I Smell Dead People

While Stu was at his wife’s baby shower, Ana and I had our long day workout today.  I think we got the better end of the deal, actually.  A room full of women talking about pregnancy, birth, and how to cope with crying children…hmm count me out.  Sorry Stu, I’ll drink a beer in your honor tonight.  Anyway, we had to revise our training plan for the 30-hour Atomic Adventure Race that is coming up May 31st because we aren’t fast enough to make the mileage I had originally planned.  Ana’s parents are kind enough to watch the boys while we go train and there just isn’t enough time to do everything I had originally planned.  So, the new and improved training schedule is below:

Atomic Training Schedule (revised)

But, what I really wanted to post on was something that has been bothering me for weeks now.  Today’s plan was to canoe 1hr, run 7 miles, then bike for 24 miles.  But the day was cut short so we only ended up biking for 10 miles.  After we finished and I got in the car I could smell something like ammonia or nail polish remover  whenever I breathed through my nose.  I’ve actually noticed this after every long training day and many times after doing a 45 minute cross training session.  Now, I don’t smell like ammonia, I smell like other things less pleasant that I like to call, “The Smell of Man” but that’s another issue.  No, what I was experiencing was that when I inhaled through my nose I could smell ammonia, as if someone had placed a smelling salt under my nose.  At times it’s so strong that it takes my breath away and I have to breathe solely through my mouth.  Crazy, right?


When I got home I decided to Google it and here is what I found on Wikipedia:
Ketosis: When glycogen stores are not available in the cells, fat (triacylglycerol) is cleaved to provide 3 fatty acid chains and 1 glycerol molecule in a process known as lipolysis. Most of the body is able to use fatty acids as an alternative source of energy in a process called beta-oxidation. One of the products of beta-oxidation is acetyl-CoA, which can be further used in the citric acid cycle. During prolonged fasting or starvation, or as the intentional result of a ketogenic diet, acetyl-CoA in the liver is used to produce ketone bodies instead, leading to a state of ketosis.[citation needed]

During starvation or a long physical training session, the body starts using fatty acids instead of glucose…[LOTS OF MULTI-SYLLABLE WORDS]…

The ketone body acetoacetate will slowly decarboxylate into acetone, a volatile compound that is both metabolized as an energy source and lost in the breath and urine…

Also, when the body is in ketosis, one’s breath may smell of acetone. This is due to the breakdown of acetoacetic acid into acetone and carbon dioxide which is exhaled through the lungs. Acetone is the chemical responsible for the smell of nail polish remover and some paint thinners.

Catabolism: Is the set of metabolic pathways that breaks down molecules into smaller units to release energy.[1] In catabolism, large molecules such aspolysaccharides, lipids, nucleic acids and proteins are broken down into smaller units such as monosaccharides, fatty acids, nucleotides, and amino acids, respectively…[MORE BIG WORDS]…

Cells use the monomers released from breaking down polymers to either construct new polymer molecules, or degrade the monomers further to simple waste products, releasing energy. Cellular wastes include lactic acid,acetic acid, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and urea.

So, basically I’m smelling acetone because my body is breaking down fat or I’m smelling ammonia because my body is breaking down proteins. Either way, it appears that the cause of the smell is due to a glycogen deficit because I’m carbohydrate deficient. The recommendation is to consume more carbohydrates.

Again from Wikipedia:

Foods with high carbohydrate are often highly processed or refined foods made from plants; including sweets, cookies and candy, table sugar, honey, soft drinks, breads and crackers, jams and fruit products, pastas and breakfast cereals.

I’m sold, no arm twisting here. For the sake of my health, I promise to eat more highly processed refined foods, especially sweets, cookies, candies and soft drinks.

In all seriousness, catabolism and/or ketosis doesn’t appear to be an issue unless someone has Type 1 diabetes, but don’t take my word for it, I’m just some stranger on the internet. Go talk to a real doctor. The coolest thing though is that acetone produced by ketosis has been suggested as a cause for spontaneous human combustion. It’s on the internet so it’s got to be true, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_human_combustion.

2 thoughts on “I Smell Dead People

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