Refeed Two Days In A Row: Is This Good or Bad?

Refeeding two days in a row could be the difference between reaching your body composition goals or hitting a plateau, where no changes are happening.

Is refeeding two days in a row good or bad? Refeeding two days in a row is good because it allows more time for us to replenish energy stores, increases hormones that help to regulate hunger, and gives us a more adequate mental break from dieting.

Understanding when and how to refeed for two days in a row is important to achieve the best results when dieting. If not executed or incorporated correctly, a two-day refeed could hold us back.

After reading this article you’ll learn:

  • If a one-day or two-day refeed is better for you
  • The benefits of a two day refeed
  • The potential negatives of a two day refeed
  • What nutrition experts have to say about two-day refeeds
  • How to refeed properly for a two day refeed

4 Reasons Why You Should Refeed Two Days In A Row

Pros vs Cons of Refeeding Two Days in a Row

The 4 reasons why you should refeed two days in a row are:

  • Increased Energy Levels
  • Longer Mental Break From Dieting
  • Improved Leptin Responses
  • Better Training Sessions

1. Increased Energy Levels

Refeeding two days in a row gives us more time to replenish our energy stores (glycogen stores), which will give us more energy than if we were only to refeed for one day.

Having more energy from refeeding two days in a row can positively affect how much we’re moving throughout the day

It’s been shown that refeeding more often can increase our non-exercise activity (subconscious movements, household chores, steps, etc.), which typically slows to a crawl when we’re in a deficit because our body wants to preserve as much energy as possible.

We may not even notice that non-exercise activity is decreasing but our body will do this automatically as it tries to preserve energy stores.

2. Longer Mental Break From Dieting

Having two days of refeeding in a row can also give us a well-deserved mental break from dieting, as dieting can be exhausting and emotional depending on how aggressively and how long we’ve been dieting for.

With two days of refeeding, we get a longer mental break from dieting, which can help promote diet adherence by improving our mood, motivation, and experience. 

Incorporating two-day refeeds on a more frequent basis can influence our ability to stick to our diet long-term from a mental perspective, without compromising our physical results.

3. Improved Leptin Responses

Incorporating two refeed days in a row can improve our leptin levels greater than one-day refeeds, and keeping leptin elevated is important to feel satiated.

Leptin is important because it is a hormone that is stored and released from fat cells and is responsible for communicating to the brain that we have enough energy coming in and therefore it does not need to send out hunger signals.

When leptin gets depleted, as it does when dieting, we will no longer have that signal to our brain that we have enough energy, instead, we will have increased hunger signalling.

Leptin does not immediately increase following an increase in carbohydrates, research shows that it can take between 4-48 hours before we see an increase in leptin.

Therefore giving our body more time to allow for leptin levels to increase is important, and can be better accomplished with a two-day refeed because of the time frame.

4. Better Training Sessions

With a two-day refeed, we give ourselves a better opportunity to make the most of our training and recovery because the longer carbs are elevated the more energy we will have to put towards training sessions and proper recovery.

If our goal is to improve aesthetics or to perform better, we are likely also engaging in some kind of exercise regime. 

Our ability to perform well in our workouts is greatly compromised when we’re dieting because we don’t have enough energy coming in to put towards our workouts. 

However, with a two-day refeed we will be consuming more carbs for a longer period which can drastically improve our workouts.

Having a two-day refeed that allows us to replenish our glycogen stores can help provide us with energy and motivation to crush our workouts for at least 3 days following the completion of our refeed, which can improve our body composition and performance.

2 Reasons Why We SHOULD NOT Refeed Two Days In A Row

1. We Have A Hard Time Keeping A Refeed Day From Becoming A Cheat Day

If we struggle with sticking to the plan when a refeed is presented, then perhaps having a one-day refeed every once in a while is better than having frequent two-day refeeds. 

The goal of a refeed is to keep our momentum going, but if it is derailing us instead then it isn’t worth it!

2. We Have A Higher Amount Of Body Fat

If we have a higher level of body fat then we will naturally have higher levels of leptin to begin with, and more energy stored therefore a two-day refeed is probably unnecessary, especially in the beginning stages of dieting.

If we have a higher body fat percentage we are more likely to need a refeed simply for the mental break (psychological reasons) rather than to restore hormones, replenish energy stores, or increase leptin. Therefore a one-day refeed is probably sufficient.

What Do The Experts Say? 

We asked the experts what they thought about refeeds and whether they incorporate one and/or two-day refeeds with their clients, here’s what they had to say:

Kelsey Kiel – Athlete & Black Iron Nutrition Coach

Kelsey is an all-around athlete with elite Crossfit experience and more recently has switched to bobsledding where she will compete with Team USA. Kelsey is also extremely knowledgeable in nutrition with experience coaching with Black Iron Nutrition since 2016. Kelsey has now coached over 2000 athletes since she began.

Here is what Kels said: 

A refeed day is meant for people who are in a caloric deficit and is absolutely something I incorporate with my clients when it’s necessary. 

However, the majority of the clients I work with are focused on performance nutrition – meaning we are focused on fueling for their respective sport. 

It’s rare I have an athlete in a deficit unless that is the temporary goal. An example of this would be if I am working with someone who needs to be in a caloric deficit to make weight (typically for strength or combat sports). 

The majority of my clients (who are not trying to make weight), have a carb number that is enough to support their performance goals and does not put them at a deficit. Any of my clients who are in that deficit will almost always get a refeed day (and depending on the situation, maybe two a week). 

So as Kels mentioned she does more performance-based coaching and the clients that she works with are not in a deficit for very long as a deficit usually is not beneficial for our overall performance. 

For this reason, she incorporates one-day refeeds more often than two-day refeeds because typically her clients are not dieting for long periods, which is when two-day refeeds would be more beneficial.

Kels also mentions that she believes the benefits of refeeds are to:

  • Increase leptin levels
  • Improve diet adherence
  • Fuel performance
  • Promote recovery

If you’re interested in learning more about Kels, you can check out her website.  

Paul Revelia – Bodybuilding Coach

Paul Revelia is Owner and Head Coach for Pro Physique which is a bodybuilding-focused nutrition and training company that works with athletes to get them to elite levels of bodybuilding. For this reason, Paul is extremely knowledgeable about getting athletes incredibly lean.

Paul Revelia addresses this topic in his youtube video that you can check out here

In the video, he mentions that he believes that: 

Single-day refeeds are more beneficial psychologically, whereas two-day refeeds are better for hormonal adaptations and other physiological responses. 

Recommendations On How To Refeed 2 Days In A Row Properly

1. Increase Calories To Maintenance Level Both Days

For both refeed days, the goal is to bring ourselves back out of a calorie deficit (fewer calories than our body needs) by increasing our calories to a maintenance level (the amount of energy our body needs to maintain our weight). 

If we’ve been dieting for 3 to 4 weeks or more, our maintenance level will be different from what it was originally when we started dieting because our body composition, body weight, and metabolism will have changed since then.

So we need to calculate our calorie intake for our 2 refeed days based on our maintenance, which we can find by multiplying our current body weight (lbs) by 14-16. We should multiply by 14 if we’re less active, by 15 if we’re moderately active, or by 16 if we’re highly active.

For example: If I weigh 160lbs and I am moderately active, my maintenance calories on my refeed days will be around 2400 calories.

Along with this, we should account for the decrease in our metabolic rate (metabolism) that has likely occurred with dieting, which we can accomplish by decreasing our maintenance calories determine above by 10%.

For example: If I calculated my maintenance calories to be around 2400, then 10% of 2400 is 240 calories. Therefore, 2400 – 240 = 2160 calories per day for my refeed.

To learn more about this and to get the step-by-step process of how to refeed, check out my other article Should I Refeed While Cutting? (Yes, Here’s Why & How).

2. Keep Protein Intake The Same

While refeeding we should keep our protein intake the same as it is when we’re dieting because protein has little effect on the refeeding process.

Our protein intake is important, but it should be elevated anyway (0.8-1.2g/lb BW) when we’re dieting if our macronutrients were properly set when we began dieting.

When we’re refeeding we don’t have to worry about losing muscle mass because we will no longer be in a calorie deficit for those two days, and it is the deficit itself that increases our risk of muscle loss.

3. Limit Fat Consumption

During our two days of refeeding, we should keep our fat intake relatively low because we want the bulk of our calories to go towards carbohydrates during our refeed days.

If our fats are already low (50 grams or less) then we can keep them the same on our refeed days. If our fats are higher than this, then we should reduce them to allow for more carbohydrates to be taken in.

It is recommended that men keep fats to 30 grams and women keep fats to 45 grams as the lower limits because fats are still important for general health.

4. Allocate The Increase In Calories To Carbohydrates

As our calories increase on our refeed days up to maintenance levels, we should ensure that this increase in calories comes from carbohydrates rather than protein and fat because carbs have the biggest impact on our energy levels, leptin levels, and mood.

  • If our maintenance calories are 900 calories more than our deficit calories, then we have a 900 calorie increase.
  • Carbs have 4 calories/gram, so we can take 900 and divide it by 9 to find out how many grams of carbs this 900 calorie increase would be.
  • 900/4 = 225 grams of carbs.
  • This tells us that we should add 225 grams of carbs to the grams of carbs we were already consuming while cutting.

If you don’t know what your calories or macronutrients were set at during your deficit, then you can check out our Simple Refeed Calculator to calculate how much you need to successfully refeed.

Check out my article Refeed Day Example: Sample Meal Plan With Macro Breakdown

Single or Multiple Day Refeeds: Which Is Better?

An overview of which is better: single-day or multiple-day refeeds

Single Day Refeed: Overview

A single day of refeeding means that for only one day we are going to increase our calories to maintenance level, and then return to our deficit after the day is over. 

A single day of refeeding is primarily useful as a source of motivation to promote adherence to our diet. The benefits of a single-day refeed are almost purely psychological. 

A single-day refeeds seems to be better for those who are early on in their diet or those who are not dieting aggressively because the refeed will serve as a mental break from dieting, which is what these individuals would need.

If we’re further along in our dieting phase (8+ weeks) or we’re dieting more aggressively, then a single-day refeed may not be enough to ensure our success. We would likely need a two-day refeed to encourage more physiological benefits rather than just psychological (mental) relief.

Pros

  • Mental Relief
  • Better Diet Adherence

Cons

  • Not Enough Time To Replenish Energy Stores
  • Not Enough Time To Benefit Hormone Production

Multiple Day Refeed: Overview

A multiple-day refeed consists of more than one day of increasing our calories to maintenance levels, typically a multiple-day refeed consists of 2 days.

A multiple-day refeed is useful for physiological benefits such as, increasing our hormone production which tends to decrease as we diet. It also gives us more time to replenish glycogen (energy) stores to boost our energy levels and elevate our leptin levels which help to keep us satisfied and less hungry.

Multiple days of refeeding can also provide psychological benefits by providing mental relief from dieting, and improving diet adherence by giving us something to look forward to.

Multiple-day refeeds are best for those who have been dieting for longer periods, those who have reached a sticking point at lower body fat percentages, and those who are dieting aggressively.

The downside of multiple-day refeeding is that it is often blown out of proportion by being an epic cheat weekend that can actually negatively impact our mental health and physical health. It is very difficult to return to a deficit after having a “free-for-all” weekend.

Pros

  • Increases Diet Adherence
  • Provide Mental Relief
  • Increases Hormone Production
  • Increases Energy Stores

Cons

  • Can Be A Binge Eating Trigger
  • Is Often Abused By Becoming Unstructured

Final Thoughts

Refeeding two days in a row can be beneficial for those who are dieting for longer periods or more aggressively because it can help physiologically and psychologically. One-day refeeds are also an option for those who haven’t been dieting that long and just need a mental break.

Other Refeeding Resources


About The Author

Amanda Parker
Amanda Parker

Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath.  She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.