Fuelling on recovery days and around big days

I’ll calorie count every once in a while as I’m coming up to big events. One thing I’ve never been clear on is how to think about fuelling on reco days that are book-ended by bigger days.

For instance, say I’m targeting 2,000 calories a day without considering exercise demands.

  • On Saturday I do a 1,500 calorie ride
  • On Sunday, I sit on the couch
  • On Monday, I do a 3,000 calorie ride

On Sunday, should I be aiming for just the base 2,000 calories or bringing forward some of the 3,000 calories I’ll burn on the Monday? Should I be pushing some of Monday’s calorie burn to Tuesday?

I hope this question makes sense - always bothered me a bit as I struggle to eat 5,000 calories on the Monday and it feels… not quite right.

What I do in that situation is eat over maintenance on my rest day by about 500 calories give or take. If I wasn’t that hungry at the end of the day 1, I’d maybe save those calories for the rest day. But I wouldn’t sweat it if I took in 3,500 that day either. I’d still take in 2500 or so on the rest day depending on my hunger and then be ready for the next big ride.
It’s tough IME to go from 3,000 -4,000 cals to a 2,000 calorie day. You’re going to need those cals on the rest days for both recovery and preparation for the upcoming training.


one thing you can do on sunday is shift your diet towards carbs so help with the big Monday ride, and if you go a little bit over in calories, that is fine (from what I’ve gathered in tweeting to Asker Jeukendrup many years ago) I am not a nutrionist* but those extra carb cals will be stored as glycogen to use on Mon vs. being stored as fat…

5000 cals isn’t that much tho when you consider you’ll be eating a bunch on the bike (or should be!) and 2 big meals after the ride and big breakfast and you’re almost caught up


Thanks guys - both super helpful answers.