An Introduction to Anabolism and Catabolism
is a post that I live and teach every day!
Being at week 5/52 of my next transformation
to show women that body weight
is not at all an indicator of a lean and toned physique
as I aim for Top 10 of the
Women’s Health and Fitness Magazine
Cover Model 2014 Competition.
There are two very important words in the health and fitness industries, and in this post I thought I would share what they are, and why we really should care about them. These words are derived from a process we know as “METABOLISM”.
Metabolism refers to biochemical processes that occur with any living organism – including us humans – to maintain life. These biochemical processes allow us to grow, reproduce, repair damage, and respond to our environment. Most people use the term “metabolism” incorrectly for either anabolism or catabolism…
Yes you guessed it???
This post is dedicated to explaining “ANABOLISM” and “CATABOLISM”.
According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary, metabolism means “1. The sum of the chemical and physical changes occurring in tissue, consisting of anabolism (those reactions that convert small molecules into large), and catabolism (those reactions that convert large molecules into small), including both endogenous large molecules as well as biodegradation of xenobiotics. 2. Often incorrectly used as a synonym for either anabolism or catabolism.”
In detail :
*Anabolic or Anabolism:
Anabolism, simply put, is the process of “building up” organs and tissues. In terms of fitness, we refer to anabolism when we talk about lean muscle growth, gaining muscle, or building muscle.
When our bodies are in an anabolic state, the body has all the things necessary to build new muscle molecules from smaller molecules. This is a state we want to be in as much as possible and requires a real foods diet that delivers your macronutrients for survival as well as your training load.
Now pay attention here – this doesn’t just mean ‘getting big’, an anabolic state is required to simply repair your muscles after enduring exercise.
*Catabolic or Catabolism:
Catabolism is the exact opposite of anabolism.
Catabolism is the process of “breaking down” larger molecules into smaller ones, or breaking down organs and tissues into smaller molecules that can be used for other functions, and also “cellular waste” – as I bluntly state to my clients “Your body is eating itself!”.
Light bulb moment… You know that soreness you get after an intense workout? It’s from lactic acid. Do you know how lactic acid is created? The truth is lactic acid is waste from the catabolism of your muscle during the workout! Not good!
Think about it… Or is it?
Catabolism is good to an extent, it triggers anabolism, and the repair of the muscle to be stronger and larger. So if you are really sore, it means you really did a number on your muscles, and as long as you are getting the proper nutrition where you are eating enough calories to cover the energy expenditure of your workout, they will be rebuilt to be better than before.
However, too much of catabolic state can be a very bad thing. When the body is overly catabolic, and it doesn’t have the proper resources from your diet – i.e. NOT EATING ENOUGH – to make muscle repair, the body will actually break other undamaged muscle tissue down in order to repair the damaged muscle tissue. Hate to say this – but your workout was in vain…
Like I say to many of my clients particularly the ladies: “You need to eat to fuel your workout, create fat burn and recover whist building lean muscle!” Otherwise your body will eat itself to fuel your workout and continue doing so to repair muscle used in the workout rather than build new lean muscle. This gets you nowhere!
Why bother at all commencing a training regime with this fearful attitude to food? To commit to a training regime with a fitness goal in mind is to accept that 70% of your training is preparation and consumption of Real Foods and 30% is the toned physique that functional exercise creates fueled by the right macronutrients.
In short, we always want to avoid a catabolic state!
So how do we do that?
As stated above – to avoid a catabolic state… EAT ENOUGH!
The number one reason I see people not getting results with their fitness programs is because they have it ingrained in their minds that “less food = more fat loss”. This is not true!
In any fitness program, a lot of catabolism is occurring, and if the nutrients just aren’t there to make the repairs in time for the next workout, further breakdown i.e. catabolism occurs, the body starts getting the resources it needs from undamaged muscles, and your overall amount of muscle mass decreases. Like I stated before “YOU ARE EATING YOURSELF” and eventually you will become weak, burn out, and possibly injure yourself.
So let’s now back track to last week’s post: “MACRONUTRIENTS DEFINE YOUR BODY COMPOSITION” where I explained “keeping your calories at a proper amount is CRUCIAL.” As summarised in this post the most important aspect of any Nutrition Program is the overall calories; how much your eating for your body. The most important elements are setting the right caloric intake for your activity level as well as training regime, and getting adequate protein and essential fatty acids. As for carbohydrates they need to be a plant base for most people on a mission for optimum fitness and as for those working at an athlete/competitive level this may need a slight variance.
Higher intensity athlete level training requires inclusion of brown rice and oats to meet the macronutrient requirements as well as other forms of carbohydrates when their Nutrition Plan requires a “CARB REFEED” to boost their metabolism and lean muscle growth… a post I am so looking forward to living and writing in the next few weeks… This is really where the pancake is turned upside down in regards to the role of carbohydrates in meeting your fitness goal/s!
Supplements also can aid in keeping our bodies in an anabolic state as much as possible. It is best practice to take some whey protein such as our Be Fit Hub Pure Whey Protein 10 – 30 minutes before your workout. This pre-workout meal will help to create an anabolic environment when your muscles begin to break down during your session. Immediately after your workout a recovery drink of whey protein should be taken. This will begin the anabolic process immediately! 45 – 60 minutes after a normal meal consisting of a good serve of protein and complex carbohydrates and some good fats is ideal.
In addition to whey protein, L-glutamine has been shown to decrease catabolism. Taking a teaspoon of L-glutamine at night before bed with Casein protein (a slow absorbing form of protein) can do wonders for keeping your body from going catabolic during your 6-8 hour fast.
And there you have it – “You are what you eat!” now explained in reference to ANABOLIC and CATABOLIC.
STRONG is the new SKINNY! xx