Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Real Deal On Keto Body Odor

I’m continuing my crusade of keto mythbusting. Recently, there was keto crotch, then keto bloat, and today I’m returning to one of the O.G. myths—keto body odor. Yes, it seems detractors of the keto diet are hell-bent on making you think your body will become a stinky, bloated mess if you dare to drop your carbs below 50 grams per day…but is it true?

Here’s the spoiler: Yes, people in online keto diet forums occasionally complain about an unpleasant change in body odor when they first go keto. There is no scientific evidence that it actually happens, nor a clear, compelling explanation for why it would. Moreover, the anecdotal (and it’s all anecdotal) evidence suggests that if it does occur, it is rare and temporary. In other words, the whole idea of keto body odor seems to be exaggerated—shocking, I know.  

That said, significant dietary changes can result in other physiological changes that may manifest in a variety of ways. Since nobody wants to be the stinky kid, let’s take this opportunity to look at what might be plausible about keto body odor and what to do if you think you’ve been afflicted.  

What Causes Body Odor?

First, let’s clarify what’s meant by “body odor.” In the medical literature, the term is used in reference to aromas associated with breath, urine, feces, vaginal secretions, sweat (usually from the axilla, or armpits), and general bodily essence as it were. Because it’s such a broad term, the causes are also extremely varied. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to use the term “body odor” to mean aromas from sweat and general bodily funk, since that’s what’s usually meant by keto body odor.

Body odor arises when odorless compounds leave the body through glands in the skin and interact with microbes living on the skin’s surface. The microbes then release chemical compounds—what we actually detect as body odor. Typically, commercial deodorants target both pieces of the equation by using antiperspirants to minimize the excretion of the odor precursors and by creating an unfavorable environment for the microbes living on the skin. There is also a genetic component to how much individuals secrete compounds that cause body odor.

Although a huge industry is built around trying to help people mask their natural odors—and suggesting that body odor is always the result of poor hygiene—bodily scents are actually quite important. Just as other animals do, humans use olfactory cues for recognizing kin, making judgments about others’ personality traits and attractiveness, and even for detecting fertility. Although we rarely recognize it, the data suggests that smell probably factors into all our face-to-face social interactions.

Body odor can also result from illness. Before the use of sophisticated modern disease detection techniques, doctors were taught to use their sniffers as a diagnostic tool. Even today, smell can be an important clue that an individual is unwell. Often these odors emanate from the breath or urine, but certain infectious and metabolic diseases can be associated with distinctive body odors. In addition to perceptible body odor, the human olfactory system can detect infection and sense illness in others, presumably an important means of preventing the spread of communicable disease.

Diet and Body Odor

The whole notion that a keto diet can cause body odor rests on the assumption that how we smell is affected by what we eat. It turns out that there is scant evidence that that is actually the case.

When I’ve taken up the question of keto diet and body odor previously, I noted that there are really only two human studies that speak to this. One small study found that women judged men’s body odor more negatively when they ate a diet that contained red meat compared to when they abstained from red meat. However, the diets differed in other ways as well. In contrast, a different study found that women rated men’s body odor more positively when the men reported eating more fat, meat, and eggs, and more negatively when they ate more carbs. Hmm.  

Besides those two small studies, evidence that diet impacts body odor seems to come primarily from studies on guinea pig urine and meadow voles—not exactly the most compelling in my opinion.

Nevertheless, the common belief persists that certain foods will make you stinky: garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables, and spicy foods especially. However, there is no evidence that this is actually the case beyond the obvious bad breath and, ahem, flatus that these foods can cause. In fact, the one study I found on the subject reported that garlic counterintuitively improved body odor.

So, Can Keto Make You Stinky?

As you can see, there’s minimal evidence at best linking body odor to diet, and none of it has to do with the keto diet itself. Nevertheless, the belief that keto causes body odor persists…thanks to the few complaints from some in the keto community (and, just maybe, those who have nothing to do with keto but want to cause a stir). While I don’t want to dismiss anecdotal evidence out of hand, I have noticed that once people go keto, their diet is immediately to blame for every weird smell, twitch, or symptom. It’s remarkable really.

In the interest of fairness, let’s look at the explanations that are typically offered for why keto might cause body odor:

Is It the Protein?

The first hypothesis is that keto dieters smell funky because they’re eating a lot more meat. As I already mentioned, there are only two small studies that speak to this, and the findings conflict. The idea at work: protein metabolism yields ammonia as a byproduct (true), which builds up because of eating “too much protein,” resulting in body odor.  

To which I object… First of all, it’s not necessarily true that going keto means eating more meat. My version of a keto diet certainly isn’t a steak-and-bacon fest—I still eat tons of veggies. If anything, my observation is that keto folks by and large remain fearful of eating “too much” protein lest it kick them out of ketosis. (The issue is not nearly so simple as that, as I’ve explained.) In any case, even if you’re eating a good deal of meat, a healthy liver should be able to convert the amount of ammonia generated into urea and send it off to the kidneys to be excreted as urine.

Maybe It’s the “Detoxing”?

Toxins such as environmental pollutants accumulate in adipose tissue, a.k.a. fat cells, and these toxins are then released into the bloodstream when people burn fat. Because the keto diet often results in increased burning of body fat, the theory goes that the body is “detoxing” all these pollutants, and that’s what causes body odor. Detoxing is a controversial subject, and while it is true that some of these toxins can be excreted through the skin, the actual amounts are fairly small (the majority get excreted via urine and feces). Plus, it’s not evident that the toxins that are excreted through the skin cause any particular odor. And wouldn’t any diet that actually does what it’s supposed to—i.e. burn fat—be subject to the same “stinky” detox effect? I think we can safely chuck this claim.

Are Ketones a Cause?

Maybe ketones themselves make you smelly? This one has the most potential validity, as it’s well documented that acetone—one of the three ketone bodies—gets excreted when you’re in ketosis. However, it’s the cause of the familiar keto breath, not body odor per se. I’ve seen no evidence linking acetone to actual body odor.

What To Do About It

Ok, I hear you saying, “Mark, I see that you’re skeptical, but I’m telling you… I stink!” What can you do about it?

Well, since there isn’t a clearcut cause, I can’t give a clearcut answer, but I’ll tell you what the general wisdom says:

First, you can support your body’s own detoxification pathways as I describe here. Your body should be able to do a fine job taking out the garbage—it’s designed to do so and is efficient at it—but hey, why not drink some coffee and throw some broccoli sprouts on your salad. This is a “can’t hurt, might help” situation.

Same thing goes for taking some nice epsom salt baths, another common recommendation. Whether there is any truth to their detoxifying nature, you’ll get a nice dose of transdermal magnesium with a hefty side of relaxation. Throw in some essential oils and olive oil and soak your cares away… hopefully taking some of the b.o. with it.

You can also experiment with eating less protein and more carbs, but I do see potential downsides to both. You definitely don’t want to eat too little protein, since it serves such a vital role in healthy functioning, and you don’t want to add back too many carbs if being in ketosis is your goal. That said, especially with regard to the protein you probably have room to play around, so feel free to experiment if you want. I’m not overly optimistic that this is the answer, but I’m always a fan of finding what works for you.  

Or, take a wait and see approach. Most keto side effects come and go as people become keto-adapted. If your problem is keto breath, not body odor per se, you can try chewing on some fresh herbs or taking chlorophyll supplements, but these will just mask the issue.

Lastly, if it is very noticeable and very bothersome, you can—and probably should—consult your doctor. If you are excreting significant ammonia, which usually happens via the breath, this is a sign of liver or kidney problems that need to be diagnosed asap.

The Bottom Line…

Because switching to a keto diet can initiate a profound metabolic shift, some people might experience side effects. And, sure, it’s conceivable that transient changes to body odor might be one of them. The lack of evidence that body odor is strongly affected by diet (as well as my own experience interacting with the thousands of people in my community who have tried keto) leads me to believe that this is a minor problem at most—and one that most people won’t experience at all. If it’s affecting you, feel free to try to solutions I described above. They might not resolve the problem immediately, but at least they’ll likely have other positive benefits.

Ok, what say you? Are your friends giving you a wide berth now that you’re in ketosis, or are you chalking this up to yet another thing the haters are blowing out of proportion?

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References:

Groyecka A, Pisanski K, Sorokowska A, et al. Attractiveness Is Multimodal: Beauty Is Also in the Nose and Ear of the Beholder. Front Psychol. 2017;8:778.

James AG, Austin CJ, Cox DS, Taylor D, Calvert R. Microbiological and biochemical origins of human axillary odour. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2013 Mar;83(3):527-40.

Natsch, A. What Makes Us Smell: The Biochemistry of Body Odour and the Design of New Deodorant Ingredients. CHIMIA Intl J Chem. 2015 Aug;69(7-8):414-420.

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The Friday 5 + Sunscreen Giveaway

Hi, friends! I’m hitting publish on this blog post a little early this week. I finished it ahead of schedule, so why not, right? Plus, there’s a fun giveaway below that I know you want to enter! 🙂

I can’t believe the first day of Spring was yesterday. I feel like it snuck up on us! Now, I can’t wait for it to officially feel like spring in Massachusetts! Anyway, here’s this week’s The Friday 5 (on Thursday) where I recap my top 5 favorites from the week. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you have a great weekend!

1. PRETTYGARDEN Button Neck Fleece Pullover – This pullover is so cozy, not to mention is goes with nearly all of the athleisure wear in my closet. I’ve worn it non-stop lately – to the point where Mal makes comments about just how much it appears in my everyday wardrobe! 🙂 I also love this pullover because it’s only $25 and comes in a handful of colors. If you’re into pullovers like me, check out this post: Affordable Pullovers for Spring.

2. Hakuna Hemp Roast – You all know I love my coffee, and I also love natural remedies to reduce stress and keep me calm. Hemp oil (or CBD) is quite popular right now and can be used by itself, or mixed into various things – like coffee! This coffee will not get you high (it doesn’t contain any THC), but I will say I’ve been enjoy the extra calming effect with my morning and afternoon iced coffee. It also has a nice bold flavor!

3. Brightening Facial Oil – I have combination skin. At certain times of month, it’s oily, but then I get crazy dry patches, especially if I use the Overnight Resurfacing Peel too much. This has been so great in soothing the dry patches. I use it under my moisturizer in the morning, and it works wonders for the unevenness!

The No. 1 Brightening Oil is an Allure Best of Beauty Award winner and one of Beautycounter’s best-selling products. It’s full of Vitamin C and smells like fresh citrus heaven! It’s made with a signature blend of seven natural oils that absorb quickly into the skin and offer antioxidants, protection, and hydration.

Now until March 28, spend $125+ and get a FREE travel size No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil! No, seriously, you want this stuff in your life. It helps with pigmentation and uneven skin tone as well!

4. Scout & Cellars (CLEAN) Wine – A CNC reader sent me some “clean” wine to try, and I couldn’t help but want to pop open this bottle immediately. I mean, cute dog label + cleaner ingredients? Sign me up This Sauv Blanc is light, crisp and perfect for Spring! The amazing thing about Scout & Cellars Wine is that it is clean-crafted, which means it just includes grapes and less than 50ppm of sulfites. Some mass-produced wines on the market have as much as 350ppm of sulfites. No wonder I feel like crap in the morning after only drinking a glass or two! Mass-produced wines can also have added sugar or sweetener concentrate, ferrocyanide, ammonium phosphate, copper sulfate, mega-purple, GMO ingredients, and synthetic pesticides. Yikes! This isn’t to say that I’ll never drink mass-produced wine again. I love to wine our and have drinks with friends, but I will definitely do my best to control the wines that I drink at home!

5. Giving baby and kid products from Beautycounter as gifts – Has anyone else attended one million baby showers recently? Spring is time for ALL the babies, so I’ve gifted Beautycounter to a number of moms-to-be.

Beautycounter is known for their safer, high-performing skincare and makeup, but did you know they have hair and body products, a skincare line for men, as well as baby and kid products? They make the easiest gifts – beautiful packaging + safer products, yes please! These are a few of my favorites that I love to gift:

Speaking of sunscreen… it’s GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

I have 10 samples of Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 to give away. To enter, just leave your full name and mailing address, and I’ll randomly pick 10 winners on Monday morning to receive samples!

Good luck and enjoy your weekend!

Sales from the Week

j.crew Dreamy Pajama Jogger Pant (30% off with code NEWNEW)

Questions of the Day

Have you ever tried any CBD/hemp oil products?

Are you a fan of facial oils? If so, do you have a favorite?

This post contains some affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission from the company if you decide to purchase the product linked to. This compensation helps with expenses to keep CNC up and running. Thank you for your support!

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Aaptiv v. iFit Review

In the past, I have never been one to enjoy home workouts. I much preferred going to the gym to do cardio machines and classes and (of course) socialize! I generally need someone coaching me through a workout or I’m just not going to push myself very hard. I only really did home workouts while traveling or when the weather was particularly bad using YouTube or an old DVD.

Since getting a treadmill and buying a year-long subscription to the audio coaching app Aaptiv, I started to LOVE the convenience of having a machine that could really make me sweat just off of our family room. I bought a set of 15 pound dumbbells for strength days, and I now look forward to my home workouts. The key for me was the treadmill. I can only run so many 5-foot long sprints back and forth across my living room or do so many jumping jacks. On the treadmill I can run really fast and get my heart pumping out of my chest. Even though there is only one direction to go, I feel like there are a million different running workouts. But best of all: I can fit workouts around Birch’s nap schedule and maximize my time.

All of this to say that the combination of a treadmill PLUS the coached workouts from Aaptiv led to me loving home workouts.

You’ve gotten bits and pieces of my home workout changes thus far. Posts about easing back into fitness after having a baby, an update on feeling normal, a nap time circuit workout, my new treadmill review, and a few Aaptiv workout favorites sprinkled in.

As you saw in my treadmill review post, I bought a NordicTrack C 990, which came with a built-in video screen and a free year of iFit. Since buying my treadmill, I have been using both Aaptiv and iFit and loving both for different reasons.  None of this is sponsored by the brands – just me sharing my experience using both!

Aaptiv

What is it?

Aaptiv is a subscription-based all-audio app for your phone with over 2,500 workouts. The workouts range from outdoor walks and runs, treadmill workouts of all kinds, strength training with weights or bodyweight, elliptical, cycling, stairclimber, rowing, stretching, yoga, and meditation. The workouts are set to all kinds of music, and the trainers walk you through them, motivating you and telling you exactly what to do. You can filter the workouts to find exactly what you need in the moment like “Strength training // Upper body // Body weight // Pop music // Less than 20 minutes.”

What does it cost?

A monthly subscription is $14.99 (which I think is high!) A year is $99. And if you can find a coupon (they emailed me on!) you can get it for $59.99 like I did.

Pros

  • Great searchability. Choose a workout based on what you’re in the mood for in just minutes.
  • Great music!!! The music is loud and prominent.
  • Take it anywhere. No equipment needed. Use it at the gym or at home!
  • HUGE variety of workouts and never-gets-old selection.
  • Save workouts as favorites and do them again and again.
  • I’ve used it for outdoor runs and got a great workout. Usually I just listen to a podcast, which obviously does not lead to a very hard workout (more like an easy jog) so when I put Aaptiv on I run so much faster and harder.

Cons

  • You can’t see a history of workouts you’ve completed or rated, so there’s no way to know if you’ve done one before (unless you manually save it to a list.)
  • There is no way to see what’s coming up (which is only a con because it’s a pro on iFit!)
  • You can’t see the playlist in advance. Wish you could!

Why I Love It

Because like a good recipe, it’s more fun to do other people’s workouts. The coaches are so motivating and filled with positive encouragement, quotes, etc. They keep me very entertained! I push myself harder than I would alone. The variety of workouts is great, and I sometimes will string two to three short workouts together to make one long one (like upper body strength, lower body strength, yoga.) Since getting my new treadmill with iFit, I haven’t been using Aaptiv for running anymore, and I use it mostly for strength and bootcamp classes.

iFit

What is it?

A subscription-based video app that is used exclusively with iFit compatible cardio machines. Classes are led by coaches who lead the workout, motivation you and automatically adjust your speed and incline, which means there is no cheating! (Although you can override the workout at any time.) There are tons and tons of workouts filmed all over the world in exotic locations plus studio classes that feel like you’re in a boutique studio. You join programs and assign them to a calendar and when you hop on your machine the day’s workout is waiting for you.

What does it cost?

I am pretty sure if you purchase any iFit compatible machine you get a free year. Otherwise it’s $15 a month or $180 a year for a single membership.

Pros

  • The automatic changes to your speed and incline are AMAZING. Whether you’re hiking a mountain in Hawaii or running with others in a treadmill studio, it’s so, so great not to have to touch your machine, especially if you’re running fast intervals!
  • I love the screen setup and that you can see a little graph of your incline and speed to know what’s coming up. This is especially helpful on interval days when you need to know how many sprint intervals you have left until you’re done!
  • Many of the workouts are stung together into a series challenge that you do over the course of a few weeks or months. I love that you “get to know” your trainer, what to expect, and don’t have to find a new workout each morning (unless you want to!) Some of the series are in the same location each day and others are all over the world – like “10 Days On Beaches” and you run on a different beach everyday. I’ve been doing the French Polynesia Fast & Fit Series, which is 24 workouts with trainer John Peel that alternates between four kinds of workouts: interval runs, endurance runs, sprints with a bootcamp segment, and hill climb hikes. I love that each day gets a little bit harder, so you really feel like you’re getting faster and stronger. The continuity has made me really look forward to my workout everyday and see what “surprises” John has in store. Like when he took us to a private estate and then he jumped in the pool! (I might do this whole program again sometime I’ve enjoyed it that much!)
  • It sounds like a cheesy pitch to say “you’ll travel all over the world” but it’s TRUE! I really do feel like I’ve spent time in Bora Bora now, and I can tell you all kinds of fun facts about the islands; like Tahiti is where tattoos were invented!
  • The visuals are so pretty, and I took me a long time to figure out how they were recording the workouts because the camera stays SO steady! I accidentally saw a shadow once and there is another person with a camera on his/her head who is following the coach. They use drones and maps, and the quality is awesome.

Cons

  • You have to own an iFit compatible machine, so that’s obviously very limiting and cost prohibitive to most.
  • The music is practically non-existent. This hasn’t really been a problem for me because I am working so hard I have my coach as my motivation, but it’s something to note if you have to have beats to get motivated.
  • The iFit library is VERY poorly organized, and it took me a long time to figure out that I had to join a program and then it would add to my calendar. While I have grown to love the fact that my workouts are organized in a calendar, it would be nice if iFit also offered an easy way to search and save workouts to do in the future. From a DM I had with their team, it sounds like that improvement is in the works.
  • I have no idea how my coach decided that a jog for me is 5.0, a run is 6.0, a fast run is 7-7.5 and a sprint is 8.0/8.2 but they nailed it. The speeds are perfectly challenging for me. Which might not be so great if you are slower or faster than me! I don’t think you can change them other than overriding the workout, which takes out the automatic change feature. It would be nice if you could enter in your own levels, but then you might be tempted to make your actual run your sprint so you wouldn’t be as challenged! I’m not sure but it’s something to note.
  • As far as I know, you can only play the workouts on an iFit machine screen or when your phone is connected via Bluetooth. You can’t just play the videos without having a machine, which would be nice for the bootcamp style ones. There are a couple different iFit apps that I downloaded and was disappointed when they didn’t do much and couldn’t play off-machine workouts for me. I guess you have to play the strength workouts through your machine (I could be wrong about that..)

Why I Love It

Never have I been so excited about my workouts every morning! I think a big part of this is the surprise effect of not knowing what to expect each morning combined with the fact that I just love beaches, even virtual ones! I don’t think I’d love it quite so much if the workouts took place in cold, cloudy locations (like Charlottesville – haha!)

Which One Is Best?

I think the answer is easy: get both! But if you don’t have an iFit machine, Aaptiv is awesome! I love them both and use them both for different kinds of workouts, but ultimately I think the iFit experience is the best home workout I’ve ever done. I’ve been using iFit for treadmill running during the week while Birch naps and Aaptiv for outdoor runs, strength, yoga, and workouts on the go! I imagine I’ll use Aaptiv more often for outdoor runs as the weather warms up. Aaptiv has a great free trial so you can try it out first – that’s what got me hooked to start!

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Clean Eating Curry Pineapple Turkey Rice Bowl Recipe

This clean eating curry pineapple turkey rice bowl offers a lovely sweet and savory flavor to your dinner table!

A wonderful source of protein, manganese and niacin, this delicious dish is the… Read more →



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