Difference Between Anabolism and Catabolism (With Table)

Listen audio version

Metabolism is a vital chemical process happens in the body to sustain life. These chemical reactions or processes happens in the cells of the body.

Metabolism plays a crucial role in the growth and functionality of the body. It is indeed a biochemical process that makes the body grow, live and also adapt to the existing and changing environment.

Metabolism is categorized into two types: Anabolism and Catabolism. Both processes have their ways to use the molecules of the body.

Anabolism vs Catabolism

The difference between Anabolism and Catabolism is that anabolism creates molecules for the functionality of the body and catabolism breaks down the molecules to release the energy that the body can use.

The anabolic process creates complex molecules from simpler ones and the process is also called biosynthesis. The catabolic process, in turn, breaks the molecules for the body’s use which is again created through the catabolic process.


Comparison Table Between Anabolism and Catabolism (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonAnabolismCatabolism
Chemical ProcessAnabolism creates complex molecules from simpler ones to help with the functionality of the bodyCatabolism breaks the complex molecules for the use of the body.
Energy requirementAnabolic Process requires energy to create complex moleculesCatabolic Process releases energy while it breaks the complex molecules
Effects on BodyAnabolic activities help create body massCatabolic activities help burn fat and calories
Oxygen usageAnabolism utilizes oxygen for the chemical processCatabolism does not utilize oxygen for its chemical process
Process Functioning TimeAnabolic Process functions majorly during resting or sleepingCatabolic Process functions during body activities


What is Anabolism?

Anabolism is a collective set of chemical reactions with synthesizes complex molecules from simpler ones. Anabolism is completely a constructive process.

Anabolism requires energy for its chemical process and thus called an endergonic process. The anabolic process is a step by step function which builds organs and tissues in the body.

The complex molecules created are vital for the growth, development, and differentiation of cells. The process mineralizes the bones and builds muscle mass.

The hormones involved in the anabolic process are insulin, steroid and growth hormone. The process of anabolism is also called a biochemical process.

Ideally, anabolism undergoes three stages, the first stage is the precursors are produced. The precursors are activated by Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is followed by reactive forms that create complex molecules like nucleic acid, polypeptides, and lipids.

Anabolic Process happens during the resting period or while sleeping. Indeed, the process converts kinetic energy to potential energy.

Anabolism is mainly required for the growth and maintenance of the body. The process helps to produce proteins and carbohydrates in the body.

It is an enzyme-catalyzed reaction that happens in the body. As many metabolic processes involve hormones, the anabolic process also involves the same.

The anabolic hormones involved in the process are Estrogen, Testosterone, insulin and growth hormone. This helps regulate the functionality of the body smoothly.


What is Catabolism?

Catabolism is a collective set of chemical reactions that breaks down complex molecules into smaller units. Catabolism is completely a destructive process.

Catabolism releases energy and heat during its chemical process and thus called an exergonic process. The small molecules produced by the destruction of the complex ones either release energy by oxidation or it is also used as precursors for the further anabolic process.

The catabolic process also releases chemical energy required for anabolism. The cellular wastes like urea, ammonia, lactic acid, acetic acid, and carbon dioxide are also produced in the process. Catabolism involves certain hormones for its functionality. They are glucagon, adrenaline and cortisol are involved in the catabolic process. Catabolism is a series of chemical reactions that convert macromolecules into monomers. The catabolic process happens during anybody’s activity.

The primary catabolic process is digestion. The nutrients in the food are broken down into simpler molecules for the use of the body. Catabolism utilizes the energy stored for body activity. In simple terms, catabolism converts potential energy into kinetic energy.

Catabolic Process burns fats and calories. It utilizes the stored food to generate the energy required by the body. Catabolism breaks down proteins to amino acids, glycogen to glucose. Catabolism happens when there is an activity in the body.

Main Differences Between Anabolism and Catabolism

  1. Metabolism involves anabolism and catabolism, the difference between anabolism and catabolism is, anabolism is the synthesis of complex molecules by using smaller ones for the functionality of the body, whereas catabolism breaks down the complex molecules to smaller ones.
  2. They both can be called constructive and destructive process respectively. In the case of anabolism, there is a requirement of energy for the process to happen while catabolism, being the destructive process breaks the complex molecules to release energy and heat required by the body.
  3. There is also a difference in the energy conversion aspect. Anabolism is a biochemical process that converts kinetic energy to potential energy, whereas catabolism is a series of chemical reaction that converts potential energy to kinetic energy. Both these energy conversion processes are called endergonic and exergonic.
  4. Anabolism mainly focusses on the growth of the body and also the maintenance. Catabolism is used for activities in the body to be performed smoothly.
  5. Anabolism uses oxygen for its chemical process and functions while the body is resting or sleeping, and catabolism does not utilize oxygen for its process and functions during anybody’s activity.



Both the anabolic and catabolic processes are required for better functionality of the body. As can be seen, both the processes are opposite to each other. However, without any one of them not functioning properly affects metabolism.

A human body’s body weight is the resultant factor of the metabolic process. In simple words, Catabolism minus anabolism results in a person’s body weight. The energy is stored by the anabolic process, while the energy is released through the catabolic process.

If anabolism alone functions properly and no proper catabolic activity is given, the bodyweight goes high. But the contrary is not true, as nutrients are required by the body which will be destructed by the catabolic process.



  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197458098000335
  2. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-12
  3. https://portlandpress.com/biochemj/article-pdf/178/1/1/570783/bj1780001.pdf