the fitness journal
Cheat Days versus Refeeds
Refeed days are a great tool to enhance any diet program but, like a lot of things in the fitness industry, they have been far made more difficult than strictly necessary.
So I decided to strip it back to the essentials. To begin with, we need to establish the difference between a Refeed versus a Cheat Day.
- An increase in calories of anywhere from 20-25% for a single day.
- The increase is made up largely of starches, such as sweet or white potatoes, brown rice,
- oatmeal, and whole grain bread.
- The purpose is both psychological and physical, but mostly physical.
- The goal is to help the trainee recover and get some much-needed glycogen into the muscle cells; this enables continued energy output towards your current fitness goals.
- An increase of calories of anywhere from 50-100% for what is well-intentioned as a single day, but often turns into a full weekend.
- The increase is made up of everything possible from cheeseburgers to pizza and ice cream, cakes and chocolate.
- The purpose is justified as physical but it is always psychological.
Smart Nutrition versus Gluttony
Now that we know the difference between smart nutrition and gluttony, let’s move on. I’m joking (kind of). You see, while I have nothing against cheat days and have indulged in quite a few myself, I’ve just never seen the value.
Cheat days promise you a better feeling, the drive to keep going, and a mental reset. But what they deliver is something entirely different. It’s a guilty and sluggish feeling, the drive to binge eat and watch Netflix with only the mental reminder of how miserable you feel when you overeat on things that it’s best to steer clear of.
A Loyal Friend
So let’s get back to the friend that is good for us, Mr Refeed. So who should have a refeed, and when should they have it? In line with our mission to keep it simple within a workable mindset, I’ve devised a chart that answers these all-important questions.
Current Body Fat Frequency of Refeed Increase of Calories
15-20% Every 2 weeks 20%
10-14% Every 10 days 20%
5-9% Every 5-7 days 25%
If you stick to the above guidelines, you will keep moving forward. And remember, the leaner you get, the more refeeds you get! Now that’s a mission worth taking.