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Catabolism happens when the body does not have enough fuel or is under so much stress that the “survival” mechanism kicks in hard to dip into reserve stores of fuel. As discussed in other sections the human body is built to survive at any cost. Understanding this concept and the process the body goes through when it is trying to protect itself is a HUGE head start. If you can minimise the negatives and take advantage of the positives by manipulating nutritional habits…. you WILL make gains!!!

Causes of a catabolic state

  • Being in a calorie deficit
  • Insufficient protein intake
  • Poor nutrition surrounding workouts
  • Stress (physical and mental)
  • Overtraining
  • Illness

Let’s keep the nutrition elements of becoming catabolic to the point for now. The TDEE and macro calculator will provide you with the structure you require to achieve your muscle building goal, and as you will be in a surplus of calories this gives a strong element of protection. What we’re looking at here is how to minimise and avoid periods throughout your daily life when the body will try to consume your hard earned tissue as fuel. We also want to maximise the potential to create an anabolic state and capitalise on it when we are in one.


  • Follow the nutrition set out by the calculator to optimise lean tissue gains
  • Protein is paramount. Keep it consistently high and consume whey isolate after working out.
  • Nutrition surrounding workout time is very important. Training creates physical, mental and chemical stress on the body. Referring back to the fact the body is built to survive, it is vital that we maximise the recovery process as quick as possible after working out and prepare the body with the correct fuel before and throughout training, see workout nutrition section for supplement advise.
  • When the body encounters stress it will start its survival protocol. Whether its mental or physical, stress forces the body to use excess fuel, part of this fuel source will be your muscle tissue as the body deems it expendable. Keep stress low!
  • Overtraining is a problem. A common problem with passionate gym goers and newbies that are motivated to achieve is that they believe more training equates to more results. This is not the case, quality over quantity every time. This attitude, when applied, will make muscle tissue grow. Fitness enthusiasts are usually competitive by nature, even if it is only with themselves. But ego must be left at the gym door in order to progress. You must look at the big picture. Do you want to go away from the gym with the short term mental fix of smashing more sets out than the person next to you, OR are you dedicated to genuinely building a better body and performance output and developing in every sense of the word over a longer period. To be honest I’ve personally been both guys and they take a similar amount of physical effort. But the second mind set builds a different breed. It takes mental focus and constant self assessment both physically and mentally and in turn will ultimately lead to your desired goal and followed consistently will get you the full athletic package.   
  • Illness puts a high demand on the body. If the body is busy combatting an issue, it is going to struggle even further to deal with training to “sweat it out.” Consistent solid nutrition, hydration and an active, healthy lifestyle should help the body stay illness free most of the time. Sometimes however as we all know we fall victim to illness. By now you will understand how the body reacts and will become stressed. Stress leads to poor performance and the body will store fat as it is trying to protect itself. The best thing to do is help your body as much as you can by resting and supplying it with the nutrients and fluids it needs to recover. More is covered on this topic in the recovery section.
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