The body is designed to adapt to the challenges that confront it. Similarly, it will also adapt accordingly to survive. This is why it’s important you are aware of what happens to your body while you sleep because for those 7-9 hours (we hope), your body enters a catabolic state, which may rob you of your hard-earned gains. Whether you’re just curious about how this happens or want to know how you can combat catabolism to maximise your muscle growth and strength gains, our blog will be sure to assist. Read on to find the answers you’ve been searching for.
To understand catabolism – and its polar opposite, anabolism – you first have to understand that it is a form of metabolism. That’s a lot of ‘isms’ but bear with us. Metabolism refers to all the physical and chemical processes in your body that either convert or use energy. Catabolism, in particular, is concerned with metabolic processes that break down biomolecules while anabolism is concerned with those that build them.
Why does Catabolism and Anabolism matter?
With regards to your muscle mass, protein catabolism (muscle breakdown) and protein anabolism (muscle building) take place at the same time. The key, therefore, to ensuring your growth is ensuring that protein anabolism exceeds protein catabolism or you stand to lose more muscle than you gain and recover in your sleep. This is why it’s important to put into place strategies, and consume the right nutrients and supplements to ensure protein anabolism exceeds protein catabolism before you are whisked away by the Sandman.
So is protein the answer?
Yes and no. Allow us to explain. The type of protein you need in order to slow or reduce protein degradation differs from whey protein. Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein that assists in both providing energy to the muscles and for post-workout muscle growth.
Another type of protein, the milk-based casein, provides a slow and steady supply of aminos for as long as seven hours (Stoppani). This will help your body both reduce protein breakdown and improve protein anabolism which is ideal for muscle growth.
Is that all?
Well apart from a good night’s sleep (i.e. sufficient sleep) and the right protein supplements to promote muscle recovery and growth, it is also important to supplement with minerals zinc and magnesium. Why? As Jim Stoppani points out, it is an effective combination for enhancing muscle recovery, boosting muscle size and strength and even aiding fat loss. Stoppani classifies zinc as a must-have mineral and rightly so because its antioxidant properties stimulate the activity of many enzymes in our bodies for various biochemical reactions. This also includes protein synthesis, a critical factor in your muscle growth. Equally, magnesium helps other important process and tissues in our bodies such as the cardiovascular system, bone health and metabolic rate.
Thankfully, quality supplement brands have come up with ZMA, which is a combination of zinc monomethionine/asparate and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6. Further evidence of the importance of this supplement was provided by a study (Wilborn et al, 2004) which found that zinc and magnesium supplementation may enhance anabolic hormonal profiles, reduce catabolism, improve immune status, and/or improve adaptations to resistance training.
Our online store offers a range of night time supplements that will help you fight off catabolism and wake up to the fruits of following your fitness regime. Simply, browse our store and build a stack that lets you maximise the benefits of keeping fit and healthy.
Wilborn, C. D., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Taylor, L. W., Marcello, B. M., Rasmussen, C. J., … Kreider, R. B. (2004). Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 1(2), 12–20. http://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-12
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