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Old 11-06-2012, 01:57 PM   #1
Collin Thompson
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Confused About Catabolism

In my microbio class I'm learning that catabolism is the breakdown of large molecules (like a protein) into smaller, simpler ones (ie protein --> amino acids) with a release of energy. I remember reading in Muscle and Fitness mags back in high school about how catabolism is the enemy and all that jazz, and all these different ways to avoid catabolism. Are there different operational definitions at work here? Because trying to avoid catabolism would just seem silly...not to mention impossible.

Now obviously I understand you wouldn't want muscle cells to become catabolic (if that's possible?). I'm just really confused. Basically what I'm wondering is why do some fitness experts rave about how catabolism is detrimental to training goals?
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Old 11-06-2012, 04:50 PM   #2
Richard Pinelli
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

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Originally Posted by Collin Thompson View Post
In my microbio class I'm learning that catabolism is the breakdown of large molecules (like a protein) into smaller, simpler ones (ie protein --> amino acids) with a release of energy. I remember reading in Muscle and Fitness mags back in high school about how catabolism is the enemy and all that jazz, and all these different ways to avoid catabolism. Are there different operational definitions at work here? Because trying to avoid catabolism would just seem silly...not to mention impossible.

Now obviously I understand you wouldn't want muscle cells to become catabolic (if that's possible?). I'm just really confused. Basically what I'm wondering is why do some fitness experts rave about how catabolism is detrimental to training goals?
Catabolism is just simpy that your body is not in a muscle building state...hence the fact that you aren't going to grow most people don't like that. Also the fact that when you are catabolic your metabolism has slowed and you are not repairing and recovering as fast. The fact you read it is breaking proteins into smaller units is that the proteins and aminos are breaking down...weakening(losing your gains and nutrient benefits.)
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Old 11-06-2012, 05:27 PM   #3
Christopher G. Woods
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

In nutritional terminology, catabolism (or a catabolic state) is usually used to describe a condition brought on by a caloric deficit, where your body begins to break down your muscle tissue to use for fuel. Technically, catabolism occurs constantly, but is usually balanced or outweighed by the production of new muscle tissue during anabolism. The catabolic state feared by bodybuilders and athletes is one that outruns anabolism due to insufficient dietary intake or insufficient training stimulus.

Last edited by Christopher G. Woods : 11-06-2012 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:18 PM   #4
Collin Thompson
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

Ok that makes a lot more sense. So would there be merit in the advice I used to read about needing to eat quickly after waking up because the body is in a catabolic state?
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:24 PM   #5
Christopher G. Woods
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

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Ok that makes a lot more sense. So would there be merit in the advice I used to read about needing to eat quickly after waking up because the body is in a catabolic state?
Total caloric intake is always paramount, but if you are trying to gain weight, support performance, or even minimize muscle loss while losing weight, I would recommend eating a meal within two hours of waking.
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:25 PM   #6
Robert Walsh
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

It depends on your goals. You may want to be in a catabolic state in order to lose fat.
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:36 PM   #7
Donald Lee
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

When talking about anabolism and catabolism in relation to strength training, what's important is NET protein synthesis. Anabolism and catabolism are both happening all the time. To gain muscle mass, you want more protein anabolism than catabolism, but again, both are happening all the time.

Usually, when pop fitness writers talk about anabolism or catabolism, they distort the science and use them as buzz words. The eating quickly after waking up because your body is in a catabolic state is a bunk idea. Protein oxidation doesn't start becoming a significant source of energy until about 14-16 hrs of fasting.
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:09 PM   #8
Chris Mason
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

Donald is correct.
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:27 PM   #9
Collin Thompson
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

Got it. Thank you all very much. Anything else you think I should know RE anabolism/catabolism that maybe needs some myth-busting?
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:35 PM   #10
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Re: Confused About Catabolism

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Got it. Thank you all very much. Anything else you think I should know RE anabolism/catabolism that maybe needs some myth-busting?
You can't avoid it. Protein supplements don't eliminate it despite what they may claim. Certain types of protein can mitigate it, but they don't eliminate it.

As Donald said, the idea is to try to keep a positive net nitrogen states in the skeletal muscles especially after training. Consuming protein will help on that front (supplemental or from food).
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