We often hear fitness enthusiasts and professionals talk about being in an anabolic state and how beneficial it can be for your fitness goals, but what exactly does it mean to be in an anabolic state? What are the benefits? And how can one maintain it? There are two different states that your body alternates between, an anabolic state and a catabolic one. Ideally, if you want to increase your fitness gains, you need to ensure that your body maintains an anabolic state for longer rather than a catabolic state. In order to achieve an anabolic state, one needs to maintain a fine balance of the correct nutrition, exercise and rest..
Anabolism vs Catabolism
Catabolism refers to the process whereby tissues or components are broken down in order to replenish depleted reserves that may be required by the body to maintain normal function (e.g. energy in the form of glucose from glycogen molecules). An anabolic state is just the opposite, where the body synthesises, and/or repairs tissue or energy reserves for storage purposes. This process occurs in all aspects of the body from bone accrual to glycogen formation to muscle growth and development. Anabolic reactions require energy and catabolic reactions release energy, and the body will naturally alternate between these states when required.
The body requires food that can provide muscle with the energy needed for growth and repair– a process known as muscle anabolism. . There are several factors that can influence muscle anabolism including nutrition, exercise, and rest and by neglecting one of these could result in the body being unable to fulfil its energy requirements which would then result in a higher rate of catabolism. Essentially this means that the body will begin to break down hard-earned muscle tissue. A continuous state of catabolism can have serious negative impacts on muscle tissue as well as one’s overall health and well-being.
The benefits of being in an anabolic state
If you’re looking to build muscle, strength and maximise your fitness gains, it is essential for your body to remain in an anabolic state for a longer period of time. Although some catabolic processes are completely necessary for normal body function, an anabolic state is crucial for optimal muscle tissue growth, bone mineral density, digestion as well as a strong immune system.
How to maintain an anabolic state
- Eat real food
Rather than relying too heavily on supplements and artificial nutrients, make sure that you include as many whole food sources as possible that are fresh, natural and unprocessed. Whole food sources often contain the right variety of protein, fats and good carbohydrates, and are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can promote an anabolic state. Try to avoid fast food and other processed food options and rather opt for simple, balanced meals. This will ensure that your body is fuelled with the correct nutrition that it needs in order to achieve an anabolic state.
- Get enough sleep/rest
When we rest, our body is given the opportunity to repair and renew muscle tissue damaged from intense exercise or training. . Insufficient rest may result in muscle catabolism and delay muscle growth and recovery. Your body needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep to allow your muscle tissues the opportunity to heal from the wear and tear as a result of vigorous exercise.
- Incorporate compound movements when training
Compound exercises that incorporate multiple joints and muscle groups such as squats, deadlifts, as well as push and pull training variations develop the whole body as opposed to focusing only on one muscle group.. Compound movements may help to trigger an anabolic response, stimulating muscle protein synthesis and promoting muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth).
- Use a protein supplement
Protein supplements such as a whey are great for stimulating muscle growth, as many of us are constantly on-the-go and don’t have a lot of time to pre-make our meals, meal prep, etc. Protein supplements help promote the synthesis of complex protein molecules, and whey protein is especially effective as it is absorbed rapidly and utilised effectively by the body. NPL has a variety of whey/protein supplements to help you maintain an anabolic state and increase lean muscle growth. . These include: Anabolic Whey, Platinum Whey and Whey Isolate.
- Use BCAAs
BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) make up approximately 35-40% of the essential amino acids of protein in the body, and are considered the “building blocks” of protein.. Consuming BCAA supplements helps to minimise muscle tissue breakdown and also improves nitrogen retention which helps to maintain an anabolic state for longer – therefore promoting muscle growth and recovery.. BCAAs may also help to reduce muscle fatigue, enhance power as well as boost endurance.. NPL has a variety of BCAA supplements including BCAA Amino Pro, BCAA 5000, BCAA capsules, BCAA 10:1:1 and BCAA Ultra energy drinks.