If you go out for a run or exercise intensively and continuously and start to feel fatigued, then the lactic acid has made its appearance and your muscles are receiving less oxygen to support the exercise. But, what is the process by which lactic acid is formed? Why is it harmful and how can you continue training when it appears? If you want to know more about this process, we will tell you everything you need to know about lactic acid and its consequences, below.
What is lactic acid?
The lactic acid is a chemical compound that is produced inside the muscles to complete combustion of the glucose occur. As we exercise more intensively and faster, oxygen will reach our muscles in less proportion, generating more lactic acid and, therefore, more fatigue. It is therefore a factor to take into account when doing sports, planning your diet for athletes and trying to avoid limiting our performance.
As we have already pointed out, when our body is subjected to a high intensity exercise and medium duration, it uses glucose as fuel. The energy produced from glucose is degraded to become lactic acid, a molecule that, when not used or withdrawn, causes fatigue. Thus, the two ways of obtaining energy when the oxygen level drops are called galactic anaerobic, that is, without lactic acid, and lactic anaerobic. Controlling these two phases and increasing the lactate threshold are essential for training and for achieving better performance in any sport or exercise performed.
What are the symptoms of lactic acid?
If to muscle pain and fatigue are added rapid and agitated breathing, nausea, cramps and pain or heartburn, then we are facing lactic acidosis caused by a large accumulation of lactic acid or lactate in the blood. The most important consequences of this type of saturation are muscle contractures and, due to fatigue, seeing our ability to move reduced and having to stop to rest and catch our breath in order to continue.
How can we avoid the accumulation of lactic acid?
According to specialists, since it is the fast-twitch fibers that generate lactate and it is the slow-twitch fibers that move them through the system, the best thing to do to expand our lactate threshold is to enhance the training of slow-twitch fibers through of aerobic training. In this way, thanks to the benefits of aerobic exercises, we will ensure that lactic acid takes longer to accumulate in our body and the muscle is able to withstand it by not concentrating and being distributed among the different muscles of the joint.
Be that as it may, lactic acid is not a molecule that is not useful since it is also reused, transforming itself into energy in the liver, heart and kidneys. Thus, in the case of the liver, the lactic acid resulting from the metabolism of glucose in the muscle passes to this organ to form glucose again. These processes are carried out when you are at rest.
Foods that decrease lactic acid accumulation
Many athletes, especially runners, experience a significant increase in lactic acid levels in their muscles, something that can reveal itself in marked fatigue at the end of training. Although the best way to reduce the accumulation of lactic acid is to exercise more, you can also be well informed about the foods that help reduce lactic acid in the muscles:
- Fruits: alkaline foods, without acid, are the great allies to fight against lactic acid accumulation. Many fruits are alkaline and provide hydration and lipoproteins necessary to reduce these levels.
- Vegetables: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cucumber, celery … These are just some examples of vegetables that help fight excess lactic acid in our muscles. Prepare a large salad with different types of vegetables with a little olive oil to reduce the levels of this substance.
- Nuts and seeds: the “good fats” in nuts and seeds are a good remedy to reduce the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.
Remember to always consult your questions with your doctor or nutritionist before making any type of change or modification in your diet before and after training.