Far from toxic, lactate rivals glucose as body's major fuel after a carbohydrate meal

May 15, 2024

As a student competing in track and field at his Parlier high school, Robert Leija was obsessed with how to improve his performance and, in particular, prevent the buildup of lactic acid in his muscles during training. Like many athletes, he blamed it for the performance fatigue and muscle soreness he experienced after intense workouts.

But as a kinesiology student at Fresno State, he was handed an out-of-print textbook that told him he had it all wrong. Lactate wasn't a danger sign that athletes had depleted their body's supply of oxygen, but likely a normal product of the metabolic activity required to fuel the muscles during sustained exercise.

Now, as a graduate student in the University of California, Berkeley, laboratory of the scientist who wrote that textbook, George Brooks, his research is providing a much clearer picture of lactate's role in the body, further refuting the notion that lactate is a sign of oxygen deprivation in the muscles.

Berkeley News