You may have once noticed that your sweat sometimes smells like ammonia. Such unpleasant, off-putting smell makes you wonder what is wrong with you and worried that others will believe you are unhygienic. Though sweat that smells like ammonia can be a little unnerving, it is usually not a cause for serious concern. There are a few very clear-cut reasons why this might be happening, and there are some strategies that can help you prevent that smell and get on with your life.
Why does Your Sweat Smell like Ammonia?
There could be many reasons why your sweat smells like ammonia. Fortunately, none of these reasons are dangerous. It all boils down to how your body uses energy sources. These three explanations can help you understand where that smell comes from:
1. Strenuous Exercise
This problem can happen when you are putting yourself all into exercise. The harder you work out, the more likely your body will reach for the proteins and break down the amino acids. So the more your workout, the more likely your sweat will smell like ammonia.
2. High-Protein and Low-Carb Diets
Your body needs carbohydrates, proteins and fats to function at an optimum level. When your body doesn’t have enough fats or carbohydrates, it then turns to proteins for energy. When this happens, amino acids are broken down into various substances, including glucose. The other things created by the breakdown of amino acids are mostly waste products. If your kidneys are overwhelmed by too many of these waste products, your body then sweats them out. Ammonia is one of those waste products.
3. Certain Health Conditions
Sometimes medical conditions can lead to an ammonia smell. This could be especially true if your breath smells like ammonia as well. In this case, the smell could mean impending kidney failure or a problem with your liver. If you have a medical condition that might lead to these issues, or if you haven’t been feeling well lately and you have a smell of ammonia to your sweat or breath, it’s time to consult a doctor.
How to Prevent Ammonia Smell Sweat
In most cases, the ammonia smell is easy to pinpoint and equally easy to eliminate. If the ammonia smell is really bothering you, there are a few ways to get rid of it or make it less pronounced.
1. Have More Carbohydrates
If you notice that the ammonia smell happens after you exercise, chances are that you need to up your carbohydrate intake in order to give your body sufficient fuel to burn during activity. This is especially true for those who have embarked on a low-carb diet or worry that carb intake will keep them from losing weight. The fact is that your body needs that fuel in order to let protein do its work in other areas. A bit of oatmeal, an apple or a small piece of bread before a workout can give your body the extra boost it needs for energy while not hurting your attempts at dieting, weight loss or muscle gain.
2. Drink More Water
Water helps to flush out the body of waste and toxins. It’s what the body really needs in order to stay on an even keel, and that’s especially true when you are engaging in exercise. Staying well-hydrated means you will feel better, your body will work more efficiently, exercise will be easier and you will help eliminate that ammonia smell from your sweat. At the very least, your water intake will help dilute it. Not sure if you are getting enough water? The rule of thumb is that your urine should be clear. If it’s not clear, then you’re probably not drinking enough water. If you smell strongly of ammonia after a workout, try drinking plenty of “energy drinks” throughout the workout, something with plenty of electrolytes. These drinks are specially formulated to help your body use the proper fuels.
3. Let the Smell Pass Naturally
Finally, keep in mind that your body might sometimes need to burn much more than just carbohydrates in order to keep things moving as they should. This is especially true of those who embark on very strenuous workouts, such as marathon runners. In fact, most marathon runners smell strongly of ammonia after they complete a race. They are accustomed to it and so is everyone around them, so it isn’t considered a big deal. You can take a hint from them and be confident that the ammonia smell will pass – it’s just a natural byproduct of your body working very, very hard.
Here are some home remedies to prevent unpleasant body odor:
These tips should help ease your mind about that ammonia smell that comes from a hard workout. However, if you are still concerned about the odor – or if you are noticing that your breath smells like ammonia – check with your doctor to make sure that everything is fine.