How Important are Rest days for Weight Loss? A Detailed Guide

Rest days are absolutely necessary for weight loss. They help people recover from the stress of workouts and give their muscles time to regain strength.

If not taken a proper resting time, continuous exercise days can lead to a breakdown of muscle tissues for energy. This is bad because it can sabotage the whole weight loss journey and in the worst-case scenario lead to an injury that can prevent you from working out for several days to come.

Rest days are important because they help recover the lost energies. The glycogen stores get replenished, sore muscles get the required healing, and overall you feel tranquility and a peace of mind.

But the most important aspect of a rest day is that it still needs to be active. How and why? Check it out in a 5 minutes video below:

Signs you need a Rest Day from Exercising:

There are at least 10 signs you need a rest day from exercising. They are:

  1. Muscles feeling sore and stiff
  2. Feelings of run down tiredness
  3. You’re not making any progress in training
  4. You’re constantly getting sick or catching colds
  5. Aches and pain in body that is not going away
  6. You’re struggling to stick to your workout routine
  7. Your mood is low and you’re more irritable than usual
  8. Feelings of stress and overwhelm lately
  9. Trouble falling asleep
  10. You’ve been experiencing headaches or migraines lately

5 Reasons why you need a rest day from working out:

Recovering the physical energy is only one aspect of taking a rest day. You need rest days for 5 other reasons:

  1. To get rid of muscle fatigue
  2. Replenish glycogen stores
  3. Remove muscle pain and soreness
  4. Prevent injury
  5. Give your mind some rest

So all in all, rest days are a full package of recovery and not just a source of reviving the physical energy.

How many days a week should you rest to lose weight?

There is no one size fits all number of rest days a week for everyone to follow in a weight loss journey. If your workouts are vigorous, you need to keep them down to 3-5 times a week with proper rest in between. But if your workouts are not vigorous, you can take a day off after every 3 to 5 days of workout.

Losing weight is a tough road and the key to achieving the ideal physical shape is to have the right balance of diet, exercise and rest.

Rest among them is vital for recovering. Without rest, you will have trouble exercising and maintaining a proper diet.

Will rest days help you lose weight?

Yes, rest days will help you lose weight but that help alone is not everything. According to Dr. Eric Berg in a 5 minutes video below, exercise contributes to 15% of your results in weight loss. There are other more important factors like diet, sleep, and rest and recovery that are more important to lose weight:

By taking a day off, you are allowing your body to avoid over-training. Your muscles get time to rebuild by resting, and your glycogen stores i.e. the physical energy stores, get refilled on those rest days.

As a result you are more energetic to workout after taking a day off, and that energy is used in burning fats and losing weight.

How many rest days does it take to lose progress?

In most cases, losing workout progress starts happening after 2 to 3 weeks of not training. But same thing happens if you over train or under train in workouts.

Your progress depends on hitting the sweet spot.

If you exercise too little, your work capacity and strength won’t increase, and if you train too much, your body will break down and you won’t recover.

If you don’t have enough rest days, the inadequate recovery time can lead to over-training syndrome.

If you have too many rest days, the workout volume won’t be high enough to improve your performance.

So the key is to strike a balance between training hard enough to make progress and resting enough to recover.

How to lose weight on rest days?

Listed below are a few tips for losing weight on rest days:

1. Eat healthy foods

Avoid eating processed foods on rest days. What you eat on rest days will determine how well you recover for the next exercise day.

Eating healthy foods are helpful in rebuilding muscles and recovering the physical energy stores, they reduce inflammation, support a healthy immune system, and make you look and feel your best.

2. Stay active

Rest days are important for your body and mind, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend them holed up in your room.

Active rest days are a great way to keep your body and brain healthy.

Listed below are a few ideas on how to stay active on rest days:

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood.
  • Do some light stretching or yoga.
  • Play a sport or go for a leisurely bike ride.
  • Visit a nearby park or nature reserve.
  • Take your dog for a walk.
  • Do some gardening.

All in all, don’t let your brain trick you into staying in couch all day long.

3. Drink plenty of water

It’s important to drink plenty of water on rest days because hydration is key to optimal health and performance.

When you’re well hydrated, your body can more effectively transport oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, improve your cognitive function, and help regulate your body temperature.

Dehydration, on the other hand, can slow down metabolism, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the rest day.

4. Avoid overeating

Rest days are important for the body to recover from a workout, but that doesn’t mean you should overindulge. Overeating on rest days can undo all of your hard work and cause weight gain.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid overeating on rest days:

  • Stick to healthy snacks and meals.
  • Avoid eating large portions.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

If you follow these tips, rest days will surely help you in weight loss.


It’s important to have rest days in order to recover from the stress of exercise. If you don’t give your body time to recover and rebuild, your progress will be limited.

To learn more about rest days, and it’s merits and demerits especially in HIIT training programs, check out our detailed article about hiit on rest days.