How does nutrition play a role in “rest time”?
Nutrition can play an important role during recovery, especially during the first hour following an exercise session to replace muscle glycogen stores, replace sweat losses, stimulate muscle protein synthesis and enhance muscle recovery. On rest days per se, the focus should be on nutritious foods that are high in fibre and micronutrients rather than energy dense ‘sports foods’ that can contribute to weight gain if the additional calories are not used.
What an athlete considers as rest time is actually the time in which the body build new structures and support systems as part of the adaptation process. Sure you want your body to do the best work it can, therefore what you give the body (through food), can determine the quality of the work that the body will do for you. The principles therefore would be to eat quality, fresh food with lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat and dairy and keep to a regular schedule of eating. Still concentrate on adequate water intake. Now is sure not the time to give in to binge eating or junk food. A small treat here and there is not a sin, but what they say: Junk in, junk out.
Most of the adaptations (i.e. becoming fitter, stronger or faster) from an exercise session occur in the rest or recovery period. Providing your body with the nutrients it needs, will further help to stimulate these training adaptations.