T Nation

Ammonia in Sweat


I have a feeling this may have been discussed before- but nothing worthwhile came up in a search.
Often when I work out; my sweat smells strongly (I mean strongly!) of ammonia. BTW I sweat a lot!
Questions: Why? How can I prevent it? Do I need to prevent it? Does it matter?

A little googling has indicated that:
1. I may be overdoing protein intake = I don't really buy that as I get about 200 to 250g most days (B.wt. = 260lb,20-25% fat? I know- too high!)
2. I may be dehydrated and therefore concentrating the ammonia in my sweat = possible, but the same amount would be present just more dilute wouldn't it?
3. I'm not taking in enough carbs = I am not short of carbs! However I may be short on pre- workout carbs. Typically I have 200g cottage cheese = an apple about 3:00 or 4:00 in the afernoon, cycle home (4miles) then drive to the gym and workout about 6:30 finishing at 8:00.

I will try a few things like extra water through the day and some low GI carbs prior to training and see what happens.
Any comments from you guys?


You should be able to tell if you are dehydrated by the colour of your pee.

If you are sure you're getting enough water, you might just have to put up with it. Some people process a higher proportion of N through their sweat.


Do you drink?

I had the same problem and it seems quiting drinking every day stopped it. It wasn't dehydration because my pee was clear and I would still get it. I think it is because of your liver being overloaded with byproducts of exercise and alcohol.


My sweat tends to have an ammonia smell when mixed with my workout clothes. However, the smell never stays on my skin.

I drink a lot of water and take in a lot of protein, so I probably have higher levels of certain things that gives it that particular smell when sweating during my workouts and seeping into my shirt.


Do you smoke?

I noticed if I have a cigar in the same day as my rountines, I can smell it through my pores.

Rarity with cigars anymore. btw.


Make sure to eat plenty of fruit early in the day and it will actually change the smell


Can only you smell the ammonia scent?

Have you had sinus trouble lately?

As odd as it may seem ask someone around you if they smell ammonia.There are certain bacteria that grow in the sinuses that smell similiar to ammonia.I asked friends/family an no one ever smelled it (ME).I had that constant smell for a month before I brought up the subject to my doctor.It is treatable by oral anti-biotics for 2-4 weeks.


I remembered reading about this.....In general, you'll maximize your fat loss if you wait about an hour after your workouts before eating. The exception, in my view, is when you smell ammonia. Ammonia is essentially nitrogen, and that sensation after a workout is a signal that you've raised your cortisol levels enough to trigger the breakdown of amino acids by the liver (gluconeogenesis). When the body needs energy, it metabolizes glycogen, then fat, then protein. If one isn't fast enough, it goes down the list. But if it's going to feed on protein, you want it to go after something other than muscle tissue. So if you smell ammonia, you should have a protein and carbohydrate containing supplement immediately after your workout, preferably along with a protein stimulating supplement such as L-Leucine (whey protein is about 20-25% Leucine).

I copied that from another site I read occasionally...hope it helps.


Thanks for all the replies!
I drink rarely (botle of wine Saturday night- I train Tue & Thurs). Used to drink 6 days a week ~14years ago (perhaps that was why I weighed 320+)

I have never smoked.

Other people can smell it too, my wife says my workout clothes smell like wet nappies (diapers). BTW gym clothes are clean on before working out then straight into the wash when I get home. I also shower every day (apparently bacteria can make urea from sweat into ammonia).
I am due in the gym tonight, I will load up on water especially in the afternoon and get a few complex carbs in before I leave the house.

I take a protein / carb drink with me to the gym and have it straight after my work out or just before the end, say before I work rotator cuff.
I'll let you know how I get on. This ammonia thing is a regular occurrence, but only seems to happen at the gym (most times its mild but sometimes worse than others). If I cycle for a hour or so I sweat a lot but no real smell.
Thanx guys (and gals!)