Rest Day Food
We know rest days are good. We know our bodies need to chill tfo to get stronger, faster & fitter… but… so yes, we’ve come to terms with sitting, sleeping and generally being a slug for the day. However, when it comes to choosing what to eat on a rest day, panic sets it.
Do I fast?
Do I restrict carbs?
But I’m hungry!
Should I lower my calorie intake?
What should I avoid??
These are a selection of questions I get about the topic. They’re all filled with anxiety and worry. So let’s dive into this topic a little more. I’m going to give top takeaways about how to fuel your rest day and share my complete food log for one of my rest days.
Skip the sport food. This is the absolute number one rule of appropriately fueling a rest day. If you can only handle one piece of advice, take this one and run. On training days, you consume more sport specific items (bars, gels, drinks, protein shakes… ) to get through the session. On rest days, all this goes away. End of story. Do not reach for the gummies, bars, or any of it on your off day. Ridding your diet of these foods makes up for the caloric difference.
CARBS! Removing sport food not only lessens the calories consumed, but also removes most of the simple sugars that are your body needs a rest from on a rest day. That doesn’t mean you should go low carbohydrate on these days, especially if you’re a high volume athlete (see #3) but you should increase the amount of complex carbohydrates consumed. For example, swap rice for buckwheat, pasta for veggie ‘noodles’ and bananas for berries.
How often are you resting? For athletes who have frequent days off or active recovery days, or you’re taking extended (over a week) rest, your intake should be a little lower & ‘cleaner’ on these days as overall energy needs are less. For those on high volume plans and take rest days once a week or less, intake needs to remain high as your body needs plenty of energy to recovery and recharge for the next big session. Consuming ‘less’ should not be a concern for this one day a week.
Okay, not ‘less’, but ‘better’. Rest days are an opportunity to boost the quality of your diet. Skip the grab-n-go options and simple sugars you need to fuel training sessions in a hurry (bars, shakes, cereals, etc. ) and spend the day relying on REAL FOOD! Eat big bowls of roughage, healthy fats, non powder proteins, and fruits other than bananas. Spend the couple hours you don’t have to workout cooking a new recipe, meal prepping, shopping for healthful items, or simply just taking time to eat slowly.
Functional Fueling! Okay, i already said ‘eat better’ but go a little beyond that. Work on taking your supplements, adding adaptogens, increasing the micro/ phyto/ trace nutrients your body so desperately needs to come back from rest stronger than ever. The more you can work to improve your rest day eating, the more those good habits will carry over to the training days.
Skip the Caffeine. At least skip some of it. Rest days need rest, so skip the caffeine and any other ingredients that excite your body (alcohol, chocolate, spicy food).
Hydrate! Days off training are not an excuse to skip hydrating. Continue to drink frequently throughout the day. Skip the carbohydrate heavy drink mixes, but do add a calorie free (or low cal) electrolyte option or just a slice of lemon, to your h2o.
Training vs Resting: Food.
Here’s a visual of my rest day meals!
Hopefully this helps you feel more in control of properly fueling your rest days. If you need more assistance, check out the related posts below or contact me for a nutrition consult!