What is Refeed Day?
One of my favorite features of the 80 Day Obsession program has been Refeed Day. It occurs four times throughout the program (in weeks 6, 8, 10, and 12). and always comes before leg day (i.e., a day of heavy lifting).
The philosophy behind Refeed Day is that when you are following a relatively low-carb eating plan (such as the 21 Day Fix or 80 Day Obsession container-based plans) and doing vigorous workouts, your muscles become depleted of glycogen.
When we eat simple carbs that are easily digested, the muscles take up the excess glucose from the bloodstream and store it as glycogen. This storage mechanism is one of the reasons that having a healthy amount of muscle mass on your body helps to prevent diabetes: your muscles work along with your pancreas to help regulate your blood sugar!
The types of carbs that fall into this category include sugars (including the natural sugars in fruit) and refined grains, including anything made with white flour, which is quickly converted to glucose during digestion. So this category includes white bread; white rice; and most cookies, crackers, pasta, pancakes, waffles, and doughnuts (except those made with whole grain flour).
In 80 Day Obsession, Refeed Day replaces complex carbs with specific simple carbs, and also increases the number of yellow containers (carb servings) and purple containers (fruit servings) for a single day. Refeed Day is placed right before leg day, with a goal of helping us push harder in the workout and ultimately build strength beyond what would be possible with the muscles in a depleted state.
Note that Refeed Day is not a free-for-all. The extra carbs are in specific quantities and times, and it's for one day only. If the stored glycogen were not burned off during leg day, the muscles would remain "full" of glycogen. Their storage capacity would be maxed out, and excess carbs would instead be stored as fat.
What I found with this program was that not allowing myself treats on a regular basis, but saving them for those rare Refeed Days, really helped me change my relationship with sugar and treats. By the time Refeed Day rolled around, a treat really felt like something special (whereas previously I adhered to a philosophy of daily small indulgences).
In addition, by removing sugar from my diet on a daily basis, I could really feel the difference on the days when I did eat it. I became very aware of how sugar makes me feel, and although I do still enjoy the taste of the treats, I don't enjoy that jittery spike-and-crash feeling at all.
Lastly, allowing only very specific foods as treats taught me a lot about making healthier choices when it comes to treats. For example, the doughnuts in this picture were baked at home, with coconut sugar for the sweetener and coconut oil for the shortening, and no preservatives (other than a bit of salt) or artificial ingredients of any kind. In a way, this was a new lesson for me—that aside from simple carbs not being the best for our health (especially in larger quantities), it's the additives that typically go along with them in most store-bought products that can have additional ramifications for our health and how we feel.
All in all, 80 Day Obsession changed my relationship with food, as I came to view it more as fuel and appreciate it for what it could do for my body (give me energy and help me build more muscle). For the first time, I really understood on a deep level how eating lower-quality food might be interfering with my mood, my energy, and my results! I'm not sure if I'll stick with this way of eating forever but I do think the nutrition plan can fit well with any type of workouts as long as you adjust the formula for your activity level. Personally I'll be doing at least one more full round since I had to stop early the first time due to a non-workout-related injury!
If you're ready to take it up a notch with your fitness and nutrition, join me for the next round of 80 Day Obsession. New support groups start every four weeks! Email me at the address below to find out the next start date or check out enrollment details here.