Muscle catabolism - what are catabolic processes?

Muscle catabolism - what are catabolic processes?

Metabolism, anabolism and muscle catabolism are topics that interest a very large number of athletes and people who practice sport recreationally. Often in the descriptions of dietary supplements for active people we can find information that it prevents muscle catabolism. What does this mean exactly, what is catabolism and can it be dangerous?

What is catabolism?

Catabolism is a set of metabolic processes as a result of which energy is released and complex chemical compounds are broken down into simpler molecules. This process in the body most often affects proteins that are converted into amino acids, but it can also include the transformation of sugars and fats. Catabolism occurs in every organism and is essential for proper functioning. The opposite of catabolism is anabolism, i.e. metabolic processes, as a result of which cells and tissues are formed.

Muscle catabolism

Anabolism and catabolism constantly regulate chemical and energy transformations in the body's cells. When the body does not have access to enough energy, it uses its own reserves of nutrients, in particular, it uses proteins from muscles. They are burned when the body lacks energy components. As a result, the organism is exhausted and the built muscles may lose their volume.

Catabolic hormones

The occurrence of muscle catabolism is very often associated with the activity of hormones that control metabolic processes. These hormones are usually activated in stressful situations. These include adrenaline, cortisol, glucagon and cytokines, i.e. hormone-like peptide substances.

Muscle development and growth are in turn stimulated by so-called anabolic hormones. Among them we can find estrogen, testosterone, insulin and growth hormone.

Symptoms - muscle catabolism

Depending on the cause of catabolism, it may be symptomatic or completely asymptomatic. During training, catabolism is most often manifested by burning muscles. It should be remembered that this is a natural and desirable response of the body to physical exertion.

On the other hand, catabolism after training and night catabolism do not bring any noticeable symptoms. Decay reactions occur even though we do not feel them. The only symptom of catabolism in this case is a decrease in muscle circumference, which we can observe in measurements. If our priority is the increase in muscle mass and we do not observe it despite regular exercise, you should take a closer look at the diet and everyday lifestyle. It is worth emphasizing that the decrease in muscle volume as a result of catabolism is not immediately visible.

Causes of catabolism in muscle tissue

Increased catabolism, resulting in the loss of the necessary ingredients needed to build muscle mass, can have many causes. Many of them are directly related to lifestyle.

Inadequate diet

Too little food intake and deficiency of nutrients in food accelerate catabolic processes. When the body is starving, it uses the accumulated reserves, drawing energy from them. Contrary to popular belief, being on a reduction diet may not contribute to fat loss, but primarily to the reduction of muscle mass.

Lack of sleep and regeneration

During sleep, the body, including the muscles, regenerates itself after a full day. Then the so-called night catabolism occurs, which is a normal phenomenon. When we sleep, we do not provide the body with protein, so it must use its own resources.

The catabolic process may increase in the event of inadequate regeneration. If we sleep too shortly, the hormonal balance of the body may be disturbed, which may cause problems with metabolism, including increased catabolism.

Too intense exercise

During physical exertion, in particular intense or prolonged exercise, muscles are subject to loads, microdamage and catabolism, which is completely normal. This process stimulates muscle mass for subsequent reconstruction, and as a result, reduces muscle weakness and promotes their development.

Although metabolic reactions, during which proteins break down in the muscles, occur naturally during exercise, the lack of a balanced meal before training can hinder subsequent anabolic processes and interfere with the growth of muscle mass.


Another common cause of increased muscle catabolism may be frequent stress and prolonged tension.This condition can slow down your metabolism. During stress, the amount of betatrophin increases, which inhibits the metabolism of fats.

Catabolic process - can it be controlled?

Although in many cases we have no influence on the catabolic changes taking place in the body, we are able, to some extent, to reduce the negative symptoms of catabolism. The introduction of a healthy lifestyle is of key importance here, including eating large amounts of valuable proteins, fats and carbohydrates, avoiding processed foods, reducing stimulants, getting enough sleep or avoiding stress.

How to protect muscles against catabolism?

As we have already mentioned, catabolism is an element of metabolic changes and takes place in every organism. However, there are many ways to reduce its negative effects.

Adequate supply of protein

One of the most effective ways to reduce catabolism is to introduce a protein-rich diet. This is important especially after training. Eating balanced meals that are also rich in protein reduces muscle fatigue.

Regular meals

Metabolic changes occur throughout the day and the catabolism itself lasts for many hours after training.This is why it is so important to provide nutritious meals throughout the day. When we are hungry, the body uses the accumulated resources and draws energy from them.

Time to recover

Adequate time for muscle regeneration after training is essential if we want to achieve better exercise results. Overtraining promotes catabolism. To support the regeneration process, it is worth using relaxation techniques. The best example is stimulation of muscle mass using a roller or a special massage roller. For tense muscles, aromatherapy with the use of lavender oil is also recommended, as well as the use of natural herbs and spices that support the restoration of muscle tissue (Cayenne pepper, rosemary).


Muscle catabolism can also be limited by properly selected dietary supplements. Before training, it is worth reaching for BCAA (branched chain amino acids) or creatine . However, after training, a protein supplement will work well.

In the case of physically active people, special attention should be paid to complex dietary supplements, that in their composition have a whole complex of ingredients supporting muscle building. The best example is a supplement OstroVit EAA that contains not only BCAAs, but also lysine, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, arginine, histidine and tryptophan. Similar properties are also characterized by rich in various amino acids (BCAA and EAA) hydrolyzate of beef proteins.

Post-workout regeneration is also supported by dietary supplements with taurine. This organic chemical compound from the group of amino acids can prevent the breakdown of muscle proteins, as well as reduce the feeling of fatigue. In the group of dietary supplements with taurine OstroVit Aqua Kick Pear Power deserves attention, i.e. an energizing agent with taurine and caffeine, which provides even more energy during exercise and better post-workout regeneration.

Catabolism and anabolism are natural transformations that allow proper functioning. In people who eat poorly or exercise intensively, the catabolic process may intensify. To calm it down, it is worth betting on a healthy, high-protein diet and supplements with BCAA and taurine.


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