There’s been a lot of confusion about what catabolism and anabolism mean and what the difference is. This article will help you understand the differences and what anabolism vs. catabolism do. It will also help you learn a bit about your metabolism to start to understand how it works.
So what exactly is the difference between anabolism and catabolism? Anabolism refers to building complex molecules from simpler ones or other materials, such as synthesizing proteins using amino acids found in our cells. For an average person, anabolism takes place when the body is digesting food. During this process, protein, fat, and carbohydrates are broken down into smaller molecules that can be used by our cells to build tissues. The anabolic phase of metabolism is also known as the constructive phase because it’s productive for building new molecules and growing stronger.
Catabolism refers to breaking down larger molecules into smaller ones or releasing stored energy in other ways. In other words, catabolism means the breakdown of larger molecules into smaller ones. Catabolism is a crucial process for growth and development and for sustaining our body’s cells while it is at rest. Metabolism refers to all of the chemical reactions in our bodies to keep us alive and well. While anabolism and catabolism are two phases of metabolism, there are three other phases to metabolism: catabolic (breakdown), anabolic (building up), and neutral or rest (no change).
Catabolism vs Anabolism for Weightlifters
For weightlifters who want to gain muscle, you must ensure that you get the proper nutrition to promote anabolism. You want to consume enough calories to gain strength and muscle mass. But don’t overdo it because you can also cause yourself to gain fat if you eat too much and too frequently. For weightlifters who want to lose fat, on the other hand, you will need a combination of exercise and dieting for your body’s metabolism to shift from anabolic (building up) mode towards catabolic (breakdown) mode.
Studies show to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the body’s anabolic to catabolic balance should be about 70% anabolic and 30% catabolic. This means that the body should increase the production of protein (anabolism) and use it for growth or repair (catabolism), while decreasing the breakdown of protein (catabolism). The remaining 10% is considered neutral, meaning that there is no change in either of these two processes.
Foods such as whey protein, beef, and chicken are good sources of protein. Other good sources include eggs, legumes, fish, and soy. The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram or 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. Because muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue, the 1 gram per pound can be safely consumed at a higher level each day to increase muscle mass as well as decrease body fat levels by decreasing carbohydrates from your diet.
The catabolic process can be sustained for extended periods of time without damaging vital organs, but it is unhealthy to remain in a catabolic state for an extended period. The anabolic process is what the body needs to maintain lean tissue and ATP (energy) levels while replenishing protein. If there is an imbalance between anabolism and catabolism, recovery times will stretch out longer than necessary, and this could result in an injury during workouts or in the gym.
How to balance anabolism and catabolism:
The body secretes testosterone and other anabolic hormones, like insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), during periods of catabolism. They promote the process of muscle recovery and restoration. Growth hormone (GH) is also released in response to the catabolic state. GH promotes protein synthesis during periods of catabolism, but it also initiates fat breakdown. GH levels can sometimes be elevated when an individual engages in strenuous exercise or takes part in intense physical activity that results from a calorie deficit. It is best to treat GH levels in the body as a marker of exercise intensity. Consuming a fast-digesting protein drink, such as whey, immediately after exercise can have an initial stimulatory effect on GH levels in the body.
After all, if you’re doing more reps in a set, the weight would be lighter and the intensity level lower. If you’re doing fewer reps in a set, the weight is heavier, and the intensity is higher.
Short-term anabolism occurs when you’re dieting, focusing on maintaining lean body mass and better recovery. Long-term anabolic hormones secreted during catabolism are beneficial for strength gains and muscle growth. The levels of these hormones rise during the catabolic state, but by the time someone is in a calorie deficit, anabolism is the priority. By maintaining protein synthesis to improve recovery, it will aid in sustaining lean body mass.