Anabolic = Metabolic?

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Language is a tricky thing.

While certainly it’s the primary means of communication (whether it’s spoken or written) for you and I, it can also be very confusing–English especially.

Mainly, this is because so many of our words have multiple meanings; and not only the actual literal definitions of what they mean, but also the IDEAS they imply.

Which brings me to the nutrition information I want to share with you, in a roundabout sort of way.

Since I’ve been taling a lot about nutrition of late, and in particular nutritional resources, I felt it appropriate to share some cool “new” stuff. A while back, I mentioned to you that I’m down with a new nutritional resource, the Anabolic Cookbook, by Dave Ruel and I got a lot of emails about it–based purely on the title.

Evidently, the term “anabolic” is a bit of a hot button with a lot of people. I suppose that is understandable; naturally, when many people hear “anabolic” they think “steroids”…and that is simply not always the case.

Instead, when you hear “anabolic” I want you to think “good.”

Here is why–let’s hit the dictionary to explain:


[uh-nab-uh-liz-uhm] (noun)
Biology, Physiology. Constructive metabolism; the synthesis in living organisms of more complex substances from simpler ones.

So you see, to be “anabolic” really means to be constructive, or simply, to build–which is why substances that help you build muscle are called “anabolic” steoids.

However, let’s look deeper.

You’ll notice that within the definition of “anabolic” you’ll see a word I KNOW you’re quite familiar with: metabolism.

This is really, really important, because it directly relates to just about every aspect of fitness and fat loss; so, let’s talk about that one:


[muh-tab-uh-liz-uhm] (noun)

1. Biology, Physiology. the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.

2. any basic process of organic functioning or operating.

To put it somewhat succinctly: anytime you’re referring to anabolism, you’re usually talking about (muscle) growth; and anytime you’re referring to metabolism you’re talking about energy.

In the fitness world, to talk about metabolism is usually referring to the expenditure of energy. For example, your body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (calories) your body expends just existing, not even taking into account anything you do physically.

What you’ll notice from looking at the definitions of those two terms, is that there is a very close relationship between them.

Here is the best way to put it: the very process of building muscle (or being anabolic) requires a tremendous amount of energy, and therefore affects your metabolism positively.

Which means this: whenever you train with weights and create microtrauma, you’re going to need to recover from that. When you eat later in the day, your body will try to repair the damage you’ve done by dedicating nutrients to the anabolic process. Obviously, if your goal is to build muscle, all of that makes a lot of sense.

HOWEVER, this also means that even if your goal is to LOSE FAT, you are depending on anabolism to increase metabolism to help you burn fat faster.

So you see, in a very real way…to be more anabolic is to become more METABOLIC.

All of that brings us to our nutrition tip:

The best way to increase your metabolic rate via nutrition is to eat whole, healthy foods that increase your rate of anabolism and help you build muscle WHILE you’re losing fat.

(You’re probably very familiar with the concept that muscle “burns” fat–well, both having it AND building it will do that so, you need to eat in order to facilitate both of these.)

How do you eat for both anabolism and metabolism?

It’s simple: you vary your food intake, in both caloric amount and nutrient make up.

You’ll actually BURN MORE FAT by eating a wide range of foods instead of just eating grilled chicken 6 times per day. Further, if you have the right resources, you can make those foods taste incredible.

And information like that is that is exactly why I dig Dave Ruel’s Anabolic Cookbook. It’s a complete nutritional resource that you can learn from, regardless of your goal. Not only does it contain over 200 recipes of fat burning and delicious foods, but the cookbook also has some nutrition tips that will help you lose fat or gain muscle faster.

On top of having an awesome physique, Dave knows his stuff and has been helping people transform their bodies for a number of years using the tastiness in his book. Aweosme stuff.

Dave also did a guest blog post for me a while back, so check that out as well.

Question for you: What nutritional resources do you like? Hit me up with your favorite blogs AND cookbooks.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

Comments for This Entry

  • Oglasi posao

    Excellent, non-biased balanced coverage of emerging technology markets. Reports are excellent.

    July 13, 2011 at 3:11 am

  • Weight Loss Boot Camp

    Hmm,mostly people eat chicken in excess to meet the nutritional need of protein but you are right one should vary its diet if he wants to gets max benefit from fitness program.

    January 7, 2011 at 4:01 am

  • [email protected]

    Regarding on your topic about anabolic-metabolic, I had discussed it on my blog. Check it out!

    November 27, 2010 at 11:58 pm

  • Eric Buratty

    Cool blog, Roman! I agree that the word "anabolic" definitely gets a bad rap from the uninformed public. I'll have to check out that book, too! Keep it real! Eric

    November 10, 2010 at 9:53 pm

  • Amir

    Great blog! I found here a lot of essential information and all the information is clearly laid out and explained.Thanks for a great read, i'll pass this onto other people i know who'll find it beneficial.

    November 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

  • Ted

    Diet. I thought I understood it and I felt like I was doing well with it. I probably had a 2 pack and well, that was just me. Then I got braces ( I am 42 and very stupid), and the calories just dried up. Two weeks later I was down 10#, and my strength had gone to pot, but dang if I didn't see a true 6 pack, with veins and all. I liked the look, but hated my loses in the gym. In the last few weeks I have learned to eat again, gained a little weight back, but am as strong as ever. This experience has really opened my eyes about what it takes to get truly cut, the cyclical nature of forcing the unnatural, and what my expectations should be regarding it's sustainability.

    November 7, 2010 at 8:04 am

  • Sean Hyson

    Great info as always, Roman. I like It's definitely off the beaten path. Chris Mohr's site always has great recipes.

    November 5, 2010 at 11:28 am

  • Mike Arone

    Gotta love the 'Anabolic Cookbook.'--Ruel Rules I will go with Shaun and Patrick on this.... Muscle Chow 15O Healthiest Foods Two very no non-sense/no fluff healthy food books. They give you the facts and help you feel as though it's attainable through flavorful cooking and by broadening your nutrional horizon--so to speak.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm

  • Patrick

    150 Healthiest Foods on Earth is also a great reference and good coffee table book, though it doesn't have any real recipes, it's a fun read.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm

  • Patrick

    I mostly use the TNT Diet and Gourmet Nutrition (though I do think TNT has better-tasting recipes than Gourmet Nutrition)...also my wife uses Women's Health Perfect Body Diet, but a few recipes in there are not limited to women, the turkey shepherd's pie is awesome. My favorite non-fitness cookbook is America's Test Kitchen, but any beef/chicken recipe can just be made with vegetables and it fits a PN/TNT-style plan. Mike Roussell always has great recipes, too.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm

  • Glenn

    Dave's book is awesome, there are a couple of recipes in it in particular that have become staples in our household.

    November 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

  • Matt Crandall

    Gourmet Nutrition is by far the best cookbook I've ever used. Chris Shugart always has some awesome recipes on the V-Life page through T-Nation. The link to the anabolic cookbook with the discount in your latest email is broken!

    November 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm

  • Ingvi Jon

    John Berardi - Gourmet Nutrition. Awesome recipes. I also like The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden. Not a cookbook but very useful information. Blogs: The Nate Green Experience. Thanks for all the good advice Roman. Have a great day.

    November 3, 2010 at 9:35 am

  • Alex "Dude Where's My Muscle?" Siddy

    Thanks John for recommending the Anabolic Cookbook, I am always looking for new nutritional tips and diets to enhance my efforts in the gym. I have been a big fan of John Berardi and his book Gourmet Nutrition, definitely worth checking out for more solid diets and advice. Also been digging Brink's Bodybuilding Revealed. All the best John! Alex

    November 2, 2010 at 9:58 pm

  • bikinimommy

    Thank you for this post Roman, it was very clear and informative. I am definitely going to look into Dave's cookbook, I need new ideas :)

    November 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

  • andy

    Hey John Everthing you covered is right on. I have been using Daves cook book for some time. Great recipes for sure! I also use Mike Geary, Joel Marion, Isabel De Los Rios recipe books as well. This keeps the meals fresh Keep the great information coming. Thanks Andy

    November 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm

  • Shaun

    Muscle Chow is a favorite that's for sure. I'm putting Anabolic Cookbook on my Christmas list for sure.

    November 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

  • Rae

    Hey John, I have a few favorite cookbooks that I use quite often, one is the Body-for-Life Cookbook, of course by Bill Phillips. Another is actually Take Out Tonight from Weight Watchers - a good alternate for take out food, and then the Biggest Loser Cookbook has some excellent recipes that my family loves!

    November 2, 2010 at 4:01 pm

  • Dietrich Marquardt

    Lately I've been checking out a lot of stuff regarding so-called 'superfoods'. Anything that gives you an edge in terms of boosting metabolism (like cinnamon), and so on. So I've been following a lot of Prograde articles, Dave's stuff too, and stuff by Joel Marion and Mike Geary. Whether you need it right away or not, it's useful to know, and will definitely come in handy down the track!

    November 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm

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