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Muscle-Building Workout and Diet

Hey guys, Sean Nalewanyj here of,
and today I want to answer a very common question that I receive, which is how to structure
your diet on workout days vs. non workout days, and more specifically, whether you should
consume more calories on training days and less calories on non training days. So the
basic idea behind this does seem to make sense on the surface. Your body requires a greater
amount of energy on workout days in order to fuel your training sessions as well as
to recover from them, and it requires less energy on non-workout days since you’ll
be less active overall. So, cycling your daily calories is typically done under the assumption
that it will increase workout quality, improve recovery, and decrease excess fat gains in
the long term. The problem with this approach is that it is a very short-sighted view of
muscle building and fat burning nutrition. Whether your goal is to bulk up and put on
muscle or to lean down and lose body fat, you need to keep in mind that these are both
very slow and gradual processes that are determined by the actions that you take over the long
term. Your total net results in either direction are not going to be measurably affected by
a few hundred calories more or a few hundred calories less within small blocks of 24 hours.
People tend to categorize things in terms of individual days (for example, a “good”
day of eating or a “bad” day of eating) simply because that is the primary way that
we organize our time. However, within the context of an overall muscle building or fat
burning program, 24 hours is really quite an insignificant period of time. In addition,
muscle growth and fat loss are not on/off switches. It’s not as if you’re “building
muscle” one day and then “maintaining muscle” the next day, or as if you’re “burning
fat” one day and then just “maintaining” the next day. Instead, your body is in a constant
state of both muscle growth and muscle breakdown, as well as a constant state of both fat burning
and fat storage. And it’s the total sum of all of these processes over the long term
that is going to determine your bottom line body composition. And for those reasons, worrying
about cycling your diet by eating more calories on your workout days and less calories on
your rest days is really just a waste of effort and it’s really going to do nothing more than
overcomplicate your diet without improving your results. Not only is expending your energy
on unnecessary dietary strategies like this a bad thing in and of itself, but it may also
negatively affect you over the long term for the simple reason that it’s going to make
your diet plan harder to follow. Constantly raising and lowering your calories from day
to day is obviously more difficult and more tedious to track than simply maintaining a
steady intake from day to day, and the simple fact is that the more complex your nutritional
approach is, the less likely you’ll be to stick to it over the long haul. Your goal
when structuring your muscle building or your fat burning diet should be to only make it
as complicated as it absolutely needs to be, and to eliminate all of the inessentials.
That way you can place all of your focus on the things that truly matter, and get the
maximum benefits while utilizing your time and energy in the most efficient way. Now,
that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with eating less calories on rest days
vs. workout days, and if you truly do prefer that method because it fits into your natural
hunger patterns or your schedule in a more streamlined way, then that’s totally fine.
The take-home point here is simply that it isn’t going to make a noticeable difference
either way, and if maintaining a consistent calorie intake from day to day is the easiest
method for you to follow, then that is definitely the route that I would recommend you go. So
thanks for watching this video lesson, I hope you found the information useful here today.
If you want to get a ton of other highly effective, science-based muscle building and fat burning
nutrition tips as well as concrete step by step meal plans, workout routines, supplement
info and more, make sure to head over to and grab my complete “Body Transformation
Blueprint” System by clicking the icon at the top of the video or using the link in
the description box below. If you did enjoy the video, as always, please make sure to
hit the LIKE button, leave a comment and subscribe to stay up-to-date on future videos. And make
sure to check out my official blog over at for all of my latest articles,
tips and other updates. Talk to you again soon.

69 thoughts on “How To Diet On Rest Days (Less Calories On Non Workout Days?)

  1. Thanks Sean very informative. I eat less calories when I don't train simply cause I feel I don't need them, so I carb cycle and that seems to work ok for me. In saying that I have a "cheat meal" once a week but keep it as clean as possible.

  2. You gotta Love this guy! Everytime I'm wondering about a certain subject I find the answer in his videos
    Great work sean

  3. Good advice SEAN. I'm on a 16 week cut and I drop 200 cal. Per day every off day and I'm liking the results so far 6 weeks in -12lbs.

  4. Great video Sean! I read somehwere online from a guy that using a 5/2 or 6/1 diet (the first number being surplus days and the last number slight deficit days) had some advantages because it allowed you to place more calories on the workout days by having 1/2 lower calorie days a week as opposed to eating the same calories and, according to him, those slight deficit days up regulate some anabolic receptors, so your body will be primed to gain muscle once you get back on the higher calories days. Is there any truth to his claims? THANKS!!!

  5. Exactly the video I was looking for! I've been searching for this answer for so long, finally a proof that I can eat the same bulking calories 24/7.

  6. Thanks Sean. But what about days when cardio is done? Should the calories for that day be increased accordingly to prevent a calorie deficit (assuming a bulking phase)? 

  7. Hi Sean, thank you for your explanation. How about when you are cycling carbs? If the carb intake on rest days is significant lower the calorie intake will be lower too. Should I compensate with a higher protein intake to maintain the same calories? Thanks again.

  8. hey Sean tried to reach you on fb but got no response should i stay away from whey protein wile trying to lower my bf

  9. Hi Sean

    I don't agree with this video, and I'm gonna explain 🙂
    While I agree that short term changes are not important calorie cycling in a long term can make a dramatic change.

    For instance, my maintenance calories are more or less 2900.
    If I train EOD for 6 months and I consume 500cal of surplus everyday at the end of those 6 months I'll be eating 84000 extra kcal.
    But, If I eat 500 extra calories only on training days and I eat at maintenance the rest, at the end of those 6 months I'll be eating 42000 extra calories more or less. 

    And that amount DOES make a difference.

  10. Hey Sean, quick question. I am a big fan of high fat, low carb diets, but I have more recently started getting into higher carb, low fat diets as well. I get very similar responses with each. My question is, could I have two different macro set, both equalling the same total amount of total calories, but one is geared for higher fat and low carb and the other vice versa? Or do you think that this would just be unnecessary? I have used both over time and feel flatter over time with the lower carb (obviously) and I feel that if I were to stay on the high carb split, I may spill over. Keep in mind both these diets are based around a caloric maintenance, which I do in fact know is my maintenance due to following these calories for well over a year with no weight gain. What are your thoughts? Is it unnecessary to have two macro sets to switch between?

  11. You are misleading many people about this topic. The benefit of cycling is to take advantage of hormonal states which maximize muscle building, while minimizing fat gains. Its not about total calorie intake. the whole purpose of cycling is to prevent insulin spikes when your body didn't witness a catabolic event (aka exercising). For the guys who are looking for prime results, don't listen to this guy.

  12. If only I learnt about this earlier, I used to train 5-6 days a week . My gains were really2 stagnant, so i gave up and took 3 days of rest (with hopelessness), and started forgetting my diet. When I got back to the gym after the 3 days rest, I realised I have gained significant strength…… I realised one important fact – my body doesn't go to repair/ muscle building in one day.

  13. So what's the take away? Eat less calories or nah?
    All I basically heard from this video was "it's up to you, do whatever you want, it won't matter."

  14. Sean how often should you decrease your calorie intake during a cut? I know it should be done when the fat loss stalls,but would be right do it every week or every two?

  15. im trying to gain muscle without fat, im in a clean-bulking phase, ive heard someone from sixpackshortcuts suggested to eat less carb on non-training days, eat high protein, fat and fiber do the trick for fat loss while maintain the lean muscle

  16. From using a calculator, and finding my BMR, and using my activity level as moderate activity, should I still have different amount of calories for non workout days and workout days?

  17. im 6 feet 195 and fat around the waistt, i ate 1200 calories but didnt lose any fat just weight, i increased to 1500 am i doing right and how long will it take to burn lets say 5 inches belly fat?

  18. hey Sean! great video! i am bulking now and i try to stay pretty lean.. do you think that 200 houndred calories above maintenance it s enough? or should i increase them for about 300-500 houndred calories

  19. Great video, but wouldn't having slightly less calories on rest days have an affect over the long term, since all those rest days add up to a lot of calories less, resulting in less fat gain during a longterm bulk. It's not complicated to knock off 200 calories on a rest day; you just knock off 200 calories. Simple! You could achieve this by simply having two slices of bread less or whatever. That's not complicated, LOL!

  20. hold on pal. you only talk about total calories consumed. on rest days you should consume equal calories but little to no carbs, mainly protein. a lot of natural bodybuilders do this such as Philip Ricardo Jr. but what do I know I don't have a successful YouTube channel or a six pack

  21. on a calorie surplus dietary plan, its harder for me to achieve this goal, so its easier for me to cut off some calories during rest days. Since you're saying that it will provide no major difference then you're implying that doing so won't affect me right? however its not "harder" as you said in the video, for some individuals, like my case for example (ectomorph) i find it easy to cut down calories and stop eating.

  22. I have seen so many people say to go to maintenance on off days,this is dangerous advice because you could easily end up in a defect for those days if you are more active even outside of the gym.

  23. I always feel less hungry on days I workout and more hungry on rest days. To me this makes sense because the recovery process really starts the day after you train. That's why I've always done less calories on day I train, and more on rest days. This helps fuel glycogen and recovery better. Depriving yourself on rest days actually slows recovery!

  24. I am 18 and 5,11 weigh at 220 n i look a mix of buff n lean but i play football workout everyday except on Saturday and i eat 3,670 cals i use n app to track and should i eat at least 3000 on rest days

  25. I think there’s still a point to cycling tho— if I’m gonna cut at a certain calorie count, might as well eat a little under on off days and a bit over on workout days. That little extra food helps a lot in the gym

  26. Yes ur results will depend on what you intake on a regular basis, it’s referred to as the compound effect. Successful days add up to overall success. It begins with the basics. I hate when these dudes try to sound smart while distorting information. It is simple, just as you stated in the beginning of the video before you began bullshitting

  27. *For Example*: a man has a daily caloric intake of 2000 calories for maintenance on workout days since he is burning more calories than off days and 1500cals for maintenance for off days. If he goes on a surplus with 2200 calories for example wouldnt the caloric intake for off days be 1700?

  28. i dont have this problem…..i lift 4x a week with 4km run….on my aka REST DAYS i just run 12km😂😂😂 pretty stupid i know but i go crazy if i cant…ok i have friday to not exercise just because its my travel time home i dont cut..ive been there 2years of starving myself and my body and mind just refuse on cutting anymore..i refuse to diet using game plan if ever there would be situation i cant exercise anymore ill just cut my 3 serving of protein drink i do 4 and eat normally

  29. I think of it like a class. If you do poorly on a quiz (i.e. you were outside your calorie range for the day) doesn't mean you're not going to pass the class (the bottom line result you want).

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