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Body Odor & Diet

A study of the effect of meat consumption on body odor attractiveness.

September 27, 2007 |
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And finally getting to the gold. The effect of meat consumption on body odor attractiveness. Not just body odor but body odor attractiveness. Seventeen male odor donors were on a meat or non-meat diet for two weeks wearing axillary pads to collect body odor. They taped pads into their armpits all day, all night. And then the researchers made them wear an extra layer of clothes to get them even riper. Then after two weeks they took thirty young women and had them sniff the pads all fresh and drippy. Fresh odor samples were assessed for their pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity by thirty women. Then they repeated the study. Same guys but just switched their diets around, same poor women. And just to digress here before I unmask the results to keep up the suspense the guys were paid cash, two thousand Czechoslovakian dollars for the inconvenience of having to eat a non-meat diet for two weeks. But the women who had to sniff all those pit pads, they were not paid for their participation. All they got was a chocolate bar. Anyways, back to the results. Who had the most pleasant, the most attractive body odor? The meat eaters or the non-meat eaters? The results showed that the odor of donors when on the non-meat diet was judged as significantly more attractive, more pleasant and less intense. This suggests that meat consumption has a negative impact on perceived body odor hedonicity, pleasure. Vegetarians smell significantly more pleasurable. I'm saying masculinity, by the way, but less smelly, more pleasant and significantly judged as more attractive. The one liner take away from this study could be that meat is the pits. This may actually help explain the findings of University of Canterbury researchers this year. This study became an international media sensation. Vegans say sex with meat-eaters stinks. My favorite take was probably this tagline in a Canadian paper. "You eat meat? No sex for you".

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on plant-based diets. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Increasing Muscle Strength with Fenugreek

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on plant-based diets. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Tan Truong

    Well I’m told I don’t have an odour.

  • MJ

    You point out the sexism in the study compensation, but what struck me is why they didn’t simply have men and women producing the samples (could have even asked already committed vegetarians), and to have both men and women smelling the samples. And why just focus on body odor attractiveness, instead of body odor offensiveness to determine what is least-offensive all round? What a bizarre study. Maybe what is more important is the seasonings? Tumeric and garlic smell, coffee or cigarette breath is brutal.  I can often tell that people have eaten curry the night before, and its not so pleasant a smell when it isn’t coming hot out of the oven.

  • queeniemusic

    Proving that women will do anything for chocolate!

  • Megan93252

    I understand that men generally have a stronger body odor, and women, generally have a better sense of smell, so that made sense to me. I have to add that since going vegan, and especially since adopting a mostly whole food, and 30-50% raw diet, my sweat smells significantly sweeter, and less pungent/ unpleasant. Michael Greger, you are one funny guy, and I always enjoy your “Nutrition Facts”. Thank you.

    • Liz

      More than just smell. My husband began to colour the bed sheets yellow and his pillowcases had to be soaked in Napisan to get them white again. Yes, the bedroom smelled too. We started sleeping in separate rooms.
      Once we went vegan this stopped. He smells normal again. Have you heard of this before? He is quite embarrassed by it and wont let me tell people!

  • Fidel Castrati

    Besides meat, reducing intake of other high sulfur foods can improve body odor.

  • Fidel Castrati

    Besides meat, reducing intake of other high sulfur foods can improve body odor.

  • salman

    numbness in right arm’s upper muscle

  • Filip Murár

    CZK are Czech crowns, not Czechoslovakian crowns. The Czech Republic and Slovakia separated 20 years ago and Slovaks now use euros whereas Czechs have stayed with crowns. Just to be a little informative, unrelated to diet though :)

  • yogesh

    hello sir
    my name is yogesh from India
    actually my power lifting strength is very low i want to lift heavy and heavy weight.
    please suggest me what food i need most or what to take in supplements thats increase my lifting power

    • Thea

      yogesh: I’m not a body builder, so I don’t have specific suggestions for you. However, I think you will want to check out the following site:

      If you look in the profiles (at least the one that I looked in), the very successful vegan body builder athletes share which supplements they use.

      Why do I think they are successful? Here’s a quote from an article about that team:

      “The Plant Built ( team rolled into this
      year’s drug-free, steroid-free Naturally Fit Super Show competition in Austin, TX, and walked away with more trophies than even they could carry. The Plant Built team of 15 vegan bodybuilders competed in seven divisions, taking first place in all but two. They also took several 2nd and 3rd place wins.”

      Hope that helps.