Should you eat less on rest days?

Posted on 24-11-2013 , by: Nancy Clark , in , 3 Comments

Nancy, here’s a question for you. Should my calorie intake fluctuate based on how much training I’m doing?  I usually do between 90 and 120 minutes a day, but sometimes I might do just a 45-minute workout.  Do I cut my calorie count proportionally?


On days when you are doing less exercise you will likely want to eat just as much (or almost as much) because—

1) Your muscles are using any extra unburned calories to refuel your depleted glycogen stores from the previous days’ tiring workouts, and

2) You may be more active during the rest of your “light exercise” days. That is, observe if on your light days or rest days you decide to mow the lawn, vacuum the house, wash your car, and do lots of errands. That extra activity counts!

Your best bet is to listen to your body; it is your best calorie counter. If you are thinking about food and fighting the urge to eat, your body is saying it needs more fuel. When you eat something to resolve that hunger, observe if you–

–feel better,

–stop obsessing about food, and

–have interest in doing something other than fight off urges to eat.

I generally eat just as much on rest days. Sometimes by dinner I am not as hungry, so I eat a lighter dinner just because I don’t want a heavy meal. I listen to my body and trust it can regulate an appropriate food intake. Perhaps you can experiment and observe ithat your body can also naturally regulate a proper intake? (It that seems too hard, you might want to meet with a sports dietitian who can help you eat intuitively. Use the referral network at

For more information:

The recovery chapter in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (2019)

3 Comments found

  1. How do you know your glycogen levels are replenished? I do Olympic Weightlifting about 4-5 days a week. I also have a year old baby (which I am chasing around the house), and I am still breastfeeding. I feel that I am starving all the time, but I am not loosing weight. I am at least 6o pounds overweight. Not sure if eating intuitively is a choice for me.

    • If your workouts are good, your muscles are likely well-fueled with glycogen.
      You might want to meet with a sports nutritionist for professional guidance so you don’t have to live hungry all the time?

  2. This article on gives the light in which we can observe the reality. wish you luck in New Year!

Leave a comment