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What is catabolism?

Catabolism is a metabolic process that includes the breaking down of larger molecules into smaller molecules. 

What is the difference between anabolic and catabolic?

Anabolic means to build up whereas catabolic means to break down. The human body has many examples of anabolic reactions (sometimes referred to as anabolism) and catabolic reactions (sometimes referred to as catabolism). Anabolism involves hormones such as growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, and estrogen. Catabolism involves hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, cytokines, and glucagon. Anabolism is commonly linked with muscle building, and catabolism is often thought of when breaking down bodily stores for energy.

What is a catabolic reaction?

A catabolic reaction is a reaction that involves breaking down molecules. An example of a catabolic reaction is when large molecules from our food (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) are broken down into smaller parts for digestion. Catabolism is also happening when body stores are broken down in order to produce energy. This happens in all cells of the body.

Is cellular respiration anabolic or catabolic?

Cellular respiration is a catabolic reaction. A catabolic reaction means something is being broken down. In cellular respiration, molecules are broken down in order to produce energy.

What does catabolic mean?

Catabolic means to break down. Catabolic reactions involve breaking down large molecules into smaller ones to release energy. When a human is in a catabolic state, they are breaking down their own body stores (fat or muscle) for energy. Catabolism is what is happening with weight loss from being in a state of negative energy balance, as well as some disease states.

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Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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