Good metabolism plays a key role in weight control, muscle development and general health, but metabolism is actually a broader term referring to several chemical processes required to maintain life. When most people talk about metabolic rates, they are actually referring to anabolism and catabolism.
What is the Process of Anabolism?
Anabolism is the process by which your body creates various complex molecules and compounds using smaller components. Anabolism is essentially taking smaller building blocks to create full structures that make up your organs and tissues. This process usually requires energy.
Anabolism occurs in three basic stages:
- Stage 1: Your cells produce various precursors, including monosaccharides, amino acids, nucleotides and isoprenoids.
- Stage 2: Using ATP (your body’s primary form of energy), the precursors get activated and turn into reactive forms.
- Stage 3: In their reactive forms, the precursors are assembled into their more complex macromolecules.
The molecules and compounds that result from anabolism are necessary to various cellular functions, structures and even your basic genetic information. These complex compounds are known as macromolecules. Macromolecules are generally divided into four main classes:
- Protein created from amino acids
- Lipids made from fatty acids
- Nucleic acids created from nucleotides
- Polysaccharides (a sub-unit of starch, glycogens and other complex carbohydrates) made from sugars
All of these components are necessary to creating new cells and maintaining your existing tissue. For athletes, bodybuilders and others looking to improve their physical health, anabolism is necessary to supporting bone growth and increasing muscle mass.
How to Increase Anabolism
The process of anabolism relies on a wide range of naturally produced chemicals, including testosterone, estrogen, and somatotropin, that play a role in ensuring proper bone health and supporting the growth and tone of muscles. There are a variety of ways to increase the process of anabolism by increasing the production of these chemicals.
- Get a good night’s rest. Aside from helping your body rest, adequate sleep puts your body into a state of anabolism. During your first hour of sleep, your body experiences an increase in somatotropin, allowing for a greater rate of protein metabolism. Studies show that sleep deprivation promotes catabolism. Aim for about 8 to 10 hours of undisturbed, good quality sleep each night.
- Maintain a solid nutritional foundation. This involves a balanced diet filled with all the vitamins, nutrients and minerals you need to build and sustain bulk, but you should also consider including compounds that may naturally facilitate anabolism. These include common ingredients like Echinacea, boron, ginseng and omega-3 fish oil. Above all, avoid skipping meals. Your body needs its amino acids and nutrients delivered in the proper amounts, at the proper times (generally every 2 to 3 hours) to ensure anabolism.
- Focus on high-intensity exercises with short periods of rest. Lunges, pull-ups, squats and other compound, multi-joint exercises done at a high intensity with short rests between sets has been shown to increase somatotropin, testosterone and IGF-1, chemicals that play a role in anabolism. The amount that your body produces is proportionate to the intensity of the exercises and the consistency of your workout.
- Have a Post-Workout Meal and Protein Shake. Within an hour after finishing your workout, drink a protein shake that is high quality and fast digesting. This just adds extra insurance that your body has the building blocks necessary to repair your muscles and synthesize new muscle tissue. Make sure the shake has some carbs in it to make sure those building blocks get sent directly to your muscle cells.
- Minimize or eliminate smoking and alcohol consumption. Alcohol can dramatically reduce testosterone, somatotropin and other chemicals involved in protein synthesis. It can also cause nutrients to get sent to fat cells instead of muscle cells. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to feel guilty about enjoying a beer or a glass of wine. Just be aware of its potential effects on anabolism. Smoking cigarettes, on the other hand, comes with only disadvantages to your muscle synthesis and overall health. It shortens your lifespan and prevents you from working out as intensely as you can. Cigarettes also contain carbon monoxide, which has a negative affect on hemoglobin. It essentially harms the capacity for hemoglobin to carry oxygen, equating to fewer nutrients for your muscles and limited muscle growth.
- Find constructive ways to reduce or manage your stress. Excess stress causes the production of cortisol, the main stress chemical. Cortisol significantly reduces testosterone and somatotropin levels. Meditate, take yoga or learn other daily stress management techniques to minimize the effects of cortisol.
What is a Catabolic Reaction?
Catabolism is the other side of the coin. It refers to the process of breaking down complex compounds into their smaller parts. This gives you the energy you need for essentially all your bodily functions, from jogging and working out to microscopic activity on a cellular level. It even fuels anabolism.
While catabolism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, being in a catabolic state isn’t beneficial if you want to build muscle mass or maintain good health. Once your body has broken down fats and starches for energy, catabolism will cause the breakdown of proteins into amino acids. An extended catabolic state leads to major muscle loss, a suppressed immune system and general fatigue.
How to Decrease Catabolism
Many methods for reducing catabolism involve good training, nutrition, and recovery. In terms of training, make sure you maintain a regular workout schedule that fights off muscle loss and keeps up your anabolism. If you have trouble finding time, reduce the length of your workouts and focus on high-intensity exercise that trains multiple workout groups at once.
At the same time, don’t overdo it. Overtraining can be highly catabolic. Make sure you include time for recovery. Along with adequate sleep, schedule 2 to 3 days a week away from the gym. This time not only helps your muscles repair but also ensures their growth.
Of course, you can’t exercise or recover if you don’t provide your body with the right nutrition. Eat about 5 to 8 meals a day, spaced out to about 3 hours each. This ensures a consistent flow of nutrients and fuel. General rules for your diet suggest:
- 50 to 60 percent of your diet should include carbohydrates
- 20 to 25 percent of your diet should comprise proteins
- 25 to 30 percent of your diet should include fats
Along with this diet, you may consider taking a supplement to combat catabolism. Studies suggest that branched chain amino acids can effectively prevent catabolic problems and maintain proper protein synthesis. MYOKEM’s™ mTOR PRO™ offers a dynamic formula comprising BCAAs and EAAs for improved recovery and muscle growth. Every serving of mTOR PRO™ offers 10.5g of essential amino acids. Add it to your existing regimen to reduce catabolism and maintain anabolism.