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Should You Eat Less Calories On Non Workout Days?

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Calories on rest days vs training days

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, we answer a viewer question who asked, should you eat less calories on non workout days?

This is another episode from our #WayBackWednesday series

In this series we highlight the best questions from previous episodes of our #AskLiveLeanTV Q&A show.

This question is from #AskLiveLeanTV Ep. 007.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work For Muscle Building?

Here’s today’s viewer question:

@KarlaGaytan42 on Twitter asks: What is the difference of calories or foods on workout days against recovery and rest days? Should you eat less calories on non workout days?

Great question.

When you’re on a rest day, you don’t necessarily need as many calories as you would on a leg day, or any other workout day.

best leg workout

I’m specifically using leg day as an example.

This is when you use up the most energy and have broken down the most muscle fibers in your body.

Based on this, you want to make sure you eat enough to recover after your workout.

Calories on rest days

Now let’s contrast that to a rest day.

On a rest day, you’re not as active since you are not doing as much, thus your body doesn’t require as many calories.

So if you’re going to eat less calories on non workout days, those reduced calories should primarily come from carbohydrates.

Best Carbohydrates to Live Lean

But hold up, don’t stop reading yet

If this approach of cycling and counting your calories on training vs non training days is too difficult or overwhelming for you, I share an alternate option at the end of this post.

This alternate approach will simplify everything for you, so keep reading all the way to the end.

How many more calories should you eat on training days vs rest day?

Now lets talk about the difference in calorie numbers on training days vs rest days.

In particular, how many more calories should you eat on a workout day?

This obviously depends on what your goal is and your body size.

For example, it depends on if you are trying to gain muscle or lose body fat.

5 Best Tips For Muscle Growth

If you’re in maintenance mode, and you’re burning 500 calories during your workouts, you should roughly eat 500 calories less in food.

Even though burning 500 calories during a workout may seem intense, people are burning that or more with my Live Lean Afterburn 2.0 workouts.

Live Lean Afterburn 2.0

Don’t overestimate your calorie burning

Just don’t overestimate the amount of calories you burn because that can dangerously put you in an unintentional calorie surplus.

3 Ways To Create A Calorie Deficit For Weight Loss

I can just see the comments now.

“Well, I’m on a treadmill for 2 hours a day and I burn 1,000 calories.

If that’s what you’re doing, we want you to reconsider your approach.

We’d prefer you lifting weights, being athletic, and doing sprint intervals rather than spending 2 hours on a treadmill.

Sprint Interval Workouts

But that’s a whole other question, so I’m not going to go on an on about this.

We just want to make the point that Living Lean is not all about calories in versus calories out.

Do you have to count calories?

Since Jess and I are in maintenance mode, we don’t count our calories everyday.

However, we do pay attention to the nutritional values of foods and the quality of our workouts.

But, I always have to preface this with the story that when both Jess and I started transforming our bodies, we did count calories.

The Journey To My Healthy Diet Routine

People often forget that we came from a place where we were not happy with our bodies.

Most people just see the results that we’ve achieved over the years.

Jess started getting results that she was happy with fairly quickly, once she got serious in her first few months of training.

It was different for me as my results weren’t as fast.

In my book Think and Live Lean, I talk about how in the beginning my results were so off and on.

I was under the false impression, like many other people, that results should come quicker.

Both Jess and I were in the dark thinking that after picking up a dumbbell and doing a couple bicep curls, you should be ripped.

How To Do A STANDING DUMBBELL BICEP CURL | Exercise Demonstration Video and Guide

The speed of getting results is different for everybody

Regardless of how long it takes, just know that if you are in a place where you are not happy and you really need to transform, this is when you need to pay closer attention to your calories.

When Jess would be preparing for a fitness competition and when I had a goal of building muscle, we logged and kept track of our calories.

So when it comes to the question of if you should be counting calories, it depends on your goal and your level of nutrition education.

If you’re in maintenance mode and you understand the value of food, that’s when you don’t necessarily need to count calories every day.

How To Diet WITHOUT Counting Calories

And by understanding the value of food, I simply mean you know your calorie needs and you can look at a plate of food and closely estimate how many calories it is.

Counting calories is only temporary

If you want to transform and change your body, you have to change your habits.

Counting calories in the beginning of your journey is a worthwhile temporary behavior, but it is not intended to be a lifelong habit.

So for the first few weeks of your transformation, learn how to count your calories and macronutrients.

How To Figure Out Your Calorie and Macro Goals for FAT LOSS

It is so valuable.

The alternate approach to calories on rest days vs non workout days

Now let me put a little more context around the question: should you eat less calories on non workout days?

Both ways work.

When I say both ways work, you could keep your calories consistent and the exact same throughout the week.

Or you can eat more calories on your training days, then eat less on your recovery and rest days.

Here’s why I say both approaches work.

As long as you hit your calorie number goals at the end of the week, you’ll be on target with your goals.

If your daily calorie goal is 2,500, and you eat that every day of the week, you’ll hit your calorie goals.

But the benefit to having more calories on your training days is you can optimize your performance in the gym.

If you have a big leg day, having more calories will help fuel your workout and improve recovery for better gains.

The Truth About Overtraining: Real Or Myth?

Free calorie calculator

Here is a free calorie calculator.

Simply input your data points.

The calculator will then tell you how many calories you need to build muscle, maintain, or lose weight.

How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day?

Bottom line on should you eat less calories on non workout days

If it becomes too difficult to track and cycle calories based on training vs rest days, just keep your daily calories consistent.

The most important goal is to hit your daily and weekly calorie goals.

So hopefully that clarifies this for you.

Don’t overcomplicate it.

When it overwhelms you, it’ll leave you to do nothing.

If that’s the case, don’t do it that way.

Make your nutrition work for you.

Just keep your calories consistent throughout the week.

It’s now time to check out this post on how to calculate how many macronutrients you need.

I’ll specifically show you how to calculate much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you need in a day.

How To Calculate Your Macronutrients


Start by taking our FREE Live Lean Body Quiz to get access to the best program specific to your goals, current fitness level, and access to equipment.

Take the Free Live Lean Body Quiz


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Question For You:

  • How many calories do you aim to eat per day?

Be sure to share your answers in the comment section below.

Check out our free workout videos here.

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3 responses to “Should You Eat Less Calories On Non Workout Days?

  1. Should be “fewer calories” not “less calories.” Fewer is plural, less is singular. Otherwise, great job. Thank you.

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