Mmmk so maybe we shouldn’t be eating pints of ice cream to lose fat…
But there are certainly scenarios during a dedicated fat loss cut (where we are purposely decreasing caloric intake to induce a fat loss result) where we can implement days of caloric surplus (in the form of carbohydrates) to break through a plateau in fat loss.
This may be an advanced topic for some and rather elementary for others…
I hope to create some context and education around refeed days so you can implement or ask questions if needed!
Keep in mind, that these questions and answers are assuming you have been hanging out in maintenance level calorie intake for 3-6 months prior to dieting. Meaning, your metabolism is in a healthy, predictable state.
Are refeeds appropriate if someone is on a cut and is no longer hungry?
Yes. If you are 8-16 weeks into a cut. Eating 15-20% less than maintenance intake. Plateaued in weight loss for 2 weeks. And also feeling some effects of high cortisol (which can suppress appetite and cause water retention). Then add 1 refeed day/wk of +50ish g of carbs
No. If you are 1-2 weeks into a cut and still haven’t felt a hunger response, you may try another decrease. For example, some clients won’t feel anything in terms of a 10% decrease from maintenance for 2 wks, so I take another 5% decrease and they’ll start to feel hungry.
Are they appropriate if someone is on a cut but starting to feel rundown?
YES! Especially if you notice a trend each week. For example, every Thurs-Sat you feel like poop, then add a refeed on Thurs with +50ishg of carbs to get you through the week/weekend. This can improve performance AND prevent a total meltdown and binge-like scenario.
Are they appropriate to try breaking through a plateau?
Yes! You will essentially be manipulating leptin signals. The goal is to temporarily increase carbs for 1-2 days to increase leptin levels which will increase thyroid and decrease the ‘storage’ signal from your fat cells. You will likely see a small increase on the scale the next day due to increase in carb and H2O storage in liver and muscles but the goal is to see the scale begin to drop about 3-4 days later.