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As we can see, there is much to be shared and learned about this compound, but before we dive into this topic in more detail, let’s first resolve another source of confusion – that being the difference between the terms ‘lactic acid’ and ‘lactate.’ Although lactic acid is produced as a by-product of glucose or glycogen metabolism (glycolysis) when the demands for energy exceed the availability of oxygen, it is a weak acid implying that it easily dissociates in water, the primary component of the muscle sarcoplasm where glycolysis takes place.

Energy Pathways As illustrated in Figure 1-1, the body contains two basic energy systems; the aerobic pathway which functions in the presence of oxygen, and the anaerobic pathways which function in the absence of oxygen.

The anaerobic pathway is further sub-divided into two systems; the more immediate phosphagen system and the glycolytic system, (also known as the fast-glycolytic or lactate system) which is the topic of interest in this article.

considering how certain cells (e.g., red blood cells) lack mitochondria and therefore only generate energy via the anaerobic pathways (i.e., glycolysis).

Furthermore, our lives are represented by a series of continual stops-and-starts (e.g., walking up three flights of stairs, suddenly having to run after your child at the park) where we constantly call upon our anaerobic energy systems to provide immediate energy that cannot be completely supplied aerobically.

Let’s use an analogy of baking soda that we place in our refrigerator to help explain this point. Now imagine placing a bowl of baking soda on a shelf and each time your refrigerator develops a smell you remove a tablespoon of the powder.