If you are one of those people whose goals at the gym are building muscle mass, then there is a very good shot that you are already proficient in planning out your protein intake around your workout schedule. However, what about your off days, when you’re taking a breather to let your muscles recover? Should the amount of protein change on those these when you are not working out? Should you consume protein shake on rest days ?
Worry no more, for we have everything you need to know about protein intake, muscle recovery and whether or not you need that protein shake on your days off listed below!
Do you need to consume protein shake on your rest days?
Starting off with a fairly simple question. While a protein shake after a workout is an optimal snack, with many benefits, there are also some positives that come from consuming it on you off days as well.
After all it all depends solely on how you plan out your diet to meet your caloric intake goals, and adding a protein shake on your off days wouldn’t hurt.
Do you need the same amount of protein on your rest days?
The short answer to this question is – yes, yes you do.
Protein is needed for your muscles even on the days that are not spent working out. It’s crucial for the recovery period of the muscle tissues, and their recovery can take from 24 to 48 hours and protein supports that recovery. So, it’s very likely that your protein intake would stay the same on your off days.
Your macro targets are one of the most important things that you should take into considerations when deciding whether or not to add a protein shake on your rest days.
When nutrition is being discussed, consistency is key, and nutrition is highly personal as well. The thing determining your macro goals is actually your fitness goals, and this can be a deciding factor for whether or not you need to consume your usual protein shake on your rest days.
If the fitness goal in question is building lean muscle mass, then you will probably need a lot of protein, and you should be meeting that target level every day if that is your goal. This of course applies on rest days as well.
But if your goal is trying to lose some weight or maintain the one you already have, then you won’t need as much energy as someone who is working to add muscle mass. But, getting enough protein is still crucial to managing and meeting your goals. As some people even find it easier to lose weight on a diet rich in protein, it should stay consistent even on off days.
Here are some reasons why it’s recommended to drink a protein shake even on your off days
As with anything, there are several reasons why drinking a protein shake on your off days can be very beneficial towards meeting your fitness goals.
Firstly, it could be difficult for some to meet their protein needs through food and food alone, and since your activity level is down quite a bit, you may just notice that you are not as hungry on rest days, compared to working out days.
Meanwhile, a protein shake can also help you avoid those nasty cravings if you are one to feel more hunger on your off days. So, adding a protein shake could remedy that and help you go along your day.
Last but not least, it all comes down to convenience, even if you can easily meet your protein goals with actual meals, a lot of the time a protein shake just makes everything easier. And if you are on the road, or working a crazy work schedule, or even if you slacked off on your meal prep for the rest of the day, having a simple protein shake can keep your macros in check for the day.
Does a protein shake make you gain weight?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. Basically it all depends on the amount of calories you are actively consuming clashing with the amount of calories you are burning. So, naturally a protein shake will only make you gain weight if it’s in an excess of calories.
But if building muscles is your goal, then this is exactly what you want, since building muscles requires weight gain, which in turn requires more fuel. On the other hand, if you are losing weight then being in a caloric deficit is your go to.
Whichever is your goal, weight change sadly does not happen overnight. You will need to be in either a calorie deficit or a calorie surplus to see results over some time.
What do you need to eat on rest days to support muscle growth?
Do you really need to change up what you eat when you are in the so called “recovery” mode? Well, not exactly. Your diet plan can remain pretty similar or the exact same because your body needs the same nutrients on the days you spend resting as well as the days you spend working out to recover the muscle tissue properly.
Firstly, you absolutely need to have enough carbs consumed to replenish your glycogen stocks, which can quickly become depleted with both endurance and resistance type training. So, it’s key to keep your carb intake consistent to ensure that you will have the energy that you need to do your next workout. Basically, get ready for whole grains, fruits, sweet potato, rice and quinoa to be your best friends during your off days.
The next thing on the list is, of course, protein. You will be needing up to 2 grams of protein per one kilogram of body weight to support that sweet muscle recovery. Since the recovery takes at least one day, you would want to keep your protein intake up. You should opt for high quality protein sources like poultry, eggs, fish, beans, tofu, lean meats and of course a protein shake.
Last but not least, don’t think that you need to cut off your fat intake. If you include fat on your rest days meal plan it will keep you full between the meals. Fat also helps to greatly decrease inflammation and also keeps the joints as healthy as possible.
Final bonus tips and tricks to dial in your off days
Your rest days should be all about the recovery process. This means that you’ll need to think about what your body needs to fully recover and be ready to get back on the workout grind.
You can use this time to stretch out your body. Since stretching and other rehabilitory work like foam rolling can make a really noticeable difference if you’re one to struggle with lack of mobility in the gym. The benefits of this include a better workout performance and a lesser risk of any injury.
You should also plan a cheat meal of sorts. This could be beneficial as it makes your day off a bit more relaxed, no need to restrict that many calories. According to many, planning a cheat meal gives them a goal to look forward to after a whole week of strenuous work.
Half the battle with nutrition and dieting is finding a diet plan that is completely sustainable, so sprinkling in an occasional cheat day tends to make you stick to your diet in the long run.
Last but certainly not least, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Not only should you use your rest day to refill the fluids that you lose in the gym, but you should hit at least the 2 liter mark every day. Hydrating yourself will help you prevent dehydration as well as muscle cramping .