There was something that was brought up in the comments section of my last post about rest days that I wanted to address: eating. In case you missed my last post, I said it was perfectly fine – and often necessary – to take two or even three rest days per week in order to maximise physical and mental gains. While I talked about what to physically do that day in terms of exercise (nothing!), I didn’t mention how you should eat.
My diet typically stays the same from day to day. I’ve started leaning out again in preparation for our trip to Montenegro, so I’m currently carb cycling, but 90 per cent of the time my diet does not change depending on my physical activity – excluding my post workout protein shake. In fact, I often unintentionally eat more than usual on my rest days mainly because that’s when I have the majority of my cheat meals.
I can’t tell you the number of times someone emails me concerned that the food they consume on rest days will turn to fat. This phenomenon interestingly only occurs among women. Most men have absolutely no problem eating on their rest days and usually complain if they have to eat less. Women, on the other hand, tend to think that unless they are busting their guts in the gym, they don’t deserve to eat as much. Most women want to cut their calories in half on days they do not work out.
I hate to break it to you, but weight training really doesn’t burn that many calories. However – and this is a big however – lifting weights will cause your body to burn more calories all the time, including during your rest days.
There was a time when I purposefully ate more on my rest days than my workout days. Like I said in my last post, your body only builds muscle when you are resting. It is common to actually feel hungrier on rest days, as your body uses all of its energy with cell repair. How can you expect your body to repair and grow muscle fibres if you’re not feeding it enough food? You need to have a good balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat in your system all of the time.
If you only do cardio, then sure, you can afford to cut your calories on your rest days. But for anyone else who is serious about building muscle, there cannot be more than 200 to 300 calories difference between your training and non-training day diets. If your main goal is muscle growth, you should be always be eating a surplus amount of calories. Even if you are trying to lose fat, you cannot drop your calories too low or you run the risk of sabotaging yourself.
Do you eat less on rest days? Do you struggle with eating on rest days?