We’ve all dedicated a day in the week for a light or ‘recovery’ exercise session. Perhaps even a full day off. It’s needed in order to keep grinding in the gym. Otherwise, our body would bail on us and eventually collapse.
During such days, you won’t be burning many calories, which is why you need to be aware of your food (i.e. caloric) consumption as to not consume more calories than you burn (an underlying cause of weight gain).
This is where portion control comes into play.
Personally, the most important macronutrient you have to be wary of is carbohydrates. On my ‘light’ plate representation, you’ll notice a relatively lower portion of carbohydrates.
As I’ve alluded to in other posts, carbohydrates are primarily responsible for providing energy to the body. Since you’ll be in rest mode throughout the whole day, or still burning relatively lower calories if you were to partake in a light workout session, you won’t need as much carbohydrates, or energy. Hence, carbohydrates should make up 20% your plate.
In addition to quantity, the type of carbohydrates is important to consider. Generally, and particularly during recovery days, consume low glycemic index carbohydrates such as whole grains, whole meal pasta/rice, sweet potatoes or quinoa.
Furthermore, vegetables and fruits, as we all know, are important foods to include in our everyday diet. But during these days, emphasize highly on these food groups, as they are relatively lower in calories and high in nutrients.
Fill your plate with 50% vegetables and/or fruits at every meal and make sure to eat a rainbow– meaning vary the types of vegetables and fruits you eat to absorb the many different vitamins and minerals found in each type.
Last, and certainly not least, consume a lot of protein – the macronutrient most responsible for muscle recovery. Similar to vegetables and fruits, proteins should make up 30% of the plate.
It is vital to include a source of lean protein at every meal you eat, even snacks. Main meal sources of protein entail eggs, poultry, beef and fish, while snacks should include protein sources such as mixed nuts, dairies (full-fat dairies), peanut butter or even a protein shake.
Portion control is a great way to manage your food intake and bridge exercise with proper nutrition. While controlling your meal portions are important during days which you’ve experienced a hard workout, I think it’s easier to get carried away during recovery or light exercise days. You may find yourself eating more because of being bored at home. That said, be mindful of the quantity and quality of foods you consume during these days. Remember, portion control is not only about eating healthily; it’s about eating smart too.