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Should you reduce your calories on rest days?

This is a very common question that we get at TWS. While you might think you need to eat less on rest days because your overall energy expenditure is slightly lower, there is actually a lot happening behind the scenes when our body recovers. This is why it's still important to fuel ourselves well, even when we aren’t training. Still not convinced? Keep reading gf. 

  • Heavy resistance training causes micro tears in our muscles. When we rest and recover from this training, we undergo a repair process in which certain hormones synthesise new satellite cells, which are used to repair and rebuild damaged muscle fibres. This process requires energy (especially protein) which is why it is important to be fueling yourself well and hitting your protein target, even on rest days.
  • Another reason you should maintain your regular calorie intake on rest days is because your appetite may actually be higher. When we train, we activate our sympathetic nervous system ('fight or flight' mode). This causes a stress response in our body, which can decrease our appetite. Then, when we are resting, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system ('rest and digest' mode). This can actually cause our appetite to be higher on rest days, so it's best to stick to your usual calories to combat this. 
  • Your energy expenditure isn't actually that much lower on rest days, and a lot of people overestimate how much they burn while training. On rest days, you will still be moving around and recovering, which means you will likely end up expending a very similar amount of energy to your training days anyway. 
  • Lastly, keeping your calories the same on rest days is easier to follow, and keeps you more consistent. Unless you prefer to cycle higher/lower calorie days, it's just simpler to follow a set macro and calorie target. It will also make things like meal prepping easier, and will help to keep you in routine. 

So, don’t be scared to eat more on your rest days gf! Your body still needs energy, and you definitely don’t need to ‘earn’ your food through exercise. 

Soph xx