What to eat on rest & easy training days

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...

What to eat on rest or low intensity training days

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.

Other nutrientsLow intensity
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. 

Meal options:

Diet plan 1 - breakfastBreakfast options:
Greek salad omelette
Ricotta, tomato & spinach frittata
Spiced scrambled eggs


Morning snack suggestion:
Chinese spiced seed mix

Diet plan 1 - lunchLunch options:
Griddled chicken with quinoa Greek salad
Fruity lamb tagine
Quinoa, lentil & feta salad


Afternoon snack options:
Lemon & coriander houmous
Thai salmon kebabs with sweet chilli & lime dip

Diet plan 1 - dinnerDinner options:
Chermoula-marinated mackerel
Lemon-rubbed salmon
Grilled & marinated summer vegetables
Thai chicken & mushroom broth


Now find out what to eat on normal and heavy training days.

More training & nutrition tips for runners

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.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Are you training for a race this year? What have you found most challenging and do you have any top tips to share with other runners? We'd love to hear from you below...


Comments, questions and tips

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magdalenammm's picture
23rd Jul, 2015
@a_d_cooper I understand where you're coming from, and yes I agree that some meals require more time, skills, variety of ingredients and knowledge. Although, try to use these as suggestions, so have a pick and mix approach and only choose things, which are relevant for you i.e. easy to make etc. As you browse through them, just use them as an inspiration rather than having to strictly follow a recipe. Think of different substitutes for items, which may be difficult to obtain. @Bench I totally agree with you! I like the interface, the content, pretty much everything about this blog.
19th Nov, 2014
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2nd Apr, 2014
There appears to be an assumption that everyone has a personal chef or no job/kids. Any chance of doing something for people who live in the real world?
Daisy@Cheaperseeker's picture
29th Mar, 2014
Nice.Thank you for sharing the great post!
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