REFEEDS: A popular topic lately!
A bit of background knowledge: a “refeed” generally refers to a day (or preferably multiple days) of intentionally overeating carbohydrates.
A refeed may be beneficial for a series of reasons but most importantly, to reduce “efficiency”.
I know it probably sounds like a good thing for the body to be “efficient” but it’s not (well it is for survival purposes but not for modern times). Efficiency means that your body adapts quickly. The more efficient you are, the quicker you adapt. The quicker you adapt, the harder it is to lose fat.
You see, your body has a natural “set point” which is essentially its comfort zone in terms of body weight and body fat.
Ever notice that you may lose weight when you first start your diet & then the progress slows? That’s your body adapting. The further you get from your “set point” the more efficient your body’s energy systems become. This causes down regulation of your BMR, a decrease in the amount of calories you expend during activity, decreased thermic effect of food, decreased leptin, increased ghrelin, increased cortisol, etc. SO... all of this basically means when you’re dieting for a while, you’re hungrier, less energized, less satisfied with food, retaining more water, & burning fewer calories. AKA a recipe for disaster (and by disaster I mean binging, poor dietary adherence, weight gain, etc).
Enter the refeed! This is your chance to temporarily restore metabolism, replenish glycogen, improve leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, performance, strength, & provide some mental relief which should help with dietary compliance in the future.
While the protocols are different depending on the person, their level of leanness, how long their dieting for, biofeedback, etc; some general recommendations include:
• Keep your normal protein intake OR lower slightly to allow more carb calories
• Lower fats a bit to compensate for more carbs (unless fats are already pretty low, then keep them where they are)
• The rest of your calories should be filled with carbs by brining your calories up to “maintenance” or slightly higher.
Note: Being “on a diet” doesn’t mean you necessarily need a refeed.