Many have been told to “eat less” or to “avoid carbs” on a rest day. But on a rest days, the body is busy! Rest days are filled with healing, rebuilding, repairing, and muscle growth. This requires FOOD, which includes CARBS + proteins + fruits/vegs + fats and more!
Many will feel hungry on these days….and feel confused by it. But it makes perfect sense. The athletes I see in my practice almost always fall short of their nutritional needs on training days. Exercise can suppress hunger. And complicated training schedules and/or logistics may make it difficult to get everything in on training days.
We strategically use rest days to catch up on nutrition. While hard for some to do, this is necessary to prevent a low energy availability state (which negatively affects everything from performance to hormones to cognitive function to mood).
A few questions to consider for your rest day nutrition, are listed below. Eat more if you answer yes to any of the questions below – this means you need to boost your rest day nutrition!
1. Do you feel hungry on your rest days?
2. Do you have multiple training sessions a day during the week?
3. Are you traveling for your sport – long drives, bus rides, plane rides?
4. Are you a picky eater?
5. Do you have an eating disorder or struggle with disordered eating?
6. Do you need to/want to gain weight?
7. Do you have a known low heart rate or unstable vital signs (such as changes in positions from laying to standing?)
8. Are your hormones low (estrogen or testosterone?). For females, are your periods regular?
9. Are you training long hours during the day? Or are you an endurance athlete?
10. Do you have a busy schedule (training, working, being a student etc)?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you might need to re-evaluate your rest day nutrition plan!