What is a Refeed day?
A refeed day interrupts your low-calorie diet. It is a planned day where you consume more calories than you typically would on a diet in order to reset your body and give your mind a break.
An example of a refeed diet would be reducing your calories to 35% below maintenance level for 5 consecutive days and then on the 6th day, increasing your calorie intake to maintenance level or slightly above.
Are Refeed days Beneficial?
The idea behind refeed days is that they give your body temporary relieve from caloric restriction. During periods of low-calorie restriction, your metabolism may slow and you may experience hormonal imbalances. The refeed day is meant to kickstart your metabolism and can decrease some of the body’s adaptive responses to calorie restriction.
Another benefit of refeed days is that it gives you a mental break from dieting. It can be hard to constantly refuse your favourite foods because of your training goals. A refeed days allows you the chance to strategically indulge in food that you love and can help you to maintain your diet long-term.
Some studies have also shown that refeeds are beneficial in helping you to maintain your lean body mass while dieting. The additional carbs consumed on your refeed days may help your body to retain muscle mass.
How often to refeed?
This will depend on your body type, your goals, and the length and intensity of your diet. You could choose to diet for 5 days and then refeed for 1. Or you could choose to diet for 7 days and then refeed for 2. Try out some different options and find what works for you and your body.
What Foods to Consume during a Refeed?
This is entirely up to you and your goals. However, in order for your refeed day to be most effective, we recommend planning it in advance and sticking to generally ‘healthy’ foods, just increasing your calories, especially from carbohydrates. You can of course be a bit more flexible with your food choices on refeed days in order to meet the caloric needs that you have established.
Some great options to increase your carb intake are: rice, sweet potatoes, fruit, and oats.
What’s the Difference Between a Refeed and a Cheat Day?
Refeeds are typically considered to be a more strategic version of cheat meals. Instead of just allowing yourself full freedom to eat whatever you want during a cheat meal, refeeds are carefully planned out to reach certain macro and calorie requirements with a strategic goal in mind.
There are many different reasons why, as an athlete, you may need to go on a diet. So, for your next diet, consider implementing a refeed day to help make the most of your efforts.