Sportsmen and pH: the importance of lactate and diet


The aim of this article is to clarify why lactate is averse to acidosis and what dietary patterns related to this acid-base balance might be useful in athletes.

There is great controversy over whether manipulating internal pH conditions may favour sports performance, especially in activities with a high anaerobic component. There is no clear biochemical evidence to support that the production of lactate causes acidosis, but rather the opposite, since lactate delays and does not cause the appearance of this acidosis.

Among the group of specialists in sports medicine, many consider lactate as the main responsible for the possible increase of acidosis associated with high intensity training. However, lactate is an ally rather than an enemy, and regardless of the possibility of manipulating the acid-base environment of the organism punctually with alkaline supplements, there is scientific evidence demonstrating the improvements that could be obtained by eating patterns that could To influence these internal acid-base equilibrium conditions.

Clear examples are the use of a ketogenic diet or a diet high in fruit and vegetables. Ketogenic diets may be useful in aerobic sporting activities but are detrimental in sporting activities with a high anaerobic component. A well-balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables can counteract subclinical metabolic acidosis due to a high intake of animal products or high-glycemic load foods such as cereals and related products, which could prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density associated with this metabolic process.

Perez-Guisado affirms that further investigations are required to determine the real influence of these nutritional patterns in improving sporting performance.”

This article was written in Spanish under the title “El Deportista y el pH: Importancia del Lactato y la Dieta”, by Joaquín Pérez-Guisado, and published in Apunts Medicina De L’esport, 2010; 45(166): 103–107

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