Difference Between Anabolism and Catabolism

Weight training is essential in maximizing anabolic muscle building. In essence, anabolic means building up. Loss of muscle tissues occurs through a process called catabolism – breaking down. 

Now, these – anabolism and catabolism – are the two major parts of metabolism. In essence, for your body to function normally and healthily, metabolism ensures that your body builds and breaks down components to balance your energy stores.

What is the anabolic process?

Now, anabolism leads to the building up of new tissues and compounds that include the muscle. For the anabolic process to happen, the body uses bodybuilding nutrients such as amino acids and proteins. 

Essentially, a lot of energy is used in converting these materials to new compounds and tissues. During routine weight training, the anabolic processes strengthen your muscles by strengthening the bones and increasing muscle mass. 

To strike a balance in your metabolism, your body produces hormones at regular intervals for regulation. Essentially, the hormones help your body decide when to use, store or build your muscle tissues. The following are the main anabolic hormones:

  • Human growth hormone (somatropin)
  • Estrogen
  • Insulin growth factor (IGF-1)
  • Testosterone
  • Insulin

Anabolic Steroids

An anabolic steroid is a substance known to mimic the functioning of the male sex hormone – testosterone. Essentially, you can get anabolic steroids either as synthetic or natural drugs. 

However, despite their nature, anabolic steroids are prohibited and banned in multiple sports. In essence, these steroids have adverse side effects and give users an unfair advantage during competition in sports.

Unless you have a prescription or are under the supervision of a doctor, anabolic steroids’ possession, usage, and distribution are illegal. 

Therefore, knowing where to get your anabolic steroids is critical in ensuring that you are protected from any dangerous effects that might arise. You need to be sure you are taking prescribed treatment by talking to your doctor about where to get HGH legally and how to safely administer it.

Anabolic steroids are great for short-term use. To grow your muscles artificially, you can take legal dietary supplements that contain steroid hormones. DHEA is one such dietary supplement. 

How do natural bodybuilders build their bodies? Typically, natural bodybuilding involves maintaining the anabolic hormones through weight training routines. These routines keep the anabolic hormone levels high and ensure that catabolic hormones are minimized. This is achieved without the use of any illegal drug.

Are there legal alternatives? Anabolic steroids are banned, period. However, there exists a gray area in regards to supplements known as prohormones. Essentially, these compounds can be added to supplements that later become anabolic hormones in your body. 

The muscle building is, however, experienced temporarily – short-term. Various athletic groups also ban prohormones. In addition, when making a prohormone purchase, avoid those products without third-party evaluation.

Debunking Catabolism

As already pointed out, catabolism is the part of your metabolism that breaks down body tissues and other complex compounds. During this breakdown, energy is released. In most cases, catabolism occurs when your body requires energy. 

The process is also known to occur during high-intensity workouts such as splints or running a marathon. In addition, if your glycogen store levels are depleted, your body can use the process to generate more energy for high-intensity exercises. 

In a nutshell, long durations of exercise without energy replacement – taking food or drinks – can lead to muscle breakdown for energy. Hormones used in this process include:

  • Cortisol
  • Glucagon
  • Catecholamine
  • Adrenaline

In most cases, the above hormones do not have a similar effect when dealing with tissues. For instance, they might generate a catabolic process to produce energy and fail to break down the muscle tissue.

Anabolism vs Catabolism

You probably have heard the term ‘anabolic’ used about anabolic steroids or anabolic state. Essentially, this term refers to the process of tissue building and the particular hormones used.

Concerning building and breaking down components of your muscle tissue, let us draw out the main differences between catabolism and anabolism processes.

  • Anabolic processes build and maintain muscle tissues, while catabolic processes break down the muscle tissues and fat.
  • For anabolic processes to occur, energy is required. On the other hand, catabolic reactions give out energy.
  • Anabolism leads to the buildup of large molecules from small molecules, while catabolism breaks down large molecules into small, simple molecules.
  • Anabolism involves hormones such as insulin growth factor, growth hormone, testosterone, insulin, and estrogen. In catabolism, hormones used include glucagon, cortisol, and adrenaline.
  • Anabolic training exercises include weight lifting, while catabolic exercises are mainly cardio.

How to Maintain the Anabolic State?

To maintain your muscle-building process, you should exercise during an anabolic state. This ensures that your body has adequate nutrients to fuel the high-intensity range of workouts. You can also take foods and drinks that contain high nutrient levels.

Anabolic and Anti-catabolic Products

Anabolic supplements provide proteins, amino acids, and carbohydrates. Typically, you can differentiate the products through their labels. Anabolic products are labeled ‘anabolic’ with claims of fast absorption for quick muscle buildup. 

To prevent catabolism, you can also use anti-catabolic supplements such as creatine to slow down the breakdown of muscle tissues. In most cases, anti-catabolic products can be consumed with food and take a long time to digest.


Anabolism and catabolism are critical for the normal functioning of our bodies. Without metabolism, many functions would fail. However, you can stimulate anabolic muscle building through weight training and hormonal supplements. Before taking the supplements, you should contact your physician.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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