Refeed Days for Weight Loss
If you have been dieting for some time and are no longer seeing significant results, you may need a boost of carbohydrates. I’m referring to a refeed day, a strategic plan to lower your fat intake and increase the macronutrient carbohydrates. Studies show that carbohydrates increase leptin levels, which is the hormone that helps us feel satiated. Refeed days kickstart your metabolism and increase energy levels to help you get over any weight loss plateau.
Reefed Day vs Cheat Day
A refeed day is designed to replenish your leptin levels after a period of calorie suppression due to dieting. Cheat days are typically a day where all dietary guidelines are removed and you can eat anything you’d like. Most people use cheat days to consume the high-fat foods that they have been craving. Overfeeding on high-fat foods can actually decrease your leptin levels and cause you to store fat. In contrast, a refeed day done the right way is focused on consuming carbohydrates and decreasing fat. While you may gain a very small amount of weight right after your refeed day, don't fear because your metabolism will kick into high gear and help you to lose weight in no time.
Why is Leptin Important to Weight Loss?
One of the most important keys to lasting weight loss is feeling satisfied. Leptin is the key hormone in satiety which makes refeed days an effective way to lose weight. When you are dieting, your leptin levels are typically lower, which can affect your energy, hunger level, immune system and mood. Ever feel cranky while dieting? Are you having daily cravings? That may be your brain’s way of telling you that you need an increase in your leptin levels. The longer that you allow these level to stay low, the better chance you have of going on a binge that can set your weight loss way back. A strategic refeed day can help you regulate your leptin levels and avoid a relapse.
You want to plan ahead by stocking up on carbs that you can tolerate. I personally choose gluten free options such as rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, gatorade or a “carb drink” around my workout. Some people can tolerate gluten very well and in this case feel free to eat bread, pasta, oats, and cereals. As a general rule of thumb, your carbs will be increased significantly on this day. Depending on your goals, this number will vary person by person. Keep your protein levels moderate and lower your fat intake to between 20-25% of your daily caloric intake. Remember, excess fat can lower your leptin levels. Some people prefer to spread this over two days. Experiment with different time periods and macronutrient counts to see what works best for you or feel free to hire Lean Machine Nutrition if you are unsure of how many macros you should be eating or how to attack your reefed day.
Make a Refeed Day a Regular Part of Your Diet
If your weight loss goals are not going as expected, plan a high-carb refeeding day. Once you experience the difference in your metabolism, energy level and mood, you will want to make it a regular part of your diet strategy. Now that you understand the role of leptin, you will want to make sure that you are giving yourself boosts of this hormone on a regular basis while dieting. Reefed days can be scheduled as often as weekly or maybe once a month depending on your goals and current body fat %. Allow Lean Machine Nutrition to guide you in the right direction if you are unsure of how often you should be refeeding or need nutritional coaching.