Last night, I posted a photo on my Facebook page of me eating a slice of Papa Murphy's pizza and I had commented that I was having a "refeed day."
Naturally, most of you asked, what the hell is a refeed day?
If you have been on the dieting train for a while and have hit a plateau, a refeed day can do you a world's full of good.
Refeeding is a technique that tons of fitness and bodybuilding afficiandos use to boost their Leptin levels back up quickly. This helps to spike your metabolism and sort of "wake it up." With time, out metabolisms can get stuck. This is why weightloss plateaus happen. Refeeding also boosts your testosterone and dopamine (the "happy" hormone) levels as well as descreased the instance in which you may binge out.
A typical refeed meal is higher in carbs. Why carbs? Because carbs is the most effective way to raise Leptin levels quickly.
But, you still want to choose somewhat good carbs. Stay away from the sugary stuff. This will raise your levels too quickly and then you will crash. After the crash, you will crave MORE SUGAR. Then, you will gain weight. The vicious cycle continues...
Let's talk about the hormone Leptin for a second. Leptin's main function in the body is to regulate hunger, food intake, and energy expenditure. If you are starting to crave those donuts that you have not eaten in months, guess what? Your Leptin levels are likely to be low. It is also responsible for your libido and motivation-notice how those two seem to go hand in hand sometimes?
When you are cutting calories and losing body fat, your Leptin levels drop along with all of that, sending your body into complete havoc. Notice how when you are hungry, you aren't yourself: you are moody, crabby, bitchy, tired, etc. This is because Leptin also has an effect on your mood. See how it all ties in here?
Let's take a look at my transformation below.
Me on the left: I ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted. Didn't care.
Me in the middle: I ate very clean, only 1200 calories per day. No cheats. I was obsessed with skinny.
Me on the right: I ate clean, but still allowed myself refeed meals every once in a while. I wanted to gain muscle while still burning fat.
Amazing the three different body types, right? You would not guess that body type #3 allows herself a cheat meal or "refeed" once per week.
"How much should I eat?"
This is the shaded area that varies from body to body. Basically, the lower your Leptin levels, the more calories you will need to consume. Usually, a refeed should consist of 20-50% more calories than required for maintenance for 12 hours to two days.
"How often do I refeed?"
This is a case by case basis. It just depends on how long you have been on your diet and your Leptin levels. If you are feeling pretty weak, tired, or crabby, then I would suggest one day every week.
"When should I refeed?"
At best, try to refeed on your workout days. You want to fuel your body with as much energy to synthesize muscle while recharging your metabolism.
Refeeding does not mean to go crazy and eat whatever you see for 24 hours-this NOT the case!!
Just as with "cheat days," refeeding is a very slippery slope. If you mess up, go wild, and eat too much then you will put that weight back on. You have got to have some willpower to refeed in a controlled manner. One downside to refeeding is that you are more likely to gain some fat back, but it will most likely be burned the next week. However, the pros certainly outweight the cons when breaking your weightloss plateau.
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