There comes a time when every bodybuilder needs to shed off a few pounds to achieve a more defined look. Whether it’s for the aesthetic appeal, or preparation for a bodybuilding show, cutting helps make the muscles more noticeable. However, with the strict diets and reduced calories, the body undergoes some physiological changes that must be reversed so that fat loss can be sustained. This reversal is catalyzed by a reefed.
What Is It?
In the most elaborate terms, a reefed describes that period of time when you restock your supplies of glycogen and leptin by consuming more calories than you are used to. Unlike your other days when you have subdued your carbohydrate intake, reefed calls for an increased intake of the same, all the while reducing your fat intake.
Leptin is an essential hormone that is secreted by the adipose tissue (fat cells) that plays a role in energy expenditure, regulation, appetite and metabolism. When you lose fat, such as when you are cutting, or on a weight loss diet, the levels of leptin fall.
This reduction leads to a slower metabolism and less energy expenditure. It makes your body become more conservative with its energy resources as it assumes that a starvation is eminent. The levels need to be elevated again, so that more energy can be used, and the metabolism can be raised. Low leptin levels have been correlated with decreased food intake, implying that to correct the levels a richer diet needs to be consumed.
The Right Reefed Diet
While the goal of a reefed is to eat more calories, it does not mean that you should eat anything in sight. A reefed day and a cheat day have the same meaning, more or less.
Ideally, the main macro in your diet should be carbohydrates. Thus eating a diet rich in complex carbohydrate is better than eating junk. Fat intake is discouraged during refeeding, as leptin levels are best raised by high glucose levels. Carbs are more efficient in providing these than fat. Ideally, your food intake should have a 50/40/10 ration of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is recommended that you exceed your daily calorie intake by 200-400, ensuring that the surplus emanates from carbs.
Your reefed period should be directly proportional to the amount of time you have been dieting. Once a week is regarded by many as the perfect frequency, but this does not imply that you should be oblivious to other factors, such as body fat percentage and so on in determining the frequency.
It also helps if you get enough sleep. Studies have shown that leptin levels rise during sleep, and those who get their regular shuteye have a better chance of keeping their leptin levels constant.
In conclusion, it is important to ensure that you are not too strict on your body. Too much dieting can be detrimental, and including at least one cheat meal a week is recommended. So long as your cheat meals are not rich in fat, you should be able to get your body’s physiology back into balance.
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