If you’ve been following along in this blog series, you’ll know we are talking all things dieting strategies and the next one up for discussion is a diet break. If you read our last post about refeeds (link), then this will be a good refresher. A diet break and a refeed have several overlapping similarities, so instead of spending time going into depth on the points made within the refeed post, we’ll do a more concise overview and then dive into the differences seen in a diet break versus a refeed.
WHAT is a Diet Break?
Similar to the refeed, it’s a specific length of time when calories are increased and/or brought close to maintenance. What is different about a diet break is that the length of this designated time is longer. In fact, the typical diet break lasts anywhere from 7-14 days. Unlike a refeed when carbohydrates are the main macronutrient being adjusted, a diet break will oftentimes bring an increase in BOTH carbohydrates and fat. And in conjunction, protein needs may need to be decreased slightly to help in digestion since total calories will be higher.
In terms of timing, when does a diet break differ from a refeed?
Oftentimes in a deficit phase, especially one that lasts longer than 10-12 weeks, there will be some social calendar interruptions. If planned strategically, diet breaks can actually be used successfully during these times to bridge the physiological benefits with lifestyle factors. With the similar purpose of a refeed, a diet break also aids in replenishing glycogen stores, balancing hunger hormones and can have positive metabolic adaptations. They are also useful when adherence and consistency may be lower and the client needs a bit of a “break”.
In a nutshell, a refeed and diet break have a lot of similar qualities, purposes and benefits. However, the length of each is what separates them and that can determine when/how often they can be applied within a deficit phase.
If you want to hear more about these two and how they are used in real-life client scenarios, check out this Instagram Live that assistant coach Casey and head coach Chanel did together. Be on the lookout for the last post in this series coming next week, talking all about UNTRACKED MEALS.