Macros Masterclass Q&A

For our Free Macros Masterclass a couple weeks ago, we didn’t get to a FRACTION of the questions that were submitted, so we hope to continue to answer those questions in a series on the blog as well as doing more Macros Masterclass Q&A’s for you!

Macros Masterclass Q&A Continued


I want to be sure I’m eating enough but not to much. Especially with proteins since I am nursing and exercising. How do I do that without tracking macros? I love the idea of balanced meals and enough of each, but don’t want to go to the extreme (for me) of tracking. Thank you!


If you’re not interested in tracking macros, it’s 100% possible to still have a healthy relationship with food and eat enough to fuel your body! We have two tips for living a healthy lifestyle and building healthy habits to sustain you for your life! These tips can and should also be implemented with anyone who is doing macros!

Eat when you’re physically hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. There are some hunger scales out there that you can use to help gauge your hunger if you feel out of touch with your hunger cues. If your milk supply starts to drop, then add a little bit more food into your day!

The second tip is to eat foods that you enjoy! If you’re not eating foods you enjoy then how can you expect it to be sustainable!? Plan your day around foods that sound filling, nourishing, and satisfying to the tastebuds. Foods that please taste, texture, temperature, etc… No need to eat mediocre food!


Can macros help with preventing weight gain at any age, specifically around the age of menopause?


Absolutely! The beauty of macros is literally it’s tracking your food intake to use as feedback for how to move forward in reaching whatever goals you have. Macros can be effective for women of all ages, sizes, stages of life, etc… For more information on what flexible nutrition (tracking your macros) is about, read up on our blog post “What is Flexible Nutrition?”.


If you are wanting to cut body fat, should you keep fat % low and protein % on higher side?


Not necessarily! Successful fat loss is all about an adequate protein intake (anywhere from 0.8-1.2g protein per lb body weight) and being in a calorie deficit. That is the bottom line! Whatever you feel is best for you and your body as well as what you can be most consistent with, that’s the key to successful fat loss! You can’t spot fat loss, and there definitely aren’t magic macro numbers. The magic comes from CONSISTENCY, your ability to learn as you go, and adjusting your numbers based on your progress. It’s important to make OUTCOME-BASED decisions when making adjustments to your macros. And you can only make outcome-based decision if you’ve been consistent with your numbers to know if they’re working for you in the first place!


When should you reevaluate your macros? I’m thinking it’s time for a change!


This is a pretty loaded question!! So many things to take into consideration…

  • What kind of change do you need?

  • Are you currently cutting, in maintenance, or bulking?

  • What’s your current level of consistency in tracking?

  • Are you having a hard time hitting your numbers?

  • Do you need a break from cutting?

  • What are your goals?

  • What do you want to get out of tracking your macros?

The more specific you get with your goals, the more specific you can get with how you want to approach macros and what kind of plan you want to create for yourself! If you want advice about reverse dieting after doing a cut, make sure to read up on our “Reverse Dieting FAQs” blog post!


I’ve been counting macros for 3 years, and lost about 30 pounds total, but as of the last year and a half, I have completely plateaued. This has been a bit discouraging. Sometimes I wonder if I need to change my macros? Or maybe I’m not eating enough? How do I figure this out to keep moving in weight loss? My original macros were 1450 calories, 80 carbs, 125 protein and 56 fat. Then my nutritionist changed it to 1406 calories, 53 carbs, 78 fat and 123 Protein.. I started in June 2016 at 160 pounds.


If you’ve been in a cut for 3 years then it’s most likely time for a reverse gal! Your body needs a break!!! It appears your nutritionist has you on a very low carb diet which if that is successful for you and what you enjoy then keep on doing your thing. Your only options when you plateau are theoretically to keep cutting calories or to REVERSE. And girl…you need to reverse! Make sure to read up on our blog post “Reverse Dieting FAQs”!


What equation do you all use to calculate your macros?


We use a combination of the Katch and Harris Benedict formulas to find your BMR. We then multiply by an activity multiplier to figure out your TDEE. Then we decide based on your goals what calorie deficit to put you in (if your goal is weight loss). Once we figure that out, we then figure out a balance of macros that we feel is best suited for you based off of your height, weight, age, dieting history, medical history, commitment, activity, and body type. We use our education and experience from working with over 1000 women on how to best. move forward with you and your goals!


If you are losing weight, do you need to recalculate your macros? If so, how often?


We recommend recalculating your macros for every 10-15 lbs lost or if your weight is the same but you’re body fat percentage is decreasing. If you’re making progress in either of those areas, we’d say that every 2-3 months you might want to re-evaluate, but honestly what’s MORE important is making OUTCOME-BASED decisions. Gauge your progress and if you need to make any adjustments based on if you’re seeing the results you want with the numbers you’re using.


With so many different tools out there to calculate macros, each giving you a different result, what's the best way to find what is best for you?


With so many calculators and coaches out there, you’re totally right. It can be confusing and overwhelming. Which is why when it comes down to it you need to understand that there are NO magic macros to give you the results you want. You can honestly find success with weight and/or fat loss with different macro ratios. This is because what matters MOST is overall calorie intake and adequate protein. The best approach is to stick to ONE set of numbers for at least 3 weeks, AT LEAST. Then (barring that you’ve been super consistent with those numbers) after the 3 weeks, take a look at the PROGRESS you’ve made. Use data that you’ve tracked (inches or lbs lost, PRs in the gym, pictures, how you’re feeling, etc…) to make OUTCOME-BASED decisions about how to proceed. Theoretically and put VERY simply, if you’re gaining weight with the macros you’re on, you’re in a calorie surplus. If you’re losing weight with the macros you’re on, you’re in a calorie deficit. If your weight stays the same, you’re in calorie balance.


I haven't been tracking for a couple of months now... luckily for me, I haven't gained. So I assume I've been eating at maintenance #'s. I think I'm about ready to cut and shed a little more fat. Not sure if I need to adjust my macros. Should I start tracking my current eating habits to see what my real intake is? And for how long?


Starting to track and see where you’re at is a great move for a couple reasons: make the transitions in phases vs. a tear out the closet let’s do ALL the goals...which can easily come from an all-or-nothing, let’s tear out the closet and start all over, white knuckle it until you burn out kind of place.

Start tracking for 3-4 days. How do you feel? What are you noticing? Are you eating as low or as high as you thought? Make sure you’re tracking things like this! Maybe that’s jotting them down in a note on your iPhone or maybe that’s getting a separate little journal to keep track of how you’re feeling.

Second cuts that did not include a reverse can be tricky depending on where you left off. Were you in a plateau—meaning had your metabolism downshifted? If you haven’t pushed your metabolism back up through a reverse it could still be functioning at a lower level which will obviously cause a problem when you try to cut again!


Can I save some macros in my macro bank to use the next day (or save a few for a few days) to use the next day (or within a few days) if I know I’d like to eat over my macros at a party/restaurant?


So, this is a loaded question. Theoretically, yes you could absolutely do this, treating the week as a complete bank of calories. And strategically organizing your days to accumulate calories for whatever day you plan. However, you’re also opening a huge messy can of worms—as well as some pretty intense mindset challenges.

It’s tricky for a few reasons. Even though we like to set up our weeks M-F, we all know that weight loss isn’t on a schedule. So with impending hormones, stress, etc, you never truly know until later if it’s an effective strategy to employ. Also, using this as a tool to have your events also works the other way. If you go over one day, are you going to inflict lower calories on yourself to “make up” for it, like a plan in reverse? This gets dangerous and becomes no different than a yyo diet, where you restrict and go big and back and forth.

Are you secure in your mindset and abilities to tackle this kind of strategy? Can you plan your week effectively and only use it as a strategy instead of a lifestyle? Prolonged under eating and then overeating WILL affect your metabolism, where your body will adapt to the lowest calorie balance it can rely on and with a surplus can use it as fat gain. It also depends on where you are in your goals and learning. IF you are new, I would advise NOT to do this. Some of you are working with a very low calorie balance already. Utilizing 500 one day and dropping 900 or even less is a dangerous strategy. This will create hunger as well as mood fluctuations. Not worth it for an evening out. The goal is to have balance, our bodies performing in the most ideal scenarios. Fat loss happens in a moderate deficit, not a severe one.

Our recommendation? Have an untracked meal. Plan for it. Eat plenty of protein, save your carbs and fat, do the best you can. You’ll feel empowered by strategies, not deprivation.

And that’s a wrap for this week! Hope you enjoyed this Q&A! But we have some questions for you…

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Too much to process?

Feel like you’re swimming in nutrition information and not quite sure what to do with it?

We hear you sister.

And we want to help.

We were there too!

Sign up below for our FREE Macros Masterclass where we share the 7 foundational things you need to understand about successful weight-loss and how to keep it off for good.


I want to attend the masterclass!

By clicking on the button below you’ll be able to sign up for our Macros Masterclass where we teach you the 7 foundational principles of macros that helped us lose a combined 100+ lbs and keep it off!

Understanding Calorie Burn


Where does your calorie burn come from?

Well, to talk about it we need to first define a few terms!

Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)

The combination of all metabolic and movement activities make up our TDEE.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR)

The minimum level of energy we need to use to maintain vital functions of the body (does not include digesting or physical movement).

Our BMR accounts for 60-75% of the daily energy we expend!

(Keeping us alive is hard work)

Literally the only thing we can do to increase our BMR is to gain lean muscle mass!

We will never shut up about gaining lean muscle mass.

#cantstop #wontstop

Truth be told however, gaining a bunch of muscle will only slightly increase your BMR.

Thermic effect of feeding (TEF)

Digestion, absorption and assimilation of ingested food/ nutrients is an active process: it takes energy.

The very act of eating food increases the metabolism.

How much it goes up depends on which macros we eat (often referred to as “the thermic effect”).

The best way to optimize your TEF is to hit your macro numbers and chew your food thoroughly!

Additionally, chewing your food well is one of the best things you can do to improve your digestion!

Proteins have the highest thermic effect, it takes the body more energy to process them, while fats tend to have the lowest thermic response.

Keep in mind though, that TEF has a fairly minor impact - usually around 5-10% of total daily energy expended.

Exercise activity (EA)

The energy used to perform purposeful exercise. 

For sedentary people, this can make up to 10-15% (or less) of TDEE.

The technical definition of sedentary is less than 5,000 steps a day.  

For highly physically active people, it can be 30% or more.

High intensity exercise not only creates a demand for energy during the actual activity, it also creates a higher demand after the activity due to excess post-exercise consumption (known as EPOC).

Best way to optimize your EA: lift weights 3-5 times a week, do cardio 3-4 times a week!

Use the following links for more info on:

Workout Intensity

High Intesnity Interval Training (HIIT)

"What weight should I lift?"

Beginners Weight Lifting Program


Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)

This is all the daily-life movement that isn’t deliberate exercise, such as:

Moving around our homes or workplaces.

Fidgeting and pacing, wiggling or tapping our feet.

Housework or yard work.

Playing with our kids or pets.

Carrying groceries.


This is an important part of weight loss or gain and unlike the rest of the factors: it is quite changeable!

So let’s explore it a little further, shall we?

Just like calories are king when it comes to energy consumption...overall activity is king when it comes to energy output.

If you do not workout and are sedentary for the most part…get started with 5-10 minutes of walking everyday and refer to our list below for more activity ideas!

If you DO workout but are mostly sedentary outside of that…take note of this little tidbit: Recent studies have found that sedentary people who exercised were at just as high risk for cancer, diabetes & heart disease as those who DID NOT exercise regularly.

There's no way to get around it: sitting for long periods is problematic.

Long periods of sitting will have a negative impact on your TDEE and increases muscle breakdown (a.k.a. catabolism).

And an hour a day at the gym just isn't enough to counteract that.

So what is the key to eliminating these negative health consequences and increasing the effect of NEAT on your TDEE?

(can you believe you just understood that sentence?)

The key is moving regularly and consistently throughout the day.


Some ideas to tidy up your NEAT:


Possibly the most underrated thing you can do to increase your level of activity!!

The amount of calories can vary quite a bit, but statistics show a good average is about 100 calories per mile.

One mile is about 2000 steps.

So 10,000 steps a day would burn approx 500 calories per day.

Do that every day and you've added an additional 3500 calorie burn! (Roughly equivalent to 1 lb of fat!)


Any age or fitness level can do it.

It’s free (no equipment needed).

It minimizes stress and anxiety.

Increases mood/ happiness.

Low risk for injury.

Stand up! 

While standing around isn’t exactly exercise, research shows it’s got more than a leg up on sitting.

By comparison, standing significantly increases your daily caloric expenditure!

Take the stairs

Get a fitness watch or pedometer

Even the best activity trackers can be miscalculating your daily calorie burn by as much as 27%...

BUT..they can still be incredibly helpful in tracking your steps and monitoring your heart rate!

It's a great tool to remind and motivate you to get up and move!

Jog in place!

Pace around while you are on phone calls!

Do toe touches or knee raises while you're watching tv!

Set an alarm

Put a reminder in your phone to get up and move around!

Mandatory 3-5 minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting.

Add in some stretching!

Bike to work

Go chair-less! 

Use this as an alternative to sitting round a table for meetings or lunches!

Standing or walking meetings may have other benefits such as increased alertness and creative thinking due to the change in scenery!

Toe taps

Speedily tap your toes on the floor

(you can do this seated--under your desk for example).

Or graduate to this harder (and less inconspicuous) move:

Stand in front of a step or small trash can and lift up those legs to tap the toes on its edge, alternating feet, in soccer-drill fashion.

Butt squeeze

Simply squeeze the buttocks, hold for 5-10 seconds & release.

Repeat until glutes tire!

The results will be uplifting in more ways than one :)

Why You're Not Hitting Your Protein Goal


For a new macro counter hitting your protein number might feel unreachable. It might look unattainable. But we want you to know you’re not alone! Many women who start tracking they’re macros struggle to hit their protein at first. When starting anything new, there’s a learning curve to be expected, and protein is the first thing on that learning curve in our opinion!

It’s pretty eye opening to realize how much protein your body needs, isn't it?!

But you know what? It makes sense since your body uses protein for almost everything it does!

You burn the most calories digesting protein and staggering your intake through the day helps you feel full and satisfied!

So even if you don’t ️ protein yet—it loves you!

Click here to read a love letter from protein.

In a cut your protein remains high while your carbs & fat are lowered—so you tend to rely more heavily on protein shakes etc. to hit your protein number.

However...when you are eating at a maintenance level your macro ratios won’t be so offset...

...and you will be able to fit in lots of regular foods with lots more ease.

2018-03-08 10.51.58 1.jpg

Water Warning!

Make sure to take your water intake up!

It’s not that protein makes you constipated it’s that it takes more water to digest protein!

So make sure you’re making a dedicated effort to drink more water!

And hit between 25-25 grams of fiber to keep things...well...moving along.

Tips for Hitting Your Protein Goal

If you’re hungry—go for protein!

When you’re sitting to eat: eat your protein first!

Have a high protein source at every meal, 20-30 grams at each sitting!

Always have at least 3 easy grab proteins on hand!

Ordering a sandwich/taco/salad etc? Ask for double the protein! 

Making a recipe? Double the protein!

Wherever you can double up!

Craving something sweet? Answer it with a protein shake or bar!
Both have a rep for being notoriously sweet, so that ought to kick (or at least dent) your munchiness!

Look at protein bars as a macro-friendly dessert—they are not a necessity to hit your protein number, but a treat that's fairly easy to fit into your day!


Our Favorite Quick Grab Protein Sources:

Some ideas to hit your protein goal!

Rotisserie Chicken (5oz = 37g protein)

Dickey’s BBQ smoked chicken (4oz = 20g protein)

Columbus Herb Turkey luncheon meat (3oz = 20g protein))

Columbus Turkey Bacon (12g protein)

Daisy 2% Cottage Cheese (13g protein)

Chicken patties (20g protein)

Turkey burger (35g protein)

Chobani Greek Yogurt (14g protein)

Cheese Head Light String Cheese (7g protein)

Fairlife Fat Free Milk (13g protein)

Costco 2.JPG
Costco 3.JPG
Costco 1.JPG

Our Favorite Ready To Drink Protein Shakes:

Premier Protein (30g protein)

GNC Lean Shake (vanilla bean) (25g protein)

Fairlife Core Power Elite (42g protein)

Mint Chocolate Ideal Fit.jpg

Our Favorite Protein Powders

IdealFit (use code MACROMOM for 10% off)


Optimum Nutrition

Collagen protein powder

High Fitness (use code BUTTERYOURMACROS for 10% off)

Clean Simple Eats (Simply Vanilla!)

Our Favorite Protein Bars:

G2G Bars (use code BUTTER for 20% off)

Fit Crunch

Power Crunch

Square Organics (use code BUTTERYOURMACROS for 20% off)

Rx Bars (some are risky, but the maple sea salt & dark chocolate sea salt are amazing)

Bottom line, is don’t be discouraged by the learning curve in the beginning! With some time, practice, and persistence, you’ll be a pro at protein in no time! You got this!

For a reminder of why protein is so important, read THIS.



Let's talk turkey!


Let's talk turkey..specifically, turkey day.

To track or not to track THAT is the question.

We want to emphasize that there is no wrong answer here—deciding what to do is more a matter of knowing yourself than knowing the macros on the menu.

So what feels better to you (a.k.a. gives you less anxiety): tracking or not tracking?

The case for tracking:

There's a lot of advice saying “relax it's one meal”.

First of all: in the history of relaxing no one has ever relaxed by being told to relax.

So that's not a thing.

And secondly if you're a person that struggles with an all or nothing mindset—going in without some awareness could end up with you going all bananas cream pie for a 4-day weekend...

...and ultimately feeling like you put a Brutus-like knife square in the middle of your own back.

So if this is you, make a game plan:

bring a dish yourself,

do some menu recon with your host

or layout a basic pre-plan of what you’re going to have.

Here are ballpark macros of likely foods you’ll run into:

🦃Turkey, dark meat with skin ((2-3 slices) F18 P65

🦃Turkey, white meat with skin (2-3 slices) F12 P65

NOTE: (subtract about 6 grams of fat for losing the skin)

🐾Stuffing (1 cup) F18 C42 P2

🥒Green bean casserole (⅓ cup) F9 C17 P3

🥔Mashed potatoes (1 cup) F9 C35 P4

🍮Gravy (¼ cup) F16 C8 P7

🍒Cranberry sauce (1 slice) F0 C22 P1

🍞Cornbread (1 3x3 piece) F5 C28 P4

🍠Sweet potatoes with marshmallows (1 heaping scoop) F9 C132 P2

🍰Pecan pie (1 slice) F27 C64 P1

🍰Pumpkin pie (1 slice) F14 C41 P6

The case for NOT tracking:

If you decide not to track, we support you!

You can still play it smart by sticking to serving up smaller portions, eat your protein first and eat plenty of it.

Taste everything but only eat what you really love! Stick to one plate!

One meal won’t wreck you physically.

Research shows that for every 1000 calories you consume above your total daily calorie burn...

the average person will only gain 1/5 of a pound..

(that's not a lot).

The scale might register higher of course because of all the factors we've mentioned before (sodium intake, undigested food in your stomach, water retention etc)...

But we're talking 1/5 - 1/2 of a pound of fat gain--

IF you really dedicated yourself to overeating.

So once again—one meal won’t wreck you physically...

but it can wreck you mentally...


If one untracked meal turns into an untracked day...

and then an untracked weekend.

But even then...what is the answer?

Just get right back to it.

No matter what damage you think you've done—

we're playing the LONG game here!

Every day is a new day: so just get right back to it.

Whatever you decide to do...

Make sure to hit plenty of protein early in the day (especially if you're not a big turkey fan) and try not to go in super hungry.

Going in super hungry can lead to more indulgent choices--you can curb your appetite with a protein shake or similar so you have a clear head!

Drink plenty of water, engage in conversation and get up and walk around--it doesn’t have to be totally and completely about the food.

And most importantly of all ENJOY YOURSELF.

Be deliberate

Like any other occasion, mentally plan for it.

Tracking isn’t just to make sure you don’t overeat, it’s also about making sure you get what you deserve!

It can be used to provide a perspective that is sometimes hard to see between the pie and potatoes.

We know that the intensity of family and traveling can be daunting--but it doesn't have to be.

Trust yourself...

and remember that this Holiday is about being grateful...'s about enjoying our lives and our favorite people!

Be deliberate about your choices...

decide to track or not to track...

decide to not make it a 4 day event,

decide to enjoy yourself and enjoy the Holiday!!!

Happy Thanksgiving from The Macro Challenge!!!


heidi // ashton // natalie

And if you haven’t joined our Free Mini Macro Challenge, we’d love to have you! It starts December 2nd!

All participants get our exclusive, 22-page Beginner’s Guide to Macros E-book!