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How to Avoid Lactic Acidosis

By Paula Quinene

Fill up on caffeine and plenty of carbohydrates to avoid lactic acidosis or the increase in acidity inside your muscle cells. High-intensity training adaptations also help you avoid lactic acidosis at the same levels of intensity. When you exercise at high intensities, your muscle cells use primarily glucose and glycogen to fuel your exercise. The byproduct of using glucose and glycogen without oxygen, or anaerobic metabolism, is lactic acid. This raises the concentration of hydrogen molecules inside your cells, increasing the acidity. If you eat and exercise properly to reduce the effects of glucose metabolism, you can avoid lactic acidosis.

  1. Engage in a regular program of high-intensity interval training or high-intensity resistance training to avoid lactic acidosis at sub-maximal levels of exercise intensities. This means your body will adapt to your exercise training such that you avoid lactic acidosis at the same level of intensity after six to eight weeks of training, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

  2. Eat fast-digesting carbohydrates with some protein immediately after every exercise session to replenish the glycogen in your muscles. Eat white rice with two eggs, a baked potato with cheese, graham crackers with peanut butter or a bowl of cornflakes with skim milk; the carbs in such foods are absorbed more quickly than the carbs in brown rice or whole wheat bread. Sixty percent of the calories in your post-workout meal must come from carbohydrates, ensuring you have plenty of energy for your next workout, improving your capacity to avoid lactic acidosis.

  3. Mix sodium bicarbonate or baking soda with water and drink the solution between 60 and 90 minutes before your high-intensity workouts, three days per week for eight weeks. You need 0.4 g of sodium bicarbonate per kg of body weight prior to the workouts, according to an October 2008 article by Scott Riewald, Ph.D., published in the “Strength and Conditioning Journal." Start with a smaller amount of baking soda to acclimate your digestive tract. If you do not experience uncomfortable side effects, gradually increase the amount of baking soda to 0.4 g. By increasing the amount of bicarbonate in the fluid around your muscle cells, the acidic hydrogen ion is drawn out of your muscle cells, decreasing the acidity inside your cells, avoiding lactic acidosis, according to the authors of the book “Exercise Physiology, Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance.”

  4. Consume your caffeinated beverages and foods before your workouts. Caffeine reduces the use of glycogen while increasing your time to exhaustion for both aerobic and anaerobic exercises, according to a 2004 article by José Antonio, Ph.D. Brew your coffee at home using one-and-one-half times the ground coffee beans per 8-oz. cup for approximately 150 mg of caffeine. Or, order two shots of espresso in your latte for a similar dose of caffeine. You need 5 mg of caffeine per kg of your body weight to improve your performance by avoiding lactic acidosis.

  5. Tip

    Keep close track of your food, caffeine and sodium bicarbonate intake to fine tune your training, avoiding lactic acidosis. If you take antacids, read the nutrition label as it has sodium bicarbonate too. It may be more palatable than plain baking soda.


    If you have health conditions, check with your doctor prior to engaging in a new eating and exercise plan. An increased consumption of caffeine, carbs and the salt in sodium bicarbonate may worsen your condition.

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