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Old 09-08-05, 10:32 PM   #1
Michigan
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"Ammonia-like" perspiration smell?

Every once in a while I get a whiff of something in my sweat during a hard ride that reminds me of ammonia. I don't think it's coming from my clothes but from me. Am I nuts or do others get the same thing? Any clues?
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Old 09-08-05, 10:50 PM   #2
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I get the same thing. It smells like ammonia because it's...........ammonia!

See this article from cyclingnews.com/fitness:

Quote:
Sweat smells like ammonia
I seem especially troubled by the heat this year, and my sweat volume is far greater and it smells overwhelmingly of ammonia. On the way home from a ride the car reeks like I've spilled an entire bottle of ammonia. This is all new this summer. No changes in diet or training. Would you have any ideas on the cause of this? By the way, my power seems way down. Thanks.

James Bailey

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James,

Well, your sweat smells like ammonia because it contains ammonia. Why the sudden change in odor? If your training and diet haven't changed, I don't have any idea. You may be wondering how ammonia gets into sweat. I can answer that question. Ammonia is produced in skeletal muscle during prolonged exercise, enters the blood stream, and is secreted by the sweat glands.

Ammonia is generated in skeletal muscle as a byproduct of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) breakdown into adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and inorganic phosphate. During high-intensity exercise, the rate of ATP consumption exceeds ATP production and AMP begins to accumulate in the cell. Ammonia is released from the excess AMP by the enzyme, AMP deaminase. During prolonged, exhaustive exercise, skeletal muscle generates ammonia from oxidation of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) to make ATP. In the process, the amino group is removed from the BCAA, producing ammonia.

Elevated ammonia within the skeletal muscle and blood negatively affect performance. Neuromuscular function is impaired by ammonia, leading to local muscle fatigue. Ammonia can cross the blood-brain barrier. So it accumulates in the brain when blood levels are high. The brain's capacity to get rid of ammonia is adequate for short-term maximal exercise, but it is overwhelmed during prolonged, exhaustive exercise. Abnormally high levels of ammonia in the brain can disrupt normal neurotransmitter function.

Ammonia depletes the excitatory neurotransmitters, glutamate and its precursor, gamma-amino butyrate, leading to central fatigue. Training and diet affect the production of ammonia during exercise. Endurance training decreases the amount of ammonia produced in skeletal muscle, thereby lowering blood and sweat ammonia concentrations. Depletion of muscle glycogen following a low carbohydrate diet increases the blood ammonia response to exercise due to increased use of BCAAs for energy. Carbohydrate consumption during prolonged, submaximal exercise reduces muscle ammonia production from BCAA degradation.

Since your training and diet haven't changed, it's a bit of a mystery why your sweat has gone ammonia on you. Your best solution seems to be a change of clothes for the car ride home.
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Old 09-08-05, 11:02 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quotation Caloso. I did Atkins for a while some time ago and although I lost a ton, all I could smell was ammonia.

I now smell of tutty fruity, but that's another story.
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Old 09-08-05, 11:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Wind 'N Snow
Thanks for the quotation Caloso. I did Atkins for a while some time ago and although I lost a ton, all I could smell was ammonia....
That's a different condition: ketoacidosis. What michigan can try is taking 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate in 8oz of water before the ride. Helps with lactic acid burn in sprints as well. If your stomach can't handle 2 tablespoons, try 1-1.5 to start.
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Old 09-08-05, 11:25 PM   #5
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Thanks Danno. This place is a wealth of info!
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Old 09-09-05, 06:07 AM   #6
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The Millward Model may contain the answer you are looking for regarding ammonia production:

http://www.unu.edu/unupress/food2/UID07E/uid07e00.htm

This ammonia production is tied to protein metabolism and could be related to the amount of dietary protein in recent meals, or during fasting, muscle protein breakdown.

The Millward Model is discussed under the heading of:

Critique of protein-energy interactions in vivo: Urea kinetics

...in section 3.
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Old 09-09-05, 11:44 AM   #7
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Thanks guys. I've been curious about this little oddity for a while now. This latest occurance followed 2-3 hours after a spaghetti lunch, so that's one thing I don't get. I'll try some bicarbonate, or pop a few Tums, if that's the same thing.
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Old 09-09-05, 12:43 PM   #8
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Thanks for that info. I always thought my cat peed in the house after I came in from a long ride. Wait, I don't own cats.
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Old 09-13-05, 06:29 PM   #9
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Ya' learn something every day!

I don't ever get the ammonia smell from my sweat from cycling, even after doing intervals or 100 mile rides in the heat. I do get a powerful ammonia smell in my sweat from fencing, though. Now I know why!
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