Should You Eat Less On Rest Days?

Like most fitness and nutrition-related questions, the answer is, it depends. For the purpose of general health, the answer is highly dependent on your behaviors and personal preferences. It's less about a day-to-day thing and more about your behaviors over a larger span of time.


I used to think that because I wasn't burning as many calories on rest days that I should be eating less. This messed with my head because I always feel more hungry on rest days. I'm burning less calories, so I should be less hungry, right? Not necessarily. Recovery is an equally important part of the muscle-building equation and this requires energy aka calories.

There are a lot of things that influence your hunger. Here are just a few that I've considered strongly in my own experience, and may help you to think about.

WHAT TIME DO YOU TRAIN? This will definitely influence your hunger.

If you train in the morning, you may feel hungry the rest of the day. The following day, your hunger may be more at bay.

If you train at night, you may feel more hungry the day after.

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO FEEL WHEN YOU TRAIN? This one has a lot to do with food choices and your digestion.

If you like to eat more to energize yourself pre-training, by all means, load up. Food is energy, so it makes sense to eat beforehand to feel strong during your workout.

If you don't like to feel full on training days, then don't eat as much. I train in the evening. I don't like to feel bloated and weighed down when I train, so I take that into account the entire day. Then when I get home, I only have a few hours before bed so I don't want to eat a ton because going to bed uncomfortably full disrupts my digestion and my sleep. This is a huge reason why I am usually more hungry on my rest days.

If you find that on non-training days you're less disciplined, you might want to avoid trigger foods. Trigger foods are foods that promote overeating for you. A lot of times these are processed foods, foods that are produced to be hyperpalatable and making you crave more. Things like breads, sweetened snacks, and anything that is primarily carbohydrates generally cause my appetite to increase. I try to avoid these in general, but especially on rest days as I'm already a bit less disciplined.

Base eating around your behaviors and how you feel. You'll be far better off than if you base it off of what someone on the internet is telling you.

Listen to your body. You'll get better results long term due to your ability to be consistent.