Building muscle is an anabolic process and losing fat is a catabolic process. They are opposites.
So can you have two processes working in opposition and benefit from both, i.e. gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously?
Good news is that both the anabolic and catabolic process lead to fat loss over time.
Anabolism and catabolism are the two broad classes of biochemical reactions that make up metabolism. There are 3 main roles that our metabolism is responsible for:
Convert food/fuel into energy for our cells to function (Catabolism / burning energy)
Convert food/fuel into new structures of our body (Anabolism / storing energy)
Can I control my metabolism?
A lot of uncontrollable factors, including age, gender and genetics, direct your metabolism. But, you can positively influence hormones that play a role in anabolism and catabolism with these healthy habits:
Eat high-quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Avoid processed foods.
Limit alcohol and avoid smoking and substance use.
Sleep at least seven hours a night.
Find healthy ways to relieve stress.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Get regular exercise.
How does food affect anabolism and catabolism?
Catabolism functions no matter what you give your body. It breaks down food, whether it’s junky or nutritious. Whatever it doesn’t use for energy now, it stores for later (hello, extra pounds).
But anabolism is entirely different. It only functions properly when you’re getting enough nutrients through foods like vegetables, fruits and lean meats.
Your body needs high-quality building blocks to heal, repair and grow.
What’s better for weight loss: anabolic or catabolic workouts?
Different types of exercise are considered anabolic or catabolic, depending on whether they use energy to build or break down something.
Anabolic exercises include weight-bearing exercises like weight-lifting, pushups, and squats. Doing these exercises requires very little oxygen and energy use during the activity (though it may feel like it’s using a lot!). However, this type of exercise causes tiny tears in muscle fibers. Your body expends more energy afterward to repair and strengthen the tissue.
Catabolic exercises include aerobic activities like running, swimming and biking. They demand more oxygen and energy use — burning glucose and fat — during the activity itself.
There’s been a lot of research on the best type of exercise for weight loss. Cardiovascular workouts (catabolic) are great for burning a lot of calories quickly. But weight-bearing exercises (anabolic) produce an afterburn effect using more calories over a longer period to repair muscles. It has been found that doing a combination of anabolic and catabolic workouts is most effective with priority to lifting weight and building muscle tissue (catabolic).
Anabolism and catabolism are both crucial parts of your metabolism. They fuel your everyday activities, from jogging to healing a paper cut. The best way to support those processes and boost your metabolism is to adopt healthy habits. That way, you’ll be in the best shape to deal with whatever life throws your way.
Here are the top 5 tips to build a lean body!
Keep your caloric deficit small, like 250.
Eat 25-plus grams of protein three times per day.
Do compound strength exercises at least three times per week.
Do Sprint Interval Training or short HIIT circuits for recovery.
The bottom line: Yes, you can gain muscle while losing weight.