Protein Affecting Urine Smell?

So . . . my urine smells weird and I’m wondering if that’s normal after increasing protein intake.

For about two weeks, I’ve been eating 40% protein / 30% carbs % 30% fat, for around 180g of protein per day. This is a fairly significant increase in protein for me from what I was eating before

I’m female, 150 lbs, 5’8.

I’ve been drinking 125-150 oz of water per day, and my urine is mostly clear/light colored, but at least the last several days I’ve noticed it has a weird smell to it. I’m not sure I can describe it, other than that I would normally associate it more with being dehydrated (though not quite the same smell) except for the color indicates otherwise.

Google tells me things about ketones and kidney failure, but I didn’t think my diet was quite extreme enough to cause those kinds of shifts - though maybe I was wrong.

Has anyone have any insight or experienced something similar?

…you haven’t been eating asparagus have you?

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Negative. I know that smell at least hah.

You can ask here and maybe someone will have some experience and advice. Ultimately though, a doctor is going to give you the best answer. When it comes to your kidneys, it’s a potential problem not worth gambling on. Even if it’s just to clear your mind, book an appointment.

I appreciate it and recognize that this isn’t the place for medical advice - I’m really not too concerned from a medical front right now, more curious if this is something that’s common with higher protein intake or being in a calorie deficit or both, and figured the population on here probably has a decent amount of anecdotal experience in those areas.

If I get truly concerned from a medical perspective, I’ll make an appointment.

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Reminiscent of ammonia, perhaps?


I was gonna say the obvious asparagus thing, haha.

I have had a high-protein diet for a very long time, and I never recall having any urine smell aside from my asparagus phase. Your carb intake seems very reasonable as well.


Here’s my thought (which could be way off-base):

She’s a Marine for context.

This smell somewhat reminds her of being dehydrated, which we would always experience in the field.

We’d also move a lot and not eat, so we’d waste a bit of muscle after awhile. I remember an ammonia odor when I got to that point.

I’m guessing maybe we’re associating the two odors. It would make sense to me that excess protein waste could produce a similar odor as wasting those proteins for tissue.

What do we think, Scotland Yard team??


I searched for Urea… the internet said

“Urea is a nitrogenous compound and it is formed in human body in liver from ammonia. Practically urea has no detectable smell. But of you heat urea or any other urea containing compound like thiourea you can clearly smell the ammonia odour.”

I searched, does higher protein intake increase urea? and the internet said

“If you’re eating a high-protein diet to lose weight or increase muscle mass, your body may be producing high amounts of urea, a byproduct of protein metabolism.”

I searched, does be dehydrated make my pee smell. The internet said

Just as not taking in enough H20 can leave your pee extra yellow, it can also make it extra smelly, too.

When your body breaks down the protein you eat, a colorless compound called urea is formed, which is excreted through your urine, says urologist Mehran Movassaghi, M.D., of Movassaghi Urology in Santa Monica, Calif.

“Water dilutes the urea, so if you’re not drinking enough of it, your pee will contain a more concentrated dose of urea—making your urine both a deeper yellow and giving it a heavier ammonia-like smell, he says. If you rehydrate, your pee will usually get lighter and less stinky.”


Possibly, that seems closest.

I think you’re on to something.

You’re a better Googler than I am! I did several searches and most seemed to want to equate the additional protein with very low carb - way lower than the amount I’m consuming, so I wasn’t sure it was applicable.

I appreciate everyone’s willingness to be detectives in the Great Pee Caper of 2023.

Similar to that odd noise in your car suddenly going silent when you take it to a mechanic, I’m no longer noticing a particular smell any more. Maybe it was the food I was eating (I was eating tomato and jalapeno-heavy food for a week thanks to meal prep), maybe my body adjusting to the influx of protein, or maybe I just needed to drink even more water.

The world may never know.

But, I truly appreciate everyone’s willingness to help try and figure it out. Ya’ll are awesome.


When I eat or drink certain items, I smell it in my piss. Like tuna, coffee, chicken…