Catabolic State

Avoiding the Catabolic State

A catabolic state is typically caused by training too much without getting enough nutrients, especially protein, to sustain the body. There are several negative side effects to being in a catabolic state including fatigue, sleeplessness, and pain in the joints and muscles.

A catabolic state is part of the natural metabolic process. A catabolic state is the opposite of an anabolic state and is when foods and nutrients are broken down to their core parts. These parts are then used to create muscle and tissue.

Understanding Catabolism

By understanding what the catabolic state is and does, fitness enthusiasts can reach their goals easier. When you understand that muscles are broken down because of hormones released by a workout you can counter this effect through proper nutrition before, during, and after exercise.

Catabolism is, quite simply, when larger molecules are broken down into smaller building blocks. These blocks are then combined through anabolism and used to promote muscle growth.

Catabolism and anabolism work together in the body to maintain our energy levels and build up muscle tissue. Some things that need to be done for muscles to benefit from either of these two states, though.

The Catabolic Process

As soon as food enters the body, the larger pieces are broken down into smaller ones. Digestion is a form of catabolism. Food is broken down into the smaller nutrients. These chemical strains will then release energy through oxidation.

The energy released by this catabolic process is then used to keep our muscles working properly. Oxidation is used to synthesize the building blocks into something more useful like adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP molecules cooperate to allow cells to transfer energy from catabolism and use it in anabolism.

Catabolism is how the body creates energy used to preserve and grow practically every cell in the body.

The Importance of Catabolism

As well as helping to fuel the body with the energy it needs to grow and function, catabolism can also be a process that causes negative side effects on our health. It is a rare occurrence, but it is possible for the ratio to lose balance. When too much catabolism occurs without enough anabolism muscles are broken down, and we are left weak and depleted.

During rest, to provide an example, the body will recover and stay in an anabolic state. If you don’t rest for a long amount of time, such as when you exercise, the muscles continue to break down. So if you don’t take in the proper nutrients muscles are not repaired after.

If you don’t think this sounds all that bad, then imagine what being in this state would be like for too long. The muscles are broken down by catabolism in an attempt to find more energy.

If you live a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and exercise, then you are not likely to suffer from catabolic problems. It is still possible to suffer from adverse side effects due to stress or hormones, though, and these problems can cause an imbalance between anabolism and catabolism.

The catabolic state is related to cortisol, a catabolic hormone. The tougher your workout, the more cortisol the adrenal glands create to deal with the loss of muscle.

You may feel that the exercise helped you to create muscle, but the fact is that the loss was compensated for with cortisol. This is why it is important that you take in proper protein and carb levels to create and sustain muscle.

Training too much can weaken your body and immune system, leaving you suffering from illnesses such as influenza and the common cold.

Intense Training and a Catabolic State

It takes a lot of protein and carbohydrates to maintain an intense workout. Muscle tissues are broken down during exercise. Lots of strenuous exercise means lots of lost muscle.

It’s important that you provide your body with the energy it needs before and after a workout to ensure that you don’t stay in this catabolic state.

You also need to understand that muscles don’t grow during a workout. They grow after the workout when you rest and recuperate. Training too much without eating enough makes training pointless as it just leaves you weaker with less muscle.

Don’t forget you need to sleep properly to refresh and rejuvenate. It also helps you prepare for the day ahead. Growth hormones are mostly released when you are asleep. These hormones work to restore and maintain an anabolic state, the opposite of the catabolic state.

Having an intense training regime will no doubt put a lot of stress on your mind and body. Not getting enough sleep will only make everything worse.

How to Avoid a Catabolic State

It’s not that difficult to prevent a catabolic state. One small thing is just to have a protein drink after training. It also helps to eat some carbs and protein a few hours before and a few hours after a workout and stop you from suffering post-workout lethargy.

Many protein drinks on the market are great at helping you to avoid a catabolic state. They are also filled with both essential and non-essential amino acids like Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) which promotes the release of growth hormones to repair muscles.

It’s important to get enough Vitamin C to strengthen your immune system and maintain your anabolic state. So you should consume foods and drinks rich in vitamin C, such as orange juice, before training.

All of these are small but significant steps you can take toward of a catabolic state and get the most out of your workouts.

Last updated: November 6th, 2016.

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