Anabolic vs. Catabolic: Talk Nerdy to Me

Awwww yissssss let’s talk about Body Recomposition, friends! 

So I’m sure all of you have heard at some point in your lives that it’s impossible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time. And then perhaps less but still some of you have also heard about classic “cutting” and “bulking” strategy for fat loss and weight gain. The two are related because it’s true: you can’t lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. And cutting and bulking separate the processes into those two stages of catabolic (cut) and anabolic (gain) exercise. 

What is misleading about this, however, is that you can most certainly go back and forth between these two stages. And that is what body recomposition is. In layman’s terms, you eat more when you work out and eat less when you don’t. You eat at a surplus aka over your caloric maintenance so that you stimulate muscle growth (anabolic). And then when you’re not lifting or doing whatever, you eat at a deficit to lose fat (catabolic). So you can go through your weekly fitness routines and be burning fat AND building muscle.

Simple enough right? Well that’s what I briefly touched on in my last blog post. I wanted to talk more in depth about it today. In my last post I talk about how my priorities have changed because I no longer care about losing fat to expose the muscles I’ve already worked hard for. I mean that would be great! But it’s not nearly as important as building up strength after an injury is. I need to stimulate growth so I can prevent injury from happening again in the future. 

So my days and routines have changed for the better. As a general rule of thumb for me, voted “most likely to reinjure themselves post injury due to impatience and overly eager approach to fitness”, I workout every other day. I lift 3-4 days a week this way, sometimes my 4th day being a hike or something that isn’t quite cardio but also isn’t quite weights. Nutrition-wise, I eat more carbs on workout days and on my rest days I try to keep it purely protein and dark leafy greens. 

I’ve also changed the times when I eat. I used to do IF, or Intermittent Fasting, which is a part of the “lean gains” program. It’s a great strategy too! But it wasn’t working for my work lifestyle. Essentially it meant that I was trying to wait until 12 to eat my first meal and then I’d finish my last meal at 8 and fast again until noon the next day. But when I wake up at 5am and start lifting heavy shit at work, with sometimes a huge variety of exertion, I was finding it extremely difficult to not get dizzy or be overcome by hunger. So no bueno. That’s what trial and error is for. So I start my day with a 16oz matcha powder and watered down almond milk drink that keeps me caffeinated and full until about 10-11. I eat snacks like Greek yogurt, bananas, and sandwiches at this time. I don’t eat again until around 4 but it’s an enormous meal. Like we’re talking 1000 calories enormous. I usually get sleepy then, take a nap, and then go take a long walk and workout for a few hours. I still end up having enough calories for one last late night snack so I don’t go to bed hungry. This will sometimes be another big almond milk drink with honey and cinnamon, or it could be yogurt and popcorn like it was last night. And if it’s a lifting day, I most likely eat a little bit more at work and then split up that 1000 monster meal for before and after my strength training. Doing things this way has me going to bed not starving, it’s so much easier to meet my caloric goals and not go over, and I don’t wake up hungry either, so it makes me happy when I don’t have to fuss with food at 5am. I hate eating breakfast. 

Today is a lifting day for me so I just had some Greek yogurt and meatball and rice soup. I am a little concerned though because I have a little spot in my lower left side of my back that feels like it got slightly tweaked. It felt like that yesterday too, which meant I stayed away from the weight room. Most likely it’s nothing and I will ice it generously tonight, but I’ve been dealing with these residual pains during my entire 3 months of recovery. I can’t stop moving though, if I do it’ll actually get worse. I don’t think I’ve ever been this stressed about my workouts ever in my life. I’m constantly on the edge of “am I going to hurt myself again”. 

I’ve actually been meaning to do this again too but today after work I’m going to sit in an ice bath. I sit in a tub of ice with a little bit of water and I wear neoprene-like clothes to make it a little less miserable. 

Anywho, while I veer off topic, I’ll call it a day since I’m just taking a quick rest at work for that tweaked lower back pain I’m having. Thanks for reading!



2 thoughts on “Anabolic vs. Catabolic: Talk Nerdy to Me

  1. Just started reading your blog because of your /r/progresspics post. 6’2 and fibro!? I can’t imagine how those growing pains felt during puberty.
    Really dig your determination, both in blog and lifestyle forms.

    Will read further and leave my thoughts. I could definitely use some tips on gains, I figure if I get a little bigger everywhere else my stomach will be less noticeable?


    1. Hey thanks for reading!! Yeah growing pains were excruciating, like sobbing uncontrollably at least one night a week. And that’s the thing…they never went away. That’s why I knew Fibro sounded accurate when I was diagnosed. I was used to being in pain and I thought it was normal. But yeah I can definitely try to help you with some gainz advice 🙂


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