What foods you consume on your rest days are just as important as the foods you consume on the days you work out. On your rest days, your body is recovering and replenishing its fuel stores so that the muscles can function with optimal performance during the next workout.
Carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads, pasta, brown rice, vegetables and fruits are healthy choices that replace glycogen stores in the muscles. Carbohydrates are essential for athletes, the body breaks down the carbohydrates into three simple sugars glucose, fructose and galactose that are used by the muscles. These sugars that are not used are stored in the muscles for later use, writes Chris Carmichael, author of the book, "Food for Fitness, Eat Right To Train Right."
Protein is made from amino acids that build muscles, tendons, skin and other tissues. Protein also works to rebuild muscle tissue and is essential for muscle repair after a workout and on recovery days. Eating protein that is low fat is healthier than the full fat versions. Turkey, beans, tofu, eggs, cheese, lean ground beef, chicken and fish are healthy options for athletes, writes Sizer and Whitney of the book "Nutrition Concepts and Controversies."
Athletes may think that avoiding fat will help improve their performance; however some amount of fat is essential for athletes. There are three types of fats unsaturated, saturated and trans fats. Saturated and trans fats have been linked to cardiovascular diseases and other health problems. Unsaturated fats are the healthy fats that can help lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Unsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, avocados, fish and nuts. These healthy fats provide a great source of energy for workouts.
On recovery days, you may not feel as thirsty as you do on the days that you workout since you are not sweating as much. However, it is still important that you consume fluids to prevent dehydration. Being dehydrated deprives your body of water and can impair your athletic performance, writes Chris Carmichael. Sports drinks are not needed on recovery days, but do provide essential nutrients when working out for more than an hour.
- "Nutrition and Concepts and Controversies 10th Edition"; Sizer, Frances and Whitney, Eli; 2006.
- "Food for Fitness, Eat Right To Train Right"; Chris Carmichael; 2004.