Who should use this technique and how often?
The optimal frequency for refeed day will be different for each person and depends on multiple factors. The less body fat you carry and the longer you have been in a caloric deficit, the more frequently you will want to use refeed days because the diet’s effects will be more emphasized. And people who haven’t been dieting for long or at all and have a high body fat percentage won’t need to use refeed days as often in the beginning stages of their diets.
A general recommendation is to use a refeed day once every one to two weeks which has been proven to work for the majority of people, as well as going with the lower or higher end of the range which depends on how lean you are, how long you’ve been dieting, plus the overall effect of the diet on you. There’s no need to use refeed days if you are already losing fat consistently on a weekly basis, and even on a regular fat-loss diet you’ll feel fine both mentally and physically, you’ll experience no food cravings, which means that you can freely skip using refeed days until the time comes when you feel you really need them. It’s important to mention that if your main goal is to gain muscle mass and you’re eating a caloric surplus, or a trying to maintain your weight, you will not need refeed days and using them could be counterproductive and make you increase fat storage.
How should you structure a refeed day?
This doesn’t have to be hard to do, and the general recommendation is to keep things as simple as possible and try not to overcomplicate the entire process. The basic concept behind an effective refeed day is to moderately increase your total daily calories, with the greatest part of that increase coming from carbs. If you remember, the general idea is to increase the levels of leptin and the consumption of carbs is the most effective method of achieving this because protein and fat have a minimal effect on the production of leptin.
Here’s the basic layout of a proper refeed day with a number of calories and macronutrients you need to ingest:
1. Increase the total daily caloric intake back to your current estimated caloric bodyweight maintenance level, or the number of calories you need to maintain your present body weight.
2. In order to translate the caloric increase to a precise gram amount of carbs, divide the increase by 4 (carbs have 4 calories per gram). For example, if you increase the caloric intake by 400 for the refeed day, you would consume an additional 100 grams of carbohydrates.
3. Keep fat and protein intake the same as regular days. The general recommendation is one gram of protein per pound of body weight and 20% of total daily calories coming from fat.
There’s a chance you’ll also notice a small body weight gain immediately after the refeed, but there’s no need to worry, because this is the result of the increased volume of food, water retention, and increased glycogen levels, and will inevitably decrease in the next couple of days.
Let’s recap what we explained in terms of using proper refeed days:
1. Refeed days are an effective technique to add in your fat loss diet, since it has a positive impact on your physical and mental state which usually get diminished during dieting, improves long-term adherence to your diet and has the potential to directly increase your metabolic rate in the long-term. Even though temporary leptin level increases may not significantly increase fat loss, the physical and mental benefits of using refeed days still make them an effective method for the majority of people.
2. You can add a refeed day in your diet every one to two weeks. The less body fat you have and the longer you’ve been on a diet, the more frequently you’ll have to refeed and vice versa.
3. To properly structure a refeed day, just increase the total calories to maintenance level and get the majority of those calories from cars. Keep protein and fat levels the same.