Experimental evolution of microbes has gained lots of interest in recent years, mainly due to the ease of strain characterisation through next-generation sequencing. While evolutionary and systems biologists use experimental evolution to address fundamental questions in their respective fields, studies with lactic acid bacteria are often more directed by applied questions. Insight into population and genome dynamics are valuable for experimental design and data interpretation, and it is becoming increasingly apparent how different constraints limit and govern the outcome of microbial adaptation to a selective environment. Examples for such constraints are the finite membrane and cellular space which can lead to trade-offs between cellular strategies. A powerful perspective is that of resource allocation, which allows cells to maximise fitness. This impacts on metabolic strategies that have different protein/resource demands. This review focuses on parameters and forces that shape cellular optimisation processes and that are determining for the outcome of laboratory evolution experiments. Phenotypic changes of experimentally evolved lactic acid bacteria will be discussed in the light of the selection conditions and the prevailing constraints.