The simplest way to achieve fat loss is to create a caloric deficit by continuously expending more calories than you consume. This represents the most basic and fundamental principle of the fat burning process, which should be the cornerstone of your diet if you want to see the best possible results.
The purpose of this article is to show how you can strategically employ the so-called “refeed days”, which you’ll use intermittently and go completely against the aforementioned basic principle, can help you speed up the fat loss process in the long-term. You’ll find out about the specifics of refeed days, the benefits they offer, who would get the most benefit and how to properly structure them to achieve the best results as fast as possible.
So, what is a refeed day?
In simple terms, a refeed day is a pre-planned increase in the total daily caloric intake which you intermittently insert during the cutting phase. In contrast to a classic “cheat day” which the majority of people employ where you eat anything you want without giving any thought whatsoever to what and how much you’re eating (which can prove to be quite detrimental to your health if done too often), with a refeed day you control the increase in calories, monitor the macronutrient ratio and keep the total intake of food within specific limits.
The benefits of a re-feed day
The main benefit of the refeed day is that it allows you to maintain normal levels of the hormone leptin, which is essential in the regulation of your metabolic rate, hunger levels, and your overall energy levels. Your body always tries to maintain a balanced state, also known as homeostasis, and while you’re on a fat-loss diet and trying to maintain a caloric deficit over prolonged periods, leptin levels start to decrease as your body’s survival mechanism in order to preserve fat and keep you from starving to death.
In the end, your body is not interested in you wanting to look good naked or having a shredded physique. Its number one priority is to survive, and fat is another form of stored energy it will want to use in times of scarcity. The longer you have been on a diet and the more your body fat levels decrease, the more leptin levels will continue to decrease. The decrease in leptin levels is accompanied by several other negative effects which everyone wanting to lose fat would like to avoid, such as overall metabolic slow-down (often called metabolic adaptation), a decrease in energy and strength levels, increase in appetite, reduced sense of well-being and decreased motivation.
Despite the fact that these negative consequences of dieting are inevitable and cannot be completely eliminated, increasing your caloric intake at strategic times during the cutting phase can decrease the side-effects’ intensity by causing periodic leptin boosts which will have the opposite effect.
All of this will allow you to continue to burn fat at an optimal rate while improving your physical and mental health at the same time. However, it’s worth mentioning that the impact of a refeed day on the metabolic rate is not yet fully understood. There are some who argue that the increase is very modest and temporary and goes back to baseline levels once the caloric deficit returns, while others who have tried losing the excess weight for years, swear by this method as extremely effective in kick-starting the fat-loss process again.
Whatever the case may be, if you do it properly, there’s no risk it’ll hurt you, and the mental and physical boost you’ll experience after a refeed day definitely makes it a worthwhile method for the majority of people who are on a fat-loss diet. It’s no wonder when they say that “the best fat-loss diet is the one you can stick to”. Refeed days will be extremely helpful in this by making you dedicated to your diet over a prolonged period of time. And considering you will always have a day to look forward to when you’ll be able to increase the calories and eat your favorite foods which in regular diet days you can’t, the likelihood of giving in to your cravings and binge eating is decreased making the overall dieting process much more enjoyable.
Additionally, a refeed day will cause a slight increase in your glycogen levels, (the form of carbs stored in your muscles and liver that gets depleted during dieting), which will increase your physical performance in the next couple of days.
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