The Re-Feed Diet: I’ll Have a Stack of Pancakes with Extra Syrup Please

In today’s world there are thousands of different diets available, each having its own purpose. Everywhere you look you’ll see magazines and books boasting the new “it diet” and how to get a six pack in six weeks. So how do you know which diet’s right for you? Find one that identifies with your needs and goals. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past five weeks.

Several weeks ago I started hearing about this new diet bodybuilders are using to prepare for their next competition. It’s called the Re-Feed Diet. Its goal: to build muscle while maintaining and improving leanness at the same time. Sounds like an oxymoron right? Keep reading and things might start making sense.

The concept is similar to that of a “cheat day” only the re-feed has more construction. When you’re on a low-calorie diet your metabolism will eventually begin to drop. When this happens there are multiple negative consequences. Weight loss slows, your body feels weak and fatigued and you begin feeling lethargic. No wonder so many people give up after reaching this stage in a diet. In order to avoid these disasters, you might consider incorporating a re-feed into your diet. To be straight to the point, you get to eat A LOT of food one day a week.

My current goals are to gain muscle mass without getting too bulky or putting on too much fat for the summer. As a result, I can honestly say I was pretty freaked out thinking about the massive amount of carbs I knew I was going to be consuming on my re-feed day, so I wanted to make sure I ate a very low amount of carbs throughout the week. My first re-feed began first thing in the morning and lasted about six hours. Once I started it was hard to stop. Blogs all over will recommend to not actually count your carbs because this may mentally keep you from fully satisfying your hunger. If I had to estimate I probably inhaled around 400 carbs that day.

The following week I saw major improvements in my workouts. I was able to lift heavier weight, do more reps and all around go harder. I had a massive amount of energy built up from the carbs so I wanted to use the first two days after the re-feed to work out the areas I felt needed the most improvement (back and legs). By the end of that second week, I felt carb-depleted and I was ready for the next re-feed.

After the second re-feed was when I started noticing changes… changes in my metabolism. That night, my body broke out into a serious sweat while I was sleeping. My body temperature got so high it woke me up and I couldn’t go back to sleep without finding a way to cool off first. It happened again that second night but only about half as bad. This was my metabolism reacting to the excessive amount of calories. Since my body had gotten used to a low-calorie diet throughout the week, it didn’t know what else to do besides run as fast as it could after consuming so many calories. This pattern has continued every week for the first two nights after each re-feed.

While I thought lowering my carb intake as low as possible during the week was the safe route to go, I’ve decided I’ve been hurting myself. I’m currently in week five and I feel like my metabolism has come to a halt. After each re-feed I weigh at least two pounds heavier than I was Sunday morning, and usually the weight would slowly come back down to normal (or even less than what I started at) by the end of the week. Currently, this isn’t the case. I’ve decided to start adding more carbs into my weekly routine (in hopes of keeping my metabolism running longer) and be much more careful about not overeating during my re-feed. I’m worried I’ve been doing too much junk food that isn’t filling. Instead, I plan to do much better about eating calorie dense foods in order to help me reach my calorie goals without feeling overstuffed and bloated.


Overall, I’m very happy with this diet. Since I’m currently only trying to maintain my weight, I’m not being as strict as I would if I were trying to gain leanness or lose weight therefore I feel as if it’s the perfect fit for me. After changing my eating habits for the better, there were certain foods I imagined I would rarely eat ever again. But with this diet, I’m able to enjoy those foods once a week without gaining any weight. I also feel stronger and more energized. My workouts have definitely improved and I’m starting to see some serious changes in muscle mass. I’m excited to continue this experiment to see if I’ll be able to use it for my next bodybuilding competition prep.

Pancake photo from

Also Read:

Strength Training Workout without Weights

Carbs are Confusing: Why Atkins is to Blame

The Paleo Diet

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