What is blood lactate

Blood lactate can be defined simply as the lactate that is found dissolved in the blood. Exercise that forces anaerobic metabolism instead of aerobic metabolism in an individual’s muscles and tissues due to inadequate supply of oxygen is usually responsible for the formation of blood lactate.

Lactic acid is part of a system that helps the body to synthesize Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) during extremely strenuous and long sessions of physical exercise, which is required for energy production. Through anaerobic glycolysis, it is possible to produce the energy that the body needs immediately but is not getting through aerobic glycolysis due to a lack of oxygen supply.

After the glycolysis, pyruvic acid and hydronium ions (H+) are formed, but since there is a deficiency of adequate oxygen, the hydronium ions never combine with oxygen to form water. As a result, the Hydronium ions deposited by the NADH remain in the mitochondria of the cell and accumulate as long as the anaerobic glycolysis continues.

As the hydronium ion accumulates, the acidity of the cells also increases, and in order to counter the effect, pyruvic acid and the hydronium react with each other forming lactic acid that dissociates into lactate and hydronium ions again. In order to reduce acidic activity, the lactate carries of a portion of the hydronium ions as it enters the blood and it is this lactate that on diffusing into the blood flow with some of the excess hydronium ions is known as blood lactate.

As a direct result of hydronium ion accumulation, the pH level in the cells goes down from the standard 7.1 to 6.5 or even lower. This is the reason why we cannot move the particular muscle properly after heavy endurance training and also experience pain in the form of a burning sensation on reaching our anaerobic threshold.