A re-feed day is only needed to be included in your diet if you are looking to lose body fat and in a caloric deficit which means consuming less calories than your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). In other words, less calories than what your body needs/burns on a daily basis which is required in order to lose fat. However, when dieting and in a caloric deficit for extensive periods of time, including a re-feed into your diet will assist you in your fat loss goals.
The importance of including re-feeds in your diet incorporates several factors, such as:
– Leanness (the leaner you are, the more important), which is also to imply that this scenario requires a significant deficit, for a significant period of time and relatively high energy expenditure. Read below.
– Calorie deficit (the greater deficit you are in, the more important).
– Length of dieting (the longer you have been dieting the more important).
– Carbohydrate intake (the lower, the more important)
– Exercise (type/amount/etc. The more aerobic in nature, the more important)
– Genetics and Metabolic Rate.
Hormones. Hormones. Hormones.
The purpose of a re-feed day is to help boost your metabolic rate and help restore your T3 and Leptin hormone levels. (Leptin is the king of all fat burning hormones). When dieting and on a low calorie diet, your metabolic rate will decrease, meaning you will be burning less calories, especially at rest, plus your T3 and leptin hormone levels will drop in attempt by the body to spare body fat which is a safety mechanism for the human body – as it attempts to enter into “survival mode”.
With a slow metabolism, low T3 and leptin levels it becomes much harder to burn body fat, which is why we inevitably reach a plateau. Therefore, including a re-feed day into your cutting diet will prove beneficial as it will boost your metabolism and these specific hormones whilst allowing you to continue to burn body fat at an optimal rate. A re-feed is basically taking 1 step back, but 2 steps forward.
That said, there are certain protocols to adhere to. Everyone is different and will require different amounts of re-feeding.
Here are some guidelines for your information
– If you are above 20% body fat: Re-feed once every month.
– If you are between 15% and 20% body fat: Re-feed once every 2 weeks.
– If you are between 8% and %15 body fat: Re-feed once every week.
– If you are below 8% body fat: Re-feed twice per week.
Since we want to manipulate our carb intake, what do we choose? Any carbs of your choice are fine, low G.I/complex carbohydrates and also high G.I/simple carbohydrates it does not matter, just consume carbs! All forms of carbohydrates are metabolized in the same fashion.
Some research suggests to try and avoid fructose as it has less of an impact on leptin (which is somewhat true), but fructose is still fine to consume and we should be having a minimum of two fruits per day, but who wants to fill up their entire carb intake on refeed day just from fruit alone? Enjoy yourself and the foods you don’t generally get to consume too much of when you are during your “normal” routine.
Finally, a re-feed day is not an excuse to have a free for all, it is very much a predetermined and calculated method of eating, with a very distinct purpose. For this reason, it is recommended to increase your daily caloric intake by 50-100%, for that given day, with the increase coming specifically from carbohydrate sources.