T Nation

Carb Refeed

Well I experimented with my first carb refeed today. Not sure how well I did, but here’s how it went:

Breakfast: 4 slices 7 grain toast / 4 egg whites / 1 serving protein

Snack: 1 serving protein and 1/2 cup cottage cheese / 1 can tuna

Lunch: 2 grilled chicken sandwiches on pumpernickel

Snack: 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 can tuna

Dinner: 2 servings whole wheat pasta / 6 oz chicken breast

Total calories were 2425 with fat totalling 44 grams, carbs 226 grams, and protein at 253 grams. Standing 6’1 at 198 and somewhere between 8 and 17% BF (if I can figure out how to use this Accu-measure I just got in). I think my total caloric intake was a bit low and my carb timings were incorrect - but after the past week I was CRAVING carbs. I at least tried to make sure breakfast was over 60 grams of carbs as Terry suggested, but then realized I was still pretty low for the day so I jacked it back up again at dinner. My protein was also too low for my liking, as I need around 300 grams to equal 1.5 g per lb of BW.

Just wanted to toss this up for comments and see how everyone else treats their carb refeeds. I think I’ll need to plan a little better for Sunday’s refeed.

Hollywood Hogan, first off, thanks for posting a specific regimen, as I think this will provide a spark to something that is much anticipated. That said, I think there can and should be some major re-working done hear.

First off, total calories are going to needing to be much higher than that. You’re not going to reap the benefits of a carb refeed unless you crank it up. It’s only in response to the Carb Recharge (i.e. overfeeding) that you will crank up T3 and leptin.

Secondly, I would much rather see a specific time dedicated to the refeed or a set number of back-to-back meals. Joel has recommended either 8- or 16-hour refeeds depending primarily on frequency–which depends on other variables. In this time frame you would consume a certain amount of meals that all contain a pretty decent chunk of carbs. Although you don’t need to–and many don’t–play by the numbers, I like the numbers game. In addition, you can set aside a certain number of meals to go Carb Wild. So if you chose two, I would preferentially dedicate the last two meals of the day to such.

In essence and in looking again at your plan, you basically adhered to the full-day or 16-hour plan, but not in a completely efficient manner. By that I mean, you consumed carbs at only 3 of
5 meals and your total carb and calorie levels were too low, in my opinion. However, assessment on your own part of the present plan and scheme is paramount to future development. That is, if this plan worked for you, then stick with it. How do you know if it worked? Well, did you crank up the fat loss and did you restore a good chunk of muscle glycogen. These are questions I would ask.

Food choices look quite solid, Hollywood. Realize, Hollywood, that I’m not at all trying to criticize you and your plan. Rather, I’m trying to open up some conversation and points of interest.

Hogan, you owe it to yourself to read Joel Marion’s article on cheat meals and carb refeeds. He and I approach things differently, but it’s always a good idea to educate yourself on things that are of interest to you.

My approach to a carb refeed is strategic. Even though it’s gratifying, after 4 days of eating <30g of carbs per day, it’s necessary that I restore muscle glycogen so that I can continue to work out hard in the gym.

My carb refeed lasts for two meals. I take in 100g of carbs at each of those meals, and the carbs I choose are starchy carbs, not sugary carbs. Bread is a good choice, pasta, potatoes, rice, oatmeal. Spagetti and spagetti sauce is a favorite of mine. Oatmeal and a scoop of LC Grow usually makes up my second meal.

There is a specific limitation on protein on the two carb refeed meals of less than 20g for each of those meals. There is also a limitation on fat. You should keep fat as close to zero as possible on those two meals.

Since my carb refeeds and my normal daily intake is highly precise, I can pretty well predict how much weight I will gain (2-3 pounds) and how long it will take me to lose it (3 days).

Hogan, do a search on the forum for carb refeeds. I’ve written extensively on the subject. After you’ve done that, I would be glad to answer your questions. Figuring out the structure of how to do a carb refeed, how often and how much is highly individual. One of the variables, for example, is how low you take your carbs on a daily basis.

Okay, Hogan, read up, and let’s keep kicking it around. I can share with you how I do my refeeds, but I think you’ll find that Joel Marion’s approach is equally valid and equally effective.

Timbo - I understand you’re not trying to critize me. In fact, the whole reason I posted was because I knew I didn’t approach it correctly and was looking for places where I made mistakes. Thank you for taking the time to so eloquently explain yourself. It doesn’t go unappreciated.

Terry - Thanks again for posting. I had forgotten about the protein rule of <20 grams of protein on a carb refeed day. Again, the reason I posted was to get feedback, and I’m glad the both of you responded!

I’ll work out my plan for Sunday and do a repost of what I intend to do - this way before I screw it up too badly you guys can help me out.

Cheers -


Um…Tampa Terry:
I had an query answered by Timbo in a previous ‘nutrition plan to you’ post relating to active carbs/fibre. I also mentioned that I had been closely following posts referencing these topics and have since ordered Faigin’s book. Right… I’d probably blaze the low hypocaloric trail (2000 cal.)and throttle carbs back to 50g on train/rest days respectively - excluding carb-up intakes.
Now about those carb-up meals:

Question 1:
Am I correct to assume it’s 2 x carb up meals (total)within a 7 day week i.e not 2 x 2 (4 meals total per week)?

Question 2:
Are the carb up meals fine to take an hour after my Monday & Friday PM work-out? (supplemented with sound post workout nutrition).

At a glance:
I’ll apply Joel’s 5x5 training routine (Mon.,Wed & Fri.) while in this nutrition phase.

I’m happy to provide a break-down of my micro-nutrient daily intake, though I feel I have a good grasp on the applicable principles.
I’m confident with the above questions answered and re-reading the previous posts; I’m sure I can at least get the ball rolling.
Many thanx in advance - Timbo mate, you’re quite welcome to answer too!

Hogan et. al.
Vain68 here.
I would agree with other that your refeed needs to be a hypofeed. This is the time to jumpstart the system, particulary if you have been dieting severely, a la restricted keto diets which I subscribe to. Refeeds can be in the 3000 to 4000kcal range, of course keeping fat minimal in the presence of carbs…it is also important to cycle the protein intake to keep the body off balance, thus, when overfeeding on protein, your body may be less likely to excrete the excess as waste, as it is not used to a homeostatic intake. Keep in mind that leptin is the key here, but to get leptin firing, we need Insulin…
the major factor obviously with severely restricted dieting is the psychological ramifications of doing so and limiting binges/carb refeeds…
I plan to write an article on the psychology of dieting as psychology is my chosen profession:
I think often we try to rationalize poor food choices or poor refeeds due to our intense hunger.
Learning how to cope with cognitive distortions during the dieting phase is of the utmost importance.
We are radical, but we are ripped.

Vain, I’d be quite interested in reading your article. Sport Psychology is a vested interest of mine. Just a quick correction to your first (complete) sentence:-) You said hypofeed, but I am quite certain you meant hyperfeed, meaning crank it up!


  1. You’re more than welcome to have 4 meals per week. That would be 2 meals on each of your two refeed days.

  2. I would say that it would be more than advisable to take part in your refeed following a training session. Although glycolytic enzymes and glycogen storage will be cranking–assuming that the refeed is properly timed (i.e. relative glycogen depletion)–you’re just going to enhance the effects by doing it up after training.

While Faigin’s book is Quality and the logic is sound, I think some improvement and improvisation can be made with the refeeds, which he calls Carb Up-Loads. I would much rather subscribe to that which Joel recommends in his article that I highly recommend you e-mail him for. Go get it!!!

Hollywood Hogan, thanks, buddy. Just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page, and we are. Definitely post your next plan for more feedback.

Rowbie, the way I’ve been doing my carb refeeds is once every four days. Joel has recommended once a week. Others recommend a refeed on Day 3 and Day 7 (Rob Faigin). It’s just going to take experimentation on your part to find out what is right for you. And that’s what it’s REALLY about, “finding out what’s right for YOU.”

I know when I’m due for a carb refeed. Energy sucks. I’m dragging. Cardio is HARD. You’ll see what I mean. There’s times I’ve extended the time, too.

Once again, the way I do my carb refeeds it is TWO 100g meals every four days.

Monday and Friday after workout sounds like an IDEAL plan, for the reasons that Timbo stated. Your other numbers on low-carb days looks good, too.

Joel’s program is great for a hypocaloric diet. I’ve done a number of his programs. Great choice!