wrongfully accused

It is common knowledge that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. It is also common knowledge that as far as opening sentences go, “It’s common knowledge…” is among the worst of the lot.

Lactic acid has been maligned on countless learned publications as the cause behind the fatigue that one could experience a short time after physical exertion. People are also steadfast in their conviction that lactic acid is the culprit for muscle cramps (ስትራፖ,) a delayed phenomenon in its own right, separate from muscle fatigue. The lactic acidosis myth keeps on being perpetuated. I played an itsy bitsy teenie weenie part in that when I repeated to a few batches of students the same ol’ plotline.

But this is what I have come to realize from the very few books which have dared to rock the boat.

Lactate and not lactic acid is formed in our body when we do heavy exercise. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out (by the way, what do rocket scientist say when they want to say that something is real easy?) What exactly does the word “acid” mean? Well, never minding the definition that one is likely to find in የአለቃ ኪዳነወልድ ክፍሌ መዝገበ ቃላት -ምነው አሲድ ለቀቀብህ?! and psychedelic drugs aside, a most commonly accepted definition of acid is a proton (hydrogen ion) donor. One look at the reaction and, right off the bat (how American of me 🙂 ) it should be clear that a proton is consumed and not produced during the formation of lactate:


You need energy to do heavy work, or any other work for that matter. Donating the electrons from food, or alcohol for that matter, to oxygen through a series of intermediate electron carriers is the best way to get energy. That’s the rationale behind breathing in oxygen and the reason that respiration has been the subject of so many love songs.

What happens when your body runs short on oxygen? When the oxygen you breathe in during heavy exercise is not enough to cope with the increased energy demand? Your body will then resort to a faster but less efficient way of getting energy that does not involve using oxygen. The conversion of pyruvate to lactate is a key reaction in that process. After some time, the buildup of protons (from sources other than the formation of lactate, because remember, it does not entail the release of protons) in the muscles will lead to the inhibition of the faster but less efficient way. And without energy, the muscles will be loath to do the task at hand or at foot, i.e., they will be fatigued. Muscle cramps, on the other hand, are most likely caused by the secretion of pain-inducing chemicals from our cells telling us that we have put undue strain on the muscles. Loss through excessive sweating of electrolytes that are involved in muscle relaxation is another very important contributing factor.

Bottom line is, excess hydrogens cause fatigue, the production and/or loss of other things causes muscle cramps. And lactate is not to blame for none of those. Not guilty. ፋይሉ ወደመዝገብ ቤት ይመለስ!

How did lactate react to all the slander? “አዬዬዬ! መቼም የሰራ አይመሰገን! 🙂 ”

It’s like this

A famous talk show host, hereafter known as “A”, is interviewing a famous singer, hereafter known as “B.” A is sporting his fauxhawk which looks like a ridge where flies go to die, cut in half. Momma flies would be warning their children “አንተ/ቺ ቀዥቃዣ ደግሞ ሄደህ/ሽ እዛ ላይ ትቀመጥ/ጪና ዋ!” B’s hair looks like the stuff of nightmares of fly search and rescue teams. B is asked about how almost all of the audience at his recent concert in Place X were females. How does that make him feel, his being a veritable chick magnet? B tries to sound modest in his response: “መቼም እንደሚታወቀው ሴቶች እናቶቻችን እህቶቻችን እ እ ደግሞ  …ቻችን ናቸው…” It seems it did not cross neither one of A nor B’s minds that Place X has always been one of those places where Ethiopian girls go ኑሮን ለማሸነፍ:: It would not have mattered whether it was B or me who was doing the concert –we would have drawn the same type of crowd. Granted, there may be a significant difference in the number of girls in attendance. I guess what I am trying to say is, B is not the cause for the presence of a lot of Ethiopian girls in Place X and the highly skewed gender representation that was observed at his concert was a mere correlation.

Now, I don’t have anything against B. In fact, ሰላ በይ is the first song that would come to mind if somebody here should ask me to play them some Ethiopian music. Here is the interview in question (minutes 47 and 48:)

If you think I distorted a few facts here and there, I am going to tell you what Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean told me, and with the same annoyed tone: same story, different versions; and all are true.

As could be seen on this other video, his fanbase used to be much more diverse back when he was a kid.

አይ ልጅነት! የሚደነስበትና የማይደነስበት ዘፈንም አይታወቅ 😐



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