Feeling tired, hungry and the sensation of ‘hitting a wall’ when it comes to fat loss is extremely common. How individuals control these situations during the dieting process is what will determine the results.
As a common fact, we need to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. This means the aim is to consume fewer calories than our body burns when trying to lose weight. Doing this ensures the body will utilise some body fat for energy, making up this ‘deficit’. Although these can be prevented, there are downsides to this method. Muscle mass may be burned to provide fuel, the body also increases its ability to store fat in readiness for when food is available again and appetite is heightened to drive behaviour for finding food.
What is a Refeed?
A refeed, when done properly, will be very beneficial for you. You may see people post pictures of pizza and writing ‘refeed day’; however please note that a pizza is simply a cheat meal, not a refeed.
The reason a ‘cheat meal’ is often avoided when on a fat loss diet is due to Leptin, a hormone found in the body. Leptin’s main function in the body is to play a vital role in regulating hunger, food intake and energy expenditure. Think of Leptin as the mother of fat burning. If leptin levels fall, our metabolism slows down and we crave the foods we had before we started the diet, which in-tern counteracts everything we are working towards to reach our fat loss goals. A refeed will boost leptin levels back up which will result in a reduction of cravings as well as helping to continue the process of burning fat.
How to Refeed:
The first thing to consider is your refeed frequency. Meal timing can be the key to keeping your metabolism firing. If you are a Mesomorph (someone with a compact and muscular build) you should eat every 2.5 – 3.5 hours. An Ectomorph (someone with a lean and delicate build) should eat every 2 – 3 hours and an Endomorph (someone with a soft round build and a high proportion of fat tissue) eat every 3.5 – 5 hours.
- Individuals who are below 10% body fat should incorporate refeeds two times per week.
- If you carry 10-15% body fat, refeed every 6-12 days
- If you are above 15%, refeeding will not need to be done more than once every 12-14 days.
As your body fat decreases, the more frequent refeeds should become.
When is the Best Time to Have a Refeed?
1) Refeed on the day you burn the most calories. The majority of individuals expend the most amount of energy on leg day, as this is the day when you recruit most muscle fibers in order to perform an exercise such as a squat.
2) The day you train your weakest body part, this will help push yourself to the max which in return can help growth in the muscle, as refeeding will not only raise leptin levels, but will also be anabolic.
More refeed tips:
When refeeding, it is vital to keep fat intake as low as possible as high insulin levels will increase dietary fat transport into adipose tissue. Reduce your protein intake to 1g/lb bodyweight. Consume as little fructose as possible as fructose, as well as dietary fat does not have an impact on leptin levels. When refeeding, you can actually increase calories to maintenance level or even go above by 20-50% if you are an ectomorph. Increase carbs by at least 50-100% (endomorphs stay on the low end, while ectomorphs should stay on the high end) over your daily normal diet levels.
Men, when you increase leptin levels you will be increasing liver glycogen from all of the carbohydrates consumed, this will therefore increase testosterone, while reducing cortisol (the muscle breakdown hormone). Ladies, you should be refeeding on a regular basis to make sure a stoppage in reproduction hormones doesn’t occur, as this can be the case when lepton levels drop low enough.
What Does a Refeed Look Like?
Remember, refeeding is your time to cram in some much needed carbohydrates. You can include some of your more desired foods in the refeed, after all, this is not only going to help you boost the fat burning process but it can also release you from the restraints you feel during the dieting process. It would be best to eat good carbohydrate sources such as oats, brown rice, or sweet potatoes (the lower GI, the better).
These refeed days are a really good time to monitor how your body reacts to certain carbohydrates and what works best for you. White rice may be your favourite choice of carbohydrate, however you may feel bloated after consuming. What works for someone else may not work for you, so it is best to trial and note what works and what doesn’t.
In a nut shell – calculate your refeeds and watch the fat burn off. Don’t let yourself hit a wall in your fat loss goals, try this method and make a note your results. Train smart, eat smart