I agree with the journal thing. I had a hockey player who told me he couldn’t gain weight if his life depended on it. And the dude was fairly strong for his size (he power cleaned 127.5kg at a bodyweight of 170lbs on 6’1"!!!) and trained very hard.
He told me that he was eating A LOT OF FOOD. Then I asked him to write down everything he ate during a week and a pattern started to emerge:
He would eat around 2500kcals a day BUT most of his calories were coming from a single meal, at noon-1:00pm. At that meal he would eat something like 1700kcals and feel full and bloated till the late evening. The rest of the day he would eat like an anorexic bird.
He THOUGHT that he was eating a lot because he would feel full most of the day (he would train in the morning so he didn’t really think about hunger at that time and play hockey at 7pm to 9:30pm). But in reality he was severely under eating considering his training schedule.
This assessment was made during the 3rd week of his off-season program. His goal was to reach 190lbs (he was 170lbs at the beginning of the summer, down from 180lbs at the end of his off-season training period last year) I then designed a more balanced eating plan in which he was eating 7 meals a day and around 4000kcals. After two weeks on this regimen he comes up to me and asks “Chris, can I cut down on my food intake” … I asked him why, he answers “because I already reached my goal (190lbs)”.
Obviously that wasn’t all new muscle (probably regained the 10 he had lost during his season, maybe 2-3lbs of glycogen, a small amount of fat and water, but some new muscle too). But that illustrates how he was severely under eating despite thinking that he was overeating!
For some reason I’m now known as the “don’t bulk” guy. Which is erroneous. I do believe that you must eat more calories than you expend every day to gain muscle. The problem is that a lot of peoples don’t know how much they are eating. I’m anal retentive about this stuff and could tell you exactly how many calories, protein, carbs, fat, fiber, etc I’ve eaten each day of the past two years! No need to go to that extent. But knowing approximately how much you are eating is very helpful in avoiding “unplanned under eating”.
That having been said: a larger caloric expenditure requires a larger caloric intake. If you take a long road trip, you will need to fill up your car more often! So in that regard if you train a lot, you will need to refuel more.
So regarding your question; YES eating more can help you recover faster: this is true mostly for the energy portion of the training equation (restoring glycogen stores).
HOWEVER it isn’t true for the protein synthesis/muscle-building portion of the equation. Yes, eating more will help you build more muscle UNTIL you reach your anabolic ceiling. Your body has a limited capacity to build muscle tissue. This limit is set by your natural level/production of anabolic hormones. Once you ingest food past that ceiling it will not increase the rate of muscle repair.
Eating more carbs will help you restore your energy reserves faster.
The more energy you use, the more carbs (or fat to some extent) you need to eat to properly recover from training.
Muscle-building and muscle-repair cannot be increased by force-feeding when you are already consuming the max amount of protein your body can turn into muscle tissue.
And as PX stated, overtraining is an overused term. People wrongfully associate it with “training too much” (after all there is “over” and “training” in the term).
In truth, overtraining is a physiological state; it isn’t the action of “training too much” (although training too much can contribute to developing an overtraining syndrome).
The definition of the overtraining syndrome is this:
“An accumulation of biological and psychological stress caused by social, environmental, physiological and biochemical factors that results in a stable decrease in physical performance”
Training too much is only ONE of the stressors contributing to the onset of an overtraining state.
Another important element is the “stable” decrease in physical performance. If for some reason your performance decrease for 3-7 days it doesn’t mean that you are overtraining… it is most likely acute fatigue or cumulative fatigue. Both of which are normally responses to the training process.
A TRUE overtraining syndrome is actually very rare in an activity such as weight training. Chronic fatigue is a frequent occurrence and do require 3-5 days of rest to recover from. But a real overtraining syndrome is super rare.