Refeed Day Calculator

Designed by a Nutritionist to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPT, BSEngUpdated: April 22, 2024

As a certified nutrition coach with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I know all too well that excessive caloric restriction is the number one reason fat loss diets fail. However, simply adding a periodic refeed day can work wonders in reaching your weight loss goals.

So, I created this refeed day calculator to provide personalized calorie and carb targets based on your body composition, activity level, and fitness goal. It’s free to use and only takes a few minutes, so give it a try and boost your fat loss progress!

refeed day calculator

If you’re tired of diet plans that leave you feeling drained before you reach your weight loss goal, a refeed day could be the solution you’re looking for.

In this article, I explain the meaning behind a refeed day, provide scientific proof of its effectiveness, and give examples of how to use it.

With this strategy, you can lose more weight and feel more satisfied at the same time.

What Is a Refeed Day?

In simple terms, a refeed day is a temporary increase in calorie intake slightly above your maintenance calories. That means you would eat slightly more calories than you burn that day.

The main goal of a refeed is to break up long periods of calorie restriction and prevent the negative effects of dieting. Remember that a refeed differs from a cheat day, where you eat whatever you want.

  • Cheat Day vs Refeed: A cheat day or cheat meal is when you overindulge in junk foods that aren’t part of your diet. Conversely, a refeed day is a planned increase in calories with primarily healthy foods.

How Does It Work?

The biggest problem with traditional diets is the prolonged caloric deficit. Studies show that dieting this way leads to food cravings, hormone swings, and metabolic slowdowns.

The extra calories and higher carbohydrate intake associated with refeed days help to balance hormone levels and maintain your basal metabolic rate. As a result, they can make it easier to adhere to your diet and get better results in the long term.

refeed day

Benefits of Refeed Days

Incorporating refeed days into your diet plan has several physiological and psychological benefits. So, let’s review what you might expect from this dietary strategy.

1. Boost Metabolism

To burn fat, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn, creating a calorie deficit. However, if you continue to eat very few calories for an extended period, your body will believe that food is scarce.

As a result, it will try to conserve energy by reducing thyroid hormones, breaking down muscle mass, and storing fat1. This process is known as adaptive thermogenesis or metabolic adaptation.

On the other hand, if you periodically increase your calorie intake, your body will believe that food is abundant and will not need to conserve energy. Therefore, your metabolism will stay high and help you burn fat. 

Refeeding is sometimes called metabolic confusion. However, I prefer to think of it as working with your body rather than trying to deceive it.

Calorie Deficit Without Refeed Day
Refeed Day Effect on Metabolism

2. Replenish Energy Stores

It’s important to note that your body stores carbohydrates in your muscles as glycogen, which is an immediate energy source. However, low-carbohydrate diets deplete muscle glycogen stores within a few days, leaving you tired and exhausted, especially during physical activity.

High-carb days replenish your glycogen reserve, increasing energy levels for up to several days. For this reason, refeed days generally consist of higher carb intake along with more calories.

Carb Refeed Day

3. Prevent Hunger & Cravings

Leptin is an appetite hormone produced by fat cells. When you lose weight, your body produces less leptin, causing you to feel hungry more often. And that’s why dieting gets harder as you lose more weight.

While science is still uncovering how leptin works, several studies suggest that leptin rises after a high-calorie day3,4,5. As a result, following a refeed, you reduce hunger and eat less2.

Reduced hunger combined with more energy and a faster metabolism is a recipe for sustainable weight loss results!

Refeed Day Leptin Levels

4. Provide Flexibility & Freedom

In addition to the physiological benefits, a refeed day provides a much-needed mental break from a weight loss nutrition plan. It allows you to enjoy usually off-limits foods, such as bread, pasta, and cereal.

You can also use refeed days to your advantage by scheduling them around family functions or social gatherings, which gives you more flexibility in choosing what to eat.

How to Refeed

It’s important to realize that a refeed day should be planned beforehand, and it is not an excuse to binge eat junk food. In other words, we don’t get to decide it’s a refeed day when Glenn brings a box of donuts to the morning meeting!

Instead, it would be best to treat a refeed as part of your diet plan. So you should still track macros and calories and eat mostly healthy foods.

Refeed Day Calories

As mentioned, the benefits of a refeed day result from eating more calories than you typically burn in a day. So it is helpful to know your total daily energy expenditure or TDEE.

The ideal number of calories for a refeed day is 5-10% calorie surplus. For most people, that’s 100-300 additional calories than you burn.

Refeed Day Calories

High Carb Refeed

Carb restriction can be helpful when following a weight loss plan. On your refeed day, however, 50-60% of your calories should come from carbs.

While this high carb intake may seem counterintuitive, your body will burn some and store the rest within your muscles. So don’t worry about gaining fat with a single refeed day.

In addition, protein intake should remain relatively high at around 25-30% of calories. The reason is that protein synthesis increases when you eat protein with carbs, helping you maintain or even build lean mass.

Conversely, you should decrease fat intake to 20-25% of calories on a refeed day. The reason is that insulin levels are elevated on a high-carb day, and extra dietary fat is more likely to be stored as body fat.

Refeed Day Carbs

Refeed Day Foods

A healthy refeed day should consist of mostly whole foods and minimally processed foods. Plenty of fruits and vegetables are always a good idea to nourish your body.

However, you can also choose high-glycemic carbs on refeed days because they are more effective for replenishing glycogen. Common high-carb foods to include are rice, potatoes, and whole grains.

In addition, you should get your protein from lean meats or protein powders.

Foods to Eat On a Refeed Day

  • Rice, Rice Cakes, Rice Cereal

  • Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes

  • Fruit, Fruit Spread, Fruit Juice

  • Grains, Oats

  • Lean Meats

  • Vegetables, Leafy Greens

Foods to Avoid On a Refeed Day

  • Junk Foods

  • Fatty Meats

  • Butter

  • Dairy

  • Oils

  • Nuts, Seeds

Refeed Day Example

At this point, you may be wondering how to implement weekly refeed days into your regular diet plan. I’ll provide an example based on the concept of carb cycling.

Carb cycling involves alternating your daily carbohydrate intake between high, medium, and low days. In this case, the high day is your refeed day, the medium days are for workouts, and the low days are for resting.

With this in mind, the example below is for an individual who is eating 1,800 calories per day for weight loss. They do strength training four days a week, two days of light cardio, and a single rest day.

Refeed FAQ

If you have any further questions about refeeds, here are some quick answers to the most common queries.

When should you do a refeed day?

​Some signs you need a refeed day include chronic fatigue, cravings for carbs or sugar, and not feeling full after meals. Additionally, a weight loss plateau could indicate that your current diet isn’t working.

However, refeed days are not necessary in every weight loss situation. For example, you probably don’t need one if you have a minimal calorie deficit or just started dieting.

Also, people with over 40% body fat may be better off focusing on calorie restriction before implementing refeeds.

How often should I refeed?

As part of a weight loss diet, it is common to have a refeed day once a week. However, the frequency of refeeds may vary depending on your body type and goals.

For instance, naturally lean ectomorphs may benefit from having two refeed days per week to prevent muscle loss. Conversely, a naturally heavy endomorph may achieve better results by refeeding every 1-2 weeks.

Although there is some flexibility, I do not recommend more than two weeks of low-calorie intake between refeeds. A calorie shortage lasting longer than ten days can decrease metabolism and leptin levels.

Why do I gain weight after a refeed?

It’s perfectly normal for your weight to go up for a day or two after a refeed. In my personal experience, you can expect short term weight gain of 1-2 pounds.

However, there is no need for alarm because the extra body weight is primarily due to increased food intake combined with glycogen and water stored in your muscles.

Why do I lose weight after a refeed?

A few days after a refeed, your body weight typically drops while you burn through stored glycogen. As glycogen levels deplete, you also lose water weight that was stored along with the glucose molecules.

If you’re following a carb-restricted diet, your weight may decrease by 1-3 pounds over the course of the week. In the long term, refeed days help you lose more weight by boosting metabolism and decreasing hunger.

What’s the difference between a diet break and a refeed day?

​Generally, a diet break involves completely unplugging from any nutrition plan, whereas a refeed day is a strategic part of your plan.

A diet break could involve poor food choices, prolonged overeating, and overall disregard for healthy eating. On the other hand, a refeed day involves healthy food choices with a moderate and controlled increase in calories.

bodybuilding meal plan

Custom Meal Plan

Get a personalized meal plan designed specifically for your body and lifestyle. It includes custom recipes formulated to fit your macros and calories—no counting required!

All this for just $17.99/mo! Click here to choose your plan.

More Nutrition Guides

By offsetting the side effects of dieting, you can sustainably lose weight. Therefore, a refeed day is vital to any fat loss or body recomposition meal plan.

Several other nutrition tactics can also help you lose weight faster. Click the links below to read some of my related articles.

Master Nutrient Timing to Boost Fat Loss and Muscle Gain

Basic Healthy Grocery List for Bodybuilding on a Budget

Start to Finish Guide on How to Meal Prep for Beginners

How to Count Macros in 3 Simple Steps

Beginners Bodybuilding Nutrition Guide

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

By |April 22, 2024|Nutrition|0 Comments
Go to Top