Here's 4 Top Tips So You Know Exactly What To Eat On Your Rest Days To Lose Weight And Build Muscle
You're reading this because you're unsure about whether or not you should switch up your calories on your rest days. You've heard that maybe you should cut back because you're not as active. Although, you've also heard that you should keep calories up to fuel recover. Ultimately, you're confused and wish someone would just tell you straight what to eat on your rest days. So I'm going to do just that. This is rest day nutrition sorted.
Here's what you're going to find out.
- The right approach to calories and whether or not you should reduce them.
- What you need to do with protein, carbs, and fat to keep losing weight and building muscle.
- My 4 top tips covering exactly what to eat on your rest days.
So, now's the time to make your next rest day, the best yet..
Do You Even Need A Rest Day?
Before I tell you all about rest day nutrition, let's talk about the rest day itself. Because you might be wondering if you even need one. After all, surely the more you throw around the weights and pound the treadmill, the more progress you'll make, right?
Well, not quite. You see, rest days are important.
In fact, if it helps with your mindset, try calling them "growth days". Because these are the days where you allow your body to rest, recuperate, and recharge.
Trust me, pounding your body into oblivion 7 days a week is not the right way to do it.
Frankly, it's a one way ticket to overtraining, injury, and a lack of progress in the long-term. Ignore the social media posts about #norestdays, they're nonsense.
So a rest day is important. And knowing what to eat on your rest days is equally important. And that's precisely what we're going to get stuck into right now
What To Eat On Your Rest Days: Calories
As with most things relating to nutrition, the best place to start is calories. Mainly because they account for 80% of what's important, especially when it comes to losing weight.
And the good news is, you have options... plenty of them.
Option 1: Do Absolutely Nothing
That's right, do nothing is a completely valid approach. There's no reason why you can't keep your training and rest day nutrition exactly the same. As long as your calories are hitting the target amount across the week, you're on track. It really is that simple.
Plus, keeping everything the same means you have one less thing to think about. And if you're anything like me, less things to think about is like manna from heaven.
So keep the those calories even whatever day of the week it is, regardless of whether you're training, or have your feet up watching Game Of Thrones.
Option 2: Decrease Calories
Ok. This is the option you've probably heard most about. Drop your calories on rest days because you're not as active. And logically, you don't really need them. To be fair, it does sound sensible and truth be told, it's a perfectly fine approach if it suits you.
So if you're the type of person who gets super hungry on a tough leg day and desperately wishes they could have more food, then a calorie adjustment makes sense. Simply increase calories on these training days and compensate by reducing them on rest days.
But remember, your weekly average needs to be on point. So make sure you do the maths right.
Option 3: Increase Calories
No doubt you weren't expecting this one. But stick with me, it will make sense.
Think about this scenario for a second. You train first thing in the morning, let's say 6am. Yesterday was your rest day, so you decided to reduce calories because that's what everyone told you to do. And it kinda made sense.
But here's the thing.
You're now rolling into your morning training session, potentially very low on energy. And you don't need me to tell you that's not a good thing. Add to that the fact you're going to have an increase in calories across the day, which is going to do very little for fuelling an awesome workout, right?
So if you're a morning trainer then it might make sense for you to increase calories on your rest day. That way you spring out of bed with maximum energy, ready to crush that gym session!
What To Eat On Your Rest Days: Protein
Protein is an easy one. There's much less options if you want to keep things optimal on your rest day.
Advice here is to keep protein the same. Don't change your target range.
And that's because the process of building and preserving muscle is directly influenced by protein balance, ie the relationship between Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) and Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB).
In more simple terms, you want to avoid MPB as much as possible. And a high protein diet will help with that.
If your goal is simply to lose weight then don't worry too much about when you have your protein. Just focus on getting the right amount. However, if you're intently focused on building as much muscle as possible, it's probably more optimal to spread your protein intake across 4-6 servings during the day.
What To Eat On Your Rest Days: Carbs And Fat
This one is pretty simple. Do whatever you want.
When it comes to losing weight, the ratio between carbs and fat really doesn't matter. And a rest day doesn't change that fact.
There is no ideal macro split for fat loss and there's certainly no ideal split for your rest days.
Generally, most people will hit the minimum amount of fat needed for healthy hormone and immune function just through natural food choices. But if your someone who habitually opts for very low fat foods, then just sense check c.20-25% of your calories are coming from fat. After that, do what you want.
If you feel more carbs will help give you more energy in the gym, have more. If you're a bit of a hipster and want your avocado and poached egg brunch, do that. the choice is yours.
Only if you're an athlete should you be concerned about those ratios to any greater extent.
Look What Happens When You Keep Things Simple With Your Nutrition
You should be getting the idea by now that rest day nutrition isn't a huge thing you needed to be thinking about. Because let's face it, worrying about what to eat on your rest days isn't your biggest issue. In fact, keeping it simple is probably what you need.
Iron Paradise Fitness online coaching clients get 2 sample meal plans when they first start their programme. Why? Because they demonstrate how to construct a way of eating that's targeted to your goal, highly nutritious, incorporates the food you love, and works around your lifestyle. And these can cover what to eat on your rest days too. Basically, I'm taking a lot of the thinking out of the process.
The meal plans are used as a base to kickstart fat loss (and / or building muscle, depending on the goal). Here's an example from my client Marwa.
Here's a couple of examples of previous clients who crushed their goals by keeping things super simple.
Jamie dropped 6kg over 12 weeks, built muscle, and made those abs pop.
And Jose lost a massive 10kg over 12 weeks. All from a combination of personalised nutrition (including sample meal plans), education, and an awesome training programme.
But these results aren't unique. You can achieve the same. And if you want to find out more, just go here.
The Bottom Line On What To Eat On Your Rest Days
The best advice I can give you is don't overthink it and don't overcomplicate it.
Here's my 4 top tips for what to eat on your rest days:
- Keep thing as simple as possible. It's the best way.
- Keep calories constant unless you have a preference otherwise.
- Maintain your protein at your target level. If you're focused on building muscle, then opt for 4-6 servings per day.
- Don't worry about carb and fat ratios. Allow food preferences to dictate this
You only need to get a little more fancy if you're training for a specific sport. In which case, get in touch and I'll coach you to be awesome AF.
Want More Free Fat Loss Articles, A Free Training Programme, And Free Nutrition Guides?
If you want to be first in line for more great articles to help you make breakthroughs with your nutrition, then get yourself on my mailing list. And as a thank you for doing that, I'll send you my Lean Life Kickstarter Pack. In it you'll find a free 4 week beginner's training programme, a guide on calculating your calories, plus so much more.
If you want it, grab it here.
But for now, all I'll say is... Keep living the Lean Life and I'll see you soon.