Ammonia Smell


Experience From - Kevin O'Neall , Matt Mahoney ,

Kevin O'Neall

David Bateham wrote:

"Occasionally on longer runs I'll develop a strong ammonia smell. What causes this and how do I prevent it from happening?"
The ammonia smell is coming from urea in your sweat. It is normal. The sweat soaks into your clothes and the urea quickly breaks down into ammonia. I go through this ll winter, especially when I wear cotton, which holds onto the sweat and lets the ammonia form. I notice much less ammonia smell when wearing polypro and other hi-tech fabrics because they allow the sweat to evaporate quickly.

Matt Mahoney

"Judy and I also experience this ammonia smell of our bodies breaking down muscle for fuel on some long runs, but only in the heat and humidity of a South Lousiana Summers."
It may be that you sweat more and pee less when its hot. When you metabolize protein, you have to eliminate nitrogen (N). The normal way is to excrete urea (CO(NH2)2) in the urine. If your kidneys can't handle the load (due to dehydration, perhaps), you may sweat ammonia (NH3).

"My wife has regularly experienced this when running also. I thought the body broke down and used all available fat first and only moved to muscle after consuming all body fat. Certainly when my wife experience this she still had some fat available."
There is no metabolic pathway to convert fats to carbohydrates. This doesn't matter to your muscles, which can burn either one, but your brain requires glucose. So your body converts protein to glucose instead. Of course when you continue to exercise in this exhausted, depleted state, your muscles compete for the glucose and so muscle breakdown is accelerated. A high protein diet will help speed recovery.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or a lawyer, and if I was, I wouldn't defend your case over the Internet.