During workouts, your muscles use and produce energy through a serious of aerobic and anaerobic processes. When oxygen flows constantly through the working muscles, waste byproducts formed as part of muscle metabolism are removed efficiently. However, when oxygen is limited, the byproducts accumulate. Lactic acid is one such product and it contributes to the "burn" felt during intense workouts. Lactic acid occurs as part of the overall muscle energy output but too much creates a highly acidic environment. Safe exercise habits and diet can reduce excess lactic acid accumulation in the muscles.
Supplements and Lactic Acid
Excess lactic acid buildup in the muscles was once thought to predicate soreness and fatigue for the days after a strenuous workout. Research indicates, however, that lactic acid acts as a fuel source to muscle tissue and efficient distribution to muscle cells prompts energy burn, notes the science-based website Physorg. The key to muscle recovery and reduced soreness in the days after exercise is adequate nutrition intake and avoiding activity that causes damage and collapse of the muscles. Many over-the-counter supplements claim the ability to fight lactic acid and induce muscle recovery. Before using these products, consult your physician.
Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral responsible for metabolic functions including the production of energy and oxygen use. Magnesium in the diet or through supplementation might prove beneficial in reducing lactic acid buildup during vigorous exercise, according to a 2006 article published in "Magnesium Research." Magnesium in the diet comes from foods such as legumes, nuts, leafy green vegetables and whole grains. Magnesium supplements are available in different forms but are generally mixed with buffering compounds to prevent excess intake of pure magnesium in the bloodstream. The daily recommended magnesium allowance for adults is 270 to 400 milligrams. Consult your physician before taking magnesium supplements.
Creatine is a naturally produced amino acid that you can also consume from protein-containing foods. Creatine converts to phosphate during metabolism and gets stored in your muscles. It provides energy to muscle cells, particularly during exercise. Creatine can act as a lactic acid buffer if enough is present in your muscles before exercise and it can aid in muscle recovery when consumed after exercise. Supplemental forms are available as powders, liquid, tablets or drinks. Supplement dosing varies per person and ranges from 2 to 5 grams daily, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Before taking creatine, consult your physician because too much in the body produces a byproduct that is harmful to the kidneys and liver.
Omega-3 and Protein
Omega-3 fatty acids are dietary essentials important for heart, brain and metabolic functions. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish and nuts. These foods also contain a rich source of protein, which is important for muscle growth, repair and recovery. These types of supplements prove helpful in muscle recovery and lactic acid buffering for endurance athletes and body builders post exercise, notes a 2002 study published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology." However, as with most supplements, dosing varies and should be discussed with your physician before use.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- Physorg.com: Muscles Burn Lactic Acid as well as Carbos
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Journal of Applied Physiology: Early Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Recovery is Enhanced With a Carbohydrate=Protein Supplement
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Creatine