Diet for anaerobic exercise

Updated July 19, 2017

Anaerobic exercise is performed in the absence of the use of oxygen pathways. It typically defines exercises such as resistance, weight, strength and sprint training. These exercises involve short bursts of high power or force, generating movements that last seconds at a time. Because of increased inflammation occurring in your muscles following anaerobic training, according to a 1999 article in the the “Journal of Anatomy”, it is essential that proper nourishment for repair and recovery be obtained immediately following training.

Energy units

A well-balanced diet of proteins, fats and carbohydrates provides essential nutrients for maximal repair and recovery following anaerobic training, according to a 2004 review of an article in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition". These nutrients are equally important but should not be consumed in equal proportions. They are quantified in the form of a calorie count, with fats containing nine calories per gram of substrate, whereas proteins and carbohydrates contain only four calories per gram.

Repair and building

When comparing aerobic training to anaerobic training, the activity-induced stress to your body is greatly enhanced, resulting in muscle tears that call for a heightened anti-inflammatory response. Through a diet rich in proteins and carbohydrates, according to the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition", you can facilitate an accelerated repair response that can speed up your recovery time. Moreover, muscle requires an extensive amount of calories to build and maintain, therefore requiring consumption of calories at the high end of your caloric range.


The "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" reports that a maintenance caloric range for an actively exercising adult should be between 1800 and 2400. However, if you're participating in exercise that emphasises anaerobic training, you should be closer to the 2400 count or slightly above, to provide energy during activity as well as for repair and building following activity.

Food source

When breaking down your calories in the 1800 to 2400 range, you should think about the proportions of calories designated as applying to fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The Mayo Clinic in the U.S., for example, recommends that fats occupy 20 to 35 percent of your diet, with proteins at 10 to 35 percent and carbohydrates at 45 to 65 percent. For your anaerobic program, your protein count should be near the 35 percent end, with fats and proteins being roughly in the middle of their ranges. You should emphasize the consumption of these calories from as many natural sources as possible, with supplementation from artificial sources consumed only as needed.

Nutrients and vitamins

The food from all three nutrient groups contains essential nutrients and vitamins necessary for normal body functioning. Foods from all-natural sources are generally rich in all the essential vitamins and nutrients that you need before, during and following anaerobic exercise. The "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" states that Vitamins D, E and C are especially important for this type of exercise because of the enhanced damage that occurs to your muscle fibres. These vitamins assist in the promotion of exercise tolerance, reduce inflammation and stimulate the development and maintenance of a healthy musculoskeletal system. Thus, if you are not getting a well-balanced, properly nourished diet, you should incorporate the use of supplements to ensure that you are consuming enough proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and other essential nutrients.

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About the Author

Erik VanIterson has been writing movement science-related literature since 2006. His work appears on Doody Enterprises, Inc., a text-book review Web site. VanIterson holds a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Science in biology from DePaul University, and a Bachelor of Science in human physiology from Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University.