0

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How common is weight loss after binge day/s? Is this the same as a 'refeed'?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 21, 2012 at 2:16 PM

... and if so, should I do these binge days more often?

I have been stuck on a plateau for some time (?6 weeks), have cut dairy, alcohol all starches and starchy veg, grains, seeds, nuts etc. Eating 1000ish calories a day, less than 50g carbs a day. Frustrated and not knowing what to do next (and a fair amount of weight still needing to come off) I gave myself a couple of days off. I had pudding (yes, sugar, grains CARBS - evil) twice over the two days and drank red wine each night for a week. At the end of the week I had lost 2 lbs - something I couldn't achieve for love nor money before... (I ate paleo the rest of the time as usual).

Is this fluke? Or is this what people call a 'reefed'?

Does anyone else have this experience?

If yes, is this something I should schedule in to my eating more often so I can actually achieve my goal? Feels dangerous to make this assumption...

Would be good to have other people's experiences of 'cheating' like this and know if this changed how you approach weight loss... I understand the general 'theory' behind refeeds/days off is that it is merely psychological (i.e. to keep you on course the rest of the time so you don't feel deprived) so not entirely sure what to conclude (if anything)...

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on February 23, 2012
at 02:19 PM

Not sure why this answer was widely downvoted, but there is a difference between 'starvation' which is a long term gig where your body catabolizes muscle in order to provide enough glucose, and the CW idea that if you don't eat every few hours you'll starve. Ratiocinative's words make sense in this optic, and in regards to CR or IF. Certainly, when there's a lack of calories, metabolism will slow down, but this answer doesn't contradict this, and in fact, it points it out. Please read carefully before you downvote. Both CR and IF work very nicely.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 09:35 PM

Not sure why the downvote :-s

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 08:47 PM

Thanks for telling me about that - definitely tallies with what I am seeing. It's curious isn't it? If it is clearly a fact, then a more controlled 'sensible' binge/cheat day would make sense - ie. with the right foods...

324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1

on February 21, 2012
at 06:43 PM

No wonder people mock paleo so much. You can't even understand the difference between people starving because they're so poor they can barely get enough food to survive, and the idea that one's metabolism lowers drastically because of a calorie deficit intended for weight loss because they've overeaten for years. And no, 5-10% is not enough to stagnate weight loss. Your body burning 1000-1500 less per week while deficiting 10000+ per week is no where near enough to stop weight loss. Lets use some common sense here.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 06:30 PM

thanks j3wcy and primal Danny, I'd better get eating!

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 06:00 PM

Some people do, and there are billions of skinny people on this planet that eat high carb. I think you need to stop counting calories and just focus on eating whole foods and doing some walking. Severe caloric restriction will do you way more harm than good and it's not sustainable because you're not giving your body what it needs and eventually it will give out on you. I wrote eat more in caps for a good reason.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 05:57 PM

Being afraid of food is not a sustainable approach. I really believe however you go about losing weight, you want it to be an approach you can maintain without significant changes once you reach your goal.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:58 PM

ooh the thought of some rice - yum! Thank you j3wcy for all your thoughts. I will add some coconut oil back in I guess. The chicken was my dinner. I track my cals on myfitnesspal and they are around the 1000 mark. The thought of UPPING cals does make me nervous as I am loathe to undo all the work I have put in (lost about 25lbs so far with about 30 to go - but just don't seem to be going anywhere any more!). Do you really think some people lose more WEIGHT on higher carb? That's interesting to hear...

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:51 PM

Thank you for your advice. I'll see if I can give this a go.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:48 PM

Good tip, thanks!!

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:04 PM

What would it take to convince you your wrong? Perhaps we need look no further than your own answer. You said "Starvation mode is a myth. Your metabolism does slow down while in a calorie deficit, but only by 5-10%." So it slowing a measurable percent prove its not a "myth" does it not? Could a consistent 5-10% slowing in metabolism stagnate weight loss? Of course it could.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:02 PM

I'm not disagreeing with your point, but people do starve in real life. Starvation isn't a theory. And being 'unable to resist eating' isn't a coincidence.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:49 PM

I wouldn't rely on the scales too much. Try and concentrate on good food habits first, and being comfortable with eating a lot *and* fasting while sticking to sensible foods. If you're hungry, eat. If you're not hungry, stop eating. Hopefully then it'll get a bit easier to know what's good for your body and not get distracted by a number on the scale.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:49 PM

Me too, and you're probably right in re the waterweight issue. I have to be careful not to use this to justify an occasional blackout Saturday too often. Or do I? Haha.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:47 PM

@Joshua, thank you sir, sometimes, I just don't understand haha. @Bomba Some people do better on higher carb (they aren't all evil, just most of them haha), so you could always consider some sweet potatoes or white rice if that works for you.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:40 PM

I agree 1000 calories is way low. Look for places to add good fats to your food...sauces are a good place as are fattier cuts of meat. I did and still do a cheat day splurge about once a week and it never really stalled me, but I was never more than about 25lbs overweight. Some people the cheat helps, some it hurts, and some it is irrelevant. Probably depends more on WHAT your cheat is than anything else.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:40 PM

j3wcy, I got your back homey.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:38 PM

Do you eat dinner or was that chicken/fish with veggies your dinner? If you do it doesn't seem like a completely unreasonably small amount of food although I think you could safely add back in the coconut oil or butter if you tolerate dairy ok, and add something else there, maybe some veggies or bacon on the regular. Doesn't look like you're getting a ton of fat so likely you have some room there. Have you actually tracked your cals or are you guessing at 1000? Also do you supplement?

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:33 PM

Someone tell me what in this answer was worth a downvote? Ridiculous.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:32 PM

Thanks for that. I do feel that my body gets into a habit and then I stop losing weight even if that is a 'good' habit. Somehow the surprise/irregular eating pattern seems more natural. Weirdly though I didn't lose weight doing 24hr fasts, but I did tend to eat more after them... I wonder if I can get this to work intentionally...

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:28 PM

The way I think of it, it's impossible to get things exactly right every day. So to get a balance over weeks and months you have to overeat some days and undereat other days. There is plenty of science to get into but in practical terms it seems best to me to experiment with that variety.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:08 PM

What you say makes sense to me too, can't be psychological (and you are right 'merely' is wrong - e.g. the power of placebo in medicine). I think it is right I probably need to work on my 'base' diet first - sounds like I need to think how to up my calories without upping carbs or dairy - but sounds like the refeed option could be my insurance policy if I don't manage that well - obviously ideally doing it with better foods... You are right that undereating is as dysfunctional as overeating. Perhaps the odd 'binge' in this way is more natural - feast or famine - which is why it works?

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:03 PM

I was eating more when I started pale as I included dairy but I figured that might be the cause of my stalling, so I cut it out - I can eat a fair bit of cheese. What form should my extra calories take? It is hard to eat more than one chicken breast at one sitting.... I like your systematic approach though, upping it gradually, doesn't sound too scary. Need to think of WHAT to add... Thanks for your help.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:01 PM

Sorry should read, Lunch tuna etc., Supper chicken/fish etc....

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:00 PM

2 fried eggs for breakfast (some said cut the coconut oil/butter - did that on my binge week too), lunch, a can of tuna with salad/veg maybe with avocado and olive oil dressing, chicken breast with steamed green veg. or fish/prawns with mixed veg. Some seeds if I'm hungry between meals (although try not to as I understand they stall weight loss). A couple of squares of dark choc every now and again. Eating more than 1 chicken breast or can of tuna or handful of fish/prawns just doesn't work for me (I don't really eat red meat although I am trying - eating bacon some days which I like).

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 02:35 PM

What does a typical day of food look like for you?

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 02:27 PM

I do try but I don't seem to be able to pack the calories in without eating dairy (get so full on meat protein) and I was told dairy was stalling the weight loss! Thank you for your clarity though, I suspect you are right. Any tips for upping the cals without upping the carbs or dairy??

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7 Answers

9
5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 02:25 PM

EAT MORE FOOD!

Unless you are like 54lbs, 1000 calories a day is going to make your body think it's starving and retain fat. Quit counting. Eat real food. Walk. Measure. Watch inches go down. Admire self in mirror. Wink at self. Enjoy.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 02:35 PM

What does a typical day of food look like for you?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:40 PM

I agree 1000 calories is way low. Look for places to add good fats to your food...sauces are a good place as are fattier cuts of meat. I did and still do a cheat day splurge about once a week and it never really stalled me, but I was never more than about 25lbs overweight. Some people the cheat helps, some it hurts, and some it is irrelevant. Probably depends more on WHAT your cheat is than anything else.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:33 PM

Someone tell me what in this answer was worth a downvote? Ridiculous.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 05:57 PM

Being afraid of food is not a sustainable approach. I really believe however you go about losing weight, you want it to be an approach you can maintain without significant changes once you reach your goal.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:58 PM

ooh the thought of some rice - yum! Thank you j3wcy for all your thoughts. I will add some coconut oil back in I guess. The chicken was my dinner. I track my cals on myfitnesspal and they are around the 1000 mark. The thought of UPPING cals does make me nervous as I am loathe to undo all the work I have put in (lost about 25lbs so far with about 30 to go - but just don't seem to be going anywhere any more!). Do you really think some people lose more WEIGHT on higher carb? That's interesting to hear...

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:01 PM

Sorry should read, Lunch tuna etc., Supper chicken/fish etc....

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:40 PM

j3wcy, I got your back homey.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 06:30 PM

thanks j3wcy and primal Danny, I'd better get eating!

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 02:27 PM

I do try but I don't seem to be able to pack the calories in without eating dairy (get so full on meat protein) and I was told dairy was stalling the weight loss! Thank you for your clarity though, I suspect you are right. Any tips for upping the cals without upping the carbs or dairy??

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:47 PM

@Joshua, thank you sir, sometimes, I just don't understand haha. @Bomba Some people do better on higher carb (they aren't all evil, just most of them haha), so you could always consider some sweet potatoes or white rice if that works for you.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 06:00 PM

Some people do, and there are billions of skinny people on this planet that eat high carb. I think you need to stop counting calories and just focus on eating whole foods and doing some walking. Severe caloric restriction will do you way more harm than good and it's not sustainable because you're not giving your body what it needs and eventually it will give out on you. I wrote eat more in caps for a good reason.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:00 PM

2 fried eggs for breakfast (some said cut the coconut oil/butter - did that on my binge week too), lunch, a can of tuna with salad/veg maybe with avocado and olive oil dressing, chicken breast with steamed green veg. or fish/prawns with mixed veg. Some seeds if I'm hungry between meals (although try not to as I understand they stall weight loss). A couple of squares of dark choc every now and again. Eating more than 1 chicken breast or can of tuna or handful of fish/prawns just doesn't work for me (I don't really eat red meat although I am trying - eating bacon some days which I like).

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:38 PM

Do you eat dinner or was that chicken/fish with veggies your dinner? If you do it doesn't seem like a completely unreasonably small amount of food although I think you could safely add back in the coconut oil or butter if you tolerate dairy ok, and add something else there, maybe some veggies or bacon on the regular. Doesn't look like you're getting a ton of fat so likely you have some room there. Have you actually tracked your cals or are you guessing at 1000? Also do you supplement?

2
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on February 21, 2012
at 02:43 PM

I would expect that yes, it is essentially a refeed rather than a fluke. It's not necessary to eat junk for a refeed, though that's more about health than weight loss. Lots of people have success with lots of different types of scheduled cheats and it's not purely psychological, but others reckon if you get everything right the rest of the time then 'cheating' shouldn't be necessary and only slows your progress. What's pretty sure however is that your situation is very very common.

There's a danger to describing something as merely psychological as well. There's thousands of decisions during the day that depend on the sub-conscious' perception of food availability. How long and how hard you're going to exercise. Whether you take the stairs. How much you're going to fidget at your desk. Whether you go to bed early. Whether you need to put another layer on before going outside. It's really hard to divide things into pshycological and physiological. Your expectations feed into your behaviour, but (depending on how sensitive you are to your body) your hormone levels play a massive part in guiding you towards certain decisions. The cheat day is often a release of stress. It makes it easier to find the willpower to go another few days sure, but it's not a pure psychological effect.

Either way, we have a feast or famine metabolism. If you are undereating then occasionally you should overeat otherwise your body thinks something's wrong and you get a metabolism that is as 'dysfunctional' as that which you get when you overeat all the time and never take a break.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:51 PM

Thank you for your advice. I'll see if I can give this a go.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:28 PM

The way I think of it, it's impossible to get things exactly right every day. So to get a balance over weeks and months you have to overeat some days and undereat other days. There is plenty of science to get into but in practical terms it seems best to me to experiment with that variety.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 09:35 PM

Not sure why the downvote :-s

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:32 PM

Thanks for that. I do feel that my body gets into a habit and then I stop losing weight even if that is a 'good' habit. Somehow the surprise/irregular eating pattern seems more natural. Weirdly though I didn't lose weight doing 24hr fasts, but I did tend to eat more after them... I wonder if I can get this to work intentionally...

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:08 PM

What you say makes sense to me too, can't be psychological (and you are right 'merely' is wrong - e.g. the power of placebo in medicine). I think it is right I probably need to work on my 'base' diet first - sounds like I need to think how to up my calories without upping carbs or dairy - but sounds like the refeed option could be my insurance policy if I don't manage that well - obviously ideally doing it with better foods... You are right that undereating is as dysfunctional as overeating. Perhaps the odd 'binge' in this way is more natural - feast or famine - which is why it works?

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:49 PM

I wouldn't rely on the scales too much. Try and concentrate on good food habits first, and being comfortable with eating a lot *and* fasting while sticking to sensible foods. If you're hungry, eat. If you're not hungry, stop eating. Hopefully then it'll get a bit easier to know what's good for your body and not get distracted by a number on the scale.

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:41 PM

Alcohol-inspired binging does this to me as well... but honestly I think it's a combination of refeeding and alcohol's diuretic effect of increased urination/sweating.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:49 PM

Me too, and you're probably right in re the waterweight issue. I have to be careful not to use this to justify an occasional blackout Saturday too often. Or do I? Haha.

0
D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on February 21, 2012
at 08:14 PM

I have some anecdotal experience with this. Two people I know were overweight and lost a lot of weight to get back to a normal healthy weight. They still sometimes go out to the overweight BMI numbers and know that it will be a lifelong commitment to stay healthy for them. I spent many years with them watching their progress and joining in with their exercise and weight loss goals. They weigh themselves everyday and would often get annoyed that on the weeks that they ate the least the would not lose weight and sometimes put it on. This can be discouraging and sometimes led to going off their strict eating regime for a day or two. The next few days usually results in the weight loss that couldn't be achieved before. Only sustained weight loss came with mostly very careful watching of what they ate on a regular basis, but the bad eating days were definitely a key to boosting the weight-loss when it just wasn't happening.

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 08:47 PM

Thanks for telling me about that - definitely tallies with what I am seeing. It's curious isn't it? If it is clearly a fact, then a more controlled 'sensible' binge/cheat day would make sense - ie. with the right foods...

0
664efb0a77ab70435f580d6867afa0fa

(544)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:03 PM

Back in 2003 I attempted a 7-year long refeed. This had the opposite affect from what I was attempting and I ended up gaining a substantial amount of weight. I suggest that you limit the duration of your refeeds to 4 years (or less!)

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:48 PM

Good tip, thanks!!

0
1820e2a8a435da2339593485379bb50d

on February 21, 2012
at 02:40 PM

If you're not eating enough, your body wont let you lose weight as it thinks its being starved! Taking in these extra calories is likely to have allowed it to drop some more weight, so eat up! You dont need to count calories, but you should be aiming for only a small deficit each day in order to keep dropping fat - experiment by adding more food bit by bit to see where your fat loss 'sweet spot' is. Good luck!

531c16cdbf9ba20f93cd7687cdd31510

(15)

on February 21, 2012
at 03:03 PM

I was eating more when I started pale as I included dairy but I figured that might be the cause of my stalling, so I cut it out - I can eat a fair bit of cheese. What form should my extra calories take? It is hard to eat more than one chicken breast at one sitting.... I like your systematic approach though, upping it gradually, doesn't sound too scary. Need to think of WHAT to add... Thanks for your help.

-1
324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1

on February 21, 2012
at 03:54 PM

Starvation mode is a myth. Your metabolism does slow down while in a calorie deficit, but only by 5-10%, and that happens within 2-3 days of when you were last eating normally for 2-3 days. "Refeeding" may help you mentally stick to your diet, but physiologically there's no way you can come out ahead by eating more.

The way to lose weight is to stop eating. It really is that simple. I completely fast from all food for 2-3 days, followed by a big juicy 2 - 2.5 lb fatty steak, and then repeat. I've lost about 60 lbs in 4 months and have maintained my 275 lb Bench press and 400 deadlift in the gym. Occasionally I "refeed" because I'm unable to resist eating, but I don't try to rationalize it by thinking it's preventing me from going into a non-existent starvation mode. I just resume fasting the next day with a renewed resolve. I started at around 38% bodyfat and now I'm down to 18%, only about 1.5 months to go.

My guess is that starvation mode was a theory was invented by supplement companies and other weight loss ventures as an excuse for you to remain on their program as long as possible. If they told you all you needed to do was eat steak on some days and not eat anything on others, would you really spend your money on fat burners, protein bars, and other meal replacements? If they can convince you that you can only lose 1 lb a week without harming your health, then instead of losing the weight in 6-8 months they can milk you for 18-24 months.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:02 PM

I'm not disagreeing with your point, but people do starve in real life. Starvation isn't a theory. And being 'unable to resist eating' isn't a coincidence.

324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1

on February 21, 2012
at 06:43 PM

No wonder people mock paleo so much. You can't even understand the difference between people starving because they're so poor they can barely get enough food to survive, and the idea that one's metabolism lowers drastically because of a calorie deficit intended for weight loss because they've overeaten for years. And no, 5-10% is not enough to stagnate weight loss. Your body burning 1000-1500 less per week while deficiting 10000+ per week is no where near enough to stop weight loss. Lets use some common sense here.

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on February 21, 2012
at 04:04 PM

What would it take to convince you your wrong? Perhaps we need look no further than your own answer. You said "Starvation mode is a myth. Your metabolism does slow down while in a calorie deficit, but only by 5-10%." So it slowing a measurable percent prove its not a "myth" does it not? Could a consistent 5-10% slowing in metabolism stagnate weight loss? Of course it could.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on February 23, 2012
at 02:19 PM

Not sure why this answer was widely downvoted, but there is a difference between 'starvation' which is a long term gig where your body catabolizes muscle in order to provide enough glucose, and the CW idea that if you don't eat every few hours you'll starve. Ratiocinative's words make sense in this optic, and in regards to CR or IF. Certainly, when there's a lack of calories, metabolism will slow down, but this answer doesn't contradict this, and in fact, it points it out. Please read carefully before you downvote. Both CR and IF work very nicely.

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