Why Should you Know About Anabolism and Catabolism?

6th July 2019
Are you familiar with the processes of anabolism and catabolism? They're two fundamental concepts to obtain good results when you work out.

Anabolism and catabolism are very important processes for people who work out regularly. In this article, we’ll explain what they are and why it’s necessary to know about their functions.

The human body consists of different systems that work without a break in order to maintain their regular functions. Some processes are more important for our sports performance than others. This is the case with anabolism and catabolism.

The role of anabolism and catabolism within the metabolism

Before we dive into the concepts of anabolism and catabolism, we must know exactly what metabolism is. Metabole derives from the Greek language, and it means ‘change’. The suffix itself eludes to an attribute or quality. Therefore, the metabolism is the quality to chemically change some substances in the human body.

This means that our metabolism is in charge of transforming the substances we eat into energy. Our body uses that energy to perform different cellular processes such as growth, reproduction, the response to stimuli, maintaining structures and other significant factors.

Anabolism and catabolism

The metabolism consists of two main parts that work in harmony as a team to benefit the body:

Catabolism

The catabolic process is in charge of releasing energy. This means it degrades the organic nutrients in our food until they become a simple product that our cells can use as chemical energy.

The catabolism allows actions such as muscle contraction, body warm-up, different movements, and the anabolic process as well. Likewise, when the body runs out of energy or we’ve not eaten enough, the catabolic process consumes muscle tissue to replace that energy source.

A man lifting heavy weights and using the energy from anabolism and catabolism

Anabolism

This process is also known as biosynthesis. During anabolism, simple molecules turn into new bigger and more complex molecules that contribute to the creation of new tissues and help to nourish preexisting ones.

On top of producing new muscle tissues, anabolism is also in charge of storing energy reservoirs that our bodies can use in the future in case they need it.

The importance of catabolism

Catabolism is very important for people who work out on a regular basis, mainly for these two reasons:

  • It allows you to perform any movement, as long as you have the energy to do so. This means that as long as you’re eating what your body needs, you’ll be able to work out correctly.
  • If the catabolic process is not carried out correctly, your body will start to consume muscle tissue. This can cause several issues such as making your muscles smaller, cramps and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

How to boost catabolism

These next tips will help you to maintain good catabolism:

  • Train frequently. Adopting sports as a habit is a great way to maintain your catabolism in optimal condition.
  • Do cardiovascular exercises. Cardio is very beneficial for the catabolism because it allows your body to use fat as an energy source.
  • Avoid working out on an empty stomach. Not eating anything before a workout can cause your body to take energy directly from your muscles, which interferes with their strengthening and development. Therefore, you should never stop eating, even if you’re trying to lose weight. Instead, opt for alternatives such as fruits and vegetables.

The importance of anabolism

Anabolism is very important for athletes, especially if they’re looking to strengthen and grow their muscles.

A woman flexing her biceps

To develop muscle tissue, athletes must work out regularly and use weights and other types of equipment. However, exercise is not enough if the body isn’t performing the anabolic process correctly. Ensuring a good anabolic process is fairly easy; all you have to do is keep the next tips in mind:

  • Hydrate your bodyHydration is essential to maintaining a stable body. As the body loses liquids through urine and sweat, we must replenish them by drinking enough water.
  • Eat correctly. A good diet should be balanced in both the food we eat and how often we eat it.
  • Rest. Resting helps our body to regenerate and repair the muscle tissues after working out. Not getting enough rest can damage the recovery systems that our body uses to stay healthy.
  • Replenish lost energy. After working out, our body has consumed all of its energy through the catabolic process. Ideally, we should replenish that energy by eating non-saturated foods, which is why it’s normal for us to feel hungry after a training session.

Anabolism and catabolism: the perfect team

Anabolism and catabolism are two different processes within the metabolism. When people talk about having a ‘fast metabolism’ they’re actually referring to these two processes working properly. Therefore, if you want to get good results, you shouldn’t forget about the necessary aspects to have good anabolism and catabolism.

  • Willoughby, D. S., Stout, J. R., & Wilborn, C. D. (2007). Effects of resistance training and protein plus amino acid supplementation on muscle anabolism, mass, and strength. Amino Acids32(4), 467–477. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-006-0398-7
  • Lozano, A. (2010). Metabolismo. In L. E. Beltrán, F. Gutierrez, & G. Rozo Torres (Eds.), Biología: Conceptos y fundamentos básicos. (Segunda ed, pp. 145–164). Bogotá- Colombia: Fundación de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2583.2010.01024.x.Decreased
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