Best Dietary Supplements to Help Reduce Lactic Acid

It's commonly thought that lactic acid build-up can cause muscle fatigue and soreness, affecting athletic performance and recovery. While proper training and nutrition play a crucial role in managing lactic acid, dietary supplements can also help reduce its accumulation. We will explore some of the best dietary supplements that can assist in reducing lactic acid build-up, allowing athletes and fitness enthusiasts to push their limits and recover more effectively. We'll also uncover whether lactic acid is truly the culprit for muscle soreness.

First, How Does Lactic Acid Differ From Lactate?

Lactic acid and lactate are related compounds, but they have distinct differences. Lactic acid is the acidic form of lactate, and it is produced during intense physical activity when the body needs additional energy and oxygen is limited. Lactate, on the other hand, is the conjugate base of lactic acid and is produced as a result of the metabolism of glucose in the absence of sufficient oxygen. While both compounds play a role in energy production and metabolism, lactic acid is the more readily recognized form due to its association with muscle fatigue, while lactate is the more prevalent form in the body's energy systems.

What Causes Lactic Acid Buildup?

Lactic acid is a chemical compound that is produced in the body during intense exercise when oxygen levels are low. When the body is not getting enough oxygen to meet its energy needs, it converts glucose into lactic acid. This process is known as anaerobic metabolism. Lactic acid buildup can cause various symptoms such as sore muscles, cramps, and fatigue. One of the main causes of lactic acid accumulation is intense exercise or overexertion during a workout. When the body is pushed beyond its aerobic capacity, it relies on anaerobic metabolism to keep up with the demands of the activity. This leads to an increase in lactate production and a subsequent accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Although lactic acid buildup can cause discomfort, the body is able to break it down and remove it from the muscles. Engaging in activities like cool-down exercises, stretching, and staying hydrated can help reduce muscle soreness and lactic acid buildup after a workout.

Is Lactic Acid or Lactate Really the Cause of Muscle Soreness?

man holding onto his sore thigh

The belief that lactic acid or its ionized form, lactate, is the cause of muscle soreness has been a long-standing misconception in the fitness and sports science community. However, recent research has shown that neither lactic acid nor lactate actually causes the uncomfortable post-exercise muscle soreness that many people experience. Instead, it is now believed that muscle soreness is caused by localized micro damage to muscle fibers and the resulting inflammation that occurs as the body works to repair and rebuild those damaged muscles. This new understanding has led to a shift in the way that athletes and fitness enthusiasts approach recovery and training, with more focus on proper nutrition, hydration, and targeted strategies to reduce inflammation and promote muscle recovery.

Buffer Supplements

buffer supplement, such as sodium bicarbonate or beta-alanine, is crucial in mitigating the impact of lactic acid during intense exercise. Sodium bicarbonate, known as baking soda, neutralizes muscle acidity, potentially enhancing performance in various sports. However, individual responses vary, and the usual dose is about 300 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. It may also lead to gastrointestinal distress, nausea, vomiting, and water retention due to its high sodium content (1,260 milligrams per teaspoon).

Beta-alanine, a non-essential amino acid found naturally in the body, contributes to carnosine production, reducing lactic acid buildup and potentially improving performance in high-intensity sports. Yet, taking 800 milligrams or more may cause tingling or burning sensations, known as paresthesia, which can be alleviated with divided doses or sustained-release forms. It's unclear if it's safe to take beta-alanine supplements daily for an extended period.

It's important to note potential side effects, and individuals should consult a doctor or healthcare provider before incorporating these supplements into their routine.

Top 4 Muscle Recovery Supplements to Reduce Lactate

a variety of supplement pills poured into someone's palm

Even though lactic acid is not responsible for muscle soreness, there are still supplements that can help lactate metabolism and enhance exercise performance. In fact, some supplements can help the body better utilize lactic acid as a source of fuel, leading to improved endurance and reduced fatigue during workouts. 

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in over 300 enzyme reactions within the human body. The mineral is involved in energy production, muscle function, and protein synthesis. Magnesium supplementation can help with muscle soreness and reducing lactate and lactic acid levels in the body. When we exercise, our muscles produce lactate, which can build up and cause muscle fatigue and soreness. Magnesium helps to transport lactate from your muscles into the bloodstream, where it can be converted back into energy. By reducing the accumulation of lactate, magnesium can reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time. Additionally, magnesium also plays a role in muscle relaxation and can help to prevent muscle cramps and spasms, making it a valuable supplement for athletes and individuals with active lifestyles. 

Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in the body that comes from three amino acids and helps provide energy to muscles. However, it can also be taken as a creatine supplement in the form of a powder or pill. Many athletes and bodybuilders use creatine as a pre-workout supplement to help improve their performance and aid in muscle growth. Creatine supplementation can also help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue by increasing the storage of phosphocreatine in the muscles, which in turn helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy for muscle contractions. Additionally, creatine can help reduce the build-up of lactate and lactic acid in the muscles during intense exercise, which can contribute to muscle fatigue and soreness. Overall, creatine supplementation has been shown to have positive effects on muscle performance and recovery. 

Omega-3

Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid that is commonly found in fish oil and certain types of nuts and seeds. It is known for its ability to reduce inflammation in the body and has been shown to have numerous health benefits, notably for improving heart health and reducing risk of chronic diseases. When it comes to muscle soreness and reducing lactate and lactic acid, Omega-3 supplementation can be beneficial due to its anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation in the muscles, Omega-3 can help alleviate muscle soreness and boost the recovery process after exercise. Additionally, Omega-3 has been shown to help reduce the build-up of lactate and lactic acid in the muscles, which can enhance exercise performance and reduced muscle fatigue. Therefore, incorporating Omega-3 supplementation into a healthy diet can help support muscle recovery and reduce exercise-induced soreness. 

Protein

Protein supplementation can aid in reducing muscle soreness and lactate buildup during and after intense exercise. When we exercise, our muscles use glycogen as fuel, resulting in the production of lactate and lactic acid. This buildup can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue. Protein supplements can help in reducing this soreness by replenishing the body with necessary amino acids to repair muscle fibers after exercise. By consuming protein supplements before or after a workout, we can support the process of muscle protein synthesis, which repairs and builds muscle fibers. This can help in reducing the breakdown of muscle tissue and promoting faster recovery. Additionally, protein supplementation can aid in decreasing the levels of lactate and lactic acid in the muscles, leading to reduced soreness and fatigue. Therefore, protein supplementation can be an effective strategy for individuals looking to improve muscle recovery and reduce post-exercise soreness.

While these supplements are widely considered to be safe with minimal side effects, it is important to consult a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions, concerns, or pre-existing conditions, as individual responses can vary, and potential side effects need to be considered.

Other Remedies for Muscle Soreness

In addition to dietary supplements, there are several natural remedies for muscle soreness that can help alleviate discomfort. Epsom salt baths can be an effective way to soothe sore muscles, as the magnesium in the salt can help reduce inflammation and relax the muscles. Applying ice or heat to the sore area can also provide relief, as can gentle stretching and massage. Herbal remedies such as arnica and turmeric can also be beneficial in reducing muscle soreness. Additionally, staying well-hydrated and getting plenty of rest can aid in the body's natural healing process and help alleviate muscle discomfort.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, it is evident that supplements can help reduce lactate and alleviate muscle soreness. Lactic acid is produced during intense workouts when there is not enough oxygen available to break down glucose for energy. The body then converts glucose into lactic acid, which is then stored in your muscles. Taking supplements such as magnesium, creatine, omega-3, and protein can minimize muscle soreness and aid in muscle recovery after exercise. One can also consider buffer supplements such as sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine, known for elevating carnosine levels in the muscles, which can help delay the onset of muscle fatigue. Ultimately, the use of supplements can be beneficial in promoting lactate metabolism and alleviating muscle soreness.