Cheat meals, refeeds and diet breaks. The how's and why's of these nutritional strategies - PART 2
How– A refeed, is a period of increased calories. Whenever I do this I ensrue that calories are set back to a baseline (otherwise know as maintenance calories) as the individual is usually in a calorie deficit prior to this.
The idea is to give the body a break from being in a calorie deficit from anywhere from 1 day to 3-4 days. This helps offset any negative adaptations of being in a calorie deficit and ensure continued fat loss when the individual goes back into a calorie deficit. The increased calories to baseline should primarily come in the form of carbohydrates to load glycogen storage levels.
When– Refeeds are best implemented one day a week, usually on either a rest day, or a day training a large muscle group e.g. legs. Refeeds can also be used fortnightly for a person with less body fat (male – sub 10% and female sub 15%).
Why– it was originally thought that one day of increased calories, would lead to negating the negative effects of calorie restriction such as:
· Poor energy levels
· Metabolic rate dropping
· Mood swings
· Low Libido
· Focus and compliance weakening
There is however, evidence to suggest that a period of one day is not enough to restore hormonal markers. The use of 2-3 days at baseline calories, for example, with help restore the hormonal markers back their original state and allow for the continued fat loss once calories are brought back to a deficit.
So, what is a refeed day useful for? The period of increased calories can work wonders on one’s mood and thought processes in periods of hard dieting. It’s mainly used for an individuals psychology as it will allow them to feel as if they can eat more and naturally feel better.
It’s important to remember that a refeed day is NOT a cheat day or a day where you can go free for all on anything that you like.
This needs to be tracked properly, and calories are to be hit – this is even more crucial on this day to that of a normal calorie deficit as you could potentially consume too many calories.