How much should I eat on a rest day?

How much should I eat on a rest day?

How much should I eat on a rest day?


When we met for our nutrition appointment, you said that I need about 2,400 calories a day — including exercise — to maintain my weight. If I burn off about 400 calories a day with exercise, does that mean I should eat 2,000 calories on days I do not exercise?

While that sounds logical, the reality is that you will likely be just as hungry for all 2,400 calories on a day that you do not exercise. Here’s why:

  • Your muscles are busy refueling from the previous 6 days of exercise. They need extra carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores.
  • You may end up doing errands, vacuuming, walking with a friend, or burning calories in alternate ways, given you have a little more time in your rest day.

Your body is your best calorie counter. It can tell you the correct amount to eat if you eat mindfully. You will likely want to eat just as much at breakfast and lunch and afternoon snack. By dinner, you might be less hungry—or just as hungry.

Stay in touch with your appetite and ask yourself “Does my body need this fuel? … Would I be thinking about food and feeling edgy if I did not eat more?” Thinking about food is Nature’s signal that you are hungry. After all, if we did not think about food, we would never think to eat.

Enjoy your rest days!

For more information, please read my Sports Nutrition Guidebook!

Written by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD is an internationally respected sports nutritionist, weight coach, nutrition author, and workshop leader. She is a registered dietitian (RD) who is a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She is also a certified WellCoach. Nancy specializes in nutrition for performance, life-long health, and the nutritional management of eating disorders. She counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes in her private practice in the Boston area (Newton, MA). Some of her clients consider her to be their food coach, others their food therapist. Regardless, she enjoys the challenge of helping sports-active people transform their suboptimal eating habits into effective fueling plans. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, a best-selling resource, has sold over 550,000 copies and is now in it's new fifth edition.

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