“Ask the Gals” Answers
Your answers will be posted here throughout the week as you ask them. Check back here periodically to read up on the questions that your fellow mini challengers have! We’re here to learn together!
Q: What other factors go into determining your activity level? I'm a nursing mom of 3 kids under 5 who does High Fitness 1-2 times a week, and tries to walk/do an at-home work out, etc. the other days. How do you determine how sedentary/active you are?
A: Great question! This can be the hardest part of the equation because it is so open to interpretation. We would probably put you in the 1.3 - 1.35 area. Since you are a nursing mom we would advise you to start your macros pretty high and reduce them as needed to see progress--taking your numbers too low too quickly can impact your milk supply!
Q: What's the best way to calculate my macro numbers as a nursing mom (300-500 extra calories) on top of maintenance? Or do I use a deficit and add the 300-500 calories back in? And if I'm using maintenance numbers, will I see results in body composition rather than weight loss?
A: For most nursing moms we advise an add-on of 100-150 calories, we typically recommend +5 fat and +15 carbs. Whether you are adding this to maintenance or a deficit depends on your goals--but either way you would calculate your level and then add on the +5F and +15C to those numbers. If you are at maintenance (a.k.a. a calorie balance) then yes, you would be working on body composition rather than weight loss! It is a slower process but SUPER rewarding!!
Q: How do I track macros? Is there a chart? How do I determine what is in each food?
A: Yes! You want to be using the app MyFitnessPal. There is info on tracking in our Beginners Guide to Macros! We have also sent out a couple emails to you guys about weighing and tracking your food!
Q: What are some first steps in trying to optimize your numbers? I appreciate that counting macros is a more sustainable approach to weight loss and maintenance. It’s not a quick fix and I am truly enjoying the freedom it’s provided! But I’m currently only losing 0.5-1 pounds a week and not seeing much difference in my clothes. I’m confused about what to do if I want to take the fat loss to the next level in order to cut faster. I feel like it’s such a balancing act, you don’t want to eat to much OR too little. Do I reduce overall calories and keep percentages? Or reduce percentage of carbs? I know each body responds differently, I just don’t know where to start with modifying the numbers.
A: #1- Losing 0.5 - 1 pound a week is GREAT for sustainable weight loss, so unless you have quite a bit of weight to lose I would leave your numbers as is! The temptation to reduce your calories is real and in some cases is warranted--but we always want our clients to be eating as much as possible while still seeing results.
#2- Since I don’t know the specifics of your case, so if for example you have quite a bit of weight to lose than perhaps it would be beneficial to reduce your numbers. If it is we generally advise a reduction of -3F and -10 - 15C. But again I need to plug that a MODERATE calorie deficit is the best for weight loss. Anytime you cut calories your metabolism begins to slow down--it’s an evolutionary response by your body to keep you from starving to death. The more drastic your calorie reduction--the quicker your metabolism will slow down--which will cause your weight loss to stall out. Once your weight loss plateaus your only options are to reduce your calories again (which if you’ve already taken them super low can be incredibly bad for you)--or reverse diet backup to a higher calorie level (9 times out of 10 this is our recommendation).
Check out our How to Calculate Your Numbers guide for more info!
Q: Hi guys! First of all, I am LOVING all the resources you're sending my way this week. I am a self-taught macro counter, and have done a lot of reading/research on macros, etc. My fitness journey started last August, and so far I have dropped 22 pounds! I have been in a "cutting" phase for a while now, and think it's time to go back to maintenance because I'm getting burnt out/not staying very consistent with my macros. I kind of wanted to pick your brains a bit and see what you recommended for percentages? I've been seeing results with 40% protein, 30% fats, and 30% carbs, but have been curious about switching up those numbers and wanted to hear your thoughts on it!
A: AWESOME job--not only on your weight loss but on your self awareness here! Sounds like it is definitely time to reverse up to maintenance! It depends on your goals and your lifestyle--30% is a great ratio for fats. Depending on where you are at with your physical fitness, performance or muscle building goals you might want to play around with your protein and carb ratios! A 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carb split is very common for those interested in performance and building muscle!
Q: Do I need to buy MFP premium for this challenge? Recommend it? Thanks!
A: Honestly, if you plan to continue using MyFitnessPal to count macros--we totally recommend getting the premium. It’s such a headache without it! We aren’t affiliates and don’t get a kickback for recommending it, if we hear of a better/ cheaper app we will let you know!!
Q: How do you know when you need to up your macros due to hunger but still needing fat loss?
A: If you’re having trouble adhering to your numbers--up them to a level you can be consistent at! If you are staggering your protein throughout the day, getting quality rest and drinking plenty of water a cutting level should be annoying/not the funnest thing ever--- but also not hungry/ miserable/ impossible. If it’s feeling too much--up them!! You’ll be better of being consistent at a higher calorie level!
Q: I am unsure what my activity level is to calculate my numbers. The small print about our self assessment made me think I should go back a level haha! Could you go into a little detail of some examples of activity for the levels? For me, I go to Zumba 2-3 times a week, and lift with dumbells or do pilates in my basement 2/3 times a week. I guess I average 4/5 workouts a week with 2 being intense.
A: There is lots of variation between people--and honestly probably between days of the week for some of us (like a lazy Sunday for example!). We would probably put you in the 1.35 - 1.4 level! As coaches we always want to make outcome based decisions--and we want you guys to have this perspective as well! Do your best guess and try it out for 2 weeks! Then make adjustments based on those results--always keeping in mind it’s better to make your calorie deficit more moderate vs. more extreme!
Q: I’m looking to start weaning my son in the next bit. Should I lower my macros too since I won’t be burning as many calories? Technically I’m still in TDEE for myself, even if I’m not nursing, but don’t want to see weight I’ve worked hard to lose climb back on once I quit. 😊
A: Totally understand! As the process of weaning is fairly gradual (I’m assuming you’ve already gone from feeding for what feels like all day every day to now just a couple times etc) - if you need to reduce at all we would say -3F and -10C. Again, this would be an example of wanting to make outcome based decisions: you could keep your numbers the same and watch your measurements as you go forward or you could reduce your numbers and see if you can add in again at some point.
Q: My husband and I are both students, and we have been trying to eat healthier and count calories for about a year and have found things are expensive. How/where do you find stuff that are healthy and not break the bank?!
A: Great question!! If you watch the grocery store deals, boneless skinless chicken breast generally goes on sale at least once a month $1.99/ lb is a good price--if I see this I usually stock up! It’s an incredible versatile protein that is also low in fat! As far as protein powders go I think Optimum Nutrition is the cheapest brand I could comfortably recommend. Here’s the bottom line when it comes to saving money: the most done-for-you-easy-to-grab solutions are going to cost you. The more-inconvenient-do-it-yourself solutions are going to be more economical. Since you’ve been doing this for a year, I’m probably not telling you much that you don’t already know!
Q? How do I know how much of each macro to consume?
A: This is a tricky question to answer without more specifics! Generally speaking you’d want to divide your calorie intake into 30% protein 30% fat and 40% carbs--check out our How to Calculate Your Numbers guide for more info!
Q: When sharing small plates or family style eating at a restaurant, how can one really stay on track?
A: We are big believers in eating out and living your life regardless of what phase of macros you are in! You have 3 options when it comes to eating out: plan ahead (perhaps pre-log), do your best to play it smart/ keep track, or not track at all (and just get right back to it the next time you eat)! All are viable options and come down to the situation and who you are as a person!