There is an almost unlimited number of approaches to dieting and almost all of them are context-dependent. One of the strategies that can be used very effectively for individuals who are dieting and looking to maintain a level of performance is a “refeed”. This NutriWiki will look at what a refeed is and how it can be used.
A refeed day is typically a 1-3 day period in which calories are brought back to maintenance or higher, normally by increasing carbohydrates. This often is used to offset days that are substantially below maintenance calories. This approach can allow individuals to have higher calorie days to improve dietary adherence and higher volumes of training.
A refeed day is designed to give a phycological break from dieting which can range from 5 hours to multiple days. Multi-day refeeds are used to stop/slow down metabolic adaptation (slightly) & refill glycogen stores [1,2]. One of the reasons carbohydrates are the preferred source for a refeed is because carbohydrates are the strongest driver of leptin levels. Another reason for using refeed days is to allow for higher training volumes to be used during periods of dieting.
An easy way to set up a refeed day is to bring calories to maintenance or 5% above then: set protein at 1g/lb of LBM, fats below 50g & fill the rest of your calories with carbs.
It is important to note that refeed days are specific manipulations of calories that can be used to promote adherence and performance during periods of dieting. These refeeds are calculated and controlled and are not considered “cheat days”.