5 Foods That Make You Stink

By Jenessa Connor, Men's Journal

You know that one guy at the office who eats an extra onion and garlic aioli burger every Friday. You don’t even need to have lunch with him to know what he ordered; you can smell his breath from across the conference room, and he still stinks like a line cook halfway through happy hour.

It’s not his fault. (Well, he could stand to eat a spinach salad once in a while.) Some foods and drinks just make you stink. According to Katie Hake, registered dietitian nutritionist at Indiana University Health, this unfortunate phenomenon has to do with the unique compounds found in certain foods and the way we metabolize them. “Our bodies each have their own individual makeups and different enzymes that are required to break down those foods,” she explains. “Some people break down certain foods in such a way that causes a smell to be released, and we have to get rid of it somehow, whether that’s through urine or sweat.”

But not everyone is affected. Hake explains that our individual biological makeups vary; just like how some people sweat profusely while others have never needed to use deodorant, not every guy who eats an onion will end up smelling like one.

If you didn’t win the genetic lottery and are indeed susceptible to stink-inducing foods, here’s a list of top offenders. Consume at your own (and your cubemate’s) risk.

Garlic and Onions

As we’ve learned from our burger-scarfing colleagues, garlic and onions stick with you, and their powers transcend offensive breath. “These foods are rich in sulfur-containing compounds,” says Sandy Wolner, registered dietitian nutritionist with Pampered Chef. “When the compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream, they will come back out through the lungs, producing the bad breath. They can even come out of your pores causing B.O.” The good news is that raw garlic and onions are the worst offenders. Cooking ’em up, while not a complete odor-killer, can at least reduce that unwanted stink.


“Oh, right. I ate asparagus.” We’ve all had this moment of realization after an alarming trip to the restroom. You can blame your pungent asparagus pee on the vegetable’s asparagusic acid content, which the body then breaks down into sulfur-containing compounds. But, according to a study published in the research journal Chemical Senses, your genes may have as much to do with your tendency to produce stinky urine as your ability to smell it. Scientists found that a small percentage of their test group was unable to detect the asparagus-related odor in urine even when it was undeniably present.


Coffee breath: it’s been known to afflict everyone from your favorite college professor to your close-talking boss. Your morning cup of Joe has a few things working against it. First of all, caffeine has been found to slow saliva production. Saliva kills bacteria, so a dry mouth is a breeding ground for stank breath. Secondly, most people take their coffee with some combination of milk and sweetener, both of which only feed problematic bacteria.

A Low-Carb/High-Protein Diet

If you’ve ever gone grain-free, you may have noticed your breath or urine taking on a strange, but not traditionally smelly, odor. “The smell is more of a sweet-type smell,” Hake says. Some even describe it as fruity, but in a rotten way. The reason? When you begin to rely on fat instead of carbs for energy production, your body enters a state of ketosis, producing acids called ketones. Acetone, a type of ketone, is the compound responsible for that fruit-salad-gone-bad fragrance. If you’re healthy, it’s an inconvenience. But if you have diabetes, sweet-smelling breath and urine can be a warning sign for diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous health condition.


Trying to be discreet about your hangover? Don’t attempt to “sweat it out.” “I think of Saturday morning classes when you’re close to someone on a spin bike and you’re like, ‘What did you do last night?’” Hake jokes. Your liver is to blame for that telltale distillery smell you carry the morning after too many cocktails. It processes most of the alcohol in your drinks, but the rest is excreted through your urine, sweat, and breath.
Healthy Eating, Health & Fitness

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Men's Magazine: 5 Foods That Make You Stink
5 Foods That Make You Stink
It's not your imagination: Sometimes your diet makes you smell awful.
Men's Magazine
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