Lactate Versus Lactic Acid: What’s The Difference?

lactate vs. lactic acid Pression


If you’re an athlete or a fitness enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of lactate and lactic acid. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different things. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between lactate and lactic acid, and why it’s important to know the distinction.

What is Lactate?

Lactate is a molecule that is produced during intense exercise or other forms of strenuous activity. It is a byproduct of glycolysis, which is the process by which the body breaks down glucose for energy. When the body cannot supply enough oxygen to the muscles, lactate is produced as a way to generate energy without oxygen. Lactate is then transported to the liver, where it can be converted back into glucose and used for energy again.


Contrary to popular belief, lactate is not responsible for muscle soreness or fatigue. In fact, lactate can actually be used as a fuel source for the body, and is often used as a supplement by endurance athletes.

What is Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is a related molecule that is formed when lactate combines with hydrogen ions. This can occur when there is a buildup of lactate in the muscles, which can happen during intense exercise. Lactic acid is often blamed for the burning sensation that is felt during exercise, but this is actually due to the accumulation of hydrogen ions, not lactic acid itself.


Lactic acid is not a waste product, and it can actually be used by the body as a source of energy. The body has several mechanisms for removing lactic acid, including the liver and kidneys, which can convert it back into glucose and eliminate it from the body.

The Importance of Knowing the Difference

While lactate and lactic acid are related, it’s important to understand the difference between them. This is especially true for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, who often use lactate testing to measure their performance and track their progress. Lactate testing can provide valuable information about an individual’s metabolic system and can help identify areas for improvement.


Lactate testing involves measuring the amount of lactate in the blood during exercise. This can be done using a simple finger prick test, or more invasive methods such as a blood draw or muscle biopsy.


In conclusion, lactate and lactic acid are two related molecules that are often confused. Lactate is a byproduct of glycolysis that is produced during intense exercise, while lactic acid is a molecule that is formed when lactate combines with hydrogen ions. While both lactate and lactic acid can be used by the body as a source of energy, it’s important to understand the differences between them, especially for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. By knowing the distinction between these two molecules, individuals can better understand their metabolic system and improve their performance.