How To Not Cheat On Your Diet - Part II

Last week, I told you why you should never eat a "cheat meal". The strategy I am going to tell you about today is called a "refeed". It is similar to a cheat meal, but won't destroy the fat loss progress you've made.

What Is A Refeed Day?

A refeed day, in its most basic form, is purposely having more Calories (typically from carbs) on specific days. You may think this sounds like a cheat meal/day, but there are two key differences: 

  1. A refeed is not a blowout without guidelines. With refeeds, you will have a set number of extra Calories to eat on specified day(s). For example, you may be dieting on 1800 Calories/day and on your refeed day you consume 2100 Calories, which is much different from the 3870 Calories in the cheat day example from last week.
  2. You take account for these extra Calories within the context of your whole week. For example, on a regular diet you may eat 1800 Calories/day, 7 days/week. If using the refeed, you may eat 1750 Calories per day with a 2100 Calorie refeed day.
    You might have noticed, in this example we are actually eating the same number of Calories per week. We simply took an equal number of Calories from the six non refeed days to equal out the refeed day. 1800*7=12600 Calories/week and 1750*6+2100=12600 Calories/week.

Why Use Refeeds?

Using refeeds has been shown to be as good as or better than diets without refeeds for both fat loss and muscle retention during dieting. [1] [2] [3] Believe it or not, that isn't what I want to focus on. One of the main benefits of using refeeds is improving adherence. 

It is relatively easy to remove a few extra Calories from each day without noticing much difference, but when you add all the Calories you took away into one day, it is a noticeable difference. Allowing yourself refeeds where you don't have to worry about eating such a small amount of food can dramatically increase morale on a diet. I can speak from personal experience. I dieted for seven months in 2016 to get ready for a bodybuilding show and using refeeds was probably the only thing that kept me on the diet for such an extended period of time.

How Do I Set Up Refeeds?

There is no set way to implement a refeed. You can do one day refeeds, two day refeeds, three day refeeds, etc. I even read a study where they had the participants dieting for two days and refeeding for five days. [1] The way you set up your refeed doesn't matter as much until you start getting 6-pack lean. There are really only two rules for refeeds:

  1. Take account for the extra Calories you consume on your refeed day(s) and subtract an equal number of Calories from the rest of the week.
  2. Don't take so many Calories away from any given day that you have to decrease your protein or fiber intake.

I will give you a few examples of how you might set up your refeeds assuming you are dieting on 2000 Calorie/day (14000 Calories/week).

  • 1900 Calories/Day for six days, single day at 2600 Calories.
  • 1900 Calories/Day for five days, two days at 2250 Calories.
  • 1800 Calories/Day for five days, two days at 2500 Calories.
  • 1800 Calories/Day for four days, three days at 2266 Calories.

Keep in mind, these are just a few ways you can set up your refeeds. As a final note, I would personally suggest that you add in something fun, that you may not be able to fit into your diet on low days, such as a piece of cake, an extra serving of ice cream, etc. This will further enforce the "light at the end of the tunnel" effect, adding even more of a bright side to the diet.

This method really helped me out on my diet and has helped many others as well. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I'll be back again next week with another helpful article for you. As always, God bless you AND your family and I'll talk to you next week!


[1] Harvie, M. N., Pegington, M., Mattson, M. P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., … Howell, A. (2011). The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomised trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity (2005)35(5), 714–727.
[2] Harvie, M., et al., The effect of intermittent energy and carbohydrate restriction v. daily
energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers in overweight
women. British Journal of Nutrition, 2013. 110(8): p. 1534-47.
[3] Varady, K.A., Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more
effective for weight loss? Obes Rev, 2011. 12(7): p. 593-601.