T Nation

My body odor that smells strongly like Maple Syrup!!!

Ok. everybody, this might be a funny deal but now it is bugging the hell out of me. Two years ago when I got really serious with weight training, I got very technical with my nutrition plan and increased my calories which caused me to really increase my protein intake. I weight about 200 lbs. and is sitting around 10% body fat. I eat about 400 grams of protein/day during a bulking phase and at the maintenance level, I eat about 300 grams of protein/day. My protein during the day consists of 3 protein shakes with 1 cup of Skim Milk in each and the other 3 meals is consisted of meat, tuna, and eggs(once in awhile). Heres my dilemma and I’m serious about this, I excrete a strong odor of Maple Syrup. At first it wasn’t a big deal, but now it seems like its getting stronger, I personally don’t think it is, but my family says the maple syrup odor is becoming more. I tried everything from switching cologne, deodarants, soap,laundry detergent, etc, and have come to the conclusion that it might be due to high blood sugar. What do all you guys think? I guess I could smell of something worse than maple syrup, but it bugs me knowing that people wonder if I just got done eating pancakes or something, especially when I go out with girls, if you know what I mean. My sister said I could have diabetes if it has something to do with my blood sugar. Please give me SERIOUS feedback on what I could possibly do to fix this dilemma, and perhaps some of you might have had a similiar problem.??!!! Thanks

Well rocky, your sister is right about the connection between a person with diabetes and a characteristic odor. However, this is most likely not the cause of your odor. Many people describe the breath of a person in diabetic ketoacidosis as “fruity” or “like acetone.” This is not something you would be experiencing on a regular basis. It occurs in an acute hyperglycemic state that can lead to coma - an emergency situation where your blood sugar is out of control, as in the 800’s or more, and your body is forced to burn fat for energy since there is no insulin to shuttle glucose into the tissues. The end products of fat metabolism are ketones (such as acetone), and the blood levels of ketones become so high that the breath actually smells like acetone.

What you are describing to me sounds much more like an issue relating to your high protein intake. Here’s why:

Most commercially available whey protein powders have characteristic amino acid profiles. Usually, the branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are the AA’s in highest concentration, which is what you want. Some people, such as myself, even supplement that with pure BCAA powder. For some reason that is unknown to me, BCAA’s have an unusual odor - that of maple syrup. I have a tub of it in my kitchen right now, and it really does smell like maple syrup.

I’m not the only one who has noticed this aroma. There is an aptly titled medical condition named “Maple Syrup Urine Disease” in which the affected individual is born without the enzyme (alpha ketoacid dehydrogenase I think)required to break down BCAA’s. These amino acids need to be oxidized, but without the proper enzyme, they accumulate in the blood. They eventually spill over into the urine, giving it a maple syrup-like smell.

So, before you start worrying about your blood sugar, rest assured that your odor is MOST LIKELY caused by your protein intake. It would be wise to have your fasting blood glucose checked, especially if you have a family history of diabetes.

Rocky, do a search on Google for the following:

“body odor” chlorophyll

Put body odor in quotes so that Goodgle only lists hits that contain that phrase. Chlorophyll is the only natural solution I know of for body odor.

I’m glad Scrub weighed in on the medical aspects of things and the fact that you probably don’t have anything serious to worry about. Hopefully the chlorophyll will fix your problems. It’s good for breath, body odor and even foot odor.

Scrub, great post! MSUD was the first thing I thought of… can’t imagine not being able to metabolize BCAA’s.

But Rocky, the fact that you’re still alive indicates that you likely don’t have MSUD… or at worst have a VERY mild form of it. You may just have low levels of the enzyme (BCAKD).

I smell like coconut sun screen. really.

Eat more pancakes to absorb the syrup.

Rocky, I went back and read my post, and I realized that I may not have been clear on something: MSUD is a genetically inherited disease that becomes very obvious during the first weeks of life: neurological symptoms, mental retardation, and death. You need to have 2 copies of the gene, one from each parent, in order to have an absolute enzyme deficiency. However, as DBMuscle alluded to, it is possible to have a relative enzyme deficiency, such as being a carrier. This would mean having one gene for proper enzyme function, and one defective gene copy, giving a person less than normal amounts of the enzyme.

That said, the whole point of my original post was to try to calm any fears you may have about your odor. I was trying to suggest not that you have MSUD (a bad idea in general to try to diagnose diseases on the internet), but to provide the rationale behind a possible explanation for your body odor - a normal side effect of your high protein diet. I hope that’s the way you interpreted it. It still wouldn’t be a bad idea to have your doctor run some blood tests, though. Let us know what your doctor says. There may be many people reading this who also smell like maple syrup due to high protein intakes who are wondering the same thing!

Avoid roids that is halarious

I have heard people complaining that certain tribulus products cause them to smell like maply syrup. I have used tribex and never experienced the proplem. Most of the complaints I have heard have come from people using Fuzu.

Scrub, I just love having you here. Your posts just keep getting better and better!!!

Thanks alot everybody for your replies, and thanks scrub for your detailed response. You have shed a whole new light on the situation. I read up on MSUD and I don’t think I have it(mainly because I seem to be very healthy-no seizures, no sickness or slurred speach and it seems to be more common in children), but there is one big thing I left out in my original post. I forgot to say that my urine also smells faintly like maple syrup. So that has gotten me a little worried now. Like Tampa-terry suggested I am going to try chlorophyll to see if I can get rid of the odor. But should I go to the doctor and get checked out, as far as the diabetes thing, there is no history of it in my family, but like DBmuscle said perhaps I have a mild case of MSUD which would suck knowing my body can’t metabolize BCAA’s. Like scrub said it’s probably due to the high protein intake-I go through a 5 lb. tub of EAS Simply Whey every 6 days. And if it is, then obviously I will have this problem the rest of my life, correct(as long as I train, I have to consume my protein)??

However last fall I had hernia surgery and didn’t eat any protein powder and probably consumed 100 grams of protein/day(just meat) for almost a month(this was the longest break in training in 7 years) and I still smelled like Maple Syrup, not as bad but the odor was still faintly there.
Another important point I was just wondering, could this lead to the cause of slow muscle growth. I have worked my ass off the last few years and seem to only gain a little. I obviously have gotten bigger since I first started weight training about 7 years ago, but for as much effort and sacrifice I have done, I would think I would be bigger. Again I appreciate your responses.

EAS Simply Whey???
…Gag…Cough…Splutter …arrrrrgh!!!

Thanks TT.

Rocky, the best advice anyone can give on an internet forum is to see your doctor, and the more information and insight you provide your doctor with, the better he/she can help you out.

I think another possibility is his urea content when he sweats. People who have high sodium intakes tend to leave white sweat stains(small sodium deposits on the clothes) as a result of such a diet. I don’t think it’s out of the question that his skim milk (and whatever other sugars he ingests) could be the cause of a possible high sugar content in his sweat resulting in the a “syrup smell”. Just a thought…

Dude, you’re supplementing with 400g of protein a day?! For the love of a GAWD STOP!!! I can’t begin to imagine what your total daily intake is, but with that much, your amino acid oxidation will be through the roof! No wonder you can’t put on any weight. Gradually taper down your protein intake to a reasonable level, and save some cash.
Definately speak with an MD, but BE SURE that they understand the smell was present before your excesive protein intake, otherwise they’ll just dismiss that as the problem.


I will head to my doctor and see what the problem is. I’m not sure David if lowering the protein would be beneficial, when I go on a bulking phase I consume almost 4500 calories(its tough to do) and 35% of it is protein. That seems right, doesn’t it. My maintenance level is about 3200 calories and about 40% protein. I’m just following all the guidelines here. Thank you guys for all your replies.
Oh, and for how cheap it is, and it’s a 5 lb. tub from a reputable company, I got to say Simply Whey is pretty damn good, I think.

You’re going through a five pound tub every six days?

The 400grams a day seems fine, as long as that is TOTAL protein intake and not 400grams from protein shakes alone.

  1. There’s this new thing out, it’s called “food”. Amazingly, this “food” contains protein as well. Try that out.

  2. If you smell strongly, of anything, I imagine that your water intake is lacking. Drink more water, and the stink magically disappears.

  3. Why do you need 400g of protein a day? You’re going to be pissing most of that away, anyway. Protein is important, but it ain’t THAT important.

Dan “food” McVicker


When my 2nd son was an infant, he constantly smelled like Maple Syrup. The doctor thought we were nuuts and he said he never heard of anything like this. I searched the Internet and found that this is not as rare as you might think. I cna’t really remember much about the whole issue, but I remember it was a harmless condition. Do a search on “maple syrup + syndrome” or something like that. You will find references to your issue. Hope this helps. TenMan