Rest days are crucial if you work out regularly as they help our bodies to rest and recover to become fitter and healthier. With that said, rest days do not mean you can just lay around eating junk food.
What you eat on rest days is as important as what you eat pre-workout and post-workout. Since it takes up to 48 hours for muscles to repair after a workout, consuming the right food during this period ensures that muscles get the nutrients they need for proper growth.
Here, we list everything you need to know about fueling yourself on rest days.
What To Eat During Rest Days?
It is important to remember that the purpose of rest days is to give your muscles the time they need to repair and rebuild. Therefore, you need to consume foods that support this reparation process. According to some research, nutrition is also essential for reducing muscle-soreness related to intense physical activity.
To make sure you are maximizing your nutrition on rest days, you have to pay attention to the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Protein supports muscle protein synthesis, which happens when protein is produced by the body to help repair muscles damage. By supplying amino acids, protein aids in muscle repair and helps to heal recovering muscle tissue.
Since muscle growth depends on protein, ideally you should be consuming the same amount of protein on rest days as on workout days. Healthy sources of protein include fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, soy, and dairy products.
Carbs revive glycogen levels, supplying the muscles with more energy. This makes them essential for muscle recovery. Studies also suggest that carbs aid in the maximum absorption of proteins.
The amount of carb a person should consume entirely depends on their activity level. If you remain relatively sedentary, 3-5 grams of carbs per kg of your body weight should be enough. If you aim to lose weight, this number should be reduced. However, if you remain reasonably active on your rest days, you'd require up to 8-10 grams of carbs per kg of your body weight for your body to get enough energy. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include wholes grains, beans, vegetables, and even fruits. These are complex carbs that take more time to be digested by your body, making you satiated for longer.
Consuming fats is a very controversial topic in the health world. However, they are an essential macronutrient required by your body, and should not be cut from your diet.
In a balanced diet, fat should account for around 20 to 35 per cent of your total calorie intake. To ensure that your body is benefiting from fat, opt for healthy sources of fat such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. You can occasionally indulge in the not-so-healthy sources of fat, such as chips, cakes, and cookies, however, make sure that doesn't happen too often.
Fueling Yourself on Rest Days
Here are a few tips you can follow to make sure you're eating right on rest days.
DO NOT Consume Sports Food
If there's one advice you can follow on rest days, then this should be it. While you're working out, your instincts will make you opt for sports items such as bars, drinks, protein shakes, and gels to fuel yourself between sessions. However, these foods should not be consumed during your rest days. Removing these from your diet can make a caloric difference in your body.
Eat Better, Not Less
The best way you can utilize rest days is by boosting your diet. At some point, you've probably opted for simple sugars or grab-and-go options (protein bars, energy drinks, cereal, etc.) for energy during training. Skip these on recovery days, and choose real foods instead. Eat vegetables, fruits, and healthy sources of protein and fat. Spend your time preparing food so that you know exactly what you're eating. Since you're not in a hurry to workout, slowly consuming your food can do wonders.
Fuel Yourself to Function Better
You can go beyond better by adding functional foods to your diets; foods that help improve your gut health and enhance the overall functions of your body. You can do this by adding probiotics and adaptogens to your diet, increasing micro/Phyto/trace nutrients, and working on taking your supplements. When you pay attention to these things on your rest days, you'll eventually start doing them on your workout day as well.
Or any caffeine for that matter. Your rest days are meant for rest. So, any food that excites your body should not be consumed. Other ingredients such as alcohol, spicy food, and chocolate should also be avoided. However, if you're craving it, consume them in minimal quantities.
Drink A Lot of Water
Whether it's your training day or rest day, hydration should be a top priority. Try to avoid sugary and high caloric drinks, and continue drinking water frequently. You can spice things up by opting for calorie-free electrolyte options, or by adding slices of lemon to your water.
Your diet has a massive impact on your fitness levels. So, make sure you pay proper attention to it and don't use rest days as an excuse to cheat. Before you know it, all your hard work with eating clean will become worthless.