But believe it or not, sweat itself is completely odorless. Body odor on the other hand, is the stench you emit when breaking a sweat, and it’s created once the sweat hits the skins surface and combines with bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Now, here's the lowdown on terrible body odor: Eating foods with certain chemical elements can seriously intensify that odor to an almost unbearable level. More bad news: Some of these foods are super healthy and most men should have them in their diet. The good thing is that the odor is temporary. "It will only take two hours for the body to start smelling," says Debra Jailman, a dermatologist, and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top Dermatologist, "and it can also last up to a few hours."
So next time you consume these foods (hopefully only the healthy ones), either avoid them before a big event (or a date). Alternatively, Jailman suggests this trick: Eat foods (or supplements) rich in chlorophyll—like a fresh sprig of parsley or cilantro after a meal—since they're known to counteract odor.
1. Red Meat
Taking a bite into thick steak may taste delicious, but it's known to shorten your lifespan and make you hungrier in the long-term, and wreak havoc on your odor in the short-term. A large portion of red meat is harder to digest in the G.I. tract, leaving residue behind, that, when released through sweat will mix with bacteria and intensify your odor, according to Jailman. This proved to be true in a study where women rated the body odor of meat-eaters and vegetarians, and found meatless eaters had a significantly more attractive smell overall.
Ever wonder why you reek of beer the day after chugging down Bud Lights all night? Once it gets past the mouth and into the body, Jailman says, “The alcohol (and its smell) is absorbed and metabolized into acetic acid and then released through your pores.” You can thank that acetic acid for the stench. And the smell only increases with the more you gulp down, so exercise some will power and pair your brew(s) with a healthy, high-protein meal.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables
Though high in potassium and packed with antioxidants, some vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, contain sulfur which is a chemical that naturally has a bad stench, and will intensify your odor when released through sweating, breathing, or, um, gas, after digesting.
Asparagus is notoriously known to make urine smell rotten—but that’s only the case for some people. “It depends if you have the gene,” explains Jailman, “If you do, then you digest the mercaptan [an awful smelling gas] in the asparagus to a sulfur compound.
Fish is highly beneficial to your health and contains ample amounts of omega-3s—the “good” fat you want to pack into your diet. But it’s also filled with choline, which gives it a strong fishy odor, and when consumed, can give you a bad aroma, too. Jailmain notes, “Some people don't metabolize fish properly and they develop a fishy odor because they release a compound called trimethylamine through their sweat; this is an inherited genetic disorder called trimethylaminuria.”
6. Low Carb Diets
We use carbohydrates as a primary source of energy, so when they’re cut out, it forces the body to produce ketone bodies as an alternative way to obtain fuel. However, one of the three ketone bodies produced is acetone, and this gives off a distinct smell, especially on the breath. So don't eliminate all carbs, because it can actually lead to serious health problems. Plus, not all carbs are bad; opt for the healthier ones like oats and sweet potatoes.
7. Spicy Foods
If you want to add some flavor to your meal with minimal calories go for spicy ingredients like garlic, onions, or curry—but keep it to a minimum. These foods are rich in sulfur, and this sulfur chemical naturally gives off a nasty smell. So when it's absorbed into the bloodstream, it will exit back out through the lungs causing bad breath or through your pores as you sweat causing bad B.O. But don’t cut it completely—spicy food is great for boosting metabolism.
8. Junk Foods
We can confidently say that junk food should be cut entirely from your diet; it’s filled with processed ingredients that raise cholesterol levels and also lacks the important molecule chlorophyll, which helps aromatize any bad smell in the body.