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Of refeeds and diet breaks

Nony_MouseNony_Mouse Posts: 4,606Member Member Posts: 4,606Member Member
This thread started as a discussion of refeeds, based on a recent Lyle McDonald podcast (see below), then we brought in diet breaks. Ideally it should have been the other way around, because for most people, the diet break should come first. Therefore, here is our amended OP!

Preface:
A lot of the strategies discussed in Lyle's podcasts/articles are usually within the context that the dieter is within a range of optimal body fat, from very lean - normal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_fat_percentage).

Primarily for the reason that as people get leaner, the more the effects of hormonal down regulation are felt, with leptin being the primary hormone (AKA the "satiety" hormone) discussed (in depth 6 part series on the subject: https://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/the-hormones-of-bodyweight-regulation-leptin-part-1.html/), but the summary is that signaling tracks along with total body fat, and the less body fat you have, the less leptin (and general hormone)signaling your body sends to accommodate, generally leading to an increase ghrelin (the "hunger" hormone), to get body fat back up for its own comfort.

This is where the subject of refeeds and diet breaks takes place.

*Footnote: anytime the body sees an energy deficit, all metabolic processes down regulate - body fat levels determine how hard the dieter feels those effects.

Of Refeeds & Diet Breaks - TL;DR Synopsis

1. Diet breaks are for everyone. People with more body fat can have a longer dieting period than lean people, but diet breaks should still be included every so often to give yourself a break and enjoy life like a normal person; again diet breaks are determined at current bodyweight maintenance.

Essential reading (it’s short): https://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/the-full-diet-break.html/

2. Observations made in adaptive hormone regulation showed it takes at least 2 days for hormones to respond, so the new refeed recommendations are to extend the refeed period >2+ consecutive days at or just above maintenance OR to have more frequent maintenance refeed days throughout the week (every 2-3 days) with a focus on increased carbs to up regulate hormone signalling. Watch/listen to the refeeds video (also available as an audio podcast)!!

3. Diet breaks can be used more frequently during periods of dieting, meaning 1-2 weeks of eating at maintenance (calculated at current body weight) after being on a constant dieting period of an energy deficit. Conversely, the dieting period itself can be reduced as body fat reduces.

"The leaner you are, the less dieting you need."

These two are the general principles as they apply to implementing them as a strategy for continuing a dieting cycle when you're already in a state of optimal leanness. Reasons for including them are both physiological and psychological.

- The ultimate goal is long-term (life-long) weight loss, as seen by losing excess fat, that achieves optimal health from a personal standpoint

- No one should need/want to be on a diet forever, so by breaking the monotony of deficit eating with more flexibility, it actually strengthens adherence to the dieting period

- Sometimes long-term maintenance is harder than being in a deficit, so diet breaks and frequent refeeds are also a way to train yourself for eating at an energy balance over an indefinite extended period

- Maintenance is going to be subjectively defined as a range of acceptable body weight and body fat levels; maintenance is not a static number and it's going to be a running average of long term data so trying to put a hard number on TDEE is only a tool to give you an idea of what to aim for. Actual maintenance is going to fluctuate up or down in activity, eating, social events… just life in general.

Other topics that are somewhat related to the thread itself

- Dieting strategies will always follow the nutritional hierarchy of importance: calories > macros > micros > nutrient timing > supplements

- Exercise, while not necessary for fat loss, has a preference hierarchy as well: strength > cardio (HIIT > LISS). The best physical activity is the one you enjoy the most and that you do consistently. Strength training has benefits well beyond just getting stronger, since appropriate strength and muscle activation is required for all physical activity - it supports the sport you prefer

- If you are overweight/overfat, focus on fat loss first. Your diet will determine your fat loss and your training will support your diet. The more body fat you carry, the less frequently you need to refeed, but that doesn't mean you should have a rigidly strict long-term deficit either. Refeed strategies for overfat individuals will be determined as current bodyweight caloric maintenance days. There's no need to overfeed since you have enough energy stores to support maintenance.

- Diet breaks are for everyone. People with more body fat can have a longer dieting period than lean people, but diet breaks should still be included every so often to give yourself a break and enjoy life like a normal person; again diet breaks are determined at current bodyweight maintenance. (yes, we are repeating for emphasis…)

- Aggressive dieting should not be a goal because it is not sustainable. Larger individuals have enough excess fat stores to support it for some periods, but the more aggressive the deficit, the less time they need to be in a dieting period.

- Looking good naked is a wholesome goal to have. While personal health is subjective, do not get sucked into trying to achieve the lowest body fat possible. It is not sustainable nor is it mentally or physically healthy. Plus no one wants to sleep with an anatomy sculpture… unless you do, then good luck because there are hormones lacking in that department once body fat is that low. Just sayin'.

- If you have/are recovering from an ED, practicing flexible dieting strategies may be beneficial for long term satisfaction and quality of life. Structured refeeds and diet breaks can be a tool to incorporate them. Not all health food is healthy and not all junk food is garbage.

- Scale weight is not and never will be linear. It will never be the only determinant of actual fat loss. It is only one metric to use. If you have an unhealthy relationship (or may be developing one) with numbers on the scale, remember that it is only the force of gravity and mass. Use other methods available to you (DXA, bodpod, BIA, Skulpt, calipers, tape measure, mirror, clothes, etc) to give you a better view of where you're trending.

- Focus on positive achievements instead of negative outcomes if there's a fluctuation or blip in your track record. Happily accepting your new self is more important than what numbers reflect - in the context of achieving optimal body fat.

- Learn to take things in stride and don't overly invest too many emotions into the process. Stress disrupts hormone regulation as much as food

- Calorie/macro tracking is a good tool to recognize portion sizes and nutrient composition, but there's no good reason to compulsively track everything if it causes triggers for negative emotional thoughts

Credits and recommendations for sources:
Lyle McDonald - www.bodyrecomposition.com (@mcdonaldlyle)
Aadam Ali - www.physiqonomics.com (@physiqonomics)
Sohee Lee - www.soheefit.com (@soheefit)

This thread is chock full of testimonials from those incorporating diet breaks and/or refeeds into their weight loss plan. It is well worth at least skimming some of the ridiculous number of pages. There are photos of cats and dogs if that helps…


Excellent and very recent Lyle McDonald podcast looking at refeeds and his latest thinking on them, and how best to utilise. Funnily enough, the five days at deficit with two day refeed he discusses is exactly the approach I'm using for my last couple of kilos.

And before anyone says it without bothering to watch/listen - a refeed is not a goddam 'cheat' day (apparently Lyle hates that term as much as I do!), and it's not a free for all.

Watch, you'll probably learn stuff.

edited December 2017
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Replies

  • TavistockToadTavistockToad Posts: 35,819Member Member Posts: 35,819Member Member
    Interesting... i shall have a watch... probably not right now as i am at work!! how long is it?

  • TavistockToadTavistockToad Posts: 35,819Member Member Posts: 35,819Member Member
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    Interesting... i shall have a watch... probably not right now as i am at work!! how long is it?

    It's an hour 10, but the last 10 mins at least are pretty specific towards physique competitors. There is a handy list of timestamps if you click on 'more' under the video in Youtube. It's definitely worth watching the whole thing though. Not sure if it's also available as audio on iTunes.

    TL;DW - leptin levels drop very quickly in a deficit, like, within a week, then level out, refeeds bring them back up again. One day is not enough, has to be at least two, at maintenance or above, and lots of carbs. It's unknown how quickly leptin drops off again (takes a couple of days at least for it to fall when you start a deficit, unclear if that holds true when restoring with refeeds, no one's studied it).

    One thing I always think when watching Lyle: damn his NEAT must be high! (he moves around a lot...)

    interesting. how are you finding the 5/2 approach? am thinking that might work nicely for me around my long run days.

    i'm on week 3 of a deficit and yesterday and today i am just hungry all the time. the plan was higher cals next week, but maybe 2 maintenance days per week would be a better way to do it.
  • TavistockToadTavistockToad Posts: 35,819Member Member Posts: 35,819Member Member
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    Interesting... i shall have a watch... probably not right now as i am at work!! how long is it?

    It's an hour 10, but the last 10 mins at least are pretty specific towards physique competitors. There is a handy list of timestamps if you click on 'more' under the video in Youtube. It's definitely worth watching the whole thing though. Not sure if it's also available as audio on iTunes.

    TL;DW - leptin levels drop very quickly in a deficit, like, within a week, then level out, refeeds bring them back up again. One day is not enough, has to be at least two, at maintenance or above, and lots of carbs. It's unknown how quickly leptin drops off again (takes a couple of days at least for it to fall when you start a deficit, unclear if that holds true when restoring with refeeds, no one's studied it).

    One thing I always think when watching Lyle: damn his NEAT must be high! (he moves around a lot...)

    interesting. how are you finding the 5/2 approach? am thinking that might work nicely for me around my long run days.

    i'm on week 3 of a deficit and yesterday and today i am just hungry all the time. the plan was higher cals next week, but maybe 2 maintenance days per week would be a better way to do it.

    I'm only at the end of day three (and will probably do six days deficit this week so maintenance days coincide with the weekend), so can't really say yet! I'm doing a 350 deficit so it equals out (usually) to 1750 for the week. It would probably work brilliantly for you for topping up glycogen for long runs.

    Just came off a diet break, my rationale for doing the two days of maintenance a week was really to try to keep leptin, thyroid and cortisol in check for this last little bit. It's going to be slow enough as it is!

    i'm thinking the day before long run, and the day of long run, though on long run days i am eating a lot more anyway as i eat back all my exercise cals... Hmmmm.

    thanks for your help! :flowerforyou:
  • Nony_MouseNony_Mouse Posts: 4,606Member Member Posts: 4,606Member Member
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    Interesting... i shall have a watch... probably not right now as i am at work!! how long is it?

    It's an hour 10, but the last 10 mins at least are pretty specific towards physique competitors. There is a handy list of timestamps if you click on 'more' under the video in Youtube. It's definitely worth watching the whole thing though. Not sure if it's also available as audio on iTunes.

    TL;DW - leptin levels drop very quickly in a deficit, like, within a week, then level out, refeeds bring them back up again. One day is not enough, has to be at least two, at maintenance or above, and lots of carbs. It's unknown how quickly leptin drops off again (takes a couple of days at least for it to fall when you start a deficit, unclear if that holds true when restoring with refeeds, no one's studied it).

    One thing I always think when watching Lyle: damn his NEAT must be high! (he moves around a lot...)

    interesting. how are you finding the 5/2 approach? am thinking that might work nicely for me around my long run days.

    i'm on week 3 of a deficit and yesterday and today i am just hungry all the time. the plan was higher cals next week, but maybe 2 maintenance days per week would be a better way to do it.

    I'm only at the end of day three (and will probably do six days deficit this week so maintenance days coincide with the weekend), so can't really say yet! I'm doing a 350 deficit so it equals out (usually) to 1750 for the week. It would probably work brilliantly for you for topping up glycogen for long runs.

    Just came off a diet break, my rationale for doing the two days of maintenance a week was really to try to keep leptin, thyroid and cortisol in check for this last little bit. It's going to be slow enough as it is!

    i'm thinking the day before long run, and the day of long run, though on long run days i am eating a lot more anyway as i eat back all my exercise cals... Hmmmm.

    thanks for your help! :flowerforyou:

    I'm looking at the forecast for the weekend and going 'yep, I'm hiking!'. I will also need to buy food with a decent amount of carbs! For some reason he says to keep fat moderate, suggested 50g for a small woman, I don't really count myself as *that* small, but it probably rules out my usual carby go-to of pizza, esp if I hike, because that requires dark chocolate.
  • Nony_MouseNony_Mouse Posts: 4,606Member Member Posts: 4,606Member Member
    Interesting. His facial hair is mesmerising... :laugh:

    IKR?! And it changes all the time. Quite fun.
  • Nony_MouseNony_Mouse Posts: 4,606Member Member Posts: 4,606Member Member
    I already eat around that level of fat and have just switched my diet composition again to give something like this a try, but didn't realize the importance of the macro composition.

    I have very little attention span and just can't sit still for that long unless it's Doctor Who, but I'm going to give this a try. It may likely help with some issues I've been having.

    Yeah I need to listen through again to make sure I'm picking up on everything properly. The higher carbs on refeed seems to be key. As you know, I haven't put much thought into replacing foods I lost with the dreaded 'wheat hates me' discovery, and have veered more to high protein and fat (not like keto high fat). It's that nightly choc peanut butter protein shake of mine. Oh, and the daily avocado and halloumi...I guess I'd better get a box of cereal!
  • Nony_MouseNony_Mouse Posts: 4,606Member Member Posts: 4,606Member Member
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    I already eat around that level of fat and have just switched my diet composition again to give something like this a try, but didn't realize the importance of the macro composition.

    I have very little attention span and just can't sit still for that long unless it's Doctor Who, but I'm going to give this a try. It may likely help with some issues I've been having.

    Yeah I need to listen through again to make sure I'm picking up on everything properly. The higher carbs on refeed seems to be key. As you know, I haven't put much thought into replacing foods I lost with the dreaded 'wheat hates me' discovery, and have veered more to high protein and fat (not like keto high fat). It's that nightly choc peanut butter protein shake of mine. Oh, and the daily avocado and halloumi...I guess I'd better get a box of cereal!

    Potatoes and sweet potatoes could be your friend?

    Maybe...I'm one of those weirdos that carbs don't do a lot for in terms of satiety, and I confess I have gotten way out of practice at even thinking of carby meals! It all comes from fruit, vege and milk. Cereal was the easy option :p. But I could totally get on board with baked potatoes for lunch or dinner. It's not even so much increasing the carbs (that's actually easy in and of itself), it's reducing the fat.
  • Rickster1967Rickster1967 Posts: 485Member Member Posts: 485Member Member
    O/T slightly but I just re-introduced baby new potatoes into my diet and they are yummy

    been eating organic brown rice as my main carb source for weeks

    damm that was good
  • TavistockToadTavistockToad Posts: 35,819Member Member Posts: 35,819Member Member
    I always enjoy the floating heads that accompany his podcast interviews. I don't know if he makes that a stipulation of the interview, heh.
    timtam163 wrote: »
    Noobish question, are refeeds only for low-carb dieters? I've mostly seen them in the context of keto/low-carb diets.

    Not at all. And the way he talks about refeeds in this podcast doesn't have a great deal to do with what many are talking about when they talk about refeeds (a lot of people just think it's a day of eating all da carbs for its magical metabolism boosting properties but it's more nuanced and sciency than that, one day often not being enough).

    I haven't finished listening because also lacking in attention span but I always love listening to what he has to say.

    Who's the dude he's talking to? I missed the very start.
  • VintageFelineVintageFeline Posts: 6,782Member Member Posts: 6,782Member Member
    I always enjoy the floating heads that accompany his podcast interviews. I don't know if he makes that a stipulation of the interview, heh.
    timtam163 wrote: »
    Noobish question, are refeeds only for low-carb dieters? I've mostly seen them in the context of keto/low-carb diets.

    Not at all. And the way he talks about refeeds in this podcast doesn't have a great deal to do with what many are talking about when they talk about refeeds (a lot of people just think it's a day of eating all da carbs for its magical metabolism boosting properties but it's more nuanced and sciency than that, one day often not being enough).

    I haven't finished listening because also lacking in attention span but I always love listening to what he has to say.

    Who's the dude he's talking to? I missed the very start.

    I meant the floating head on the screenshot/title shot doodad. The podcast is called Revive Stronger, I admit I haven't listened to others.
  • DX2JX2DX2JX2 Posts: 1,911Member Member Posts: 1,911Member Member
    O/T slightly but I just re-introduced baby new potatoes into my diet and they are yummy

    been eating organic brown rice as my main carb source for weeks

    damm that was good

    Any specific reason for the brown rice? It's actually not that much different from white rice nutrition wise.
  • Nony_MouseNony_Mouse Posts: 4,606Member Member Posts: 4,606Member Member
    timtam163 wrote: »
    Noobish question, are refeeds only for low-carb dieters? I've mostly seen them in the context of keto/low-carb diets.

    What they said!!

    My take from the podcast is that refeeds are beneficial for everyone, not just those already lean or doing competition stuff, but they become increasingly important the leaner you get.

    I really, really want him to finish his new book for women.
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