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Did you know that even a whiff of freshly baked cookies might be responsible for your weight?

Or even though, you didn’t touch those Cinnamon Buns at work, just smelling them nullified your effort at the gym today.

Yes, you read it right, smelling food can make you gain weight.

It might sound absurd to you at first, but in a recent study published by Cell Metabolism, researchers of UC-Berkeley have claimed that the sense of smell impacts our metabolism and results in obesity. 

Our weight largely depends on two factors – our food intake and energy expenditure.

Maintaining a balance between them is no easy task, and our brain is at the center giving directions to organs as well as neuronal inputs.

We are designed to respond to these inputs for survival and healthy living.

The study which was conducted on mice revealed how the olfactory sense is related to metabolism.

These inputs play a crucial role in determining what to store and what to expand.

Researchers observed that mice with an enhanced sense of smell gained more weight than the control group on the same diet.

Here are the 10 ways in which smelling food can cause you to gain weight:

1. Impact on metabolism:

We all usually have a skinny friend who doesn’t get fat, no matter what they eat.

With this new revelation on the role of smell in determining the metabolic rate, we might have a partial answer.

Energy released by our body depends on olfactory inputs as well.

You might be craving for carbs if you are on a controlled diet, therefore heightening your sense of smell.

Slow metabolism is a result of the brain deciding to store fat rather than burn it off.

2. Urge to eat more:


Cookies, fresh bread, fried chicken, apple pie, popcorn, and steak, there is one thing in common to these mouth-watering dishes.

These food items smell fantastic!

It becomes difficult to stop ourselves from taking a bite.

The bite then becomes two, and before you know it you have gorged in on four pieces of fried chicken!

Yes, smelling these food items is what caused you to eat more than you wanted to.

It is what makes them so tempting, a dual assault on your taste buds and sense of smell.

3. Crave for calories:

Despite the effort to achieve that fitness goal we have been chasing after since long, we often go weak in our knees.

The concept of a cheat day is quite popular, and we decide it is okay to have a good meal once in a while.

This craving for calorie-loaded food is partially decided by our olfactory senses.

You might have noticed that nothing on your diet plan smells great.

When we go days without pleasing our sense of smell, it demands attention.

It sends stimuli to our brains to get what it needs.

Thus, forcing us to add food that smells great to our diet.

4. Skip on water:


We are primarily made up of water, an adult’s 50-65% body weight is water.

Yet, we need a mobile application to remind us to drink water.

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to keep up with your daily intake goal?

What if water was not odorless?

We tend to pay more attention to items for which we get positive input from multiple senses.

Water gets no support from olfactory or taste receptors.

Water suppresses our appetite.

If you are trying to lose weight, have it in plenty.

You can also avoid liquid calories by drinking more water.

However, in this case, it’s the lack of smell that is impacting your weight.

5. Suppress brown fat burning:

Not all body fat is the same.

White fat is the primary fat of our body and it surrounds the internal organs, whereas, brown fat is present as several small fat droplets and is concentrated in some regions.

White fat acts as an energy reserve, while brown fat burns easily.

We need exercise to convert white fat to brown, and mind you, it is not an easy task.

When we smell good food, our olfactory input to the brain conveys a message that you are comfortable.

We believe it, and we relax.

The nerve system that governs the flight-or-fight stimuli goes into slumber, and with it the brown-fat burning program as well.

6. Tempt for favorite food:

According to research published by the Oxford Academic, obese individuals have higher preference and sensitivity to the odor of chocolate.

Energy-dense food attracts these individuals.

We can safely say, that it is the taste and smell appeal of a food item that brings it to our list of favorites.

It brings along an uncontrollable desire to consume the food.

The aroma of coffee is a classic example, and a coffee connoisseur sometimes operates solely on this sense.

7. Imagine food smells:

A lot of us associate the pleasure of food to its smell.

We might not be able to get that great aroma everywhere, but we sure do remember how it made us feel.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is correlated to how well you can imagine food smell, revealed research at the Yale School of Medicine.

Imagining food and food smell triggers craving in human beings; these cravings encourage food consumption.

In conclusion, it’s not just smelling food that impacts the weight, but also the thought of it.

8. Resist nutritious food:


We dread having broccoli as kids, and we desire peanut-butter sandwiches.

We are often asked to gulp that glass of milk while covering the nose.

An interesting observation is that no food in our diet plan prompts us to sniff it once.

Smelling food that tastes good, in turn, makes us resistant to nutritious food that lack the odor appeal.

Over time, our intake of nuts, grains and green vegetables is expected to fall.

9. Stress and food:

Each one of us gets stressed once in a while.

We might be religiously following the diet, but stress can prompt us to skip the regime.

Imagine you are just out of a stressful meeting, and you enter the cafeteria.

With the aroma of pizza wafting through the air, we are most likely to give ourselves a break and go for that calorie-loaded slice in this scenario.

The mere knowledge of this possibility is bound to make you think twice next time you find yourself in this situation.

10. Motivation:

Undoubtedly motivation to workout is scarce to find.

Every time you push yourself at the gym, you wish for immediate results.

While all good things require patience, it becomes difficult to find the right motivation or rather sustainable motivation.

Smelling food tampers with this motivation and can be an enemy to your waistline.


There is still a long way to go in determining the scientific implication of this finding in the human world.

Can we imagine a world where some people will have their olfactory senses suppressed to help them deal with obesity?

Or where those who are underweight can benefit from a heightened sense of smell?

Further research in this field could be ground-breaking.

It will impact the way we perceive food and provide an answer to why the same fitness regime works for a few.

Meanwhile, you may ponder on the question – to smell or not to smell?

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