The Playbook For The Modern Man

How To Tell You’re Eating Enough Protein To Be In An Anabolic State

A strength coach reveals the key to success.

You scoop some protein powder into your morning smoothie, slurp it, then look in the mirror with disgust.

“Am I not working out hard enough?” you might ask yourself. Or perhaps, “Maybe I’m not working out often enough.”

Before you go crazy wondering, we have a tip for you. That’s right: this is your guide to telling if you’re eating enough protein to be in an anabolic state (then you can go back to blaming your workouts).

First of all: what is an anabolic state? Essentially: a state in which you build muscle.


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It’s actually quite simple: your body is either anabolic or catabolic at any given point, and for it to be anabolic, it must consume a source of energy – something which protein high foods or supplements can help with.

According to The Evening Standard’s Health & Fitness vertical, “Anabolism produces growth and differentiation of cells and an increase in body size, a process that involves synthesis of complex molecules.”

Meanwhile: “In strenuous, long-duration workouts, such as running a marathon, if you don’t provide the right nutrients to replenish the cells, the body will begin to break down muscle as a form of producing enough energy to survive.” In other words: you enter a catabolic state.

At heart, the theory behind anabolic training is to eat well before lifting weights, in order to provide enough energy to build mass.

A fancy term for eating to build muscle.

But how do you know if you’re eating enough – without risking eating too much protein?

If you’re us, you listen to your local personal trainer. In my case, that means taking cues from Head Coach Joey Hall of Plus Fitness Manly.

Qualified in Weight Loss & Toning, Hypertrophy and Strength & Conditioning and Performance Nutrition, Joey recently provided the gym goers of Plus Fitness Manly (of which I’m one) with some sound advice.

“Are you eating enough protein to aid recovery and promote an anabolic environment?” Joey asked, answering his question with the following insight: “the scale of grams of protein per kg of bodyweight range between 1.4 (general population) and as high as 3.0g (athletic population) per kg of bodyweight.”

“Factors that impact where you sit on this scale depend on your level of lean body mass and volume/intensity of weight train.”

In other words: the harder (and longer) you train, the more you need to eat. You also need to know your body mass in order to calculate this – and, of course, have access to quality protein (something the following graphic can help you with).


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FITDAY, a bodybuilding website, has further advice, saying you should aim for a nutrient ratio of 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fats, to maintain an anabolic state, as well as ensuring you never miss a meal.

FITDAY also emphasis the importance of getting enough sleep and looking after your hormonal balance by avoiding cigarettes and alcohol.

Happy chomping.

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