Cheatday? Well, not really! Refeed Day!!
You’ve probably heard of the ”eatday-cheatday”, as a magic solution for kicking up your metabolism during a diet period? As if a calorie overload would get your inner fat burning engine up to a higher level per se, by rapidly adjusting to the extended intake and boosting your metabolism? And in order to get the calories, you could give yourself an eating bonanza of anything you crave? Well, it’s actually to good (tasty?) to be true!
There is a big difference between the ”eatday-cheatday” and something called refeed. A refeed is a planned calorie boost, incorporated into your nutrition regimen, and (unfortunately) not something that just happens impulsively. The main purpose of refeeding is to maintain your metabolism on a stady, stabile level. When dieting, your metabolism will decrease, you’ve probably heard that.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
So a properly done refeed will restore some glycogen into your muscles, giving you some extra energy and better quality during the next workout sessions. And it will higher your metabolism for some time – until it drops again and it’s time for the next refeed! Refeeding is also beneficial for increasing the body’s immune function. The tougher a diet, the higher the risk of getting ill. So give not only your metabolism a boost by the extra calorie intake, but also your immune system, especially if you are one of those dieters who are constantly feeling sick for no reason.
Love your Leptin!
The main purpose of a refeed is to higher your levels of leptin. Leptin is a hormone that is beneficial for weight loss, and during diet leptin can drop rapidly. That’s what occurs most of the time at a weight loss plateau – you cut your calories and lose weight at the start, but suddenly nothing happens? Then you are most likely in need of a refeed, because you leptin is somewhere down in the basement!
Low leptin levels are also shown by: extraordinary cravings, loss of focus, feeling constantly hungry, irritated, loss of motivation. And suddenly…. you’re not getting anywhere on the scales. Think of leptin as your body’s own CFO – it regulates hunger, takes (some) control over the food intake and how much energy you use in your daily life. Loose the leptin levels and it’s like you’ll be sending the CFO on vacation, whereas you’re going for the forbidden food and overspending your calorie budget without control. Imagine instead your CFO receiving some… well earned bonuses now and then, to maintain a healthy unit that is working towards a long term goal. The refeed is the perfectly timed bonus to keep you going – and loosing weight according to plan.
So, how do you plan a refeed?
The first thing is: you PLAN it! There are a few theories for how often you should refeed, but it all comes to: (approximately) once a week. It’s individual and depends on how long you’ve been on a diet and how much your levels of leptin have dropped. And remember to refeed more often as your body fat decreases (because you’ll probably be in a greater need of a quick hormone boost).
The total amount of your calories should also be increased, if even so slightly. The purpose is, after all, to kick up the metabolism! Recommendations are somewhere 400 calories over your normal intake. Then it’s time to look at your macros. Keep your fat under 30% of your total calorie intake that day and increase your carbs to about 40% – the carbs will be the most important macro during refeed. So even while on a diet – let the good carbs in! Why? Because leptin is highly responsive to glucose metabolism! Carbs become glucose, the most important source of energy the body can get. Ant it’s commonly known that starchy carve as potatoes and bread are the best for the leptin levels! So make sure to refeed with: oatmeals, beans, fruit, pasta, bread and rice.
It almost sounds like a miracle method! Eat more carbs and you’ll loose weight!? Well, it’s not as easy as it may seem, because you still need to maintain your discipline and only stick to the good carbs, even if your body screams for sugar. Allowing yourself, or treating yourself to carbs on a diet is absolutely not the same as letting yourself go completely. But when done right, the refeed is…. chemistry! And…. it works! Keep your refeed to one day at the time as a basic rule. But still, make it individual. If you are on a long term hardcore diet, you might need a longer refeed period. So, is refeed the magic answer to overcoming your weight loss plateau? Honestly speaking, it doesn’t seem so difficult, does it? And… you never know until you try, right?