Anabolic and Catabolic processes on your body

Your body works in a way with a standard SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), sounds mechanical, but this is the truth. The law of thermodynamics holds that energy can neither be created nor destroyed—it can only change form. Your basic function as an organism is to consume energy (take it in) via food, convert it into fuel for movement, sustain the body’s functions, and maintain muscle. Any upset it the fuel (food) and activity bring its own challenges with it. Recently, I have encountered many people on fad approaches to lose weight mainly. Of course, weight loss becomes the yardstick for many to measure their health parameters, but is this the only yardstick. From a Macrobiotic perspective, we approach food not from a ‘math’ but ‘chemistry’ perspective.

What does Anabolic and Catabolic mean?

Your metabolism is the sum of all anabolic and catabolic reactions that take place in the body. Anabolism and catabolism are terms used to describe processes that the body engages in, both these processes have a goal to keep the body’s functions strong. Anabolism centers around growth and building – organization of some molecules, a good example would be when the liver and kidneys produce glucose from non-carbohydrate foods, and these are then utilized via a function called glucogneoesis, using energy in the process; the process includes the production of components of cells such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, which require energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), energy-rich compounds (consume energy). Catabolsim takes place when you ingest food, and its broken down to make it more usable for energy (releases energy). This could be a two-step process like glycosis, when one glucose molecule is broken down to form two molecules, it’s a multi-step pathway that occurs in every animal, plant and cells of microorganisms. Muscle tissue breakdown is such a process as well.

Protein, carbohydrates and weight loss with anabolic & catabolic processes

Recently, attention has been drawn to these processes, with so many people engaging in physical health routines, and the need to gain muscle. An Anabolic workout focusses onbuilding muscle mass, a catabolic workout focuses on shedding weight and burning calories. What is the key to understanding issues that happen is the hormones that these processes are involved with, while they are at-play?Catabolism involves adrenaline, cytokine, cortisol and glucagon. Anabolism involves estrogen, testosterone, growth hormones and insulin. 

Recently, because of the use of high-protein diet and low carb diet, there has been a lot of discussion of these 2 processes work in the body. The catabolic state created when on a low-carb approach makes one lose more protein; hence the need to ‘up’ the protein a little more. Protein restriction when on a low-carb diet (weight loss) is not actually necessary and will be harmful and impact other issues where protein is needed, like your hair growth for example. 

I can best explain myself with a real-life example: A client has come to me with Female pattern hair loss (FHPL); she is exercising a lot to gain muscle (2 hours at best) and wants to add more protein (than her usual need) and restrict her carbohydrates. She is underweight; while adding a little more protein than she would normally require, may work.But I do not believe restriction of carbohydrates is a good approach to follow if you are exercising a lot. As a low carbohydrate diet would not adequately feed your muscles with the nutrients they will need to expand. It would also rob you her of energy. 

Food can be used for different reasons, and let’s not forget no one brings in the TCM-Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, which is where Macrobiotics is rooted. In the above example, hair energy comes from the kidneys and liver, basically ‘jinh’ good blood is retained in the kidneys, and kidney energy nourishes hair. Now if you exhaust the kidneys, by over-exercising; it will lead to adrenal exhaustion, and therefore negatively impact the hair. This would also interfere with the catabolic processes of the body. So, while restriction of carbohydrates is good in someone who is overweight, who is exercising a lot, it may not be the same for someone trying to grow hair and is underweight. Every personhas different constitution and health issues; no one size can fit all. The TCM dimension in which Macrobiotics is rooted, helps take things to a new level of understanding of these 2 processes (catabolic and anabolic) and how to use the macronutrients to achieve results we need.

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