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“Catabolism” is the one word every bodybuilder fears. It is a bodybuilder's worst nightmare.

Being in a catabolic state for a prolonged period of time can result in major muscle loss and overall decrease in strength.
 
Catabolism is the breakdown of large molecules (protein) into smaller units to release energy. This process causes muscle loss. When our body is in a “catabolic state”, it breaks down muscle tissue in order to release energy. Catabolism process breaks muscles tissues and gives the energy to the body which is required for physical activities. 

What happens when you go in catabolic state?

Excessive breakdown of muscles 
- It causes muscle loss. 

Suppression of the human growth hormones 
- It hinders HGH release.

How do you get into a catabolic sate?

Lack of Proper Nutrition and Fasting
- When you are fasting.
- When you stay hungry for a long time. 
- When you don’t eat enough protein and carbohydrate before and after you exercise.
- When you don’t meet your body’s daily protein requirement.  

Poor Training
- When you do intense or excessive workout on an empty stomach. 
- When you do cardio (running, walking, swimming) on an empty stomach.
- When you don’t maintain weekly workout regimen (irregularity).  

Inadequate Recovery
- When you don’t sleep for at least 8 hours. 
- When you train even if your body is not fully recovered. (overtraining is highly catabolic)    

How do you know if your body is in a catabolic state?

Halted Progress
- If your body has stopped changing in spite of your best efforts, there are chances that you are entering into a catabolic sate often. 

Muscle Soreness
- If you are still having muscle soreness past the 72-hour mark, be sure to schedule a break and rest. This type of extended soreness is a sign that your muscles are not recovering and negatively impacts on your muscle-building efforts.

Insatiable Thirst
- Being in a catabolic state naturally causes dehydration. Thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration. Don't wait until you are thirsty. By the time you become thirsty, it is possible that you are already dehydrated. It is generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink water.

What needs to be done to avoid getting into that state?

Nutrition
- Eating 5-6 meals a day, with each meal separated in 3-4 hour increments, will assure that your muscle are continually receiving the essential nutrients for growth. 
- Make sure you take protein enough protein according to your body’s requirement. You also need to ensure that you are eating enough protein before and after workout. 
- If you are doing strength training sincerely, you can take up to 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kg of your bodyweight per day.

Training
- It is absolutely imperative to maintain a weekly workout regimen to prevent muscle loss. 
- Workout at least 4-5 days a week. 
- Sip water after every 15-20 minutes during workout.
- Eat simple carbohydrate (for example: a banana) during workout when you are performing HIIT or you are doing intense training or you are working out for a long time. 

Recovery
- It is important to understand that your muscles do not grow when you are working out. They grow only when the body is given the opportunity to rest and recuperate. Inadequate recovery causes muscle loss. Without sufficient recovery, catabolism will always reign supreme. 
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. 
- Take at least 1 day off from the gym each week to ensure you fully recover.

What to focus?

The opposite of catabolism is anabolism. Anabolism is the state in which your body is building muscle. When your body is in an “anabolic state”, you add muscle mass easily. Anabolic state promotes growth and increases muscle mass. If your goal is building more muscle mass, then you should try to keep your body in this state as much as possible. Stay focused and keep training hard.

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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