Those who attend gyms and food and training groups must have heard about the fear of “catabolizing”. But, after all, what is catabolism and why do many people want to avoid this phenomenon?
Catabolism occurs when you are digesting food, the process of breaking down a piece of bread into simple nutrients your body can use, such as glucose (blood sugar). If your body isn’t getting the food and nutrients it needs to fuel daily life, catabolism is the mechanism that breaks down muscle and fat for energy.
In sport, catabolism is the result of a series of very intense physical efforts, occurring when we train a lot and our body does not receive enough nutrients to withstand the necessary efforts.
To build muscle mass properly, catabolism must be avoided. Catabolism is very common in periods of muscle wasting. But how to do it?
In this article, we will go deeper into the topic and explain the process, its importance and how to maintain balance with anabolism, all from the point of view of a specialist in medical nutrition.
What is catabolize?
Catabolism is a natural process of human metabolism present in the organism of all living beings. It involves breaking down complex molecules into simpler molecules, producing energy and allowing the body to take advantage of ingested nutrients. In other words, catabolism is the breakdown of substances, such as proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, so that they can be used by the body.
For example, when we eat protein, our body breaks it down into essential amino acids through the process of catabolism. These amino acids are necessary for the synthesis of new proteins and for various vital functions in the body.
It is the energy released by catabolism used in the synthesis of ATP. ATP is the adenosine triphosphate molecule used to obtain the energy that living beings need to live.
The body breaks down glycogen during your sweat sessions to use as fuel. When you run out of carbohydrate stores, your body’s cortisol uses amino acids to create energy. As a result, catabolic exercises can help maintain a healthy heart and lungs.
The importance of catabolism
While catabolism is often associated with muscle wasting, it’s important to remember that this process is essential for building muscle. Without catabolism, we would not be able to properly absorb and utilize nutrients from the food we eat.
Catabolism is also involved in producing energy for the body, which is needed to perform many activities, including physical exercise. Therefore, catabolism is essential for the proper functioning of the body.
In addition to muscle breakdown, catabolism also results in severe fatigue and muscle pain. This is a natural process in which the body extracts the energy needed for intense physical exertion from muscle tissue.
This results in a loss not only of fat mass, but mainly of muscle mass. The breakdown of muscles is transmitted by nerves to the nervous system. The nervous system translates this into pain and fatigue so that the person in question can react back.
Balance between catabolism and anabolism
Anabolism is the opposite process to catabolism and involves building complex molecules from simple molecules. During anabolism, our body uses nutrients obtained through catabolism to build and repair tissue, such as muscle.
For the body to function properly, it is necessary to maintain a balance between catabolism and anabolism. When catabolism is more frequent than anabolism, loss of muscle mass may occur, which is undesirable for those seeking hypertrophy and improvement in body composition.
There has been a lot of research on the best type of exercise for weight loss. Cardiovascular (catabolic) exercise is great for burning a lot of calories quickly. But weight lifting (anabolic) exercises produce an afterburn effect by using more calories for a longer period of time to repair muscles.
How to maintain the balance between catabolism and anabolism
To avoid loss of muscle mass and maintain a healthy balance between catabolism and anabolism, it is important to follow some recommendations:
- proper nutrition: Consuming a diet rich in quality protein and carbohydrates helps provide your body with the nutrients it needs to build and repair muscle.
- adequate rest: Rest is essential for muscle recovery and promoting anabolism. During sleep, the body releases hormones, such as growth hormone, which are important for the process of building and repairing muscle.
- Frequency and intensity of exercises: Training properly, respecting the limits of the body and avoiding overload, is essential to stimulate anabolism and avoid excessive catabolism. In addition, it is important to alternate the muscle groups worked and respect the rest time between training sessions.
- Hydration: Water is essential for the proper functioning of the organism, including the balance between catabolism and anabolism. Staying hydrated helps maintain muscle health and recovery after exercise.
- stress reduction: Chronic stress can increase levels of cortisol, a hormone that, in excess, can lead to muscle catabolism. Practicing relaxation and stress management techniques is beneficial for maintaining the balance between catabolism and anabolism.
In strength training, recovery is an integral part of the training program. Muscles must rest to optimize their development. We are talking about rest days here because a few hours are not enough for a full recovery.
Aerobic exercise is exercise that consumes oxygen while exercising at moderate intensity and for a period of 20 minutes or more. The duration is relevant, because after 20 minutes of activity the body experiences changes in the use of glucose and glycogen, which uses fat to maintain the body’s energy needs.
After approximately 40 minutes, energy reserves are normally depleted, which means that after two hours the dreaded catabolic process begins, consuming muscle protein.
Thus, aerobic exercise is generally not conducive to gaining muscle mass.
Catabolism is a natural and essential process for the proper functioning of the organism. It is involved in the breakdown of complex molecules into simpler molecules, allowing nutrients to be absorbed and utilized. Understanding catabolism and maintaining balance with anabolism is important for anyone looking to improve body composition and gain muscle mass.
Following an adequate diet, respecting rest periods, training with appropriate frequency and intensity, staying hydrated and managing stress, it is possible to promote the balance between catabolism and anabolism and, thus, achieve goals related to health and physical performance .
Remember that every person is unique, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Therefore, it is important to consult a healthcare professional, such as a physician or nutritionist, for specific and personalized advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle.