Regularly confused, sometimes unneeded, always enjoyable ;)
Re feeds and cheat meals apply more so to individuals who are dieting quite seriously for a peak outcome, such as a bodybuilding contest or making a certain weight for a competitive event. If you're someone who is not, then you may still have cheat meals etc but you're probably best fitting occasional treats or a meal out at the weekend into your general nutrition/life regardless (in moderation of course).
You can't nail down a 100% accurate description but I'll aim to cater for what the general idea of both is, here goes.
A Cheat Meal is to satisfy your wants and cravings not your physical needs, it may however have some positive benefits to your physical appearance/performance depending on where you are in your prep or diet but to most the benefit of a cheat meal is a reward or break from a much stricter nutritional regime that allows you to have some "time off" and enjoy a meal of "whatever you want" briefly. As stated though a well-timed cheat meal (for a dieting bodybuilder for example) can help make the appearance of a physique look much fuller and even tighter, this is not however likely to be the case for everyone. You need to be realistic with cheat meals, work hard and earn one, having 2-3 cheat meals a week is likely not going to work for you.
A re-feed is more for your physical needs and performance rather than what you're craving but if you speak to anyone on prep sometimes a re-feed is more welcomed than a cheat meal due to the increased volume of food on offer!
A re-feed is an increase of calories usually in the form of larger amounts of carbohydrate (however some people re-feed with carbs/fats or even high fats)
So for example if you've been dieting 3-4 weeks on low carbs (100g a day) you will likely feel a bit lethargic, exercise performance will likely be a bit down on what it was when you started your diet and you will very likely feel/look flat in your muscles (more so for bodybuilders)
A generic protocol for a traditional Carbohydrate re-feed would be:
Start with your maintenance calories (roughly the number of calories you use in a day).
Fats at 15% of your total calories (you can go lower) -Carbs at 60-70% of total calories -The remainder 20-25% to be made up by protein (this can be lower if required, just make the reduction up in more carbs)
So a 3500 calorie re-feed would look something this
524g Carbs (60%)
220g Protein (25%)
58g Fat (15%)
The idea is to bring your protein and fats down to accommodate the rise in carbs whilst keeping at maintenance calories to ensure no body fat is added.
If done correctly a re-feed can yield a host of benefits including:
-Fuller Looking Muscles
-Faster Metabolic Rate
-Accelerated weight loss (yes you read correct) the combination of these benefits is going to yield better results and is often used when someone has reached a sticking point in their results.
If you are unsure about if/when to have a re-feed, then hire a coach or get someone to look over you and assess with a fresh pair of eyes.