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The Refeed Day: When Dieting Should Include Overeating and Why

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The Refeed Day: When Dieting Should Include Overeating and Why

If you’re having trouble going from “lean” to “shredded,” then the refeed day might be just what you need.

 

For most, the beginning of a diet is an exciting moment, teeming with optimism and ecstasy. For the first couple of months, it’s usually smooth sailing: you exercise regularly and maintain a proper calorie deficit and your body fat percentage progressively declines.

Eventually, though, progress slows. Your energy in the gym wanes and your workouts get harder and harder. Your goal, which seemed in the bag just a month ago, now appears further and further away.

And if you’re like most people, this is where you lose heart and binge. And then binge again. And again.

But there’s hope. And it doesn’t involve dropping your calorie intake to dangerously low levels or frying your muscles with excessive cardio.

Instead, the “trick” is something you’ll relish: occasional overfeeding. Yes, that’s right–eating a bunch of food. Not just anything and everything, though–there’s more to it than that. This weight loss aid is known as “refeeding,” and here’s how it works…

What is Refeeding?

refeed definition

Refeeding is generally defined as a planned increase in calorie intake that typically occurs when dieting. Refeeding can yield a myriad of psychological and physiological benefits:

  • Decreased risk for binge eating via hunger regulation
  • Increased motivation from boosted testosteronedopamine (a hormone responsible for reward and pleasure), and leptin (a hormone responsible for satiety and metabolism).

The most powerful of these effects is one that most people aren’t familiar with. It relates to leptin, which regulates hunger, your metabolic rate, appetite, motivation, and libido, as well as serving other functions in your body.

When you’re in a caloric deficit and lose body fat, your leptin levels dropThis, in turn, causes your metabolic rate to slow down, your appetite to increase, your motivation to wane, and your mood to sour.

On the other hand, when you give your body more energy (calories) than it needs, leptin levels are boosted, which can then have positive effects on fat oxidation, thyroid activity, mood, and even testosterone levels.

The net effect of a proper refeed is you feel better both physically and psychologically, you’re much less likely to fall down the slippery slope of “just one more cheat day,” and you can even experience a nice acceleration of fat loss over the following 3 to 5 days.

Nonetheless, the caveat to this is that it requires self-control.

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If you abuse these periods of overfeeding then you will simply gain too much fat as a result to make them effective weight loss aids. Research has shown that an all-out binge can increase your metabolism by three to 10% for merely 24 hours, but the sheer amount of calories eaten will negate this negligible increase in metabolism, making the aching-after effects of a typical binge not worth it.

Fortunately, you are about to learn how to avoid these problems by strategically devising a refeed day relative to your unique metabolic makeup.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

How to Set Up a Refeed Day

refeed day calories

First, you should determine how frequently you need a refeed day.

If you are fairly lean or in the deeper phases of dieting, you are more susceptible to metabolic adaptation and mental lethargy. By cutting calories, you expend less energy, chiefly because you move less—this is referred to as adaptive thermogenesis. Thus, begin with one refeed day a week and adjust as needed.

However, if you are in the early periods of dieting are still above 10% body fat (guys) or 20% (girls), start with one refeed day every 2 weeks and see how your body responds.

After determining how often you should reefed, it is vital to set a caloric goal for each refeed.

Us humans are innately horrible at estimating our caloric intake. We are not programmed to do so. To exacerbate the matter, we are biologically prone to eating large amounts when food is available, specifically foods high in energy:

Because of the scarcity and unpredictability of food in nature, humans and other animals have evolved to eat their physiological limits when food is readily available, so that excess energy can be stored in the body as a buffer against future food shortages.” Pinel JPJ.

Thus, a form of energy regulation will keep you from overindulging and help you attain the benefits associated with a refeed day.

To do this, take your current daily calorie intake and increase it by 30%. This will provide enough of a surplus to confer the benefits of refeeding without adding too much body fat.

Next, break the calories into the following macronutrient profile:

  • 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight
  • As little dietary fat as possible (most recommendations are stay at or under 20 grams)
  • The rest from carbohydrate

Why so many carbs, you wonder? Because eating carbohydrates is the most effective way to increase leptin levels. Second to that is eating protein (high-protein meals also raise your metabolic rate). Dietary fats aren’t very effective at increasing leptin levels, and alcohol actually inhibits it.

Eating a bunch of carbs has further benefits that relate to glycogen, which is a stored form of glucose responsible for fueling your workouts.

While dieting, your glycogen stores progressively decline and with them your strength and muscle endurance. Acutely increasing carbohydrate intake is an easy way to fill them back up and thus improve your performance in the gym.

Refeed Meal Plans

If you’re wondering how exactly how to go about planning a refeed day, here’s an example of a refeed meal plan we’ve made for our custom meal plan clients.

Refeed Meal Plan

As you can see, it’s pretty simple.

You stick to low-fat sources of protein like lean meat, low-fat dairy, protein powder, egg whites, etc., and eat a variety of carbs with an emphasis (usually) on whole grains because of their calorie density.

Conclusion

refeed day

The refeed day is an effective way to stay on track in your dieting, avoiding the dreaded binge, and even accelerate fat loss.

I hope that this article has granted you ideas for how to incorporate refeed days in your nutritional regimens while dieting, and how to structure them for your unique psychological and physiological disposition.

If you’re not using refeed days by now—or not strategically manipulating them—now is the time to start. Perhaps you will be amazed by just how useful a refeed day can be.

What do you think about the refeed day? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

chris walkerRaul Rodriguez is the founder of Truvism.com, an evidence-based health and fitness website that helps you systematically achieve your desired physique. He enjoys research and powerlifting and is passionate about seeking the central truths of somatic success.

How to get lean and build serious muscle and strength, faster than you ever thought possible…

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  • Cesar Salazar

    Hi, just to clarify… for fats is it stay at or under 20 grams or 20% for the day??? –I mean 20% based on your calorie intake?

    “As little dietary fat as possible (most recommendations are stay at or under 20 grams)”

    • Michael Matthews

      Under 20 GRAMS of fat. As low as you can go, basically.

      • Cesar Salazar

        Sweet. Thank you.
        I am planning to do this now as I am in the 4th week of my cut and am beginning to loose strength. What foods do you personally use that are high carb and really low fat? I was shooting for a whole pint of talenti sea salt caramel but that has 44 grs of fat. I can play around but I was wondering if you had some foods that let you stay under 20 grs of fat for the day.
        Thanks again

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Great let me know how it goes. My faves:

          Potatoes

          Sweet potatoes

          Pasta

          Pancakes (lol)

          Whole-grain bread

          Quinoa

          • Cesar Salazar

            Excellent, thank you!

          • Michael Matthews

            YW

  • Alex Himstead

    Quick question, in the BLS book it recommended 1 re-feed day during cutting. I wanted to know whether you still recommend 1 or if increasing to 2 would be better? I’ve been cutting on the program for 6 weeks and seeing some decent progress, but I wanted to know if another re-feeding day is advisable or not.

    Background about me, I’m 20, weigh 190 lbs and i think 17% body fat (but not sure). Started at 197 lbs and around 20%.

    • Michael Matthews

      2 refeeds per week is unnecessary. You don’t really need even one per week until you’re down in the 10% range…

  • Luke Sfair

    Hi, Mike.
    I used this strategy when I read the BLS for the first time (now, I have read a dozen times, hehe), but in your article “How to Speed ​​Up Your Metabolism for Weight Loss Easier” you explain the process of “reverse dieting” . Should I use both methods when cutting, or just one of them?
    sorry for my english’s level.

    Abraço!

    • Michael Matthews

      You can use both!

  • Rob

    So if your over 10% body fat, you feel it unnecessary for a weekly reefed, but instead bi-weekly?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah. That said, you CAN do a refeed instead of a cheat meal. Up to you.

  • Carlos

    Should refeeds take place on training days only?

    • Michael Matthews

      Ideally yes but you can do them on rest days if you prefer.

  • Amir

    Hi mike! As an athlete on 8-10 % of bodyfat, do you prefer a larger calorie deficit to lose weight ?

    And regarding refeeding, wich symptoms should you look out for before you refeed?

    • Michael Matthews

      I use a deficit of about 25%. I never go further than that. It works well.

      Your workouts get shittier and shittier. Your muscle endurance gets worse and you lose reps.

  • Eugene

    Hi Mike. When you say bi-weekly, do you mean once every two weeks or twice a week? And you only recommend re-feeds until you are in the 10% body fat range correct?

    • pmort

      Would like clarification on this as well. Biweekly could mean either. I’m assuming once ever two weeks.

      • Anthony Giangrande

        @ > 10% body fat, re-feed once every two weeks, if at all.
        @ < 10% body fat, re-feed once a week.
        @ < 7-8% body fat, maybe re-feed twice a week.

        Basically, the leaner you are, and the more lean mass you have (advanced trainee), the more you are likely to benefit from more frequent re-feeds.

        • Michael Matthews

          Exactly.

        • pmort

          Thanks! I am kinda shit at figuring my own BF percentage though.

          • Anthony Giangrande

            You can get a cheap set of calipers for less than $10. Mike even recommends some here on his site. With a little practice, you can get good at using them, and you’ll be able to estimate you BF % with reasonable accuracy.

            But as a VERY general rule of thumb, if you can’t see your abs in the mirror WITHOUT flexing them, you’re probably over 10%, and you probably don’t need to concern yourself with re-feeds yet.

          • Anthony Giangrande
          • Anthony Giangrande
          • pmort

            OK, so what happens if I’m over 10% (I would like to think I’m around 15%, but I’m pale AF so definition is hard to see and and I look more like 20) but still starving my ass off towards week’s end? I’m losing weight, but been getting very hungry and usually do a cheat meal. And I have calipers but have a tough time using them.

          • Anthony Giangrande

            Sounds like your total daily calorie intake, macro ratios, and/or training volume/intensity/frequency might be off. You should be losing 1-2lbs a week TOPS, and you shouldn’t feel weak or like you’re starving. Read Mike’s book, BIGGER LEANER STRONGER, and follow it EXACTLY. The fundamentals are all there. It will set you on the right path to losing fat with “relative” ease.

          • Michael Matthews

            As Anthony said, it sounds like we need to get your diet a bit more structured. I’d recommend making a following a proper meal plan:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

          • Michael Matthews
      • Michael Matthews

        I will fix th is.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. Raul meant every 2 weeks. Yeah it’s not necessary until you’re around 10% or under. You can choose to refeed instead of having a cheat meal though regardless of bf %.

      • Eugene

        Thanks Mike. Does the same methodology also apply for reverse dieting? i.e. it’s not necessary until you’re around 10% or under as well?

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! No not necessarily. You can read more about that here:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-speed-up-metabolism/

          • Eugene

            Thanks again Mike! So from what I understand after reading your article, you would start reverse dieting when you hit a plateau (on the weight scale) during a calorie deficit? Also, once we get down to 10%, we can start using refeeds OR continue to reverse diet?

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! Yes once you’ve reached your BMR and are stuck and can’t exercise more without running into overtraining issues, it’s time to reverse diet…

  • mfmaxpower

    How on earth am I suppose to eat 3000+ calories and only 20g of fat? Man, talk about taking all the fun out of a refeed!

    • Steve Crook

      If you like fruit its an EAMAYL buffet. Go banana mad…

    • Michael Matthews

      I stick to stuff like baked potato, sweet potato, pasta, pancakes, fruit, etc.

    • Danielle Morr

      Just to clarify, the 20g of fat or less is calculated for the extra 30% and not for the whole day correct? So for the extra 450 calories on my refeed, 20 grams of fat can contribute to this. In total I would have 45G of fat for the day. Is this correct?

      • Michael Matthews

        Nope the whole day. You want as little fat as possible for that day.

        • Danielle Morr

          Holy cow! Ok! Glad I asked 🙂 Thank you so much for always answering my questions. Can’t wait to show my progress pictures soon!

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! I can’t wait to see your progress!! 🙂

  • pmort

    Some sample refeed meals would be pretty rad.

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m kind of obsessed with pancakes so that’s at least 150-200 g of my carbs, haha.

  • Olly

    Hey mike, thanks for the further details on reseeding. Tried it last cut and at least made the whole process more enjoyable. This cut I’m using Myfitnespal to help me track calories and macros – it has a function to add more calories to your daily intake when you do specific exercise – do you think I should use this function or just stick to the calorie formulas you’ve suggested in previous articles for cutting? Thanks!

  • Steve Crook

    On my last dieting phase I was aiming for a deficit of around 7000 cals per week. Dieted 6 (fasted training) days and ate to my limit on 7th. Managed to lose 2lb per week.

    I found taking a day off added a bit of variety and made the relative monotony of the diet days easier to bear. Gave me something to look forward to. Still ate healthy, though.

    Fwiw loss was from 83kg to 77kg in 7 weeks. Having a month or two maintenance, then back to diet to shed the next 3kg that should get me to 10-12% where I want to be.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah at that large of a deficit you’d definitely want to refeed. Great job on the progress.

      • Steve Crook

        I don’t mind salad and green veggies in general :-). Was keeping protein up and walking around town and countryside. Nothing that would count as endurance cardio, but trying to do around one to two hours a day in total, just to gently shave off a few extra calories.

        • Michael Matthews

          That works well actually. Very low-intensity cardio like walking is great for burning fat and preserving muscle IF you have the time to do a bunch of it.

  • JP

    Hey Mike,

    Great article! I actually incorporate refeeds into my current routine and definitely note the improvements in my body and the gym. However, what are your thoughts on when the refeed should occur? Day before, day of, or day after a heavy weight training day? Or Day before, day of, or day after a cardio/rest day?

    I’m currently cutting so I’ve structured it so that it occurs on the last day of my weightlifting routine (Friday), which also lies right before my cardio day (Saturday). I figured this makes sense since Friday is when my glycogen is probably the most depleted. Additionally, I think it should give me a nice metabolic boost to supplement my cardio day.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Yeah they help.

      Good question. Personally I do them on days before deadlifting or squatting but you can do them whenever you want, really.

  • slekkas

    I’ve bought your books and read your articles since last year but I’ve adapted that binge day many years before and it works great. The only difference is that every Sunday I just eat whatever I want and I miss eating during the week. I don’t count calories on Sundays and I don’t watch what I eat. Of course you have to keep in mind that my cutting diet during the week is very strict and I never cheat. In result to that my stomach is not used to much food so even though I want to I can’t eat that much. This system helps me go down to 7-8% fat and my stomach veins start to show. I’m 41 years old and I only use a regular fat burner, a whey protein, creatine, bcaa and glutamine. If I get on the scale on Sunday morning and I weigh myself I’m let’s say 85.7 Kg on MondaKg. That’s 400 grams of mostly fat loss. So in my experience this binge day works. If you want to see results look me up in Instagram as slekkas.

    • Michael Matthews

      You can do that but my guess is your bingeing just isn’t very high-fat or you would run into issues.

  • Anthony Jesse

    I’ve lost about 60 lbs this year. I’ve been around 222 for a couple of months now. I’d like to get down to about 210-215. If I did I’d be at about 10% body fat. My problem is that every few days I get into my old eating habits and start eating my kids pop tarts and fruit snacks. I’m talking 3-4 packages of both. Why can’t I control myself?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! I like your goal. A proper meal plan would take care of it:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • Anthony Jesse

        My normal every day eating is good. Every 3rd day or so I get these uncontrollable urges to eat really bad stuff. I end up eating an extra 2000-3000 calories. I’ve been so good for 6 months.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah that kind of thing can really screw it up.

          You should look at your daily intake too. Check out the article I linked earlier.

  • taylor

    Hi i been cheating and refeeding alot lately. But my leptin still isnt responding and im still craving the next day. Also nothing ever feels me up! What could this possibly be??? Because i dont want to get fat again and start all over.

  • sharon

    Hey mike!

    I recently purchased your Thinner Leaner Stronger book and am currently on a calorie deficit. My macros right now are: 155P, 32F and 130C. I am 135lbs, 5’7 and at 18% body fat. my question is which refeed plan should I follow? it says in the book that I should just double the amount of carbs and keep fat and protein the same. would it be better if I follow the refeed plan explained in this article? also, I was wondering when I should start (at what body fat) should I start focusing more on building muscle and increasing my calories to at least maintenance level. I really want to be able to see my abs!
    Thank You!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      Good question. You can follow the plan in this article as it’s a bit more in-depth (I’m adding this information to the second edition of the book).

      As you’re already lean, I recommend you also check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      • sharon

        Thank You for the response! Your work has helped me a lot!

        Another question Mike, my weight loss have stalled (or is going down incredibly slow) but I have not yet incorporated any refeed days (gone over my macros) in my diet for the last several months (around 3 months). I am going to have my first refeed day tomorrow. Would it be better for me to start incorporating a refeed once every week or should I start reverse dieting back to my maintenance by adding 5g of carbs and 1g of fat every week? and if I start reverse dieting, should I still have refeed days every week? I am currently on a deficit of around 1430 calories.

        Thanks so much Mike!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! I’m glad!

          Yeah you’re lean so a weekly refeed would be a good idea.

          What’s your exercise schedule like?

          • sharon

            So it would be better for me to incorporate a refeed day every week rather than reverse dieting? Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on maximizing protein synthesis using meal timing and sufficient leucine dosages (a research done by Layne Norton and Jake Wilson: http://www.biolayne.com/wp-content/uploads/Norton-J-Ag-Food-Ind-Hi-Tech-2008.pdf). how much does this matter?

            I am currently doing chest+triceps+shoulders+traps, back+biceps+lats+rear delt, legs then off routine. 3 sets, 8-10 reps for each exercise.
            legs: squats, leg extensions, deadlift and hamstring curl.
            chest+triceps+shoulders+traps: bench press, incline bench press, triceps pulldown, overhead triceps extension, overhead shoulder press, upright row, side lateral raise
            back+biceps+lats+rear delt: cable rows, dumbbell rows, bicep & hammer curls, lat pulldown, bent over lateral raises

            thank you so much for your help!

          • Michael Matthews

            If you’re going to RD, you don’t need to refeed. I’m not sure if you need to RD yet though.

            I’m familiar with Norton’s research and find it interesting, but I’m not sure how much it matters in the bigger picture. That said, I do eat protein every 3-4 hours just in case it can make a difference. 🙂

            Cool on what you’re doing. So how many days of lifting and how many cardio sessions per week?

          • sharon

            Ok! I will attempt to do several refeeds first for the next couple of weeks and see if there are any weight changes.

            That’s good to hear! I am also currently eating protein every 4 hours 🙂

            I lift 5-6 times a week with 2-3 cardio sessions 🙂 I try to keep my lifting sessions around 30-35 minutes to keep my heart rate elevated. Do you think my calorie intake of 1430 calories is enough with this amount of exercise?

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool. LMK how it goes.

            What types of cardio sessions? LISs or HITT? We could add another 1-2 cardio sessions per week before dropping cals.

          • sharon

            Sure!
            HITT 🙂

            I forgot to say that I have lost a total of around 130 pounds over the last 2-3 years. I have to admit that I was eating very little before I started to take interest in nutrition, and only started to eat properly on the beginning of this year. I am very concerned about my metabolism and hormone levels (especially thyroid) as I am starting to experience several symptoms of hypothyroidism (hair loss, stress, fatigue, feeling cold, irregular menstrual periods). This was the reason why I wanted to reverse diet. I am getting a blood test soon to check my hormone levels.
            I would really love to hear your opinion about this! Any advices from you would be much appreciated!

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah cool. We could add more cardio but yes it sounds like it’s time to address the food intake…

          • sharon

            Also Mike, if I plan to reverse diet, would you recommend eating at maintenance calories once a week until I reach maintenance? and should I lower my protein intake to 1g/lb of bodyweight (as advised by Norton in his reverse dieting video)?

            thank you!

          • Michael Matthews
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  • KJ

    Hi mike.
    quick question
    152 pound male roughly 9% bf
    8 weeks into cutting.

    • My current cutting cals per day 1900.

    • BBLS Re-feed formula gives about the same as my current cals 1900.

    • This article gives around 2500 cals for Re-feed.

    ● Which should i use?
    ● Is it better to surplus on re-feed or keep at current calories switching macros.

    Thank you. Great work on BLS & BBLS
    Will be writing a top review . Thanks Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the support!

      You can bump to 2500 so long as those extra cals are from carbs, not fat.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Ali

        I thought a calorie is a calorie – why are you restricting fats? Thanks – great article!

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  • Fred K

    Hi Mike,
    I am currently cutting, and I do 1 cheat meal per week, resulting in a 10-15% surplus above my cutting TDEE for that day (almost all of the extra calories coming from carbs). Should I incorporate this re-feed day every other week, instead of a cheat meal? Or should I ditch the weekly cheat meal, replacing it with this once every two weeks? I guess the question is, how does this fit into the schedule with cheat meals?

    thanks!

    • Fred K

      forgot to add, I am currently at about 14% BF

    • Michael Matthews

      It depends on how your training is going. If you’re feeling strong in the gym and generally good, you don’t necessarily need a refeed.

      That said, many people do like the training boost that comes with a big increase in carb intake.

      Instead of a cheat meal, do a refeed and see what you think.

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  • Alex

    Hey mike!

    I want to start by saying I just got your book the other day and I love it and I can’t wait to start my workout routine. That being said, I think it’s appropriate for me to begin by cutting as I have a bit of body fat that I’d like to get rid of and hopefully I can still gain muscle at the same time. To make a long story short, in your book you talk about “re-feeding”. I am a college student that drinks on Fridays and Saturdays. Would you say that it wouldn’t be necessary to include the “re-feeding” cheat day into my week since I’m having extra calories those nights? (Even though there aren’t any extra carbs, only calories.)

    Thank you in advance for your time!
    Alex

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      Cool on your plan. Hmm check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/does-alcohol-consumption-affect-weight-loss-and-muscle-growth/

      Let me know what you think…

      • Alex

        Wow that was another great article. Awesome info, so it sounds like I should still have a refeed day every week or two since alcohol consumption doesn’t have the same effect as a refeed? Good to know about extra protein on the days you consume alcohol too. Thanks a ton man!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks! Yeah exactly and you’ll want to keep the alcohol under control or it will cause problems.

          • Alex

            Thanks so much man and yeah absolutely. I wouldn’t want it getting in the way of my results or my health.

          • Michael Matthews

            Sounds good. 🙂

  • jonyamo

    I see you mention pancakes a few times as one of your go to refeed meals… Just curious which recipe you follow. Is it the sweet potato protein one in The Shredded Chef? Just curious because the recipe I have for traditional white flour/vegetable oil is also high in fat.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I love pancakes and do all kinds of recipes. I use very little fat and replace with stuff like Greek yogurt and applesauce.

      Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-pancake-recipes/

      • jonyamo

        Excellent resource, thank you!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW

  • Michael Matthews

    Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:

    http://www.muscleforlife.com/signup/

    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • Chandler Camden

    Great article! I have a question pertaining to the macro amounts you have listed towards the end. I’ve been following the formula you had given in MFL Podcast 37, about the dislike of slow cutting. The formula suggested in that podcast for a 25% reduction in calories, 1.1g of protein/lb., 1g of carbs/lb., & .2g fat/lb., has me at 1958 calories/day. This feels perfect I must admit and has been successful for me. So according to the formula you have given in this article, 1g protein/lb., 20g or less fat, and the rest carbs, after the 30% increase in calories overall (up to 2546 for me), I will be sitting at 192g protein, 403g carbs, & 19g fat, which is a split of 30/63/7. Am I missing something, or would you say this looks correct for a refeed day? Was thinking possibly it was meant a 20g or less increase to what my fat intake is currently, but I was not sure. Thank you for all the knowledge you share and support you give.

    • Michael Matthews

      Glad to hear you’re doing well Chandler!

      Yup that’s about right. If you need to, you could add 10g fat or so but the idea is to keep it as low as you can.

  • Johnny

    Hi Mike, would you lower calories on the other days of the week in relation to how many extra calories you consumed on the reffed day? Or write the day off as it were. Thanks

    • Nope. Let the calories fall where they may. 😉

      • Johnny

        Great thanks. I’m an avid follower btw, big fan of your writing style and processes you use, each article I read seems very relevant to me. Thanks for the effort

  • Eddy

    Hey mike, so I noticed I haven’t changed in weight in the past week and a half! I have been eating clean for about a month and have been really strict! Is my weight loss stall due to low levels of lepetin!

  • Alysha Thompson

    hi, great read, this is the first I have read about refeeds and understand it fairly well, just wondering, at what point would you implement a refeed and does it matter what time of day your eating? Like carbs at night is ok Or eat them all earlier in the day? I am currently around 43% BF but 50% muscle, I train hard and have hit my macros for 2 months now, the scales aren’t moving but I can notice change. Im concerned that if I introduce refeeds to soon it may hinder my progress. Thanks 🙂

    • Thanks! At night is fine and refeeds don’t become necessary until you’re lean looking to get really lean. I would say 20% looking to get leaner.

  • Jeremy James

    Hey Mike, really enjoy the books and the site and have lost over 15lbs in the past few months, I’m the leanest and strongest I’ve ever been.

    I’m curious about this refeed, specifically the grams of fat recommended. I’ve scanned the comments but can’t find a definite answer. For my macros right now I’ve got 44g of fat/day, so if I did a refeed would I increase the fat to 64g, keep it at 44g or knock it down to 20g and jam a whole mess of carbs in my bones?

    Thanks!

    • Great job! That rocks.

      You want your fats to be as low as possible. Personally I shoot for about 20g for the day.

  • Asmir

    Hey, great article. When you said that one should increase the calorie intake by 30%, did you mean my current cutting calories or my maintenance calories?

  • Kevin Quinn

    While this is a bit of a tangent and not directly related to refeeding but I’m seeing a lot of discussion about reheating carbohydrate meals to increase the levels of resistant starch. This results in fewer calories being absorbed and a lower blood glucose level.

    Now while it wouldn’t necessarily help refeeding, where the purpose is to temporarily increase you calorific intake but I would be interested whether you use resistant starch as part of your training/nutrition.

    • Yeah that’s kind of trendy right now. Ignore it.

      No I don’t take/use any resistant starch supplements. Don’t see a need to. My insulin sensitivity is really good.

      • Kevin Quinn

        I should have asked this the first time around. Should you refeed on a rest or training day?

        • I recommend refeeding on a training day so you can use that extra energy for your lifting. 🙂

  • Great article. I’m glad I reviewed it again before my next reefed later this week.

    I have a question on this statement: As little dietary fat as possible (most recommendations are stay at or under 20 grams)

    Staying at or under 20 grams is for the reefed day only, right? Not throughout the cut?

  • Cam

    Hey Mike, I’ve been on a cut for awhile now. I’m pretty lean and really started feeling the effects of being in a deficit for an extended period of time. So I stumbled upon your article and refeeds and what not and because I’ve never actually done this before, and because of how bad I was feeling, I decided to go for a three day refeed because even after two days I was still feeling under. Anyway, now I’m ready to get back to my deficit, and I’m planning on incorporating at least one refeed a week. But, since I was just on my three day “break” so to speak, I’m not sure when my next refeed should be. Any suggestions?

    • That must’ve been nice haha. 🙂

      You can start doing refeeds once a week from the day you start cutting again.

      Also, if you’ve been cutting for a long time, eating at or close to BMR and haven’t been losing 1-2 pounds a week, you may need to reverse diet. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

      • Cam

        When I first started I was eating closer to my BMR, went for about four months, went on a diet break, and returned to eating at only a 15% deficit, just so I wouldn’t lose too much muscle and it wouldn’t be so hard on my body. So would that mean I should still consider this reverse dieting thing?

        Also, if 55% of my daily calories comes from carbs to begin with, are refeeds still neccessary?

        • Yeah that’s kind of reverse dieting, haha.

          No probably not on the refeed. How many grams per day are you eating?

          • cam

            around 287 grams a day (currently eating 2200 cals a day give or take maybe 20 calories and I believe my maintenance is somewhere between 2500 – 2600). however I just recently started doing this to see how eating a 55/25/20 macro split would work for me as opposed to the 40/35/25 I was trying before (carbs/protein/fat). I’m an athlete and on the thinner side (between a mesomorph and an endomorph) and I strength train 3 days out of the week as well as 45 – 60 minutes of skateboarding 6 days (weather permitting) out of the week so I felt like the extra carbs were neccesary since I’m doing a lot of physical activity. Granted, I am already fairly light, theres just some fat around my stomach I’m trying to get rid of before I try and actually build some more muscle once I’m done (and I’m kind of curious to see what a six pack would look like on me first haha).

            Anyway, I’m probably going to see how I feel doing this for a week and If my weight goes down and I don’t feel too shitty (for lack of a better term) I’ll stick with it, otherwise I may try reverse dieting until I feel 100% again and then continue cutting. does this sound like a good idea or do you have any other suggestions? also any other input you have on the info i gave you or any tips is much appreciated!

          • I think that’s a good idea. Let me know how it goes.

            Given your activity level you have a higher need for more carbs than fats.

          • cam

            will do! thanks!

          • No problem.

  • Ron Tafoya

    How can you eat this many carbs and that low of fat, unless you eat piles of brown rice without butter or oil, or a ton on bananas, or gallons of fat free yogurt? In other articles you list “nutrient dense” foods you eat, and those are high fat foods. For example, beef, avocados, eggs, just to name a few. If you eat a significant percentage of your calories from those foods (as you claim you do), how can you possibly eat less than 30% of your calories from fat? I eat those foods too and get about 28-40% of my calories from fat and I feel great and am getting results. I suspect if I used your ratios I may do even better, but no one can get 20% calories from fat eating what you list in other articles. Please explain, if you can, and thank you for all the good tips in general.

    • I do pasta, fruit, rice, seeds like quinoa, and sometimes fruit juice. It’s just a one day thing, of course.

  • Mike,
    On a reefed day, do you go ahead and get carbs pre-workout since you’re getting so many in that day? Or do you still train fasted? Training fasted should allow your body to suck in more carbs post-workout, but is the juice worth the squeeze?
    Also, do you do anything special the day before like go very low carbs or train hard to deplete carbs?

    • A nice carb-up before training helps a lot so you might as well. Don’t worry about increasing carb intake–depleting glycogen stores is what really drives this.

      Nope nothing special before.

  • Sara

    Hey Mike!
    Great article! I’m not cutting right now, but I love to go around and read everything you got, haha. Thanks for all your great tips!
    I was wondering if you knew anything about food combinations. Like, eating melons alone, don’t eat acidic fruits with sweet ones, or not combining bananas and milk, and just in general what foods digest nicely together, and which ones don’t.
    Of course, no one really wants to worry about all this when thinking about meals, but I just find it very fascinating and wanted to get your input on it.
    Keep up the work!

    • Thanks Sara!

      Yeah you can combine however you want. It has no impact on weight loss/gain.

  • Alex Wunder

    I’m about a week and a half into my cut. I am maintaining a daily deficit of 25%. Is it too early to begin using the weekly refeeds? Will the refeed still have the same beneficial effect on increasing my leptin levels and increasing overall fat loss?

    • Alex Wunder

      For the record I started my cut at 10% or less so I believe I meet that qualification.

    • Yeah. You’re totally fine to do a refeed once a week.

      How lean are you gonna get?

      • Alex Wunder

        6 percent if possible. Then probably reverse diet back to maintenance for the summer and afterwards start bulking and put on as much muscle as I can. That sound like a reasonable plan?

        By the way, I loved the book. The book mixed with articles has answered pretty much any questions I could ever have. The rest I ask you on here. So thank you.

        • Damn you’re gonna be lean!

          Yeah that sounds like a good plan.

          Happy to hear you enjoyed the book and articles!

          Always feel free to ask me any questions you have. I’m happy to help.

          • Alex Wunder

            Thank you! I know I can’t wait to be that cut. You’ve already helped me tremendously with the questions you’ve already answered. It feels way too good to know exactly what to do.

            At what bf% should I start doing more than one re-feed a week? Is that beneficial the further into your cut you get?

          • Welcome! Knowing what to do makes it a lot easier. 🙂

            You can go ahead and start refeeding once a week now.

  • Mohamed Hossam

    I am at 13.4 % bodyfat so do you think I should be on a 20% calorie deficit with a refeed every 2 weeks? and what kind of cardio would help me reach my goal which is 6-7% bodyfat?

  • brutalfullme Nata

    Hi! I’m cutting bf gradually after heavy 6 months bulk, dropped down from 187 lbs to 150 lbs-20-22 BF i’m dieting for 5 months, eating very little carbs and fats, 4 weeks ago my weight stopped dropping and I lowered my calories again and increased cardio, now added refeed day once in 10-14 days, it messes with scales & water weight but in few days weight gets back to normal and than drops. I need to loose 12 more pounds and donno how to hit this plateau ((( Should I refeed or drop calories and cut out carbs? BTW I eat around 1400-1500 cal sometimes 1300 and work out 6-7 days a week,I still can bench like when I was around 180 lbs

  • David Murphy

    So glad i found this article! Until week 9 without it and this was the first week i made no rep gains, well until today when i had over 100g of carbs beforehand! stuck to the 20g of fat but once i started the carb overload i just kept going! might have overshot the 30% increase a tad haha Love the articles!

    ps where do you buy the gallon jug you drink out of all the time?

    • Glad you liked it! That’s great!

      I just picked it up a local health food store.

  • Steve

    Hi Mike,
    Just curious, does it matter if you do the reefed day on a training day vs. a rest day? Also, when cutting down to the leaner ranges, 6-8 percent body fat, what are your thoughts on 2 reefed days a week?
    Thanks,
    Steve

    • Doesn’t matter. You may want to save the refeed day for a big lifting day like back or legs so you get some extra energy from the cals though. 🙂

      1 refeed day per week is enough. Anymore can hinder progress.

  • Paul B

    Hi Mike,
    I refeed once a week with the beyond bigger leaner stronger guidelines. (I am 6’2 and about 200 pounds (12-13% BF or so) – 160 protein/400 carbs/30 fat for this day). I usually take 6 grams of fish oil a day which I build into my macros- would you suggest to cut or keep that 6 grams of fat on my refeed days? Love the site and books.

    Thanks!

    Paul

    • Cool. Nah, you can keep the fish oil the same on your refeed day. Anywhere between 4-6 grams is good.

  • Anatoly Motin

    Hi Mike! Thanks for the article! Is a refeed day applicable while reverse dieting particularly when I gradually increase my calorie intake week by week?

    • YW! You can continue refeeding once a week while reverse dieting.

  • Cindy Sosa

    (I am 5’8 and about 145 pounds (15-17% BF) – 160 protein/300 carbs/30 fat for this day) and my currently macros are 150 protein/175carbs/45-50fat. Its good for me? Never made a planned refeed day.

  • Ron Leroux

    Thanks for this. I have been dieting for 2 months and down 14 kg. Stuck to my diet everyday. Stopped lossing weight for more than a week despite being 1,000 calories under my daily ex. Did a refeed. No joke. Dropped ano

  • Katie

    Hey Mike,
    I don’t understand. You say for the breakdown, make it 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. But if theres 4 cals per gram of protein, that’s already over my allotted 30% or 500 calorie increase for my refeed. (162 pounds= 162 grams protein = 648 cals)
    What am I missing?
    Thanks!!

    • Katie

      Also, I read the 3 part article “how to healthily lose fat fast, which recommends a pretty low in carb cut. ( I’d be having 85 grams per day with the given calculations.) And double the fat of the cut meal plan I’m on through MFL. Out of curiosity, is there any reason I should not do it that way other than loss of energy? Would I be sacrificing muscle? * I lift 5 days a week and going to switch what I’ve been doing over to the TLS program.

      • The low-carb option is best suited to people that are very overweight.

    • Sorry but I don’t understand your question. Can you clarify?

      • Katie

        My Bad, I was referring to the 30% calorie increase for the refeed. I was looking at the macronutrient breakdown guidelines as if they were for a refeed meal, not a refeed day…. I’m clear now, thanks Mike!

  • Jenny Hudson

    amazing idea. Thanks 4 sharing. See here for great weight loss. http://www.amazingaus.com/seven-day-diet-to-lose-weight/

  • Vince

    Hi Mike,

    Im a french intermediate bodybuilder 141 lbs,
    175 cm

    I just check your videos and website. I heard
    about your skills on prep via youtube.

    I appreciate yours advice, it help me a lot on
    my diet and my transformation. By the way you can check it on my instagram
    “vincebe75” and tell me what you think about me reverse diet, based
    on your advices.

    I achieved 6-7% bodyfat by losing 17 lbs and im
    still pretty lean and ripped during my reverse diet.

    I started my reverse diet 10 weeks ago after a
    very low carb diet of 15 weeks (the lower were 20g a day with 1300cal a day)

    I added 12 carbs weekly. Im now at 2200 cal
    daily with 280 carbs daily and 4500 calorie refeed on my hardest training day
    of the week. I need that day it help me to remain serious during the week.

    From week 2 to 10 (now) my average of weight is
    almost the same, I even lost weight during reverse. After my refeed day my
    weight is usually higher and go back until my lower weight at the end of the
    week. I feel good, full, and stronger day after day.

    I would like to know want is your suggestion for
    next step. Can I still enjoy my weekly refeed/cheat day and stay lean ? do i
    need to stop it ? Because my goal its to go for a few weeks of lean bulk and
    stay under 10% Body Fat.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance

  • Lucas

    Hello Mike! Greetings from Argentina, I was wondering what kind of carbs would suit the best for a refeed day, I read the best way to raise lipton levels would be to eat high glycemic index carbohidrates, but it just sounds too broscience like to me. Looking forward to your oppinion, thank you a lot!

  • Kyle

    Hey MIke – thanks for all the great info. I love all of your articles…no nonsense.

    Do you weigh your food cooked or uncooked? I see a lot of mixed answers online. I feel like it is better to do it uncooked since I feel like the food wouldn’t lose calories after being cooked but perhaps I am wrong. Any thoughts?

    • My pleasure! I appreciate the support.

      You can weigh it either way. The cals are different raw and cooked so just make sure you look up the cals for the way you weighed the food accordingly.

  • Juul

    Hey Mike,

    I have the outmost respect for what you do, you have really improved my life style along with other great fitness guru’s. And I you for that. But I was wondering if you could help me out with this thought. So I am currently on IF and I really like the fat loss progress I have made because of it. In the past I would use a ”regular 6 to 5 meals a day” way of eating, and it would be distract me of my daily tasks. I would find myself thinking too much about my next meal because of the cravings, do IF was perfect for me. But the question I want to ask you, i’m currently 163 lbs and 5 ft 9 tall (74,5 kg and 175 cm) and have 11% bodyfat, so i’m thinking about a refeed day. But I wonder whether I could just eat whatever I want in that 8 hour feeding window without counting calories but checking my carbs macro’s (without binging) and that i could fast for 36 hours the next day. Would that take away the whole purpose of that refeed day, concerning the leptin lvl’s or should i continue to eat like I would normally. I would like to have your professional opinion on that. Thank you in advance!
    Greetings fromt the Netherlands.

    • Thanks so much!

      Great on what you’ve done so far and you could do it that way so long as you keep your fats low and don’t go absolutely apeshit with your carbs/calories.

  • radiotrib

    Looks like I’m due to start adding refeeding into my routine. My weight has hit a plateau even though I’m still considerably overweight, working out (BLS Year One Challenge) 5 days a week and consuming a max of 1500 Kcal per day …

    I was on a severe 4:3 fast diet prior to working out and I think I have become so accustomed to it that my metabolism has dropped to match the intake. Fortunately, It looks as though all I have to do is to add about 4 slices of malted spelt bread to my early evening meal to push my calories up to 1900 on one day of the week so it shouldn’t be difficult to recalculate and adjust.

    I also need to take care that the reduction in the rate of loss isn’t being confused with the mass gain associated with working out. I do see more definition in my shoulders and especially my thighs and calves since I started, 6 weeks ago, but no noticeable size gain … there again, there was a blanket of lard on top of everything beforehand (and still is on my chest and on/inside my belly) … 🙂

    Thanks again Mike.

    Rebuilding myself, one ounce at a time …

    Kevin

  • LP

    I’ve been in calorie deficit for about 3 weeks now, trying to get myself psychologically prepared for the Christmas Day meal which will certainly be some kind of refeed. In a way, I’m looking forward to it, but in another I’m dreading it because I don’t want it to ruin my progress so far which has been very good. So, this article is very helpful.

    • Cool you’re rolling along on your cut. I understand not wanting to ruin the progress you’ve made so far!

      Keep the fat to a minimum and go high on the protein and carbs and you’ll be good. 🙂

  • HapPy VeRma

    it’s been a 6 months going to over after doing many diets and in these all a clean diet of 6 weeks is over now how i can do refeed to maximize my results please suggest all helps will be appreciated

    • Just stick to the points from the article, and you’re good!

      • HapPy VeRma

        i just only want to know how frequent and how many times a month i can have refeeds iam 16 yrs old and i take a healthy diet of 2000 calories now can you suggest please thanks in advance

  • KileyScene

    Hey mike! SOS
    Your article has been super helpful I gotta say. This month I was planning to do a refers once a week. I’m new to bodybuilding and I’m looking forward to gaining a bikini body. I have a really good genetics for muscle building and for weight loss… But … Also for weight gain! Also I am really determined. I spent a month cutting super hard cuz I was in a rush (I know it’s not good) I enjoyed myself with two cheat days last month and one cheat meal. And I look even better!
    I’m around 23.5% BF weight:125 lb and I’m 16 and active.
    I’m cutting with a super low caloric intake (around 1100 kcal) and 60-70 g of carbs (non starchy) during the week
    Should I have refeeds? How often? Am I eating too little? Thanks!

    • Hey! Happy to hear it. 🙂

      Great job on the results so far!

      At your age you don’t want to worry about getting “shredded.” It can interfere with your body’s development. Let’s just focus on being healthy and active…

      You can do a refeed or simply a day where you eat more than the others (keeping it under control and reasonable of course) once a week.

      Thoughts?

      My pleasure!

      • KileyScene

        Thanks so much Michael ! I’ll try it! I bet my leptin levels would get a little bad if I don’t 😉 I can’t wait to read your other articles !

  • jclark9983

    Hello Mike,
    In your article you stated that men over 10% bodyfat should refeed once every 2 weeks. I weight train 4 times a week and have a descent amount of muscle. I am 6’0 tall and weigh 188 lbs. My current bodyfat is is slightly above 10%. In my situation should i still focus on refeeds every 2 weeks or once a week? I also see a lot of confusing info on the Internet about choosing to eat simple or complex carbs during a refeed. Which do you suggest?

    Thanks

    • That’s fine. You can do a refeed once a week and see how it goes.

      Just make sure you’re sticking to the cals of the refeed, and that you’re not in addition to the refeed having a cheat meal.

      Whichever carbs you prefer are fine. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/glycemic-index/

      Welcome! LMK what you think.

  • Hamilton

    This sentence is confusing me…

    “To do this, take your current daily calorie intake and increase it by 30%. This will provide enough of a surplus to confer the benefits of refeeding without adding too much body fat.”

    Is that saying to increase your TDEE by 30%, or the reduced deficit calorie level you’re at during a cut?

    • Sorry for the confusion!

      Nope, you eat 30% more of the cals you’re currently eating.

      Hope this helps!

      • Amd

        Michael u mean 30% OVER estimated maintenance right ?

        i also have a question … do you factor in the 10% (thermogenic effect of food) when estimating caloric needs ?

        • No. 30% more cals than what you’re currently eating. So if you’re in a 20% deficit from TDEE. You’ll end up being in a 10% surplus for the refeed.

          The thermogenic effect is calculated in your TDEE.

          • Amd

            thanks alot Mike! 🙂

          • My pleasure! 🙂

          • Glenn Deol

            Hey there Mike 🙂

            If someone is at a TDEE of 2500 calories and eating at a 80% deficit they’ll only be eating 2000 calories and then their refeed day will be 30% above that which is going to be 2600 calories, but their real 10% surplus calorie total (or lean bulk) would be 2750 calories. 2600 calories is only a 4% increase from Maintenance. Am I understanding this all correctly or did I make a mistake?

            Also, when doing refeeds wouldn’t it be better to just eat at maintenance instead of calculating on top of the deficit? The added calories could come strictly from carbs.

            Thanks!

          • Sorry for the late reply here.

            Jumping to maintenance is generally okay but sometimes your TDEE has gone down since you started cutting (due to various metabolic adaptations) so that’s why I just “play it safe” and go with 30% over current intake.

          • Glenn Deol

            No worries, I know you must be really busy so it’s totally understandable 🙂

            Right, so jumping up to ones Current Maintenance might be too high and that may lead to some fat gain. This is why you recommend doing the Reverse Diet to build up your Metabolism and find out where your real Maintenance is. This is what I’m assuming you mean by playing it safe (avoiding fat gain).

            Does the 30% increase from the current caloric intake apply regardless of how large the deficit is? I mentioned the 20% deficit, but what if it’s not as large or larger?

            Thanks again Mike!

          • Well this article is talking about refeeding, which isn’t reverse dieting.

            Refeeds are done while you’re cutting. Reverse dieting is done when you’re done losing fat and want to get your food intake back to normal.

            When refeeding, I recommend you take your current cutting intake and increase it by 30% for that one day. Reverse dieting works differently.

  • Timmy Atz

    Hi Mike, I set up my calories for my next cut which will be 2339 as per this article you said to increase calories for a refeed by 30% which totals 3040 an increase of 701 calories. Now as per in your Book BBLS and calculating using that formula to refeed its only comes out to 234 calorie surplus. Please Clarify which one should I follow?
    I know how much body fat you currently are determines how much you would refeed per weekly but would that also determine how many calories you would refeed with also?
    thx Tim

  • Johnny

    Hey Mike,

    Would you say it’s better to run a more aggressive 25% calorie deficit and refeed every 7 days than running a 20% deficit and with a refeed every 7 days when losing fat and maintaining muscle and strength. Eating at a 20% deficit and refeeding every 7 days seems like fat loss would be super slow but might be superior in the long run, just wondering if you thought once per week refeeds would allow one to get away with a more aggressive deficit

    Thanks, I really enjoy your articles!

    • Both will work fine. You’ll lost faster with the 25% deficit, of course.

      I wouldn’t recommend starting with a bigger deficit than that. You risk losing muscle.

      My pleasure! Happy to hear it. 🙂

      • Johnny

        During cutting the goal is to lose 0.5-1 lb per week correct? I’ve seen 1-2 pound recommendations and BLS suggest 0.5-1 lb week which is the rate I would hit eating a 20% deficit with a once per week refeed.

        Thanks!

        • The more overweight the person is the more weight they will lose every week. It tapers down in time though and settles in the 0.5 to 1 pound per week range.

  • Luke Denyer

    Hey Mike, could you please link a few refeed day example plans? Looking for ideas! You’ve put example cut and bulks plans on some of your other articles/web pages and they were very helpful!

    Thanks

  • dgr

    Going to try this. Down 55lbs then hit a brick wall. Up a pound in the past week. Oatmeal and bananas here I come. Thanks for the article!

    • Let me know how it goes!

      Keep this in mind too:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      • dgr

        Down 4 pounds in a week. Success!

        • That’s great!

          The first few weeks you’ll lose faster due to water and glycogen but after that, the goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week so adjust intake accordingly.

        • Brett L. Schuchert

          I just did the same thing. After loosing about 30 pounds, stabilized for a few weeks. Had 1 day of higher carbs (on a low-carb, high fat diet) and 5 days later, dropped 6 pounds. Wow. So now I need to identify the frequency. I’m thinking 3 weeks, but we’ll see.

          Great article!

          • Awesome! I think every two weeks would be good. Try it out and LMK how it goes.

            Thanks!

  • Mike, great article as usual, but isn’t the “As little dietary fat as possible (most recommendations are stay at or under 20 grams)” recommendation to little?

    20 grams of fat seems way below the minimum intake needed, right? Or there’s a reason for reducing fat that low only on refeed days? Your reply will be highly appreciated.

    Many thanks for all the content.

    • Generally yes but remember this is one or two days per week, so it won’t cause any problems.

  • John P

    Mike, I’m a 5’7 135lb male around 9% trying to get leaner. Cutting on 1750 on 45%carb 35%pro 20%fat lifting heavy 4 times per week, hiit 3 times per week. I am at a stand still as far as weight for a few weeks so I am about to start trying the re-feed day.
    I was wondering if this is what I need to do, or should I reverse diet until maintenance then try cutting again later? The reverse diet and re-feed day seem very similar to me.

    Much obliged for the articles, they are a tremendous help.

    • Hey John! Thanks for the info.

      To help keep the weight moving, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      The refeed is a designated day once a week where you increase cals. A reverse diet is what you do when you’re done cutting or when you reach BMR and aren’t getting results. You slowly increase your cals by 100-150 every 7-10 days to speed back up your metabolism.

      For more info on refeeding, take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/refeed/

      Hope that clear it up!

      LMK how it goes.

  • Lindsey

    Female, 125lbs, 16% bf on a 6 meal a day regimen right now at about 160-170 grams of protein per day roughly. Trying to pack on some lean muscle right now for my first bikini comp in July. I’m learning about macros and when to cut, etc. Any tips? I’m sort of an ectomorph and carry any fat I do have around my tummy line.

  • TD

    Interesting…I always assumed there was no need to do a refeed if you were above 20% body fat as a female. I figured that was something one did if they were in the mid-upper teens.

    I used to hear others speak about a refeed as if it was an invitation to all-out gorge on food instead of setting a caloric goal (like you state in the article) which is not the purpose or intent of a refeed.

    • Nope! It’s great to help you stay on track with your dieting and accelerate fat loss even above 20% BF–done properly of course. 🙂

  • Ucef

    One of the Refeed day strategies, is to Increase calories to maintenance level and increase carbs by at least 50-100% over normal diet levels.What does this mean? Thank You, Sir!!

  • Stephen Williams

    I had my first refeed on my cut last night and consumed an 800 calorie pizza on top of my normal 2,600 calories. Can’t believe how much better I felt last night and this morning. I experienced the sensation of being full for the first time in two weeks, and actually started enjoying my girlfriends company again (who I’ve been a bit fed up with last few days due to feeling run down and grouchy from this deficit.) I definitely am going to listen to my body a lot more especially now that I’m getting leaner and will start incorporating Refeeds more regularly providing I feel I need it!

    • Hope you enjoyed it. 🙂 And I hope you were able to keep it relatively low fat, haha.

      It can be tough to not let your mood to get the better of you when cutting.

      Sounds good! Yep, let’s keep doing refeeds every week or two.

      Talk soon!

  • Alexander Mitov

    Raul Rodriguez’s site doesn’t work

  • Rotten Girl

    I’ve just gained a large interest in getting fit- after losing the freshman 15 I still have yet to get a flat stomach but am back at my high school weight. I’m 2″ away from my dream and after 3 solid weeks of a 20% calorie deficit and increased activity levels the scale has yet to budge. I log everything and my macros are in line. I really wanted to just pull my hair out and cry a bit after seeing that 20% bf readout. I’m constantly thinking about food, and I always go to bed hungry despite feeling normal throughout the day. I just can’t seem to budge past 20-19.7% bf. I really hope this is the answer. I could use a break even if it means being set back a bit, and as worried as I am about that, I think I’ll try it. I’ve never considered a calorie goal for a “cheat day”- that’s news to me, and I like it. It makes me feel like I’ll have less regret and more control over everything. Being 4’11” and 100lbs means about 1300 calories for me on a daily basis, so I’m excited I’ll be able to enjoy some pasta. Crossing my fingers!

    tl;dr: thank you for this post, I’m going to try it- hope it works!

    • Cool you recently got into fitness and great job on the weight you lost. 🙂

      I hear you weight loss plateau. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      My pleasure! LMK how it goes incorporating the refeed!

      Talk soon.

      • Rotten Girl

        It went really well actually! As it turns out I was eating too little for the amount of exercise I was doing (1 1/2-2 hours at the gym running/elliptical + weights). Once I bumped it up after the cheat day I was able to get down to 95 🙂 the cheat day actually helped me realize I was just lacking food in general. Thank you!

  • John Pinedo

    Hi Mike, I tend to look at this article at least once a week. I’ve been curious about the research on fat intake on refeed days. In the article you said “As little dietary fat as possible (most recommendations are stay at or under 20 grams)”. I find it hard to stay under 20grams. What’s your opinion on fat intake being 10-20% of refeed day calories?

    • Thanks John!

      The reason you want to keep your fat intake so low is you want to minimize fat storage for the day. IMO don’t go higher than 10% of calories for the day.

  • Seb

    Hi Mike! I’m getting ready for my first bulk, should I still do a refeed every week while bulking? If yes, should this still be 30% over my current (bulking) calorie intake?

    Thanks a lot!
    Seb

    • Christa Blair

      You won’t need a refeed when you are bulking because your muscles should have high glycogen stores anyways (with the surplus of calories/carbohydrates you are consuming).

    • Yep! You can do a refeed or cheat meal 1-2 times a week when bulking. And yeah, 30% increase of your current intake for the refeed.

      Welcome!

  • Stephen Vera

    Hey Mike! Planning out my re-feed macros and having a hell of a time trying to hit 450-500g of carbs. Already accounted for sweet potatoes, oats and rice. I really want to use a lot of fruit in a smoothie or something to make up the rest but everything I read says stay AWAY from fructose at all costs on re-feeds because they do not help leptin levels. Uuugh….Is there low fructose foods I can eat that won’t hurt me or just dismiss fruit all together? Thanks Brah!!

    – Stephen

    PS: 120g of carbs in one meal isn’t too much is it???

    • Yeah fructose isn’t ideal. Pasta and pancakes are my go-tos, haha.

      • I can’t get enough of pancakes. So glad it’s a good refeed food!

        Oh, crap. Just realized, I have jam sometimes with pancakes. I guess no fructose means no jam (and I guess no bananas, for that matter)! Oh well. Still have that fructose!

      • Just wondering, but do you mean to avoid fructose as in processed foods or as in fruits as well? I eat a couple bananas sometimes on a refeed day and might indulge in other fruits somewhere along the way.

  • razerx

    What should I do? I overdid it, went about 2000-2500 above my maintenance on my refeed… It turned to a full binge, in case this happens again should I just fast the next day to try to offset it some?

    • Justin

      If you don’t have a difficult time fasting then absolutely go for it. But if it creates a negative binge cycle I would not recommend doing that. If you do want to eat, focus on a higher protein, lower carb/fat day that is well below your maintenance. Then go back to your original macro’s for cutting.

    • You could eat less the next day or two but as Justin noted, don’t make this a habit or it can become quite an issue.

  • Hey Mike and Raul. @iagffa from Twitter here with a question about refeeding:

    “After determining how often you should reefed, it is vital to set a caloric goal for each refeed.” How do I determine how often I should refeed? Is it based on when weight loss slows down or plateaus?

    Also, don’t know where I got this information from, but I thought one refeed day a week was good, but I’m reading here two. (I’m at about 12% body fat right now.) Ulp! So how do I know if I should go with one every week or one every two weeks? Still, I’m about a month in to my cut phase and I’m 5 pounds down, so I must be doing something right. (And I’m coming up to my third refeed day…or maybe not if I should wait the extra week?)

    • Hey hey! To do the refeed properly, yes you should set a calorie goal. If you’d rather just do a weekly cheat meal, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/cheat-meal/

      Sorry for the confusion. I don’t recommend 2 refeeds every week. I recommend a refeed every 2 weeks until you get to the 10% BF range. Then you can do a refeed every week.

      Great job on the results from your cut so far! Let’s stick to the refeed every 2 weeks until you reach 10% BF. Almost there!

      Talk soon.

      • Thanks man! And am I supposed to do a refeed every 2 weeks when I reach my bulking cals? Seems like no. That’s where cheat meals come in, right?

        • NP! And yeah, once you’re bulking, you can cheat or refeed 1-2 times a week.

          • Thanks a ton! Almost at my TDEE level (another week should do it). So I’ll start refeeding or cheating once a week and see where that takes me. If I think I could stand to gain from two refeeds a week, I’ll try that. Good strategy?

          • Sounds good. Just make sure your calories don’t EXPLODE on those days. Keep it reasonable.

            Personally I go low-fat on the refeeds–around 30 grams for the day. Doing that once or twice per week won’t be an issue.

          • I’m bulking now. (Well, in a few days I’ll be at TDEE, so it’s coming up close). I understand I shouldn’t do a refeed while bulking, just while cutting and RDing?

          • HI Mike, back for more. I reread the article and want to make sure I have my facts straight again.

            I’m keeping my fats at about 20 grams per refeed (this gives me room in case I mess up and it bumps me close to 30). This is for 3,640 cals (2800 is my daily intake). I’m not gaining any unnecessary weight in the long run (I get a minor bump for a day or two after the refeed, which I chalk up to all that extra food I scarf down). So, just to make sure I got this right, +30% intake once every two weeks is a good strategy when cutting or bulking, but bump that to once every week when I hit 10% body fat or lower, right?

  • Larry Weaver

    So if I include 1 refeed day per week, no cheat meals right?

  • razerx

    Implementing refeeds once a week, but I am wondering should I implement them the day before my strength days or hypertrophy days?
    Mon: Push Hypertrophy
    Tue: Pull Hypertrophy
    Wed: Legs Hypertrophy
    Thu: Push Strength
    Fri: Pull Strength
    Sat: Legs Strength
    Sun: REST

    • Hmm. I’d put it before a big strength day like legs or pull.

  • Bestsaarever

    Hi! Do you need to refeed even when your caloric deficit is small? (500 calories per day)

    Thank you:)

  • Mitchell

    On a refeed day, should I continue with fasted training, taking phoenix, and other fat loss strategies? Or are these ineffective while I’m in a temporary surplus?

  • Re-feed days when your at around 9-10% body fat dropping to 6-7%, is it recommended once a week? And what day would you recommend doing it rest/non rest days? How do you follow up re-feed days Bornstein and Romaniello recommend full fasting but then again they do cheat re-feed days. Would you just recommend fasting like 16/8 the following?

    • Yep, once a week.

      What day isn’t too big a deal, but if you want to make it count, you can do it the day before a heavy day like leg day or back day.

      After the refeed day, you can just return to your regular cutting intake. No need to fast. However, if you enjoy IF, go ahead!

  • Bradley Meier

    Do you even need to incorporate a refeed day if your cut is already going very smoothly. I started at 10% body fat about 4-5 weeks ago and now am around 7-8% looking to reach 6% within 2-3 weeks. I am not experiencing any extreme hunger or loss of energy so I feel no need to stray away from my current amount of calories I’m eating each day. Or would one refeed day a week still end up helping significantly?

    • Nope, you don’t. Keep it rolling. Great job BTW.

  • Jay

    When you say “take your current daily calorie intake and increase it by 30%”, do you mean a 30% increase from your caloric deficit intake, or a 30% increase in calories from your TDEE calories?

    Just in case I wasn’t clear enough with my wording, my current TDEE is about 2350, and I’m maintaining a 1800 calorie diet on a daily basis. Would I need to increase 30% from 2350, or from 1800?

    One last thing, would a refeed day mean you need to take away from how much you’re eating the rest of the week? If I’m trying to maintain a 1800 calorie per day diet, and I add one refeed day, would I need to bring down the 1800 to lower levels to balance out the fact that I had a refeed day?

    Thanks!

    • Great question, Jay! Current calories consumed, or your cutting calories. No need to reduce cals for rest of the week to compensate.

  • Mike, back for another question. Is it ok to have cheat meats on a refeed day? I still adhere to the 90/10 calorie principle (90% clean calories/10% junk), don’t go over 130% of my current TDEE, and keep my fats at 30g or less for the day while bumping up my carbs and proteins. (Messed up today and had a couple bananas for my preworkout meal, but I’ll keep fructose out for the rest of the day.) Is this all good or should I stick to either one cheat meal per week or one refeed day per week?

    And, incidentally, do you have an article or a recommendation that explains what’s a good level of fructose both on a normal day and on a refeed day?

  • Kmad

    Desperate for help. Son is in AF, needs to lose 4 inches off waist in 2 weeks or he’s out. We’re at a stall… Nothing in over 7 days. He’s 5’10, 256lbs, 39% fat. His diet is clean, IF 8/16, 2 big meals of roughly 600 cals each. Works out everyday running, walking, weights for an hour. How can I kick start this again? I’m thinking maybe water retention? As his mother I’m terrified of him losing his career. Please advise ASAP! Thanks for the great info this far.

  • Dado

    Hello Mike,
    I am currently at about 19% BF. My maintenance is 2617 kcal
    I am eating for my cut about 1700 kcal a day. it has been now 2 weeks without a reefed day.
    I just wanted to ask you is it ok if a add just 500 Kcal to the 1700 kcal on my reefed days? (it remains a calorie deficit). or my leptin level wont get higher?
    and using this strategy can I do it once every week or I should stick to once every two weeks until I get leaner.
    thank you

    • Dado,

      That’s a serious cut…are you below BMR? Check! A 20-25% deficit will be enough to lose fat healthily.

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      As per protocol, a refeed is 30% of your daily cals. So, you are in line with your +500 cals. At 19%, you really don’t need to implement refeeds, TBH. You’ll do great and feel great with a 20-25% deficit.

      • Dado

        Thank You. My BMR is 1745 kcal. so indeed I was below my BMR and I was feeling dizzy all day.
        I will start eating 2100 kcal per day along with my workout routine and cardio. my macros will be divided into:
        260 g proteins
        155 g carbs
        42 g fats
        At what BF% can I start adding reefed days?

  • Natalie

    Is there a way to incorporate refeeds in place of reverse dieting? I don’t like being so obsessive with calories because of an ED past. I do light but pretty accurate counting with an intuitive eating base. I follow your article on how to not count calories for that. I do need an RD tho as I have a long history of dieting and fat that takes so long to move. I know I’m at a deficit but I’m not seeing great losses. I don’t want to have to be meticulous about counting for an RD. if I did one refeed a week, do you think this could work. Let’s say 700-1000 calories extra. Then maybe two days out of the week do that. Do you have any other suggestions? Thank you!!

  • Marco Capuano

    Hi guys, i’m 26yo185cm 90kg, bf between15/16%, i have always trouble to find my manteinence calories, what di you think my tdee is?… Actually i follow the 4days split, i don’t do cardio because during the day usually i’m very active “i walk a lot, 5-10km every day” i start my cut one week ago with 2300/2400 calories P200 C250-260 F50-55, should i do refeed every two week? And what if on my refeed day i wanna take my fat around 65?
    Thanks

    • Hey Macro, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/macronutrient-calculator/

      Set it to Cut, and you’ll see your cutting target. No need to do a refeed so early. It’ll be more helpful when you’re deep into the cut. I recommend that you stick to 20 or lower on fat intake for your refeeds.

      • Harry Ashton-Potter

        I think your auto correct changed “Marco” to “Macro” 😂

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