Anabolic vs Catabolic

Anabolic vs Catabolic: What’s it mean?

When people hear the term “anabolic” they immediately think “OMG STEROIDS!!!”(or have no clue…) But newsflash: Anabolism is a metabolic state that your body either is or isn’t in right this second. And if you aren’t in an anabolic state right now, than you’re in a catabolic state, another metabolic state of the body. Let me explain the difference between the two & what they mean.


An anabolic state is a positive metabolic state that you want to keep your body in whenever you can. You can read about how anabolism is using monomers to build polymers and how it is using ATP and bla-bla-bla… Simply put & what you need to know, is that when your body is ‘anabolic’, it is in a muscle building, fat-burning state.

Anabolism is using energy [nutrition from the food you’ve consumed] to stimulate protein synthesis and build muscle. An anabolic state can actually even increase your bone density.

To keep your body in an anabolic state, you must focus on giving it the right nutrients at the proper times. A body lacking sufficient amounts of protein or carbs at certain times can cause your body to be ‘catabolic’ thus hindering your progress.

The reason steroids are so effective for mass gain is because they basically make the body remain anabolic 24/7; therefore positively reacting to any nutrients it takes in. Obviously there are plenty of negative side effects though, so our goal is to keep the body anabolic naturally with the proper timing of nutrients.

[Side-note: Certain hormones in your body are anabolic hormones: Testosterone, Estrogen and Insulin are all examples of anabolic hormones]


A catabolic state is a negative metabolic state. Catabolism is the exact opposite of anabolism. When your body is catabolic, it is lacking the nutrients it needs, essentially going into panic-mode, therefore eating your muscle & preserving fat.

It is very interesting how complex the human body is.

For example, many people skip meals throughout the day. Let’s say you rush out the door in the morning, skipping breakfast. Then you get busy and skip lunch and don’t have anything all the way until dinner; your body runs out of fuel/energy. And once it runs out of energy to burn, you hope it taps into fat cells, but unfortunately it doesn’t, it begins panicking that it may be getting starved and will tap into what it feels is a much better source of energy: muscle.

In addition to burning your muscle as energy, when your body is catabolic, it isn’t using any available energy to synthesize proteins & burn up fat cells; Due to this, your body may have excess energy that it will store as fat.

[Side-note: Certain hormones in your body are also catabolic hormones. Cortisol & surprisingly, Adrenaline are examples of catabolic hormones]

Now that you know the difference between the two metabolic states, here are a few tips to keep your body anabolic as often as possible:

  • DO NOT skip breakfast!
  • Consume protein/carbs post-workout
  • Consume proper protein before bed
  • Be sure you are eating enough food throughout the day – NO LOW, LOW 700 calorie diets that don’t give your body enough fuel to run on!

Thanks for reading! If you found this post valuable, please pass it on to a friend that could benefit from it!

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