Refeeds are a total game changer if you are dieting!
If you have been cutting calories for a while and are struggling to get results, read on to learn how adding in some refeeds may help you increase your leptin levels to help give your metabolism a boost.
What Is Leptin?
Leptin is a hormone that plays a crucial role in regulating both food intake and energy output. Simply put, this hormone can make or break us when it comes to successful fat loss and dieting.
It is a protein that is made in the bodies fat cells, and research suggests it is the signal that fat cells send to the brain to tell it that that the body has enough energy stored in its fat cells to perform normal metabolic processes.
When dieting, the reduction in calories and increase in physical activity causes a reduction on leptin – and this in turn sends a new message to the brain which can cause an increase in appetite and a reduction in metabolic rate. This is due to the loss of fat from the body which results in a decrease in the amount of leptin being produced.
With this decrease in leptin come intense cravings, hunger and a slowing of fat loss, not the results you are hoping for from a dieting phase.
Increasing Leptin Levels
So you want to increase your leptin levels again? This is where a refeed day or two come in to save the day.
We have all heard of people using cheat days to boost their metabolism where they eat everything in sight that is junk food-related for what can range between a free meal to a free day of eating!
The ‘eat everything in sight approach’ may not be the best method for optimal results… Managing your refeed day to a set amount of macros can help keep your intake in check – especially if you can make use of those extra refeed calories by packing in some healthy sources of carbohydrates. This will be all the better for your body as you will experience a better increase in your leptin levels than if you just spent the day staring into endless now empty tubs of Ben and Jerry’s.
✓ This is due to the fact that leptin responds well to glucose metabolism, and by including carbohydrates that convert to glucose in the body, you will initiate a better response than if those calories came mainly from fat or protein.
This is not to say don’t enjoy your refeeds, it is more to make the point that by practicing some self control and enjoying a treat in moderation, you can reap the full benefits of your refeed beyond what a binge of junk food alone will provide you with!
✓ The amount of calories and macros you should incorporate into your refeed day is a personal thing and depends on your body fat levels and goals and also what level your leptin levels are currently at. The lower your leptin levels, the bigger a refeed you will want to incorporate to your nutrition plan.
A general guide would be to increase your calories from adding in a extra 20 % to doubling them over your maintenance levels for a day or two depending on your situation.
Hormonal profile improvements
Hormone levels tend to suffer in dieting phases and a refeed day or two can seriously bump up your hormones back up to beneficial levels. This is especially true for women who are dieting for competitions.
✓ Sometimes in times of calorie deficit and extra physical activities, women can experience the loss of menstruation due to a reduction in hormones. This is something to definitely avoid. If your hormones drop this low, you’ll have a higher risk of brittle bone disease and osteoporosis later in life.
✓ Testosterone levels also tend to drop which can make maintaining lean muscle mass difficult. A refeed day may help boost up this hormone too by increasing liver glycogen.
Refeeds can help to reduce levels of cortisol – which is a catabolic (to break down) hormone – therefore increasing chances of keeping hard-earned muscle mass, and as a by-product, increase/maintain a good metabolism.
Therefore – by improving your hormone profile, you will find it much easier to get back on track with your fat loss goals.
There’s nothing worse than getting knocked down by a nasty cold or flu whilst working hard to improve your fitness levels. Consistent dieting and training places extra pressure on your body and immune system;
If you are in a calorie deficit, your immune system becomes weaker and you are more likely to catch an illness. Refeeds can help counter act this effect and if you are noticing you are feeling more rundown and under the weather with constant colds and flu-like symptoms, this is one of the signs of needing to add more calories into the diet.
Take home message
Refeeds can make a huge difference to your progress when dieting.
Don’t feel you need to add in extra exercise to compensate for the extra calories of a refeed – they are meant to be extra calories so that your body can obtain the maximal benefits from the process.
Increase your leptin levels with a refeed while you are dieting and see for yourself how much faster and easier it will be to make progress with your fat loss!