Refeed days, Cheat days, and Diet Breaks 

Refeed days, Cheat days, and Diet Breaks 

I thought this would be a good time to go over some different aspect of Nutrtion. When we go on a calorie deficit or a more simple way of saying the way a diet works, we know that we are taking in less calories than our body needs. This in turn will cause us to use our stored fat cells to produce energy. That is the simple way of explaining a diet, and we want it to happen like that but sometimes our bodies are doing different things. We have no way of telling our bodies “hey I’m going on a diet, help me out”, even if we did they wouldn’t listen. Our bodies are constantly doing one thing, keeping us alive and doing what it needs to do to stay that way. So what exactly is our body doing when we go on a diet? 

That is a in depth question but if we follow the rule of thermodynamics, we know that if we take in less food our bodies have to use excess fat for energy. What we need to understand is that when we are taking in less calories than our body needs or is used to we are in a state of stress. We are stressing our bodies to use the storage we have, our bodies see this as a survival tactic. When we have a constant state of stress our bodies start to slow down, our hormones start to slow. This could lead to a stall out on the scale, leading us to believe that our metabolism is broken, or we just can’t lose weight like some people. None of that is true, our bodies have just adapted quicker to what we are trying to do. Our bodies are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and everything our bodies do is to keep us alive. 

When it comes to adaptation in a diet that is what we don’t want to do, we have to try to be smarter than our bodies. This is why it is so important to go over biofeedback and listen to your body weekly and not just go off some generic numbers. Your body is always changing and adapting. How do we make sure we don’t slow down our progress, damage our hormones, and keep your body from adapting? Here are some things we can do; 

-Refeed Day 

A refeed day is a scheduled day of high carbohydrates. This can help the body because carbs can be used to suppress the stress releasing hormone cortisol. Cortisol gets released when we have stress, and too much cortisol will slow down the process of fat loss. As a diet progresses, and a caloric deficit is sustained, the body begins to create a metabolic adaptation. While we typically love adaptation (strength, cardio, etc..), we DO NOT like metabolic adaptation. As these begin to decline, fat loss, and performance while in the caloric deficit both become impaired. Since we don’t want to keep taking away calories from your diet, we implement a reefed day. This brings your overall calories back up and in turn we are hoping the body will respond like it is getting what it needs to function. A refeed is NOT a cheat day, we don’t want to just eat everything in site. 

Refeed days are used when you have been CONSISTENTLY hitting your numbers. If you have had some off days a refeed day won’t help. What we want after a refeed is an increased hunger response and overall better energy. 

-Cheat Day 

I do not like using the term “cheat day” because this implies that you are restricting yourself on other days of foods you love. It also can be confusing because it makes certain foods seem like they are “bad” for you. There are some food that are more beneficial for you than others but there are not bad foods. 

Having a day where you don’t track and you indulge in some food that you likely wouldn’t can be beneficial. It can calm you down and make you feel good. It can also show you that maybe some foods that you used to love, you really don’t have an appetite for anymore and that is okay. These days can be used when you need to relax or if you know you have an event coming up where food is out of control. Think about implementing days like this less than often 

-Diet Break 

This can be used towards the end of a dieting phase. You want to pay close attention to your biofeedback. If you are feeling sluggish, not sleeping well, low hunger, and low energy it could be time for a diet break. This is a one or 2 week phase of going back up in your calories and letting your metabolism get back to normal. This is important because some people want to immediately go back in to a diet phase and this could put you further  away from from your goal. 

Knowing yourself and understand your feedback will always determine a diet break. This can be a good time to take a step back from tracking and learn to eat mindfully and not care about the scale.  

Nutrtion is not always about the diet. Nutrtion is about being healthy and doing what your body needs to do. It doesn’t sell diet books or template plans to tell you that you shouldn’t be in a diet for a long period of time, and they defiantly won’t tell you that it’s ok to gain some weight for you health. What it all comes down to is you understand your body and where you need to go. It is important to set yourself up for success, taking some steps back from a diet could be the game changer for you. As always let me know if you have any questions.  

Andrew Coleman