Besides training, which causes a break down in muscle tissue, there are two other important ways your body causes muscle damage. With these other ways there are measures you can take to prevent damage from happening. During weight training, the body has a natural feed-back loop of recovery and adaptation, making it an overall anabolic process (with proper nutrition and supplementation). Some clinical ways to test for muscle damage is by identifying biochemical markers such as CPK, LHD and 3-methylhistidine since they can be readily found in urine and blood samples when the muscle tissue is broken down or torn. Another way is to test for free radicals and cortisol levels in blood plasma; these are the areas where you can put forth an effort to prevent catabolism.
Free radicals break down muscle tissue as they disrupt the cell membranes. One way to combat this is to take vitamin E and vitamin C, as they are linked to reducing free radicals in the body. These vitamins have also been tested to decrease levels of CPK 24-hrs after a marathon. This means that these vitamins can limit the amount of muscle damage. So what can you do? Try adding these vitamins into your daily routine to limit the amount of free radicals floating around your body! I personally take vitamin D (in the form of D-3) and vitamin E post-workout to limit the free radicals in my blood stream.
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that is released due to stress on the body. During resistance exercise, cortisol levels increase significantly and can have severe effects on your immune system. Cortisol and its effects on the immune system will be saved for another article, but for the purpose of this article, we need to ask ourselves how can we prevent this increase in cortisol during exercise? Well, during exercise, glucose is used as energy and when blood glucose levels fall, the amount of cortisol increases. So supplementing with a carbohydrate drink (increasing your blood glucose levels) during exercise will actually blunt the rise of cortisol. In a study where carbohydrate drinks are compared to water, athletes that consumed carbohydrate drinks during resistant exercise reduced blood cortisol levels by 80%. The same researcher also found that by supplementing with a carbohydrate drink during exercise reduced the biogeochemical markers talked about earlier. This means that there will be less muscle damage with the use of a carbohydrate drink intra-workout. If choosing to add a carbohydrate drink intra-workout, be smart about which supplement you choose to use (Carbonx by VPX Sports is my go-to choice, especially since there is no BLOAT with this product!) and make sure you calculate it into your daily caloric intake to keep your diet on track. I personally love to add BCAAs with my intra-workout drink in the form of FAST 5 by VPX Sports (The Blue Razz Fast 5 flavor + the Strawberry Carbonx flavor tastes AMAZING) to avoid unnecessary catabolic muscle damage.