Week 3 “Ask the Gals” Q&A

Hey! So I love all your info on cardio and weight training. I don't have a crossfit membership or a gym membership. I do have a Peloton that I ride and home. What are some good "weight" training or muscle building exercises I can do at home? I want to build more muscle, I just don't have any machines at my disposal. Thanks!

You don't have to have a gym to start building muscle! Do body weight exercises or get a set of resistance bands to start. You can purchase a set of adjustable dumbbells off Amazon to have a variety of weight!

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.  We talk more about fitness and fitness trackers in this week’s Facebook Live that you can rewatch HERE.

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. Read up on reversing to maintenance in our Beginner’s Guide to Macros.

Are you considered to hit your macros If you stay +\- 5 each time? Sometimes I have been hitting two categories but I’m usually under a few in one category.

Yes! +/-5 is considered a perfect day. Don't stress too much however to the point that it's tedious, that's why the buffer is put in.

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.

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!

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!!

No your macros don’t need to change! Watch this week’s Facebook Live for more on this from Heidi and Natalie.

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!


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?).


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!


    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!

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!

More often than not I don’t eat enough in a day, but I’m not hungry. So is it more important to hit my protein if I can hit anything else?

We calculated everyone (unless you specified otherwise) to be in a deficit, so you’re all technically UNDER your maintenance. If you’re having trouble hitting your numbers because it’s too much food, you might want to talk with your doctor. Heidi touched on this a little bit in her Facebook Live a week ago that you can rewatch HERE.

Wondering how you balance macros and working out while on your menstrual cycle? I always want to eat more when my cycle comes and it's really hard to be motivated to workout, for at least the first couple of days. Tips?

See answer above for all about what to do when Aunt Flow comes to visit!;)

I didn't get an email yesterday to check in. I can figure out how to find it on the site either (if that is even possible). Help! Thanks.

If you’re not getting your email check-ins, then please be sure to reach out to us at teamcaptains@themacrochallenge.com so we can make sure you’re all set!

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.

Hey! I’ve lost weight (like 30+ pounds since January) and have been cutting back calories for awhile and I feel like I’m not been making progress. I know I haven’t been 100% consistent with the macros and we are only a couple weeks into this, but I feel like lately my biggest thing is I feel hungry, especially on days I’m more active and I have run out of macros (and did hit my protein goal). What do I do? I have eaten more some of those days because I legitimately feel hungry, but I’m not sure if this is throwing me out of whack and feeling hungry on subsequent days after. Any helpful tips would be appreciated!!

If you continue to feel HANGRY when on your numbers, go ahead and add in 4g fat and 16g carbs (100 calories). See if that extra 100 calories helps you with consistency. If you continue to struggle with hunger, be sure to read up in our Beginner’s Guide to Macros if maybe it’s time for you to take a break and reverse to maintenance.

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 fats is also a lot to under shoot your fat by. We recommend that you at least get in 40g of fat to keep hormones regulated. Fats are good for you!  Dietary fat does many good things for us! But remember to not make a habit of exchanging, because then you’re really just counting calories and protein, which while effective, doesn’t give you the full effect of macros.

I haven’t made any progress for two weeks even though I’ve met my macros 6-7/7 days. My water and sleep have been pretty steady too. How do I know how much to decrease? My current macros are P: 140 C:143 F: 53. So if I decreased by 50 calories how do I break that down into carbs and fat? Thanks!

This is the first thing that Heidi and Natalie discuss in this week’s Facebook Live. Be sure to watch HERE to get your question more fully answered! But as far as how we recommend cutting calories, you just do a little bit of math. We recommend for 100 calories you do 4g fat and 16g carbs, which would be 2g fat and 8g carbs for 50 calories.

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.  Make sure to listen more on this topic in the Facebook Live, HERE.