Sunday, April 19, 2020

Does Lactic Acid Affect Your Appetite?

One of our blog's more popular post was regarding lactic acid or lactate. For our new readers, that post came about after a massage therapist asked me if lactic acid in our bodies can form 'crystals' in our muscles with too much running.

A few of his patients who run had gone to this particular massage place and was told by a massage therapist there that 'crystals' left there by the lactic acid/ lactate will affect their running if the 'crystals' are not removed by sports massage.

Yes, lactic acid/ lactate is produced as a by product during intense exercise, but it starts to clear or leave your body once you slow down and especially when you stop your exercise. You do not need help to get rid of it. It certainly won't form 'crystals' in your muscles!

What lactic acid/ lactate does according to recent research is that it can blunt your appetite by altering your appetite hormones (Vanderheyden et al, 2020).

What the researchers in the study did was to have volunteers do an interval workout of 10 x 1 min really hard with 1 min recovery on an exercise bike. They repeated this protocol twice at the same intensity on separate days at least a week apart. For the first time, the participants were given a dose of baking soda and the other time a dose of salt as a placebo.

Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) helps to partially counteract rising acidity in your bloodstream during intense exercise (to prevent you from accumulating too much lactic acid in your bloodstream). It is often used as a legitimate and legal performance enhancing drug by some runners (especially middle distance) and track cyclists.

Please note that consuming baking soda can be associated with stomach distress although there was no apparent difference in this particular study.

This allowed the researchers to compare lactate levels in the subjects' bloodstream during and after the 10 x 1 minute intervals since baking soda will decrease lactate levels.

The researchers found that the response of the subjects' appetite hormones were lower when there was more lactic acid/ lactate in the bloodstream.

Ghrelin (which measure hunger levels were lower meaning less hunger) and two appetite suppressing hormones, *GLP-1 and PYY were higher meaning less hunger were indeed different in the two groups during and 90 minutes after the intense exercise.

Previously, when I use to compete and still did really intense training, I definitely do recall that I do not feel like eating after the workout ends. I usually only felt like drinking an ice cold Coke. Well, those were the days .....

What I'm actually wondering is whether changes in our appetite hormones can affect our eating patterns on a long term basis and thus affect weight for serious endurance athletes. If you're training reasonably hard, surely weight isn't gonna be something you worry about.

To conclude, you do not need to flush lactate (lactic acid) out from your body after intense exercise, it starts to dissipate once you stop exercising. Nor do you want to take too much baking soda in a race if you're trying to lower your lactate levels as it can give you stomach distress especially if you haven't tried it in training.


Vanderheyden LWN, McKie GL et al (2020). Greater Lactate Accumulation Following An Acute Bout Of High Intensity Exercise In Males Suppresses Acylated Ghrelin And Appetite Post Exercise. J App Physiol. DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00081.2020.

*GLP -1 glucagon like peptide-1

*PYY - active peptide tyrosine-tyrosine

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