T Nation

Scent Triggers Insulin?

“Scent is one of the key ways we cue our bodies that food is near. Once the trigger goes off, it can induce the insulin secretion that makes us think we’re hungry.”


WTF? Does that mean all you need to do is take a whiff of something and your pancreas will react as if you’ve eaten food by releasing insulin? Please tell me I’m misunderstanding this.

although I didn’t read the article, it may just be something like Pavlov’s dog. Were you are conditioned to react to a certain stimuli in this case, food.

also, i never heard insulin makes you hungry.

Yes, it does. This is somewhat old old news, as I remember discussing this over the SuperTraining list almost a decade ago.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
Yes, it does. This is somewhat old old news…[/quote]

Is that a yes to my post or to SeanT’s? If to mine, what effect would this have on fat burning? Is it even a concern?

Do you know where I could find further info?

I think it cod adapt to taste and smell and launch HUGE amount of insulin needed with the Junk thye typical american eat, body adapting trying toi get ahead of the game. If the person when ever that smell comes eats some JUNK LOL

I think after following a good diet one could detrain such activity


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Well if scent does trigger insulin - can this be used in pursuit of lean mass? - ie V-diet : keep a vial of crushed kispykremes nearby, and just before your protein shake - take a big sniff, enjoy that sugary smell - get the insulin peaking and slam that shake?

It might sound a little iffy but it has been demonstrated with diet pop:

When drinking sugar-free diet pop for the first time, the taste of sugar can elicit insulin release.

The key to respondent conditioning (think Pavlov) is that the taste of sugar precedes the unconditional stimulus of sugar in the gut (i.e. it is predictive of signals that sugar in the gut is about to occur). As a result, the taste of sugar comes to elicit insulin release apart from sugar in the gut.

The key is that the conditional stimulus (taste of sugar) signals or reliably precedes the unconditional stimulus (sugar in the gut).The taste of sugar is a conditional stimulus because it elicits insulin release by the pancreas conditionally, that is, dependent upon the relationship in which it signals the unconditional stimulus (sugar in the gut).

Whereas sugar in the gut is the unconditioned stimulus because it unconditionally elicits the insulin release, that is, this relation does not depend upon the learning history of the organism.

Therefore, because there is no sugar from the pop to digest, you may feel weak because the insulin produces a drop in your existing blood sugar level. Although this effect is very temporary.

It is quite possible that a similar effect could occur through stimulation olfactory receptors

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
Whilst I appreciate that insulin can trigger hunger, and that smell can most definitely trigger hunger, I have a hard time accepting that smell can trigger insulin release.

From a survival point of view, this could be a risky strategy no? I mean, just becasue you smell something appetizing, doesn’t mean you’re gonna get some, but a release of insulin will potentially fuck you up, with no carbs to back it up.


Most foods don’t smell appetizing until they’re cooking/cooked or at least in close proximity. Most fruits don’t smell delicious unless one is very close- close enough to obtain them- and most animals don’t smell too nice prior to being roasted, and thus in one’s possession.

one of my buddies got a big ol whiff of one of my farts, and his pancreas made a little insulin on its own. I see how this could work…they sell insulin at the pharmacy, which would probably eliminate the need to whiff a fart.