The Ultimate “How To” For Flexible Dieting Mastery

Are you sick of nutritional programs or diets that do not fit your lifestyle? The Flexible Dieting Lifestyle is about teaching you every single you need to know in order to create the diet of your dreams while living the life of your dreams! 

Do I have your attention!?

If yes, then theres no need to go anywhere else! This is the "One Stop Shop" teaching you everything you need to know in order to become a Master Flexible Dieter!

In this guide, I am going to cover:

  • ​Our tool kit
  • How to translate the nutritional label (bulletproof you from all the BS)
  • Tracking our food intake
  • How to weigh foods with or without food label
  • How to calculate your caloric needs
  • How to calculate your perfect macros
  • Most important FAQs answered

Before We Begin

If you have yet to read the first post where I outline the basics of Flexible Dieting then go ahead and read it first because none of this will make sense if you skip right to here.

Step 1: Assembling Our Flexible Dieting Tool Kit

  1. Digital Food Scale (this is the one I personally use and it works really well)​
  2. Download Myfitnesspal App
    • My username is Rocheleauza if you want to friend me on there

Step 2: Learn How To Use Both Of These Tools

  1. How to use digital food scale video
    • Mike Vacanti at ontheregime.com did a great job with this video.
  2. How to use myfitnesspal video
    • Not going to reinvent the wheel. Fellow flexible dieter Tyler Mayer did a great job in this video explaining everything you need to know.

Step 3: How To Weigh Foods With Food Label

    Foods with food label

    Myfitnesspal scanner

    • When flexible dieting, foods with food labels make life super duper easy. They will more than likely have a barcode you can scan with the myfitnesspal app and it'll pull up the nutritional info right up.

    Serving Sizes

    • This is super important and something that most people do not look at!
    • Almost everything you consume has multiple servings in it and the food label is only per serving
    1. Ex. The Poptart 
      • We all know that pop tart packages come in packs of two and most would assume that a serving size would be 1 pack. Well at least I always thought that
      • A lot of my clients have not been accurate with their tracking in the beginning because of misreading of serving sizes. 

      Hot Fudge Sundae Poptarts (my pop tart of choice growing up)

      • So if you eat a pack of pop tarts (2 pastries instead of 1) you are eating 380 calories, 10g fat, 68g carbs and 4g protein instead of 190 calories 5g fat, 34g carbs and 2g protein. Thats a BIG difference! 
    • So don't get tricked by those serving sizes!

Measuring Da Meats

  • ​Most meat products have nutritional labels on them when you buy them from the store.
  • If you buy from a butcher or farm, you can search the nutritional information of the cut just from a simple google search or on myfitnesspal
  • The food label on the meat package is the serving size weighed out raw
    • Ex. Publix 97% lean chicken breast. Look at the food label and notice that it will say 4 oz "raw" for the nutritional info that comes out to be around 3g fat, 0g carb and 24g protein. That means that you have to weigh it out raw in order to use that info.
    • If you want to weigh your chicken out cooked, you will multiply how ever ounces you have cooked by 1.4 to get the nutritional info because the cooking process dehydrates the chicken causing it to be lighter when cooked. (this is an estimation, not a perfect science)
      • Ex. You have 5.25 oz of cooked chicken breast. You would multiply by 1.4 to get the actual nutritional info of the raw chicken breast. 
        • You would get 7.35 oz of chicken. 
        • So you would use that 7.35 and divide that by 4 to get the serving size of 4 oz raw chicken breast (stated above) which would come out to be 1.8125. Then you would put that into myfitnesspal and it'll spit of 5.5g fat, 0g carbs and 43.5g protein. 
        • I will have a whole separate post in the future talking about how to do this with every kind of meat

Step 4: Measuring Foods Without Food Label

Fruits and Veggies​

    • ​A simply google search will yield you many different options
    • For example: If you wanted to find the nutritional information for a red delicious apple, you would simply search "USDA Red Delicious Apple."
    • You will get options like:
      • Calorieking
      • myfitnesspal
      • Fatsecret
      • Sparkpeople
    • Just pick one of those nutritional info websites and then add it into myfitnesspal or search myfitnesspal and find an entry that is in line with the nutritional info you found on one of those sites.
    • It is that easy!

Step 5: Eating Out At Restaurants

Track macros and still have a social life​

​Have you ever had that moment when you were either on a diet or on a meal plan and your friends were like, "hey you wanna go out and grab a bite to eat with me?"

​You respond with, "Sorry, I am on a diet and I can't have those type of foods." Or even better with, "Sorry that does not go along with my meal plan."

​Well one of the best things about flexible dieting is the fact that you can eat out and still hit your macros = you getting lean while not being antisocial hermit

The whole point of flexible dieting is to provide you with freedom and being able to eat out is one of those freedoms unlike a following a meal plan that is boring and not flexible.

  • ​Tip #1: Plan Ahead Before You Go
    • The key to hitting your macros while eating out it to plan ahead what you are going to get from these restaurants and plug it into your macros
    • Most restaurants have nutritional information online (this information is usually within 90% accurate so that is close enough)
  • Tip #2: Overestimating or Underestimating
    • If you are cutting overestimate by at least 10% on the fat and carbs numbers they give you while underestimating on the protein by 10%
    • If you are not cutting, then don't stress over it!
    • I think you get the idea. Don't stress over the fact that it is not the actual restaurant. It is close enough!

Step #6: Learning To Eyeball Potion Sizes

Not becoming a slave to your scale: The ultimate goal 

When you are measuring out your foods, start to take notice of what a serving size looks like for each food choice. This important for a few reasons:

  1. Not to have to weigh every single little thing you eat
  2. Give you the freedom to still be able to go to family or friends parties, and still be able to hit your macros. You are able to eyeball portion sizes and guestimate. 
  3. Go on vacation without your scale! Everyone dreads the weight they gain on vacation but with the ability to eyeball, you will probably come back lighter than when you left! (this happens to me almost every time!)
  4. Then no more scale at all because you can eat track intuitively! 

​How I got really good at eyeballing:

  • ​When I knew I wasn't good at eyeballing a certain type of food, I would make a game out of trying to guess serving sizes.
  • How to play:
    1. First, take your scale and what ever plate or bowl you are going to be using and zero it out on the scale. 
    2. Then, take the bowl or plate off the scale and try to eyeball the serving size you want to have. 
    3. For example, if you are weighing out oatmeal and you want 1 serving (40g), see if you can pour a 40g serving just by eyeballing it. 
    4. To test, you simply put the bowl or plate onto the scale and then you get to see how close you were! 
    5. The goal is to be within 10% almost every time in order to classify yourself as a master eye baller! 

"Eye" Ballin!

I'll be honest, this takes a lot of practice but in the long run, it is such a liberating feeling to be in control no matter the situation! 

Step #7: Calculating Your Calories

​The real way to calculate your calories

I ​am not a big fan of giving a special calculations right away to figure out your caloric intake because I have realized after coaching many clients that the number varies quite substantially.

I ​am going to take you through the same process that I take all my clients through.

  • Eat exactly how you normally would. We want a completely accurate picture of how much your normally eat and what ratios of macronutrients make up those calories. 
    • This will give us your budget of calories of calories that have gotten you to this point. And also will give us the macro nutrient ratios as well that will help us understand your body composition as well. 
  • You are probably thinking, "Zach, why can't you just give me a complex equation in order to calculate my calories and start today with that number!?" Well we first have to see what has gotten you to this point and then we can use a super cool equation 🙂
  • Alan Aragon's Total Energy Expenditure Equation
    • Total Caloric Intake = Target Bodyweight in pounds x (8-10 or 9-11 + Average total weekly training hours).
    • Woman or Less Active Person: (this number will be put in that first part of the equation where you multiply your target bodyweight with it.)
      • 8 = Low Intensity Training 
      • 9 = Moderate Intensity Training
      • 10 = High Intensity Training
    • ​Man or More Active Person: 
      • 9 = Low Intensity Training
      • 10 = Moderate Intensity Training
      • 11 = High Intensity Training
    • Lets use one of my clients as an example:
      • She was 5'4" and 160 lbs when she first started with me and she wanted to lose about 20 lbs in 3 months.
      • She is moderately active (strength training 3-4 times/wk) with walking and light activity on off days from the gym
        • So according to this info, her goal weight is 140lbs, her workout intensity is high and her training hours on average are about 3. So here equation would look like:
          • 140 x (10 + 3) = 1,820 calories
        • This would put her at 1,820 calories
  • Adjust based on your rate of weight loss or weight gain
    • After tracking your intake for 10-14 days, if you are loosing or gaining weight to fast or slow, then adjust your calories accordingly.
    • It's safe to say a 10% change up or down is best keep progress going
    • Ex. If fat loss has come to a halt at 1,800 calories, then I would drop by 10% which would put me down 180 calories and my new calorie goal is 1,620 calories 

    The equation above is meant for those who exercise but what if you do not exercise?

    • ​I advise taking your current bodyweight and multiplying by 10-11 in order to find your maintenance calories.
    • So if you weigh 165lbs, it would be 165 x 10 and you would get 1650 calories.

Step #8: Calculating Your Macros

Did you do your homework!?

If you read the first post, I gave you homework to start tracking your intake for 3 days. 

If you did this, I want you to look at your average macronutrient ratios (proteins, carbs and fats) for the days and compare them to the recommendations I give you below.​

What somatotype are you? Why I changed my mind on this.

I used to think that body types can determine what types of food you should be eating in order to fuel your activities. But the more and more I read the research and see it through application with my clients, it is really not that accurate for determining the macro ratios someone should be taking in.

​Yes our physique characteristics have been linked to metabolic difference between individuals but the affect is so small.

So where do we begin?

1. Determining Your Protein:

We do this first because protein intake is our most important priority in regards to our macronutrients. This intake becomes more and more important when in a caloric deficit (dieting).

  • ​When Dieting/Cutting: 1.0-1.3g per pound bodyweight
  • When at Maintenance calories: 0.8-1.1g per pound bodyweight
  • When in Surplus (gaining weight): 0.7g-1.1g per pound of bodyweight

Why the variance in recommendations? Well because protein plays many different roles and the demands on protein vary depending on whether you are cutting, maintaining or gaining. 

So when dieting, your protein needs increase to help maintain your hard earned muscle. Not going to go into too much detail on that because I know you know by now that protein is pretty darn important!

Why decrease protein when at maintenance or gaining? Well because we have more energy (calories) coming in, we will be able to take in more carbohydrates and fats, which are muscle sparing. This simply means that they allow protein to be used to build and preserve muscle rather than have to be used for energy.

    2. Determining Your Dietary Fat

    Why calculate your fats next? While dietary carbs are very important for performance, they are not absolutely necessary for the optimal health of our bodies. 

    Dietary fat intake can really vary due to personal preference but here is what I like to recommend:

    • When cutting: 15-25% of total calories
    • When maintaining: 20-30% of total calories
    • When gaining: 25-35% of total calories

      As you can see this can vary. Yes 15% can seem really low but that is the absolutely bare minimum intake when someone is in the deep depths of a diet. A chronic intake of 15% would not be healthy but that's why we don't diet forever. Keeping fat that low will allow you to use some more carbohydrates to help fuel your training and your muscle mass.

      And for when you are maintaining or gaining, those recommendations can really vary based on personal preference as long as you are not dipping below that 20% threshold. The 20% will at least ensure you are getting in enough dietary fat to maintain healthy hormone production/health.​

      3. Determining Your Carbohydrate Intake

      Now this part is easy! Here's all you gotta do:

      • Take your remaining calories and throw them all towards your carbohydrate intake. So all you have to do is take the rest of the calories and divide by 4 and that will give you your carb intake.

      My Recommendation:

      ​These numbers are not set in stone and are just a starting point. Remember that each and every one of us are unique and have unique ratios that will work best for us. 

      This is a great learning experience to play around with these ratios and find out what works for you. Just know that those ratios are based in science to be great to stay within but going up and down those ranges are perfectly fine! ​

      Step #9: Fiber Intake

      Why it is super important and how much you should be taking in

      • ​Americans consumes about 15g of fiber per day on average….. I eat that much before 8:00am
      • Fiber is a thermogenic  which simply means that is takes a lot of energy (calories) to digest them. So thus someone eating 250g carbs per day with 15g fiber is much different metabolically than someone who is eating 250g carbs per day with 40g fiber due to the difference in thermogenesis. 
      • Important for gut health and motility.
      • Blunts insulin response from higher glycemic carbs
      • Thus Low fiber diets are associated with many health problems such as 
        • Cardiovascular disease and high blood fats
        • GI Disorders, cancers and poor bowel function
        • Diabetes
        • Excess Body Fat
        • High Blood Pressure
      • So how much is enough!?
        • Women should aim for 20-30g of fiber a day
        • Men should aim for around 30g-45g per day
      • And I know people who can go all the way up to the 60g-70g per day and feel great so listen to your body with fiber intake. These are just suggestions. If you feel bloated and are above the normal suggestions I've made, then cut it back a bit and see how you feel.
      • Pro tip: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans are all high in fiber so add those into your diet to easily hit your fiber.

      Step #10: If You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail

      Planning your meals for the next day the night before​

      • ​One thing that helped me so much when I first started counting my macros was to simply plan out most of the next days meals the night before. 
        • This will ensure that you don't end up at 8pm and you have 80g of protein left with no carbs or fats and you have to chalk down a massive protein shake…. (I wouldn't wish that on anyone)
        • I advise that you plan at least 2/3 of your meals for the next day and leave a balance between carbs, protein and fats to give you some flexibility with a spontaneous choice throughout the day.
        • By planning the night before, you also save precious time during the day scrambling trying to figure out what you are going to eat.
          Trust me, when I first started tracking my macros, I would spend hours throughout the day trying to figure out what I was going to eat in order to hit my macros. Waste of time…..

      Bonus FAQs

      1. Fat loss has stopped and I have no idea what to do. How do I modify my macros in order to get the fat loss started again!?

        • First, we want make as small of a change to our calories as possible in order to create fat loss
          • Ex. Fat loss has stalled at 1500 calories so all you do is take away 100 calories and see if fat loss starts again for at least 1 week.
        • But which macronutrient do you take the calories from?
          • From either your carbs or fats. Protein always stays at least at 1g/lb of bodyweight and should be higher during fat loss phases. Preferably 1.25 during fat loss phase to ensure you don't lose any of your hard earned gainzzzz
        • How do you determine if you take from your carbs or fats?
          • Most times you will take from your carb intake but if your fat % is higher than your carb % then you take from your fats first.

      2. I heard fat makes you fat! Is this true!? (I still get this question on a daily basis when I first give my client their macros)

        • In short, dietary fat does not make you fat.
          • Dietary fat is digested much slower because it is a much denser source of energy compared to carbs or protein. Remember dietary fat has 9 calories per gram compared to protein and carbs 4 calories per gram.

      3. I love alcohol and want to still go out and drink with my friend. Do I have to give up alcohol or my treasured wine in order to get in great shape? 

      • 1g alcohol = 7 cals
      • Track alcohol by taking the calories of your drink of choice and then divide it by 9. You will subtract this number from your daily allotment of fats.
      • Why fats and not carbs?
        • The main site of alcohol metabolism is in liver and also in the brain which is why you get intoxicated when consuming too much.
        • Alcohol is digested in the liver as a poison, as in, your body has no capacity to store it like the other macronutrients. Thus it is given top priority by our metabolism to get rid of it.
        • This increased urgency to metabolize the alcohol substantially slow dietary fat metabolism thus causing a big increase in the chances that dietary fat intake while consuming alcohol will be stored as fat.
        • Beer example: 1 12oz Bud Light = 110 calories
          • 4 cals/g carbs so you divide 110 by 9 and you get 12.2g
          • Then you subtract 12g from your fats for the day
          • So if you were eating 60g of fats for the day, you would have 48g of fat left.
        • Liquor example: Whiskey and Diet Coke
          • 0 cals for the diet coke. 1 shot of whiskey = 72 calories. Divide 72 by 9 and you get 8.
          • Then you subtract 8g from your fats for the day.
        • Wine Example: 
          • 5oz glass of red wine = 125 cals
            • Divide 125 by 9 and you get 13.888
            • Subtract 14g from your fats for the day
          • 5oz glass of White Wine = 120 cals
            • Divide 120 by 9 and you get 13.3333
            • Subtract 13g from your carbs for the day

      ​4. Ok I am super excited to start counting my macros but should I still count my calories!?

        • Nope! you only have to worry about the macros because remember that our macros are what make up our calories!
          • If we hit 150g protein, 200g carbs and 50g fat then we will hit our calorie goal of the day of 1850 calories
            • 150g protein x 4 = 600 cals, 200g carbs x 4 = 800 cals, 50g fat x 9 = 450cals
            • 600 + 800 + 450 = 1850 calories! It's magic!
            • So just hit your macros and you are good to go!

        5. Is the world going to end if I don't hit my macros exactly!!??

          • Absolutely not! Unless you are 3-4 weeks out from a physique competition, don't freak out!
          • You want to at least be within 10% of your macros

          Says 190 cals when its really 205! Frauds!

          6. I hit my macros but I didn't hit my calories! What the heck is going on!?

          • ​This is not your fault! It's the FDA's fault! The FDA allows food companies to round their calorie totals down in order to get pretty even numbers. Complete crap if you ask me….
          • So for example, this label to our right says this food has 190 cals per serving. But when you do the math:
            • 17g fat x 9 cals per g = 153 calories
            • 6g carbs x 4 cals per g = 24 cals
            • 7g protein x 4 cals per g = 28 cals
            • 153 + 24 + 28 = 205 calories!

          7. What do I do if I went over on my carbs for the day but still have a good amount of calories left to hit!?

          • Not a big deal! All you will do is figure out how many grams of carbs you went over by and then subtract that from either your fats or protein intake for the day. 
            • Example: You went over your carbs by 30g which equates to about 120 cals
              1. You could take the calories from your fat intake for the day which you could do by dividing 120 by 9. This will give us about 13g of fat to take away in order for us to hit our calorie goal
          • In the short run, this is not a big problem at all! Just make sure you hit your calorie goal by subtracting your fats for the day in order to make up for our increased intake of carbs!
          • And yes you can do the opposite if you go way over on your fat intake. Simply multiple how many grams your went over and multiply it by 9 to get the calories. Then divide that by 4 and that is how many grams of carbs your need to subtract. 

          8. What if I go crazy and eat like Joey Chestnut at the Hotdog Eating Contest and go way over my macros!?

          • Not a big deal at all! Use that extra fuel the next day to kill your workout!
          • But if it is something that you are worried about, Just make sure the next day you try and go under your normal intake to balance it out. And no I do not mean starve yourself! Just a little bit less than normal
            • Hit your normal protein intake or even slightly above but go under on your carbs and fat intake.

          9. I'm not hungry in the morning and like to just drink my coffee and get my day started. Do I have to eat breakfast since it's the most important meal of the day? (I get this one alllllll the time!)

          • Nope! You are than welcome to skip breakfast and just have your coffee!
          • As long as you are hitting you hit your macros by the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you eat it all for dinner, breakfast or spread it out across the day.

          10. I don't have a digital food scale but I have measuring cups. Can I just use them?

          • Digital food scale is super accurate. Measuring cups are not.
          • Some days you are going to hungry more than others and you will be tempted to do a heaping cup full instead of just a cup. This leads to you consuming an extra 200-300 calories in a day. Over the course of the week that can lead to upwards of 1000-2000 calories!
          • Get a digital food scale please. Here's the link again! Order it!

          11. Do I have to count macros forever!?

          • Absolutely not!
          • After awhile, you'll see that you have a good idea of what and how much you need to eat to maintain your weight and/or leanness.
            • This takes time but once you learn how to eyeball portion sizes and listen to your bodies hunger cues, flexible dieting will allow you to have the most sustainable diet you will ever have!

          What's Your Budget?

          In the comments below, tell me how many calories you thought you were eating before tracking and how much you really were eating. I'll be honest, almost 95% of the time you will be way off! Be honest because I'd love to see what your working with!​

          Up next on our Flexible Dieting Mastery agenda is "when is the best times to eat your meals?" Answering questions like, "do I have to eat breakfast?" or "won't carbs after dark make me fat!?" and along with any other question you could ever think of. Here is it so keep the momentum going! ​

          And if you did not read the first post of the Flexible Dieting 101 series, be sure to check it out because it goes over why Flexible Dieting works and why most diets do not. Here it is​ 🙂

          ​Oh and if you enjoyed this post please share with anyone you think would benefit from this! 🙂

          And if you are not part of the Flexible Dieting Lifestyle Community and want to learn more about this Flexible Dieting thing, sign up to get all these great knowledge bombs sent directly to your inbox!

          ​Thanks and God Bless,

          ​Zach

          Ohh and P.S. Friend me on Facebook or follow on Instagram to see all the other awesome stuff I post (well awesome to me..) that doesn't make it to the blog!

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          Comments 51

          1. I have been trying to stay below 1500 calories for quite some time now, but I have not been tracking and I am sure I have been taking in at least 2000 per day.

            1. Post
              Author

              Hi Mary!

              Well that is a good thing! That means that you have a lot of room to make a ton of progress! In the beginning, the more we can find that we are doing wrong, the more room for improvement that we have!

              1. Hey! Quick question– for calculating macros, do I use my target bodyweight in pounds or my current bodyweight in pounds? Thanks! P.S. So stoked for your 10k challenge!

                1. Post
                  Author
          2. Ok, I am a chic and do no look like the skinny sprinter, nor the stout crossfitter chic (although this would be awesome to be this strong) , nor do I look like JJ Watt. But I decided I fall into the JJ Watt category. Does this mean my fat loss macros should be at this breakout?

            1. Post
              Author

              Hi again Shelby!

              Yes I fall between two categories as well so don’t feel this isn’t normal! I gave these references because they are general starting guidelines that you can change over time once you get more in tune with your body and training. If you think you fall into that category of body type, then yes go with that and then see how you feel. This is an education process that will allow you to be to modify your nutrition to any goal you set! Have fun with it and enjoy the process because it is a truly freeing process 🙂 I wish you all the best!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          3. Hey Zach,
            Really great reading. Thanks for putting this out there-super helpful.
            Little background, 44yr old female, wife, mom to 2 girls, have always worked out 6-7 days a week (those rest days are tough for me to do). Adopted the paleo diet 4 yrs ago which initially helped teach me a ton. What? I could actually eat without getting fat? Huge epiphany.
            Doing a bootcamp/crossfit-type of workout during this time. Have to say I got burned out after 2yrs of this workout (6-7 days is likely not smart), and quit this to start barre classes. Really wanted a long lean feminine look instead of bulkier muscles (& my traps had had it!)
            Former runner but am passionate about barre classes. Running has been taxing on the bod, barre is something I can do forever.
            Ok, so started tracking macros in October 2015….what a huge revelation! With my paleo coffee with heavy cream, I was hitting my fat #’s for the day! Yikes!! Since tracking I’ve gone from 136lbs (5ft. 8in, almost) 🙂 to 130lbs and am absolutely convinced this is the way to LIVE life.
            Here’s my goal: 125
            Equation: 125 (9+6)= 1875
            Initially at 136lbs I had macros as follows:
            135g protein, 120gcarbs, 67gfat
            New macros: 125 protein, 63fat, 141 carb-look correct?
            It’s great and all to read about all these women who lift and see what they eat on their posts, but I’m not lifting heavy nor do I want to. So wanted to run this past you to make sure I’m on track.
            Lastly, I’d love to be that person who can pull stuff off the shelf in the grocery store and say, “wow, such great macros”….how do I get there? I’m sure with time but are there tricks to start incorporating this now?
            Finally, thanks for the recipes. They’re great and have loved being able to pull something quick when needed.
            Have a good one, Alicia

            1. Post
              Author

              Hi Aicica!

              First off, great work so far! Sounds like you are off to a great start and hope my material has helped you a little bit along this learning curve!

              In regards to your macros, they look great to me! Low carb doesnt work too well with women do to different hormonal needs so I like where your intake is. And with being able to become a macro magician shopper, that’ll come with time! You just have to look at different categories of foods and ask yourself the questions, “are there any better options out there with better macros” And then you go to the store in search of that 1 food item that will yield better macros than the one you are currently taking in. Make sense!?

              Wish you all the best!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          4. In currently training for my second bikini show. My first one I got dangerously low on macros and had a TERRIBLE rebound. That was over a year ago. This one I still think I’m getting a little low but I ant to reverse diet out of it. What’s the best way to figure my macros from there? And then cut back down for another show. My goal is to train myself for the next one but I want to stay relatively lean of course! Any advice?

            1. Post
              Author

              Hi Destiny!

              Don’t beat yourself up about the rebound! It is so common and is something that our bodies just crave to do because its a survival mechanism.

              In regards to your reverse diet, I would say that you try to get back maintenance calories as quickly as you can in order to get your metabolism back to normal. But to do this, you can just focus on adding 5-10g carbs and 3-5g fat per week. And you can tinker with these numbers based upon how your body comp is coming along. Just know that you are going to put on a little bit of weight due to holding a bit more water. Just focus on taking update picture to truly measure your progress with the reverse diet.

              Hope this helped!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          5. Really great information!
            Okay, so I’ve been tracking what I eat for about 2 years now and I’ve messed around with macros before but I don’t think I was doing it right. Just recently I’ve been carb cycling but I like the IIFYM thing so I’m trying to give it another shot but making sure I’m going about correctly first (hence why I signed up for your 101)

            So I’m pretty active. I work out 6 days a week (weight training 5-6, with 2-3 days of cardio) which on average is probably about 6 hours a week, so I suppose I would be a 10? Plus I like to walk and play some sports in my free time. I’d say I’m between mesomorph and endomorph but I’m going with endomorph for my calculation. I’ve been eating between 1,400-1,800 calories. I’m about 5’4 and 148 and I’d like to be 135.
            So, 135 x (10+6)= 2,160

            Carbs= 135g
            Protein= 189g
            Fat=96g

            Does this sound right?

            Thank you for your help!

            1. Post
              Author

              Hi Emily!

              So glad that you joined the course and hope you are getting a ton of value out of it so far 🙂

              In regards to your questions, you can track macros and carb cycle at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive. Tracking macros is universal across the board. Carb cycling is a tool that can be used to manipulate change via changing your macros but you are still tracking them. Does that make sense?

              And about your macros, I would say you got it right except for I would go for a lot less protein and fat. Without really any data on you except for what you’ve told me, I would drop your fats down to around 70g, drop your protein to 150 and up your carbs 210g. Then track your bodyweight every morning, dry, and see what your weight is doing. Do not change anything for at least 10 days because women tend to fluctuate like crazy in bodyweight. Just take the weekly averages and see if that number is trending down.

              Hope all this helped!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          6. Hey Zach!

            I am a young female athlete about to enter the life of college athletics playing soccer. On days I don’t have soccer or do cardio I try to hit the weights to build muscles in my legs. I am 6 feet tall and weigh about 148. I just want to maintain my weight (maybe gain muscle). Right now I weight train 3-4 times a week and the other days I usually have soccer or do some sort of cardio/long walk. I would say I am a mesomorph so my macros would be something like this
            lets just say my goal is 150 lbs

            150(9+6)= 2,250
            protein: 168
            carbs: 225
            fats: 75

            Does this look right?
            I follow you on instagram and I know you started to carb cycle (low carb moderate, and high) carb days. I was wondering on days I lift should I eat more carbs as apposed to days when I just have practice or go for a run? or vice versa? what about rest days? Should I lower the amount of calories I eat?

            Thanks for your help!

            Hannah

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              Hi Hannah!

              Those are all great questions! Those macros look solid to me! I would advise the cycling with higher carb/cal on your lifting days and soccer days. Then just lower carb/cal on your rest/walk days. Just take those macros you came up with and multiply them by 7 to get the weekly total. Then just spread them out based upon your activity level! The days you move the most, you will use more macros in the form of carbs. The days you don’t move as much, you just eat less in the form of carbs. Make sense!?

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          7. Hey Zach, Just getting started here after years of yo-yo diets and I wanted to clarify something, (maybe I missed it). Is there a caloric goal to start at? I am an endomorph and have entered the macro percentages into MFP but it still is looking for a total caloric intake to hit to give me totals on all of those. I am 240lbs, 5’11” male, 35. Sorry if I missed it.

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              Hey Keith!

              Glad to hear you have joined the Flexible Dieting team! Yes it is in this post you commented on. Go back to step 7 and you will be given exactly how to figure this out!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

              1. Wow, totally skimmed too fast! Thanks for that. I had question about the alcohol. If 1g of alcohol is 7 cal, then wouldn’t you divide by 7 to figure out how many carbs are in an alcoholic beverage? Or am I not understanding this?

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                  Author

                  Great question I need to dive into a bit more in the future. Alcohol does have 7 cals per g but it is much easier to just track at a carb due to its energy properties. So all I do is take a alcoholic drink I’m having for example, a Bud Light. 1 of these has 110 calories so all I would do is divide it by 4 and then that will give you the amount of carbs I will track it as. So one of these bud lights would knock out 27.5g of my carbs for the day. Make sense?

          8. Hi Zach,
            I’ve studied the macros and this is what I’ve come up with:
            Protein 150 g
            Carbs 61 g
            Fat 47 g
            Calories 1400-1800/day
            Carb cycling with 4 low carb days, 2 high carb days, and 1 “clean cheat” day

            I’m 5’3″. My Goal weight is 145 lbs.
            Im lightly active (as I haven’t started weight training or cardio yet). So, I calculated 145(9-14 total)= 1305-2030 calories. If I do 145(8 total) I would be under 1200 which multiple sources say is not recommended to go below 1200 cals daily. My question : is my math correct and once I start weight training and cardio 3-6 days a week, will these values change much more? Also, how do I adjust the macros for higher carb days? Thanks for all your help!!!

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              Hi Jenn!

              Those macros are a bit too low especially the carbs. That is only just over 1200 cals for the day. I would up the carbs to about 125g and drop the protein to 130g and fats to 45g. Then once you start training, you can up them based upon where you are on that activity continuum and based on what your weight is doing. To figure out your higher carb days, you will need to just multiple your daily average macros by 7 and then a 40-45% of your weekly carbs on those 2 days and then spread them out the rest of the week.

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          9. I am having a hard time deciding between what body type I am. I have a few endomorphic traits ie. wanting to lose fat around my midsection, however I also have mesmorphic traits ie. build muscle mass pretty easily and I want to maintain a low body fat percentage. How do I decipher what macros to follow if I feel somewhere in between??

            Thanks!
            PS i love this blog and this flexible dieting plan already. I have always had a “good/bad” view of food and the way you have explained it has really opened up my eyes to how I should be seeing food!

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              Hi Melissa!

              So glad to hear you are enjoying the content and Flexible Dieting! Just modify your macros to percentages in between those 2 body types. Hope that helps!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          10. Hi Zach,
            First of all I want to say thanks for all of the great info and all the hard work that you have done.

            I am a 51 and have been doing crossfit for about four years. My husband and I own a business that does your hydrostatic body composition testing.
            Weight-132.9
            Height-5’3″
            Lean-115.2
            Body fat-16
            Body fat%-12.2
            RMR-1650
            I have come a long way from 220lb😊
            I do try a lot of different programs and have a lot of success but I am looking for that lifelong plan!

            The last 27 days I have been doing flexible dieting!?!?!?(before I read your information) so now I’m ready to start!
            My macros for the three days where…
            Calories-1628 p/108 c/197 f/45
            Protein-25% 129,96,98
            Carbs-50% 219,175,197
            Fats-25% 35,47,43
            On this I felt really good but my thighs were getting bigger.

            Learned from you that my body type is mostly endomorphic.
            So I took/ 125x(10+4)=1754
            Protein-35%=153
            Carbs-25%=110
            Fats-40%=78
            I started doing this yesterday.
            I slept really good but my workout seamed harder this morning!

            If you think I should stick with this I will make it work but adjusting to the lower carbs is a challenge!
            Hope this is not two much info but wanting to make sure I am doing the right macros!
            Thanks
            Jennie

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              Author

              Hi Jennie!

              Welcome to the Flexible Dieting team! So glad you are starting 🙂 Such a cool business you guys run too!

              In regards to your macros, I would lower your protein to 130g, lower fats to 60g, and up carbs to 170g. That would be my best advice! See what you think and hit your workouts hard!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          11. I’ve been counting macros for awhile now but am not sure if they are right for me and my goals. I’m 24 years old 65kgs 164cm and eating 140g P/ 105g C and 47g F and I would say my body type is Endomorphic. My goal is to lose at least 3kgs and build lean muscle. I work out 6x per week with weight training and minimal cardio. Thanks 🙂

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              Hi Sarah!

              From what you are telling me, I’d drop protein down to 130g, up carbs to 130g and drop fats down to 45g. Monitor what your body does and go from there! Don’t be afraid to add in cardio.

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          12. Hey Zach,

            Thanks for the information Brother- I’m excited to get started. I have been on a weight loss journey now for about a year and a half. I have tried a bunch of different ways of eating and I have had success. I have actually lost over 100 pounds through better nutrition and exercise. On the nutrition side, calorie restriction, high in protein, low in carbs. It has worked for me, but I’m seeking balance in my diet and something that is sustainable for the long haul. I think I have found my answer here!

            I’m currently 5’11” 240 pounds, and I would like to get to between 195-200 when all is said and done. I’m a naturally bigger guy, I played offensive line in football, I am a former wrestler– not JJ Watt big, but along those lines haha. I weight train 4-5 times per week for about an hour and will throw in a run here and there. Compared to what I have been doing and have been eating, these numbers seem high (which has me excited). I just want to confirm that I have calculated correctly so i can start kicking butt.

            Based on what I calculated it looks like I should be at 2400 calories/ 210 G Protein/ 150 G Carbs/ 105 G Fats. I know it’s a lot, but my goal is to lose between 2-3 pounds per week. Any advice you have is appreciated. I look forward to your emails!

            Thanks,
            Brendon

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              Author

              Brendon my friend!

              In regards to your weight loss, congrats my friend! That’s literally life changing right there. Glad to see you are making it a lifestyle which is so crucial for long term adherence! As for your macros, I would say those are solid numbers to start at. I would personally start you up a bit higher on the carbs and bit lower on the fats. Maybe drops fats down by 25g and up carbs by 50-60g and then on your rest days, use the macros you have sent me. Just monitor that weight and I would advise that 1-2lbs per week so you can maintain as much muscle as you can.

              Hope all this helps my friend and keep up the great work!

              Thanks and God Bless,

          13. Zach,
            Thank you for all the great tips! It’s so refreshing to see people promoting healthy caloric consumption and body image. That being said I’m struggling to figure out my macros. I am currently 128 lbs and my goal is 110. I am an athletic build and currently exercise 5-6 days a week for 60-75 min. My caloric intake came out to 1650. Based on body type, my macros should be around 165carbs, 123 protein, and 55 fat… When I tracked my calories for 3 days I was around 1300 a day maintaining. Should I add 350 calories all at one time? My other question was you had mentioned ideal protein intake for weight loss is 1-1.25x body weight… Is that current body weight or goal body weight? Thank you for you insight, great article!!!
            Becca

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              Author

              Hi Becca,

              You are so very welcome and thank you for taking the time out of your body schedule to read my material! It means a lot 🙂

              In regards to your question, the equation I give is just a starting point and is not a definite/perfect science. So I would say go off of maybe 1450-1500 cals and see what your bodyweight does. Take in that amount for a week and take the weekly average of your weight and then go from there. If you are gaining too quickly, then drop down by 50-100 cals and then do the same process. And with my protein recommendation, its based off your current bodyweight.

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          14. Thank you so much for breaking this counting your Macros down!!! I have been trying to figure it all out and your posts have been super helpful!!!

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          15. hi zach
            just came across your site because ive seen those delicios pop tart recipes everywhere! so ive been using myfitnesspal for a while now and i have been counting calories with it. i measure everything, scan anything with a label. to lose the weight the bmi calculator says i need to MFP has me at 1410 a day. counting macros seems easy but the equation is really throwing me for a loop if i could get some help please?
            im 5’2 174 lbs sedentary lifestyle with 3-4 days of 35-45 minute exercise

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              Hi Paige!

              Counting macros is really easy once you get the hang of it! All you need to do for the equation is take you goal bodyweight. Be conservative at first. Think of mini goals and then readjust when you get there. Then take that goal body weight and multiply is by 10 because you are sedentary which puts you at an 8 activity level and then I gave you an extra 2 hours of training on top of that to give you the 10. So then you will just use my guidelines on picking your macros to fit that caloric goal! Hope all this helps!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          16. hey zach!

            just to get a little personal… I’m a female D1 volleyball player going into my 3rd year but as a transfer this year. this past year, I actually struggled with an eating disorder that caused me to (unhealthily) lose more than 30 lbs in 5 months. I like certain aspects of the body I’ve attained (being much more lean and cut) that I’d like to continue to see, but I know I’m at an unhealthy weight for my height. I’ve been in the process of trying to turn this around for the past month or so and yesterday, I came across your instagram. I’m very interested in using the flexible dieting lifestyle to hopefully change my mindset about food and eating/being healthier about my diet.

            I’m currently 130lbs and should be 140lbs to have a healthy bmi. breaking down my macros with my decently active lifestyle (i’m out of season right now), i’d need 157P/210C/70F. I weight train with a trainer 3x a week and try to do some type of speed and agility training on my own 2x a week. I also have decently active days with walking and adventures (hiking, gardening & working) (i don’t like to be very sedentary, haha).

            my biggest questions right now are about when I should be eating what (certain times of the day are better for what foods, high intensity workout days vs. rest days, before vs. after workout foods, etc.) and about eating when I can’t specifically control how the food is prepared (restaurants, when other people are cooking, at parties, etc.)… how I should be “flexible” rather than “obsessive” about my macros and calories, for the benefit of me and those around me.

            I’ve (obviously) had a lot of anxiety in the past about counting calories and watching what I eat and I think switching it up a bit and counting macros instead might change things for me. thanks for your info so far, can’t wait to learn more and develop positively from this 🙂

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              Author

              Hi Jane!

              So great to hear you are on the upswing and want to continue to learn more about your body and optimizing performance and more importantly, your health!

              To answer your questions, the topic of food timing is important to optimizing performance, not body composition. So for example, eating within a couple hours of training a meal that leaves you energized and ready to kill it is very important. Listen to your body and how much fuel you perform best on and how close or far away from the workout you need it.

              In regards to cycling calories on rest and training days, I would just advise to eat a little bit more in the form of carbs on training days. That might look like an extra 40-50g carbs pre workout to ensure you are fueled for your training that day.

              The eat out question is all about understanding that your tracking doesnt have to be perfect. It just needs to be close enough. So all you need to do is be mindful and find something that is as close as possible to what you are having in order to track it. So if you are eating at a small italian restaurant, just pull up olive gardens nutritional information and find a meal that is closest to what you are having.

              Hope all this helps! Keep up the great work and keep me updated on your progress! 🙂

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          17. Hi Zach!

            I had been doing low carb for some time and have finally decided I needed something new because the last 6 months I have been binge eating. It came out of nowhere and I have realized that depriving myself is probably the reason. I’m working on moderation and love the idea of flexible dieting. I am an endomorph female, 5’8″ and 166lbs. Need to be around 145-147lbs. I workout 5-6 days a week. 5 days consist of 5am bootcamp and 1 day of doing my own thing at the gym. I walk or spin sometimes in the evening. Here is what I came up with regarding my macros:

            Ideal weight: 145
            145x(9+5) = 2030
            Endomorph: 35% protein 177g, 25% carbs 127g, 40% fat 90g

            The fat and protein look high to me, as does the calories. I was thinking I needed to be around 1800 cals, 157g protein, 135g carbs, 70g fat

            What do you think?

            Thanks!

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              Hi Criss!

              So glad to hear that you are moving more towards the flexible route and a more sustainable approach to nutrition!

              I want you to go back to that post because I updated it with my new stance on macro formulation due to my success with many of my clients. Let me know what you come up with!

              Thanks and God Bless,

              Zach

          18. Hi Zach!

            I had been doing low carb for some time and have finally decided I needed something new because the last 6 months I have been binge eating. It came out of nowhere and I have realized that depriving myself is probably the reason. I’m working on moderation and love the idea of flexible dieting. I am an endomorph female, 5’8″ and 166lbs. Need to be around 145-147lbs. I workout 5-6 days a week. 5 days consist of 5am bootcamp and 1 day of doing my own thing at the gym. I walk or spin sometimes in the evening. Here is what I came up with regarding my macros:

            Ideal weight: 145
            145x(9+5) = 2030
            Endomorph: 35% protein 177g, 25% carbs 127g, 40% fat 90g

            The fat and protein look high to me, as does the calories. I was thinking I needed to be around 1800 cals, 157g protein, 135g carbs, 70g fat

            What do you think?

          19. Hey zach 🙂
            I am a 19 year old female who does crossfit competitively 5-6 days a week. I have always struggled with my weight the only time i was able to lose weight was back when i was bulimic and exercising 2-3 times a day (yuck but i was losing 6-7 each week) and the other time when I went semi vegan/ fasting for ramadan and working out fasted (stuck with my normal daily crossfit programming just added 30-60 min of jogging a day) this time was alot more fun and didnt feel like i was dieting but i was eating 1300 calories and lost 25lb in 2 months and was at my normal weight of 130 and 19% bf . I gained it back do to some depressive time a year later and not caring at all and eating everything . After a year i have been eating 1300 cal or even less and training the same type of training in addition to the fasting / trying to make it similar to the time i successfully lost the weight but the scale wont budget neither the body fat ??? I tried upping calories /lowering calories but nothing seems to work im just so confused because i do high intensity training ,eat well while tracking foods but to no result 🙁

          20. Hi, I was doing ADF and so was eating 480 cals one day and approx 2500 the next-macro breakdown is 75%carbs/20%fats and 5%protein😱..strength train 4times/wk with some light walking intermittently.I gain muscle easily but can gain fat pretty easily too so not sure if meso or endomorph for macro split..Thanks!

          21. Hi Zach,

            I am 61 years old, 5’4″ and weigh 235. I quit smoking (a 40-yr habit) 3 months ago. I’ve been trying to do the weight watcher diet and it just isn’t working for me. I joined the Y and have enjoyed walking on the treadmill but at 100 lbs overweight it sure does make my old bones ache. And I’ve been reading how important it is for my age, so I want to start lifting too.
            Can’t figure out the macro thing I think.
            If my goal is 125 (i might be reaching for the stars here), and using low intensity (8), that is 1375 calories a day. Is that correct?
            I think it said
            Protein-45%
            Carbs-25%
            Fat-40%
            I am confused on how many grams of these 3 that I should be eating.
            I am really enjoying your website. You have some crazy-fun looking recipes for sure. I look forward to starting my journey and keeping you posted.
            Thank you for all the information you are sharing!

            Kat

            Note: My doctor has given me the green light on exercising aerobically and lifting weights.

          22. Hey Zach great article!!
            I have been working with a trainer who does flexible dieting and it has been the best thing that has ever worked for me! I am 20 years old and have done one bikini competition show before. I am currently preparing for another one which is in about a month!
            I wanted to compare your formula for figuring out macros to see if it was close to what I am already doing, and it’s pretty close! For this prep, I have leaned out quicker so on my back and shoulder days we started adding refeed meals in where my carbs are mainly higher. But my trainer has my fiber intake lower on these days. Is there a reason for that?

          23. Hello Zach,

            Thank you so much for all of this amazing, accessible info!! I have desperately needed easily digestible information on macros so I’m so glad I found your page!

            I’ve been doing Kayla Itsines’s BBG training for about a year and have seen results (lost about 10 pounds and 2 pants sizes), which is great but am worried I’m eating too little and stagnating in my progress.

            I would like to be at 130 lbs and about 23% body fat. I do circuit training that incorporates cardio and lifting as part of BBG for 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week plus some HIIT for about 15 minutes (so about 2 hours of exercise a week). I have been loosely tracking and researching macros for a few months, and I currently eat about 1200 calories most days and have about a 38% protein, 41% fat, and 21% carb breakdown.

            So I have two questions:

            1. Does circuit training count as moderate or high intensity training?
            2. Assuming my exercise counts as high intensity training, according the formula you provided, I should be consuming 1560 calories a day with a 35% protein, 25% carb, and 40% fat breakdown. I am more than happy to increase my calories but am worried about gaining back fat since fat loss is my goal.
            3. Working off that percentage breakdown, what would you recommend for carb cycling?

            What are your thoughts? Looking very much forward to your reply!

            Issa

          24. Hey Zach, I just came across your website and I have to say I’m in love. I’m trying to figure out my macros, but struggling a bit. I would say I’m probably an endomorph (and yes I was surprised by the fat intake!), 5’6″ and 225 lbs. I’d like to get into a lean, muscled place, maybe 160 lbs or so (is that a good weight for a short guy like me?). When I tried using your caloric equation, I ran into a problem with the workout hours. I don’t really regularly workout, but I’m a cook and kitchen prep can be pretty intense for the first 2 hours of my day (think repeatedly lifting 5 gallon buckets of fries and water, manually chopping raw potatoes, squatting and lifting equipment, etc) plus the inherent intensity of a lunch rush. I work 4 days a week in 6-7.5 hour shifts. What do I put for my exercise? Is this moderate intensity or what? Also, once I get my macros figured out, should I eat the same macros even on days where I don’t work in the kitchen? I saw that on another IIFYM site and was a little thrown because I’m way less active on those other days, mostly working a call center job, maybe adding a light run once in a while. Anyway, any help would be appreciated. I’ve been struggling to find a nutrition plan that fits my lifestyle and weight loss goals for a long time. I think this will fit the bill! Thanks!

          25. Hi Zach! So I am horrible at math and just wanted to see if you could tell whether or not my macros look right. I am a 20 year old female and I weigh 200lbs. I workout usually 3 or 4 days a week for between and hour and hour and a half. I want to weigh around 145 and im in no crazy rush to get there, the numbers I got were:
            protein -200g
            fats- 65g
            carbs-125g
            thanks so much!

          26. I have a year with a coach managing my macros and want to learn to do it myself .

            Currently I have 121 lb , I measure 5.1 and I want to get down to 114. macros I have with my coach is 110-130 P , 100-125 C and 25 to 45 F.

            Weight training 3 times a week and 120 minutes of cardio a week.

            My macros according to the formula would be:
            P 114
            38 F
            143 C

            Should not lower the carbs if I want to lose weight ?.

            Thank you,

          27. I have a client that is not even eating a 1000 calories when she tracked for the first 3 days. I calculated what she should be eating and it was 1600 so i slowly increased her current macros to what she should be eating and has lost 4kg! the beauty of reverse dieting! I hope you touch on this in future articles!

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          28. Hi Zach!

            I am pretty confused about where my macros should be. I got my current macros from a specialized plan from a PT and in order to loose fat they set my macros at: 1634cal, 122c, 142p, 64fat.

            I’m 5″4′ and currently weigh 154lbs, my goal is 140lbs.
            I weight train 5x per week and do HIIT cardio about 3x a week. I go hardcore in the gym and eat healthy most of the time, although I’ll admit I could eat better in total. I hit my current macros perfectly about 5x a week. I have a super hard time losing fat (which is probably because I don’t stick to my macros 7x a week..)

            But from reading this post of yours I calculated 140x(10+6)=2240cal
            154lbs x 1.25= 192g protein
            66g fat, 238g carbs. Does this look right based off my info?

            I’m also worried that since I have a hard time loosing fat that upping my macros to the ones above compared to my current ones, would that would make it even harder for me to lose fat? Would it make me gain fat?

            Thanks for taking the time to read this!!

            -Natale 🙂

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              Hey Natalerose,

              What are you confused about, exactly? Did you calculate them or had someone else do them?

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