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Anabolic vs. catabolic training: which is better for weight loss?

18th September 2016 by admin
Anabolic vs. catabolic training: which is better for weight loss?

Anabolism and catabolism are metabolic processes required for the normal development, growth, healing and reproduction of the human organism, but they describe opposite processes.

While anabolism refers to the building of molecules, and requires energy for completion, catabolism describes the reactions during which complex molecules are broken down to smaller ones, and energy is released. So anabolism is the building up of molecules, and catabolism is the destruction or degradation of molecules.

From the biological point of view, both processes are necessary for maintaining life, and they’re both mediated by hormones, the anabolic hormones being insulin, testosterone and the growth hormone, while the catabolic ones are adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. When it comes to fitness though, these terms, anabolic and catabolic, refer to types of exercises are used for different purposes.

Anabolic exercises build muscles, catabolic workouts burn fat

When we eat something, that food is digested and during digestion the larger molecules are destroyed and turned into smaller ones. This is a catabolic process, so the macronutrients contained by food – proteins, carbohydrates and fats – are broken down to smaller molecules, which are then used by the organism as building blocks for tissues.

The energy that is released during catabolism is stored in the ATP molecules and used whenever the body needs it. Without this energy, the anabolic processes can’t take place, as the organism does not produce energy during anabolism. So catabolism is the one that drives anabolism forward.

Once the body has its building blocks available (the micronutrients), the anabolic processes can take place. These include the growth and healing of tissues, and take place both during and after exercise. If the body produces more energy in the catabolic state than it requires for its anabolic processes, the excess is stored as either glycogen or fat, for later use.

To increase your lean mass and decrease your body fat percentage, you may need to perform both anabolic and catabolic workouts, depending on your current body composition. But in general, in the anabolic state the body builds muscles, and in the catabolic state it burns fat.

The anabolic state is achieved through strength training and proper nutrition, so if you want to gain more muscles, you need to lift weights or do body weight exercises. The hormones that are associated with anabolism help in putting on lean mass and can lead to muscle growth, but you need to pay attention to nutrition as well.

Without the needed nutrients, your body won’t be able to build muscle tissue while in the anabolic state, so make sure you get enough protein and carbohydrates before and after exercise. Also, make sure to get enough sleep and rest post workout, as these processes also support the growth and repairing of the damaged muscle tissues.

For weight loss and for decreasing your body fat percentage, you need to keep your body in a catabolic state, and this is achieved during cardio exercises that last around 45 minutes. Running, biking, HIIT workouts, sports, swimming and other forms of aerobic workouts are great for decreasing the total fat mass, as the body consumes energy while in the anabolic state.

If the cardio workout lasts longer, the organism uses the blood glucose at the beginning, but then it needs an additional source of energy to power the muscles and continue the routine, so it starts breaking down the glycogen stored in muscles or fat tissue. The exercises that keep the body in a catabolic state will result in little to no muscle building, but instead will support your weight loss efforts.

As you can see, anabolic and catabolic exercises have different effects on your body, but each of them causes damage to your muscles, so make sure you rest, eat healthy and hydrate your body properly after each workout, regardless of its type.

If you want to decrease your body fat percentage but also to put on some lean mass and build a more athletic and defined body, ask for your trainer’s recommendations, as the more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate is and thus the more efficient your body is at burning calories during and after exercise.

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