Find out what your balance of protein and carbs should be on rest and easy training days, plus, recipes to help you on your way...
Nutrition plan for rest days & easy training (under 60 mins at low-intensity)
Less carb, more protein
Carbohydrate (CHO) intake should be lower, due to the reduction in training volume. This may mean that only one meal (e.g. breakfast or lunch) needs to be carbohydrate based. This reduction in training gives the flexibility to use a protein-rich breakfast, which can reduce hunger for the rest of the morning. Our guide to the best sources of protein will provide added inspiration when choosing meals on these days.
Intakes of protein from meals and snacks should be high on these days to support ongoing muscle tissue growth and repair in the 24 hours following a heavy training day.
Higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (e.g. Omega-3) can help to reduce inflammation and aid the recovery process. Increased vegetable intakes with each meal (especially those high in antioxidants) help to reduce the free radical damage from training and can subsequently reduce muscle soreness. Finally, this is the time to experiment with new recipes, flavours and spices.
Training timing – when to eat
For easier, low-intensity training sessions (e.g. 35 minute, easy run), many elite endurance athletes would undertake this session before breakfast so they are in a fasted state. This can be a worthwhile strategy as, by under fuelling the muscles, the stress on them increases so that they adapt and become more efficient. This strategy also primes the body to break down fat and use it as fuel for training, so it also can be an effective weight management strategy. It can take a while to get used to training fasted and shouldn’t be used for high intensity training sessions.
Morning snack suggestion:
Chinese spiced seed mix
More training & nutrition tips for runners
- Now you've perfected your training nutrition, make sure you eat right in race week with our marathon meal plans and top race day foods.
- Get to grips with eating before, during and after running with our guides.
- Our marathon nutrition hub will teach you how to hydrate properly, carb-load and even how Mo Farah fuels for training.
This article was last reviewed on 6 March 2017 by sports nutritionist, James Collins.
James Collins is head of nutrition at Arsenal Football Club. He’s worked with some of the world’s best athletes over the last decade within Olympic and professional sport. His Performance Nutrition principles are now helping everyone to look, feel and perform better each day. Find out more at: www.jamescollinsnutrition.com.
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