The many smells of fat and exercise

This is more of an observation, a question, and, potentially, a request.

Have you ever noticed that fat really has a repulsive smell?

I’m not talking about frying bacon or sauteing onions in olive oil, but fat?

I remember jogging around the loop at Vanderbilt in the summer (well, it was more like the shuffle of a wounded animal to tell you the truth) and coming around Peabody Campus and hitting the wall of grease that surrounded the Kentucky Fried Chicken.

You could literally feel the grease that hung in the air; it coated your skin and the smell and even the taste filled your nose and lungs.

It’s been years, but I can still remember that smell – the cloying nature of it, held in place as it were by the pollution and humidity (shudder).

So, you might be wondering what this has to do with anything related to losing the last ten pounds. Well, here it comes: there’s been a lot of chatter lately about whether working out in one’s “fat burning zone” is just a lot of hooey.

The critics say that it’s better to work out at a higher heart rate because you burn more calories and if you burn more calories (even if a smaller percentage of them is fat) you will eventually burn the same number of fat calories, which seems to make sense. The proponents of the “fat burning zone” argue that your body burns fat more efficiently at this level and that when you work out at the higher level, you burn sugar and eventually muscle (which also makes sense).

Here’s the observation, as well as the question and, if you’re game, the request:

Observation: I’ve noticed that when I work out at the high end of my cardio zone (or above), which I used to do in spinning (HR 147-157), I would sweat a lot, but I didn’t necessarily smell afterward. However, when I work out for the same amount of time at the low end of my cardio zone (HR 130-142), I reek! I mean, seriously, it’s disgusting! My personal (non-scientific) theory is that the disgusting nasty smell (again, I’m being 100% honest here), which is disturbingly similar to the smell of KFC in the summer in the south, is the smell of my body burning fat, whereas the clean, almost sweet smell post spinning is the smell of my body burning sugar.

Question: Has anyone else experienced this?

Request: Would anyone else be willing to try this and let me know if they experience the same? Or, if you have any suggestions on what this might be about, I’d love to hear them!

As is probably evident by this post, I am perplexed yet, to tell you the truth, fascinated in a repulsed sort of way.

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