Judith Haudum

Very hungry on rest days?

“How is it possible that I am just as hungry on the rest day as on the training day?” , a question that I often get asked when athletes come to me. Many believe that you need almost no energy on a rest day because we are not moving. Of course, energy consumption is reduced when we don't exercise, but our body still needs a lot of energy to recover from training; and it also needs energy to function. Even without exercise, we need between 1300-2500 calories/day. Someone who is really muscular and well-trained might do even more. After intensive training, our body must regenerate and replenish its stores. If you look at some metabolic processes, they take up to 24 hours and more, especially after very intensive training. Recovery is not the end of a recovery shake, it's just beginning.

Cell types in skeletal muscle that are involved in the interaction of muscle and immune cell and control muscle adaptation processes following exercise. (Peake et al. 2017)

Your training day influences your hunger on the rest day

Athletes often underestimate the time it takes to fully recover after a hard workout. Just because your muscles don't hurt anymore doesn't mean that you're completely recovered (see image above). Intensive training creates a lot of stress for the body. It takes him a while to recover from it. This is followed by small areas of inflammation, microinjuries and the glycogen stores are depleted. While some athletes think that you can repair this with a regeneration shake and are fully functional again, it takes at least 24 hours to refill the glycogen stores. And that's only when everything goes smoothly after sport. Unfortunately, many athletes lack the right protocol to support glycogen replenishment. We also need to support protein synthesis. Studies have shown that the rate of protein synthesis is still increased more than 24 hours after exercise. Our body adapts! When we now eat protein, it is used to adapt to training and also as an energy supplier. But here too, it takes a while until our muscles are completely regenerated after intensive training. Restoring and building up simply takes time and requires more than a regeneration drink. And then consider that you've had several days of training in a row since you completed the last rest day. There is a lot of suffering that our muscles have to deal with. And finally, you may have observed swelling or reduced range of motion or declining strength and strength at the end of a training block at the end of a training block. Exercise causes inflammation in our body (see figure above) and as the level of inflammation increases, so do the symptoms we experience. When they occur, it is a sign that our body needs rest. Depending on the damage in the muscle, this can require one (slight movement) up to eight (intensive eccentric load) days of recovery. All of these processes together require energy. Only with sufficient intake can our body regenerate for the next workout. When we are hungry, it just shows that our body needs more energy to regenerate. Don't ignore that, listen to your body, it's still the best feedback you can get when it comes to energy intake. Hunger is a physiological response and we should not ignore it. There is a reason why our bodies scream: hunger!

Wrong diet tactics on training day increase hunger on rest day

However, it is not only the energy requirement for regeneration that is why we are often hungrier on the rest day. In some cases, the cause of greater hunger is our diet the day before. Do you sometimes feel really hungry, especially after days of hard sessions? After long workouts? How do you rate your training diet? Like your diet on a day of intense exercise? When we exercise a lot, we also have to eat a lot. It is not so easy to eat the right amount and athletes often underestimate how much they actually burn during training. Since they then do not absorb enough energy, they end the training day with a very large energy deficit. Other athletes do not feel hungry after training because their feeling of hunger is suppressed and therefore do not eat anything. And then there are those who do not provide enough energy during training and end the training with a large deficit that is impossible to fill afterwards. In both cases, you wake up the next day and are really hungry. Sometimes you have the feeling that you can't stop eating all day. One snack at a time - because the body is in such a deficit and needs energy. The easiest way to reduce this huge hunger on the rest day is to look at your diet on training day. If you're not sure what you actually need, contact an expert to plan it for you. Don't look on the Internet for plans. A plan must be tailored to you. Sports nutrition experts can write a plan that is tailored to you. They know how big your daily needs are. They know what you need to support performance and recovery. And they help you avoid being very hungry on the rest day because you had the right plan the day before.

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