One of the more popular terms among the fitness food community is ‘’refeed.’’ Simply put this refers to a planned eating phase where you up your food intake drastically. The logic behind this practise is that you are going to stimulate the metabolism usually after a calorie restricted period. The timescale can vary, but some would go 6 days on a ‘’clean’’ lower calorie diet and then on the 7th reintroduce calories in large quantities. Does it work? It certainly can! However, there seems to be several issues surrounding ‘’refeeds’’ which have developed.
Excuse To Binge
It is no secret that on a refeed day sometimes you need to really eat and that might include eating a lot of junk. However, you will typically need to be pretty lean to justify this or at least on this scale. Whereas one ‘’cheat meal’’ might suffice some will have the whole day to go crazy on their favourite foods. Very few can get away with this!
In India I was feeling exceptionally depleted the one night so the next morning I ordered 20 slices of brown toast with jam, 4 oat protein pancake portions (8 pancakes) and I ate 0.5kg of natural coconut ice cream along with a few cereal bars. This wasn’t a weekly thing; it was on impulse because I felt I needed it! The next day I did the same, bar the ice cream as I still looked slightly flat and by the third day I looked awesome again!! This was using a situation to enjoy foods I wanted when needed, rather than justifying it on a regular basis. Generally a day binging will be counterproductive to most people in their quest to lose fat!
The impact having a heavy day on the wrong kind of calories (and too many in general) on your hormones can set you back for days!! This is particularly the case if you are an endomorph or even a mesomorph who is going to be more insulin resistant than an extreme ectomorph for example. The momentum you gain from eating well can be lost with a few careless hours of eating on a regular basis. This is often more relevant to large quantities rather than one well planned meal.
A lot of people develop a bad relationship with food when they follow the typical ‘’refeed’’ format of eat well for 6 days and on the 7th go completely crazy. It replicates a massive yo-yo in your approach to food and it can get out of control. For the 6 ‘’good days’’ you hate any foods which could ‘’make you fat’’ and on the 7th you love them. The cycle starts again the next day with extreme guilt and you beat yourself up. This is not a healthy relationship with food and is in fact close to an eating disorder where you feel it necessary to binge like this.
To conclude there are times as I outlined above when it can be needed, but not on a weekly basis for 95% of us in the context we often see ‘’refeeds’’ been portrayed in. With that said maintain a healthy relationship with food, use refeeds when they are absolutely needed and beyond that include a little ‘’fun’’ food if you need it to avoid such a harsh contrast in eating patterns.