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Thread: ammonia breath - after hard trainer rides

  1. #1
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    Default ammonia breath - after hard trainer rides

    I've been doing a lot more base this year, somewhere in the middle of Trainerroad's Mid to High Volume sweet spot base. On the longer weekend rides 90min to 120min, as well as some of the harder 60 min rides I've been noticing the smell of ammonia on my breath. From what I gather, this means I have depleted my glycogen stores and my body is burning amino acids (or protein?) instead (I could be misunderstanding this).

    A few things to note:
    - I sweat a lot, even though the trainer is on a cold but enclosed deck right now, I will have puddles under the bars, lately its been anywhere from 20-40 degrees out there, I never wear more than a summer baselayer and always have the fan on. I know this goes against what pros like Myerson say, I'm wasting energy on sweating, but it seems unavoidable for me.
    - I drink a decent amount of water and have got pretty good at controlling my hydration. Usually two bottles when on the trainer, but start out hydrated. (maybe I still need more when riding)
    - I eat dinner a few hours before, and have lately started adding a mid ride snack, thinking that would help, something like nuts or fruits, maybe they aren't fast enough burning? switch to gels? I often dont get onto the bike until 11pm.
    - These rides usually spend about an hour between 88-94% FTP, in 8-12 minute intervals.
    - I'm not bonked at the end.

    The simple solution seems to be to focus on eating more carbs before riding, but I'm pretty sure I already do that. Another option I've been reading about fasted training/nutrition plans focusing on teaching the body to burn fats instead (How to Program Your Body to Burn Fat Instead of Store It with Fasted Training - TrainerRoad Blog). I've also been wondering if this means my protein intake is too high, and maybe I should switch to a more carb based recovery mix, I currently use Hammer Recoverite, but used to used the Fluid stuff, which is more carbs, less protein. Also, This article was helpful: What Is That Ammonia Smell When I Sweat?

    Has anyone dealt with this? It doesn't seem to effect me, so part of me just says to focus on eating and drinking a bit more, but otherwise don't make big changes.
    --------------------
    another jaunt
    REBAR

  2. #2
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    Default Re: ammonia breath - after hard trainer rides

    You are answering your own questions here.
    1.) If you are sweating that much in cooler temps you need to get a stronger fan.
    2.) You are running out of glycogen because you are likely not eating enough carbs in general. Nuts will not provide you with carbs-
    3.) 88-94% is high end- Body is burning zero fat at that level. Likely not burning much food either. You are burning all glycogen at that level. Not to say that there is zero long term fat loss form this type of training. But the fat burning occurs because you are burning more total calories per day- not during fat as fuel on the ride.

    My RX would be to make sure that you have enough carbs in your diet to support your training and recovery. Make sure glycogen stores are full when you are doing training in the 88-94% range.
    It sounds like your durations are not huge so little tweaks should go a long way.
    You might also look at your carb choices. In a best case scenario they should be complex carbs and not processed. Rice and sweet potatoes are great sources.
    Pasta is pretty much just like eating wonder bread-
     

  3. #3
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    Default Re: ammonia breath - after hard trainer rides

    Quote Originally Posted by boots2000 View Post
    You are answering your own questions here.
    1.) If you are sweating that much in cooler temps you need to get a stronger fan.
    2.) You are running out of glycogen because you are likely not eating enough carbs in general. Nuts will not provide you with carbs-
    3.) 88-94% is high end- Body is burning zero fat at that level. Likely not burning much food either. You are burning all glycogen at that level. Not to say that there is zero long term fat loss form this type of training. But the fat burning occurs because you are burning more total calories per day- not during fat as fuel on the ride.

    My RX would be to make sure that you have enough carbs in your diet to support your training and recovery. Make sure glycogen stores are full when you are doing training in the 88-94% range.
    It sounds like your durations are not huge so little tweaks should go a long way.
    You might also look at your carb choices. In a best case scenario they should be complex carbs and not processed. Rice and sweet potatoes are great sources.
    Pasta is pretty much just like eating wonder bread-
    Thanks, very helpful, especially the rice and sweet potato note. This stuff is all pretty new to me, pretty much was able to get to where I am with just riding more, with some focused training, seems like its going to take more study to go further. I'm probably only 5-10 lbs from my mid (cross/MTB) season race weight, so weight loss is not a goal with these.

    Any chance you could go into the "Make sure glycogen stores are full..." part? is this based more on rest or diet? The workouts I'm doing often refer to increasing glycogen stores as a goal
    --------------------
    another jaunt
    REBAR

  4. #4
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    Default Re: ammonia breath - after hard trainer rides

    Check out this post in this thread by Octave. Good reading right there.
     

  5. #5
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    Default Re: ammonia breath - after hard trainer rides

    First of all, are you smelling ketones or ammonia? Ketones are a bit sweeter but sometimes mistaken for ammonia.

    If you're smelling ammonia, see a doctor. Ammonia smell during prolonged exercise is usually an immediate warning sign of kidney disease. This can often be a sign of Type II diabetes showing up as a kidney dysfunction. Don't count on this being ketolysis. Because people mistake the smells of the two processes, there's a lot of commentary out there mistaking the two, and even some physicians without a sports medicine background will make mistakes about this.
    Lane DeCamp

  6. #6
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    Default Re: ammonia breath - after hard trainer rides

    To add slightly to my previous post, the body should excrete ammonia quite effectively. Those who suggest it's a dietary issue are assuming that the kidneys aren't all that efficient at removing it from the blood. But in fact the kidneys should do this extremely well and if a smell develops, it can be a sign of kidney underperformance. Even with rhabdomyolysis, the disease encountered occasionally in crossfit and in extreme athletics where the body basically consumes its own musculature without control, people who are otherwise healthy won't emit an ammonia smell.
    Lane DeCamp

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