Catabolism is defined as a “biochemical reaction that breaks down molecules into metabolism”. While some muscle catabolism is inevitable, too much of it can actually hamper your bodybuilding efforts. What exactly is muscle catabolism and how does it work? The answers to these questions and more are discussed below.
Your body is either in an anabolic or a catabolic state at all times. During an anabolic state, your body is gathering the energy it needs for repairing tissue and growing muscle. While in a catabolic state, your body is releasing energy by breaking down certain molecules. Both of these processes are important, allowing you to recover from a workout and have enough energy to perform daily activities. Even so, spending too much time in a catabolic state can lead to your muscles wasting away, which is why you must decrease muscle catabolism and increase anabolism if you are to notice significant gains.
What Causes Muscle Catabolism?
A number of things can cause the body to move from an anabolic to a catabolic state. Cortisol plays a major factor, as it facilitates muscle breakdown, allowing the amino acids in your muscles to be converted into sugar. This stress hormone increases by up to 50% following a workout, making that a prime time for catabolism to occur. Cortisol can also increase due to stress, meaning you are more likely to remain in a catabolic state if you experiencing a major life change. Overtraining, poor nutrition, and a lack of sleep can all increase muscle catabolism as well.
Ways to Prevent Catabolism
Diet plays an important role in preventing muscle catabolism. According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, bodybuilders should consume between three and six meals per day, with each meal containing between .4 and .5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Carbohydrates should make up between 50 to 60 percent of your diet, with fats consuming another 25-30%. Other things you can do to reduce the amount of time you spend in a catabolic state include:
- Working out on a regular basis. Certified personal trainer Richard Choueiri recommends decreasing the length of your workouts and performing more compound exercises if finding time for fitness is difficult.
- Get at least eight hours of sleep each night. A study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that individuals who got less than 5.5 hours of sleep each night lost 60% more lean muscle mass than those who got adequate sleep.
- Allow for sufficient recovery, as catabolism always increases whenever muscles are over-trained.
- Taking Vitamin C supplements, something that can help your body maintain an anabolic state for longer. Vitamin C can also reduce some of the negative effects being in an extended catabolic state might have on your immune system.
- Consuming a casein protein shake just before bedtime.
It isn’t possible to avoid muscle catabolism completely; however, you can manage it effectively to prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue. Knowing what causes catabolism and taking measures to increase the amount of time you spend in an anabolic state is needed in order to maximize your bodybuilding efforts.