If you’re trying to lose weight, refeeds are your friends.
You don’t want to be too close of friends, though. If you are, and you get together all the time, you’ll be undoing the diet.
However, when carefully planned, get-togethers with re-feeds can be extremely valuable throughout the dieting process.
First, let’s outline the best process for dieting: It’s slow and steady. Allot enough time for you to make small changes to your diet that will pay big dividends in the end. That will make your diet sustainable and, thus, more likely to be something you see through.
For some helpful resources on how to put your diet together, check out any of the following links:
- How to Set Up Your Macros
- How to Track Your Macros
- What is Flexible Dieting?
- Meal Timing: What is Optimal?
So you’ve got your diet set. You’re in a calorie deficit. You’re training hard, and you’re weighing yourself on a daily basis. Everything should be gravy!
You’ll lose weight little by little, and eventually you’ll hit your goal!
Not so fast.
From experience, I can tell you your body will respond well for a while. As long as you’re starting in a modest caloric deficit, you won’t feel your energy levels dip too much at the beginning of the diet. You won’t see a difference in your ability to train, nor will you notice increased cravings early on.
For the most part, if you set yourself up right, you’ll proceed as normal.
For a while.
Eventually, as you get deeper into the diet, you’ll need to make adjustments, whether it be to your diet, training, etc. We can go into detail about those types of changes in following articles, but this article is meant to focus on one specific adjustment called a “refeed day.”
Quite simply, a refeed day is a pre-planned day where you increase your carbohydrate levels in order to replenish your body, refill your muscle glycogen levels (which, depending on how low carb you’ve been and how hard you’ve been training, could possibly be quite low), and give you energy for the next few workouts. Refeeds are an incredibly valuable tool to the entire dieting process.
But when should you take them? How often should you take them? How do you know when the timing is right?
Part of the answer to all of these questions is “by the book” and part of it is something you have to get a feel for along the way.
As I’ve mentioned countless times on this website, every person is distinctly different. Just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Your best bet is to pay careful attention to your body and how it responds to certain situations. By doing so, you’ll have a better idea of how to react when the timing is right.
So with that said, once you’re past the “honeymoon period” of dieting where everything feels great and progress is damn near linear, things will start to get tough. You may have a really bad workout where you aren’t feeling the muscle contractions like your normally do. You might feel energy levels dip for a workout or two, or you could possibly even have to drop the weight a little bit on your bench press or squat to get in all of your reps.
I’d say, if you have a few days like that in a row, give yourself a refeed. It might be just what the doctor ordered.
After I do a refeed day, my next few workouts typically tower over top of the previous ones. I usually have much more energy and can feel my muscles doing the work the way I intend.
When I have a refeed, I bump my carbohydrate levels up to get my calories back to maintenance for a day. So, if I’m dieting on 2,000 calories and my maintenance is 2,400 calories, I’ll add 100 grams of carbs to my day (1 gram of carbohydrates x 4 calories = 400 calories from carbohydrates).
The next day, it’s right back to the diet. Carbohydrate levels drop back to the original number, and I proceed as usual until I feel a need for another refeed.
“By the book” would suggest you build in one re-feed day a week. You can go that route as well, but I’m not sure it’s always necessary. By having a set structure on refeeds, you are guaranteeing a bump in calories on one day every week. In my opinion, that’s not ideal when dieting down, because the caloric bump is simply not always necessary.
Nevertheless, whether you structure in one refeed day a week or listen to your body and react accordingly, refeeds can be a huge supplement to your lifestyle when dieting down.
I hope this information helps, and as always feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!