Is Lactic Acid Bad?

Get-Fit Guy has 2 surprising reasons why lactic acid build-up is not as bad as you once thought.

Ben Greenfield
1-minute read

Lactic acid gets a bad rap. Contrary to popular belief, even though lactic acid can cause a bit of a temporary burn while you’re running hard or lifting weights, it has absolutely nothing to do with post-workout soreness (soreness is simply inflammation based swelling from the body healing itself). In fact, there are 2 reasons why lactic acid is actually good:

  1. When you train your body at high intensities, such as with high intensity interval training or weight training, your body can become very efficient at shuttling lactic acid produced by the muscles back up to your liver and converting that lactic acid into glucose. This means the lactic acid can be “recycled” and used as a concentrated energy source by your muscles. This very cool mechanism which allows your body to maximize it’s fueling efficiency is called the Cori cycle.
  2. Studies have shown that your brain runs primarily on lactic acid during hard workouts. It actually draws upon lactate as a direct energy source and prefers it to sugar! So there’s no need to dump fancy energy drinks into your body to keep your brain from bonking during a tough workout. To learn more about how to fuel you workouts properly, check out What to Eat Before, During, and After Your Workout.

If you have more questions about why lactic acid isn’t bad, post them in Comments or join the conversation at http://www.Facebook.com/GetFitGuy!

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.