Your day of rest should be something to look forward to. This is your chance to relax your muscles and mind, so you can begin the next day refreshed and ready to hit it hard! You shouldn’t be bogged down with worry or confusion about how to approach this workout-free day. Set aside the notion that you’ll gain weight or move backward by skipping a day of exercise. On the other hand, this is not a free pass to binge eat and “cheat” on your diet. To enjoy the many great benefits of a recovery day, stick to your regularly scheduled eating plan but make these slight adjustments.
Keep calories on pace
Because your body is recovering and recuperating from the previous week’s training, you need to maintain your caloric intake. Restricting calories may interfere with muscle growth and/or recovery. Your body has trained hard all week, so it will not benefit from a deficit of calories. Eating the same amount of calories keeps your diet less complicated, ensures you’re getting the nutrients required and keeps you in a healthy eating rhythm.
Pump up protein
Consuming the same amount of protein – or more – as you recoup is as important as keeping up your calories. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a protein meal you may not normally have during the week. Go ahead and indulge in a homemade hamburger or steak seasoned with liquid amino acids, a soy sauce alternative. And don’t skip your protein shake just because you’re not working out. Have one as a midday snack, or mix up a chocolaty casein protein shake before bed to prepare your body for the next day’s training.
You would think if you’re not exercising, you should cut back on the carbohydrates. But maybe not. During rest and recovery days, your body’s metabolism is still burning as long as you’re fueling the fire. Again, have some carb-rich foods you don’t normally eat to keep your body guessing. Maybe a bagel with peanut butter sounds sinful. So what? Going for the good stuff may help prevent muscle loss in the long run. Of course, if you’d prefer to cut back on carbs for the day, just be sure to make up the calories with protein and healthy fats. One way or another, you have to be ready for whatever tomorrow brings.
Skip the snacks
Snaking is the one area you may want to scale back. If you’re treating yourself to a meal or two that’s out of your usual routine, there may be little room left over for snacks. Track what you’re eating throughout the day. If calories seem too low, enjoy a whole-food-based nutrition bar or serving of fruit. The key is to stay the course and never let yourself mindlessly eat your way through the day.