Author: Troy Theodosiou
If you have been dieting for some time and are no longer seeing significant results, you may need a boost of carbohydrates. I’m referring to a refeed day, a strategic plan to lower your fat intake and increase the macronutrient carbohydrates. Studies show that carbohydrates increase leptin levels, which is the hormone that helps us feel satiated. Refeed days kickstart your metabolism and increase energy levels to help you get over any weight loss plateau.
Cheat Meal vs Refeed Day
To achieve the most from your time in the gym and adherence to your nutrition plan in the longer-term, you must think of this tool as a refeed and not a cheat day. Some may confuse the two (and a ‘cheat meal’ is fun to conceptualize) but they are quite different.
Cheat Meal: This is a day of (very) relaxed eating designed to help you deal with the psychological challenge of deprivation that can arise when dieting for longer time periods. When using cheat meals, you will not count your calories or macronutrients and (from what we can tell) any and all food items are on the menu.
Refeed day: This day is for deliberately overeating a specific macronutrient: carbohydrates. The immediate effect is to increase levels of leptin and therefore reduce appetite signals telling your body to consume more. Eating a lot of carbohydrates then literally “refeeds” your body with energy and muscle glycogen (stored energy) it can use as you immediately resume your lower-carb nutrition plan.
How to Set Up Your Refeed Day
When it comes to refeed days the first step is to determine how often you should do it. The answer to this question is based on your current situation. This because the leaner you are and the longer you’ve been in a calorie deficit the more likely you are to be suffering from metabolic adaptation.
The guidelines are as follows;
If you’re new to dieting and haven’t been in a calorie deficit for too long, then refeed every 1 – 3 times a month
If you’ve been dieting for a while, are already a low body fat % or have noticed a sustained dip in performance in the gym then refeed once a week
To set yourself up for the refeed you want to raise your calories to between your maintenance and 250 over with following macros:
Protein = 0.8 – 1g per lb of bodyweight
Fats = as low as possible (30-40g is what’s largely recommended)
Carbs = everything else goes to carbs
The day after you refeed you can expect to see a temporary increase in body weight due to the increase in food intake, muscle glycogen, and water weight. Don’t panic, it’s not weight gain. This is normal and once you return to your normal diet it will go away again.