Contrary to popular belief, taking a day to increase your carbohydrate intake can actually enhance your weight loss results. This is what’s known as a refeed day. Studies show that short term increases in carbohydrate intake can help increase leptin levels, a hormone that plays a pivotal role in weight regulation and increases energy expenditure. Partaking in a refeed day might be exactly what you need to accelerate your weight loss results and get you over that plateau.
What Is A Refeed Day?
Although a refeed day sounds like a glorified cheat day, I assure you, it’s not. The purpose of a refeed day is to increase leptin levels after a long period of calorie restriction. When you’re in a caloric deficit over a long period of time you need to boost your metabolism, to get things moving again. The purpose of a refeed day is exactly that. Refeed days are consist of an increase in caloric intake to refuel your body after being in a depleted state. A study conducted at the Institute of Physiology, in Switzerland found that during a 3-day carbohydrate refeeding window lean female study participants were able to increase basal metabolic rate by 7%, along with leptin concentration by 28% [R].
Cheat days are used to fulfill cravings and usually consist of eating foods high in fat and refined sugar.. junk food. Compared to refeed days, a cheat day is an all-out assault to your diet, with no restrictions, or limitations. Refeed days are still tracked and controlled to be above your normal caloric restriction, without going into a food coma.
When you’re consuming a low-carbohydrate diet or fasting, leptin levels significantly decrease. Leptin is fundamental in weight regulation, specifically satiation, or your body’s response to fullness. Higher leptin concentration can aid in appetite suppression and make it easier to lose weight.
Refeed Day Foods
Your refeed day should consist of high-quality complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates do not raise blood insulin levels like simple carbohydrates, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. Complex carbohydrates are structured as starch or fiber and digest much slower than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables, which are composed of longer-chained sugar molecules.
On your carb refeed day try to include gluten-free, whole foods such as
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat Pasta
- Brussel Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Higher Fiber/Carb Fruits (Peaches, Apples)
Refeed Day Macros
During a refeed day, it’s critical to adjust your macros in order to account for the increase in carbohydrate intake. Protein levels should remain moderate while your fat intake should be lowered by 20-25% for an increase in carbohydrates. Increasing your carbs after you’ve been in a caloric deficit can be challenging.
An easy way to get some quick carbs is to drink them before and after your workout. Most carbohydrate drinks are made with genetically modified cornstarch such as maltodextrin and dextrose, which you should stay away from. If you're looking for a clean complex carbohydrate, make sure to check out Clean Carbs. Clean Carbs is made with real whole-foods, sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries, to help you meet your macros, increase fullness, and improve health and performance. Did I mention, it's also gluten-free.
Refeed Day: Takeaway
If you’re experiencing a weight-loss plateau, throwing in a refeed day could be exactly what you need to increase your basal metabolic rate, and accelerate your weight loss results. Structured refeed days are also very beneficial to help keep balance and control of eating foods you enjoy in moderation, in addition to achieving your composition goals.
Need to get some high-quality carbs in your diet, for a refeed day?
Swolverine's Clean Carbs® is made with 100% real whole-superfoods from complex carbohydrates, including Sweet potatoes, Yams, Oats, and Blueberries. These four ingredients provide the long-lasting and sustained energy your body needs to fuel performance and optimize recovery. Delicious and rich you can add it to your smoothies, shakes, or mix with water, for a rich and tasty treat.
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Dirlewanger, M., Vetta, V., Guenat, E. et al. Effects of short-term carbohydrate or fat overfeeding on energy expenditure and plasma leptin concentrations in healthy female subjects. Int J Obes 24, 1413–1418 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0801395