelling. Your body needs the fuel because you are starving it, and it has to get the energy from more than just carbs, and so it recruits fat from adipocytes (cells where the fat is stored). Ketosis in type 1 diabetes is dangerous (ketoacdidosis), otherwise with the rapid weight loss and no diabetes you will have elevated ketones, but it won't be dangerous (just make sure to flush them out with water - don't let yourself get dehydrated). And yes, you are almost certainly catabolic in terms of muscle because your protein intake is inadequate for proper muscle nutrition and recovery and growth (lacking the necessary amino acids), plus you are exercising at very high intensities and very often. Imagine driving your car very hard and fast without much oil in the engine, and you get the idea. When people lose weight rapidly, and especially without adequate protein, and with high intensity cardio, they can lose as much as 35% of their weight from muscle. No doubt you will lose muscle with the type of weight loss, cardio, and nutrition you're doing.

Ketone production is very common when people lose weight rapidly, especially with intense exercise (whether the diet is high or low carb). It occurs when people go on high protein diets with low carbs (like Atkins), but also like what you're doing, mostly because the weight loss is so rapid. If you increased your calorie intake, started losing weight slower (1-2 pounds a week), and started consuming 20% of your calories from fat, the smell would diminish or go away completely. Start searching online for search terms such as acetone, ketones, ketone bodies, exercise, and rapid weight loss, and you'll come up with information about this.

Take care. Rich
 
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hankeye replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Rich Weill, Thank you for the thorough and prompt response. I am going to break the fast by adding beans, quinoa, and avocado to my diet in addition to the juice. I'll also drink lots of water. I appreciate your response.
 
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hankeye replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Rich Weil, thank you for the detailed and prompt response. I am going to break the fast by adding beans, quinoa, and avocado to my diet in addition to the juice. I'll also drink lots of water. I appreciate your help.
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to hankeye's response:
You're welcome. Good luck.
 
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TrinityTwilight replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
This was the most helpful web site I have come across for professional answers on fitness. Thank you all for you questions and your well defined answers
 
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Haylen_WebMD_Staff replied to TrinityTwilight's response:
Welcome TrinityTwilight!

You can start your own discussion or ask questions using the orange "Post Now" button up there ^^^^.

I'm looking forward to getting to know you better

Haylen
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to TrinityTwilight's response:
You're welcome. I'm glad you're finding it helpful. It's fun to contribute to it. Feel free to post back anytime.

Rich


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