Switching from reverse to a cut back to a reverse: thoughts??

Hi! I’m in the middle of a reverse after a long and really low cut, and it’s going great! No weight gain, lost inches and I’m pretty confident I found my TDEE. But... I have a beach vacation on Jan 5. And I’m about 8 lbs from my ideal weight. Would it be a bad idea to cut these last few weeks before the trip? And then continue with the reverse/maintain when I get back?

We would not recommend that you go back into a cut. As a general rule you should be in maintenance for about as long as you were in a cut. Going back into a cut too soon will likely not get you any results--only because your body is too familiar with a low calorie level and your metabolism will just revert and you will quickly plateau. Our advice would be to add in a couple extra cardio/ HIIT sessions a week. Rather than eat less: work harder (keeping in mind that with extra work--you need to up your rest/recovery/self care).

Value in taking a break from exercise?

I'm curious if there is value in taking a break from exercise for a week or so. I am so burned out on exercise and have a plan for how to switch it up, but in the meantime I want to take a break. Is that helpful to do periodically? Should I change my macros during that time?

If you are only taking a week off, there’s no need to change your macros! It’s always a good thing to honor your feelings--I think this type of burn out happens to everyone at one time or another! You always need to listen to yourself and chase your inspiration! There’s a place for taking a break and there’s a place for pushing through--it all depends on YOU. If you are looking for specific results--you do need to follow specific protocols when it comes to exercise. But having said that, we are big believers that exercise in general does NOT need to look a certain way. To keep going in the long-term you have to listen to your body (and your mind), and do what you enjoy or find motivating!

Mastered protein but working on other macros!

I have finally mastered hitting my protein, but find that I am frequently under on fat. Usually by 10 grams or so. Typically, I end up over in carbs by about that much and at least aim to hit my calories. How much of a problem is this? Should I lower my fat and increase my carbs? My fat goal is 58g and I'm usually at 45-48g or so.

It’s not a problem! Hitting your protein and calories is crucial--and this is not a huge discrepancy. You just want to make sure you don’t go too low with your fat but between 45-48 you are doing just fine!

Losing lbs but not inches

Is it a bad thing if I'm losing on the scale, but not losing inches? Can you explain what could be happening? I know I can't spot train, but I would love to see my waist size decrease!

It’s definitely not a bad thing--progress is progress! Abdominal fat can be notoriously hard to lose--so unfortunately it’s a question of patience and persistence and making sure you are targeting these factors:

1. Calorie Deficit

2. Hit your protein

3. Exercise (HIIT* & lifting weights)

4. Sleep & stress management

5. Overall consistency!


Hungry!!

The last few days I’ve been right on macros but pushing my +5 carbs per night and I am always hungry. I wake up starving and am wanting to eat about 2 hours after my last meal. I was making it to 3-4 before. It’s increasingly harder to not snack in between meals leaving me without a macro cap and making dinner small. I also was down to 138.8 this am! The only thing I can think of is I did increase my orange theory workouts from 3 to 4-5 a week. But I also haven’t ran longer than 3 miles in 2-3 weeks... thoughts

Ok--so I spoke to some of this earlier--but we really want you to get to know your body and your patterns through this process. When you feel your appetite increase, double check your sleep and water--are you getting enough? Is this a part of your hormonal cycle that you can tough out or do you need a bit more just to see you through? See if you can add more volume or incorporate actual food vs protein bars and shakes. On a hungry day. add in +3F +15C and if you need to do that more than a couple times a week to be comfortable, up your macros. Look at your weekly results and make outcome based decisions! If you’re still seeing progress--keep going! If your progress plateaus you can bump your numbers back down or consider reversing and counting in maintenance! Your body may need a break from the stress of dieting.

Staying motivated after a vacation

How do you stay motivated and on track I’m having a hard time coming back from vacay?

Totally understandable! So my thoughts are these: what do you really want to do here? If you’re still motivated to chase your goals then it’s time to sit up and get back to work--give it some good effort! When you’re cutting you need to strike the balance between “meh, there’s always tomorrow” and “I must be perfect or there’s no point. We find that balance to be: “I’m in this, I’m giving it solid effort and I’m working hard”. It is not productive to drag out a half-hearted cut for weeks or months. That’s the most painful way to go about it. Get in, do a good job and get out. If you’re not feeling motivated to cut--AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH FEELING THAT WAY---then reverse!! You are not meant to cut forever. Absolutely reverse. You can create great results in maintenance, it’s a great thing to do for your body and mind.

How to track at parties

How do you stay on track at parties and outing when no one else is watching what they eat and you hear you can start over tomorrow or one cheat day won’t hurt?

Ok so this really comes down to you being in charge of your results. One of the best ways to build confidence is by keeping your commitments to yourself--to know that if you tell yourself you’ll do something, you’ll do it. You have your own back. Not tracking social situations becomes problematic when you decide in the rush of it, “oh screw it” and you then go extra overboard because you want to get it all in. If this happens often enough it can totally impact your results. Everyday you cut you are building a calorie deficit and one night of overindulgence can diminish or erase that deficit. We want you to decide with intention beforehand how you’re going to handle a social situation---and then do your best. Nobody is perfect. Even if you come away with “hey, I wasn’t spot on but it wasn’t as balls to the wall as I normally go”--to us that’s a win. You are in charge of your results. If you’re not seeing what you want, it’s time to troubleshoot and like I said earlier--tightening up the weighing and tracking, the untracked meals and the BLT’s is the first place to evaulate.

Favorite beef jerky

What are some good tasting (read: not scary) kinds of jerky. What are your favorites?

Great question! I’m a diva about jerky--not that I know best for everyone, but I know what I like, I have decent luck at Costco with their selection.

I like Kirkland steak strips

Golden Island jerky is good, they have a korean pork jerky that’s good, I like their chili lime beef

I also like Jack’s links pretty well, but I favor the big and meaty varieties--when it comes to the one serving packs of regular jerky--I don’t love those, the pieces get so small and shreddy :(

Weight increase with increase in exercise

For the first 4 weeks of the challenge, I scaled back on working out. It was a good time for me to take a break from Crossfit and I thought it would be good to get up and running on the macro challenge too. So, during that time I lost 2 lbs (in the full 4 weeks) and I worked out maybe 1 or 2 times each week. I started working out again almost daily at my Crossfit gym at the beginning of this week... I'm super hungry and I've gained 1 lb already. I know I probably need to give it more time, it's just a little frustrating to have gained. What should I do? Do you think I need to adjust macros at all?

Ok--so it totally makes sense that your appetite would increase since you are increasing your energy output right? And...dramatic pause for emphasis...it also makes sense that you would see an increase in weight. But notice I said weight NOT fat. The bathroom scale cannot tell the difference. And as ironic as it may seem, upping your workouts (particularly weight lifting) can increase your weight because your muscles are absorbing more glycogen and with the increase of the stress hormone cortisol (which increases when we increase strain on the body physically or mentally) also causes some water retention! This is why it is CRUCIAL that you pay more attention to your measurements than to your weight.

So. What to do. If you find yourself hungry--the first thing to do is to check your water, sleep and stress levels. Are you around period munchy time?

When we are dehydrated, our bodies can send us hunger cues to compensate.

When we don’t get enough sleep 7-8 hours our hormones get out of whack and we have more cravings and less satisfaction from food.

Stress can increase cravings and reduce our will power.

Make sure you are staggering your protein. See if you can create more volume in the foods you’re eating--cauliflower rice, vegetables--chicken vs a protein shake. On a particularly hungry day, add in 100-150 calories (around +3F 15C is what we recommend). See how that feels. If you feel you need to do this 3x a week or more, consider upping your macros to this level.

Cutting is great--but remember that this is NOT the only phase of macros where you will see results. Whenever people are cutting calories their overall activity typically goes down because you’re tired! So you’re eating less but you’re also moving a bit less. I always have to put in a plug for reversing to maintenance because think of it this way: you’ll be eating enough to build muscle, and eating more yes--but you’ll also have more fuel for greater levels of activity and performance.

Binging on candy and junkfood

I really want to sit and eat junk (mostly candy and cookies) just one day a week, lol! I haven’t caved to this mainly because I know I will feel like crap afterwards and it’s really not worth it but the desire is there and some days it’s really strong! What can I do about this desire? (Can I have a junk day lol?) I’m moving pass my viscous episodes of bingeing and punishing myself. So what are your thoughts? I love how physically strong I’m feeling and how good I feel when I eat balanced but the mental and emotional balance is a little harder to maintain or reach some days. Thank you for your help!

Ok so a couple things:

A lot of people like to incorporate an untracked meal, a “joy eat” or a “cheat day”--and it there isn’t a problem with it--it just depends on a lot of factors. You are more than welcome to incorporate a “junk meal” (not a day lol) but how do you think your mindset will respond to that? Will it mess with your head? Will it be a nice break? Will one meal turn into a day or a weekend? It really depends on your personality. And it’s similar with your physical progress also--if you notice you’re not making the progress you want--it’s tightening up the weighing and tracking and eliminating these kinds of extras that is your first step!

As far as the desire--(and we actually sent an email about this today--Wednesday)--you have to just allow it. It’s called riding the wave. Just allow it, don’t judge it, don’t make the presence of this desire mean anything about you as a person--or make it mean anything about your progress. The more you allow it and don’t judge it and don’t act on it--the less these desires will have power over you in the long run. Allowing the discomfort of cravings or negative emotions of any kind--and not acting on them or judging yourself for them--IS the secret. You can just say, man I am really craving cookies and candy right now, that’s interesting.

And perhaps consider building them into your day, like an end of day treat for example! It could be a good thing for you to understand what they cost and how to fit them in--you won’t be in a cut forever and when you reverse and count in maintenance they will easier to fit. You don’t have to live the rest of your life without cookies and candy to see or keep your results--it’s just a question of what’s worth it to and when/how to fit them into your day in a way that works for you physically and mentally.

Adding exercise in MFP

Do I need to input my exercise into tracking each day? The last program I did, it was already accounted for in my macros so I didn't touch that part in MFP but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything! Thanks!

Your macros are also calculated for with the activity accounted for! You do NOT need to input your activity. Adding in your activity is often unreliable.

Exchanging Macros

I went over on my carbs but still have 23 grams of fat left over. Can I exchange them? I still have calories left over and I've hit my protein. Thanks!

Short answer is yes you can exchange them! Calories are king when it comes to weight loss but you don’t want to do that constantly. 23g of carb is also a lot to under shoot your fat. We recommend that you atleast get in 40g of fat to keep hormones regulated. Fats are good for you! Dietary fat does many good things for us!

When I haven't hit my protein by the end of the day, but I hit my calories...

When it is coming to the end of the day and I haven't hit my protein (but have hit or are close to other macros or calories), do I have something like a protein shake so I hit my protein (or get a lot closer) and go over on calories? Or stay under on calories and protein?

We always say to aim for your macros first and foremost. But let’s say that you go over on some macros, and maybe they weren’t as balanced as they usually are throughout the day, then stick to your calorie range as a gauge. So don’t hit your protein for the sake of hitting your protein if it means that you go way over on your calories. Either aim for macros as close as you can, or aim for hitting protein and overall calories. Also try to spread your macros out evenly at each meal and snack, so you don’t have a huge amount of macros left in one macro. For example you’ve hit your carbs and fats but you have like 40-50g protein left. That’s a tough one. Try to view your macros as 3 things that should work TOGETHER to build a well-balanced meal or snack. But keep playing around with it! We promise the more you practice, the more you’ll see how you can better hit those macros throughout the day, so you’re not left with wonky macros at night.

How to prepare for social outings when you have no idea what the nutrition facts are?

Was wondering how to handle when a family invited your family over for dinner- not necessarily in how to log it- but how to prepare for it, esp when you have no idea what is going to be served. This happened yesterday- so I tried to make sure I was already close to my protein (which as a vegetarian is my hardest macro to hit) and had plenty of carbs and fats to play with. It worked out fine I think but was just wondering if you had any tips in this kind of situation since you can’t look at a restaurant menu and plan and pre-log. And I offered to bring some food but hostess did not want me to, so I was going in blind :-)

More times than not this is going to be the trickiest situation! Go into the situation with a lot of protein. Most of the time you’re not going to get more than 20-30g when you’re eating at someone’s house, and that’s at the most. Grabbing a protein shake ahead of time can help cut the appetite down a little, so you’re pacing yourself and making educated decisions about the spread. Plus it’s nice to go in not being starving. The longer you wait to eat, your decision making goes down, and you want to make sure you spend it the right way. Most of the time going out to eat or going to a friend’s house is going to cost you 600-1000. We don’t mean to frighten you and don’t want you necessarily starving yourself all day to fit it in, but just be aware that you’re probably not heading into a 300 calorie meal. Ultimately what we really want to convey to you though is to enjoy your life. Don’t say no to outings with friends and family. Just do your best to troubleshoot it!

Do macros change when you're on your period?

Do your macro needs change during your period? I can be just fine the rest of the month but for that week, I feel like I’m starving!!

This isn’t news to any of us, but Premenstrual Syndrome can definitely impact our fitness goals--it hits us with a double whammy! We have food cravings that drive us towards carb & fat laden foods, and we experience increased bad moods, lack of energy & bloating that leaving want to say “To hell with it!" But a week’s worth of worth of indulging cravings, comfort eating and skipping exercise can overshadow the hard work we’ve put in hitting our numbers! The result: we don’t lose any weight – or worse still, actually gain a little. So what can you do??? Here are a few ideas/useful facts!

TRACK YOUR CYCLE: If you have a regular cycle, mark out the last week in your calendar so that you are mentally prepared for what is about to happen. SO many times we have been caught off guard asking: Why do I feel like this?...Why am I so hungry... Why do I just want carbs? Why is my digestion off? A few days later… oh that’s why…(maybe you can relate?).

PLAN AHEAD & MANAGE STRESS: Knowing when Aunt Flow is coming to town can help you game plan. Avoid planning stressful activities during this *special* times...anything that exacerbates stress fuels yearnings for high-calorie comfort foods. Prioritize stress management with the following tools:

Meditation and/ or deep breathing

Yoga

Get enough sleep & rest

Get a massage

Don’t over commit yourself

Make time for fun & relaxation

Connect with others or spend time alone!

Avoid becoming overly hungry, eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Skipping a meal will only make you more irritable as blood sugar levels plummet!

If you find yourself having cravings you can’t beat then for that week, just go ahead and have an extra snack 200-300 calories. One that you ENJOY, and one that will satisfy your hungry or munchies! Sit down to enjoy it and truly savor the snack!

How to alter recipes to make them macro-friendly

Any tips for altering “normal” recipes to be macro-friendly? I know doubling the protein is an easy one; any others?

Our daily email from September 22 (check your inbox!) talks all about healthy substitutions and some macro hacks that you’ll find very helpful! A snippet of the email is to consider trading:

Ground beef for ground turkey

Sour cream for cottage cheese or greek yogurt

Heavy cream for skim milk + cornstarch or evaporated milk (comes in fat free too!)

Regular rice for cauliflower rice

Mayo for greek yogurt

Refried bean for fat free refried beans (they exist!)

Regular bacon for turkey bacon

No one says it has to be an all or nothing swap: mix 1/2 cauliflower rice and 1/2 regular, 1/2 pasta and 1/2 zucchini noodles!

Thoughts on cheat meals!

How do you guys feel about a once-a-week cheat meal? Should it really be “needed” when you could (theoretically) fit anything into your macros on a daily basis?

This is one of those questions that your answer is going to vary depending on who you talk to! Whether it’s “needed” or not is up to the individual! If you feel it’s needed, then go for it! If you feel like you can fit in a treat and aren’t deprived on your current numbers, then skip it! We will say over and over again that the bottom line is what can you be most consistent with. Ashton always enjoyed date night out or one untracked night a week. She stayed on target the rest of the week, and was more flexible on that one night a week. Most people want to know if they can have a “cheat” meal and still see progress. It just depends. You’re definitely going to be able to track your progress better the less cheat meals you have. But mentally to be in it for the long haul sometimes a “cheat meal” goes a long way! Some macro coaches give clients a refeed day. This is a scheduled high carb day and can be beneficial if you’ve been cutting for a long time. The purpose is to replenish your glycogen stores and also serves as a tracked mental break which some people do well with. We hesitate to give two sets of numbers, especially if you’re having a difficult time with one set of numbers, because one set of numbers is really all you need to see great success. Ashton has played around with high carb days, and she loves the mental break that it provides her when cutting. But it’s not a day to completely go A-wall and eat all the things. It still keeps you accountable as a tracked day, it just has higher carbs than normal. We strongly recommend not adding in refeed days until you get the hang of all of this!

“Cheat” meal is also not our favorite because it implies that you’re doing something wrong, and we couldn’t disagree more with that. We’ll say it time and time again that this is meant to be FLEXIBLE nutrition. So find a way of life and a way of eating that feels good that you can maintain and enjoy. Find an approach that will get you from A to B without an overwhelming amount of stress or hunger! You should never be hangry!

Be sure to listen to the Facebook Live for Heidi and Natalie’s personal take on “cheat” meals as well! Listen HERE.

Pregnancy and being in a "cut"

I found out I’m pregnant! I don’t have an appointment for a few more weeks so I haven’t talked to my doctor about food at all. Do you know if I can stick with my cut numbers for now or should I move up to my maintenance? I’ve been feeling good so far with my cut numbers.

Congratulations! Talk with your doctor about it. We typically recommend and encourage that you be in maintenance when you’re pregnant.

Macro adjustments for marathon training

I'm marathon training. I did a long run Sunday and added 50 grams of carbs per hour of running. I had another hour long run today and am really hungry! Should I add another 50 carbs since I ran an hour? Fitbit says I burnt 933 calories. I know last challenge you said to only do this once a week.....

Sure, add in another 50 grams of carbs if you’re hungry! We don’t really go by apple watches or how much they say you burn. They’re not always reliable and vary a lot depending on which device!