Why you should smell your workout clothes

It sounds disgusting but for many athletes it is recommended to take a good smell of your workout clothes at the end of an exhausting workout. The smell of your sweat might reveal things about your diet that you did not realize yet.

When you start your workout your body will require energy which will predominantly be supplied by carbohydrates stored in your body as these can be easily burned as fuel. When your workout lasts longer than say 15–20 minutes your body will use less and less carbohydrates as a source of energy, as it is running out of these, and will increase the share of proteins and fats.

Especially the use of proteins as a source of energy should be troublesome for athletes. These proteins are often coming from muscle fiber which means earlier hard-earned gains are now burned away. Instead of improving your physic and strength you are taking steps back.

The smell of your sweat can reveal if your body is using protein as a source of energy. When protein is converted into fuel there will be a waste product of ammonia that your body can dispose of through the kidney in your urine. When too much protein is used as fuel your kidneys cannot handle the amount of ammonia anymore in the normal way and your body will dispose the ammonia through your sweat. So if your clothes have a strong smell of ammonia, similar to dog urine or industrial strength cleaner, you need to increase your carbohydrates intake before a workout and diminish your protein consumption to limit your body burning muscles and protein for energy.

In case a strong ammonia smell persists you need to increase your water intake further as this will dilute the ammonia smell. If that does not help it might be time to consult a doctor as your liver or kidneys are not working properly. But keep in mind that with long cardio workouts a bit of smelly sweating is natural and if you walk out of the gym totally fresh you probably did not put in enough effort.

Originally published at thailandfit.com.