Training & Nutrition - ammonia smell
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04-28-07, 04:29 PM
after a good ride or a hard workout i get whiff of ammonia or something similar to ammonia smell for 5 to10 minutes. anyone else experience this?
04-28-07, 05:03 PM
Are you perhaps riding/working out near a methamphetamine production zone?
04-28-07, 05:19 PM
Ammonia can be produced as a byproduct of excessive protein oxidization; especially from the amino acid glutamine. The glutamine releases ammonia in the process of becoming glutamic acid, which is then converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis or burnt by direct entry into krebs cycle.
Normally ammonia is detoxified by conversion to urea, or other nitrogenous compounds, by first reacting with bicarbonate. The reason this is not occurring in your case is because of a disruption in the acid-base balance of your system leading to insufficient bicarbonate ion.
To resolve this problem you should start by consuming more carbohydrates during exercise such that less ammonia is produced in the first place. Secondly you should increase the amount of calcium in your diet, preferentially from green vegetables, as this increases the amount of bicarbonate available. You may read of supplements that work along this line like Sportlegs or direct supplementation with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Your stomach produces bicarbonate and dumps it into your bloodstream (the alkaline tide) as it produces stomach acidity to neutralize the antacid.
CO2 + H20 + KCl +ATP -> KHCO3 + HCl + ADP + PO4
04-28-07, 05:56 PM
That's fascinating. I used to get that ammonia smell for a while after I'd quit working out, when I was trying to lose weight. Once I got down to my desired weight and started eating normally again, I rarely get it any more, unless it's a very long workout (long run or long ride).
04-28-07, 07:37 PM
thanks for the info. i was hoping there was a reason for this and i wasn't bonkers.
04-28-07, 09:42 PM
Sometimes I get it too right after a ride for a few minutes. I knew it was some physiological process but never knew what. It is like a smell that is right in your nose...not like you are actually smelling something in the air around you. Very strange and kind of hard to describe if you have never experienced it.
So, for those that are aware of this and what causes it, should we be concerned or change out diet to avoid it or is it just a physiological process that we should not concern our self about?
Yep, I often get it as well, and really only after high-intensity rides. Like cbaronzzi, I knew it was something in my body, but not the exact mechanism.
I drink so much milk that I doubt I have calcium deficiency.
04-29-07, 12:05 AM
Perhaps something to do with your post-exercise blood sugar levels? Normal would be in the 80-120 mg/dl range.
04-30-07, 12:29 AM
Also be cautious of over-training symptoms, as a constant smell of ammonia could be early warning signs.
04-30-07, 07:55 AM
Many times, that smell is due to muscle degredation. Many diabetics get this smell when they don't have enough sugar on board and their bodies begin to use its muscle to get energy, which leads to muscle wasting.
When you don't have enough carbs and/or sugar, the body looks for other energy supplies.
This is diet related and easily corrected.
The Adkin's diet people know that smell. With the zero or near zero carb intake they can lose muscle mass rather than fat. Mobilizing fat is a much harder process in this diet.
Yeah, I guess all that nitrogen in the muscle protein has to go somewhere.
04-30-07, 10:14 AM
I drink so much milk that I doubt I have calcium deficiency.
Well it’s not a calcium ion deficiency; it is a transient deficiency in bicarbonate. The recommendation to eat calcium rich foods was just because most of these foods help reduce acidity. However, it is not the cations (Ca, Mg) but the anions that do this (carbonate, hydroxide, etc). Something like CaCl2 would not have the same effect.
I agree with the explanations above about how low blood sugar levels, from whatever cause (bonking, diabetes, low carb diet), leads to the increased protein oxidization.
However, this still only explains how the extra ammonia is being produced, not why the body is dealing with it improperly. One thing that came to mind was that vigorous exercise could lead to hyperventilation (ragged breathing) which in turn leads to a decreased partial pressure CO2. This drop in ppCO2 is why you have a person who is hyperventilating breathe in and out of a paper bag (to reabsorb some CO2). The reduced ppCO2 will lower the amount of bicarbonate available because CO2 is the starting material for the bicarb production.
04-30-07, 05:43 PM
I tried your suggestions . Just rode 30 miles and no ammonia smell. Thanks again and Bike Forum is great.
Well itís not a calcium ion deficiency; it is a transient deficiency in bicarbonate. The recommendation to eat calcium rich foods was just because most of these foods help reduce acidity. However, it is not the cations (Ca, Mg) but the anions that do this (carbonate, hydroxide, etc). Something like CaCl2 would not have the same effect.
Fair enough, but how do we find out which anion Ca is coupled with in regular milk? :)
05-07-07, 06:42 PM
I knew a really fat guy that started riding hard and he constantly had this smell. I got it a lot too when I started running and was working on losing weight. Generally I don't get it anymore unless I have done a very intense workout.
05-10-07, 04:16 PM
Alternate source: I recently smelled this ammonia-like odor during rides. Probably went on for a couple weeks. Turns out that it was the buds on the local Bradford Pear trees blooming! :D
05-12-07, 07:45 AM
One of the components of sweat is urea which is part of protein degradation. Levels in the perspiration range from .24 to 1.2 mg/cc. Urea, (NH2)2CO is urea is part of the urea cycle. It is further broken down to carbon dioxide (co2) and ammonia (NH3+)
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