If you want to maximise your fitness gains, the way to go is to ensure that your body remains longer in the anabolic state than in the catabolic one. These are the two states that your body keeps fluctuating between and you need to maintain a fine balance of the right nutrition, exercise and rest in order to meet the energy needs that an anabolic state requires.
Understanding Anabolism and Catabolism
The anabolic state is one where the body builds and repairs muscle tissue as opposed to a catabolic state that involves the process of breaking down tissue to replenish depleted energy levels of the body. So the catabolic process provides energy for anabolism to occur. For the body to shift to an anabolic state, it needs foods that can provide the muscles with the energy needed for them to repair and grow. Without creating the correct balance of nutrition, rest, and exercise, the body will not be able to fulfill its energy requirements thus resulting in a higher rate of catabolism. This means that the body will begin to break down precious muscle tissue as a response to the depleting energy levels. A prolonged catabolic state can have an extremely negative impact on muscle tissue and ultimately on the overall health of the individual.
The benefits of being in an anabolic state
If you’re looking to achieve your fitness goals of building strength and maintaining muscle mass, it is crucial for your body to encounter a longer duration of the anabolic state. Anabolism is vital for the growth of muscle tissue and also in increasing bone density, improving digestion and the production of white blood cells to build a stronger immune system.
Achieving the anabolic state, therefore, requires a combination of optimal nutrition, training, and rest. Any imbalances or incorrect practices related to these factors will disturb the rhythm of these two vital processes and as a consequence force the body into a catabolic state that will break down the muscles that you have worked so hard to gain.
The following are the 10 ways to make you more anabolic and help you optimise your fitness goals.
1. Eat real food
Rather than relying completely on supplements and artificial nutrients, having real food that is fresh, natural and unprocessed is essential. With the right variety and combinations of protein, fats and clean carbs, real food comes packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help lead your body towards anabolism. Avoiding instant and processed foods and going in for simple home cooked meals will ensure that your body is fuelled with the correct nutrition that it needs to create an anabolic state.
2. Sleep 8 hours at night
It is during periods of rest that the body repairs and restores worn-out tissue and grows new muscles. Not giving the body a minimum of 8 hours of sleep will hamper the anabolic process and not give the tissues the opportunity to heal from the wear and tear brought on by exercise. An anabolic state, therefore, depends to a very large extent on sufficient phases of sleep without which all your efforts at training might actually have just the opposite effect, thus leading to catabolism.
3. Detoxify the body
The use of infra-red saunas brings on weight loss and maintain an optimal metabolic rate. The detoxification clears the path of all the hurdles that might prevent the body from being able to have enough energy to make possible the shift to the anabolic state.
4. Train using compound movements
Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and push and pull variations develop the whole body rather than focus only on one group of muscles. This helps trigger an anabolic state as the body keeps burning fat for hours after the workout is over thus supplying the body with enough energy to fuel the anabolic phase.
5. Use a protein supplement
Protein supplements like whey are often essential for muscle growth for many living in a fast paced world with little time to pre-make all their meals. They help promote the synthesis of complex protein molecules. Whey protein is considered to be especially effective as it is quick to be absorbed by the body.
6. Use BCAAs
BCCAs or branch chain amino acids are important, 35% of protein in muscle is BCAAs, and are thus known as the building blocks of the body. Using BCCA supplements minimises lean muscle tissue breakdown and improves nitrogen retention that maintains your body in an anabolic state for longer. It also lessens muscle fatigue and enhances power and endurance. Complementing your workout with consumption of BCCAs leads to the stimulation of muscle building components in the body and the reduction of visceral fat – the fat that accumulates around the abdomen and other central organs.
7. Eat within 15 minutes of training
Post-exercise eating is key to accelerating muscle recovery, reducing fatigue and providing all the raw material needed for regrowth of muscle tissue. The body needs to be replenished of protein and liver glycogen stores quickly post workout, therefore the timing plays a very important role in preventing the body from getting into the catabolic mode.
8. Reduce Stress
Mental and physical stress slows down the body and lowers its immunity levels. Training for too long, without paying heed to the other essential factors like nutrition and rest can cause excessive stress to the body and hamper the process of muscle repair and recovery. A positive mental outlook, a healthy lifestyle and enough time to pursue other interests and relax all help to lower stress hormones and promote the optimal functioning of all the body systems.
9. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol interferes with your muscle gains as it greatly hampers the process of protein synthesis. It also lowers the levels of testosterone which is the main hormone responsible for muscle growth. It is best to limit alcohol consumption to an occasional indulgence on a weekend otherwise it can give a serious setback to the anabolic process of the body.
10. Eat green vegetables
Intake of green vegetables provides the body with phytonutrients that trigger the anabolic process. Providing the body with a rich supply of all the essential vitamins and minerals enables the body to move into the anabolic state and maintain it for a longer duration. Eating greens keeps the body in an alkaline state, which is essential for staying anabolic.