Hopefully you’re just a little bit concerned about whether your environment is catabolic. There’s an old saying in the medical field that it’s easier to prevent diseases than treat them. The same applies to reducing catabolic situations. Prevention is by far the best cure, and as a bodybuilder you can’t leave anything to chance that might stop you from making gains, or even take away the gains you’ve already made. The human body is either in an anabolic state, a catabolic state or a neutral state somewhere between the two extremes. As we saw earlier, an anabolic state is the ideal condition for your body, because this is where you’ll make your best gains in muscle size and strength. The end result of anabolism is the synthesis of new cellular material, especially muscle proteins, cells, membranes and tissues. In short, we’re talking about maximum muscle size. Catabolism, meanwhile, is the process whereby large, complex molecules are broken down into simpler ones, especially for energy production. It’s very easy for a bodybuilder to slip into a catabolic state. Ironically, the all-out high-intensity training we often subject ourselves to is treated as a form of stress by the body, and one of its responses is to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is often called a stress hormone because the body manufactures and releases it in high concentrations during such stressful situations as disease, injury, and yes, even intense exercise. The reason cortisol is so detrimental to bodybuilding is that it increases the mobilization of amino acids from muscles and increases protein breakdown. As more and more protein is broken down, you start losing valuable muscle tissue. If you’re wondering how such things evolved, just blame your ancestors. Unlike most of us, who live relatively safe lives, our ancestors never had it easy. Whether going weeks without solid food or being chased by a sabre-tooth cat or cave bear, things were often stressful for our cave-dwelling ancestors. To increase their chances of survival, their bodies evolved and passed to us a number of preventative mechanisms – one of which is stress hormones. And while we rarely have to worry about being some animal’s lunch these days, we still have these survival mechanisms that will fight us as we try to put on muscle mass. So what can you do to maximize anabolic reactions and minimize catabolic reactions?
How can you make sure that your body is always primed and ready to build new muscle tissue? What can you do to keep those dreaded catabolic reactions at bay? The fact is, you can do quite a lot. Let’s take a look.