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  • Writer's pictureAmber Brueseke

The Top 5 Macro Mistakes You May Not Know You’re Making

Authored by: Amber Brueseke, BSN, CPT, Chief Macro Scientist & Owner of Biceps After Babies

Raise your hand if you've ever felt frustrated on your macro counting fitness journey. It's a common sentiment—putting in the effort but annoyingly not seeing the results you expect. Chances are you may be making one of the five most prevalent macro counting mistakes.

But I have good news: while each of these mistakes has the potential to derail you, they’re actually really easy to overcome and avoid with a little bit of understanding, and in some cases, a mindset shift. Both of which I’ll leave you with by the end of this article.

1. Starting in the wrong phase

In macro counting, we cycle through four phases, and you're always in one of these phases, whether or not you're intentional about it. These four phases are:

  • Cut: Create a caloric deficit to shed fat.

  • Reverse Diet: Gradually increase from deficit to maintenance calories. Reverse dieting can be particularly useful for individuals who have experienced a plateau in their weight loss.

  • Maintenance: Eat equivalent to the calories you expend to neither gain nor lose weight. (Surprisingly, for many women, this is where you should spend the majority of your time)

  • Bulk: Eat in a surplus to fuel muscle growth with progressive overload.

Aligning your phase with your goals is crucial. Many women incorrectly assume that they should start with a cut since they want to lose weight.

But it's not that simple.

Sometimes, it's wiser to begin with a reverse diet or maintenance phase before jumping into a cut, especially for women with a history of dieting.

To address concerns about readiness for a deficit, I often have my MACROS 101 clients conduct what I call a “Trial Cut.”

This involves setting macros at a deficit for two weeks and observing the outcomes. If there's fat loss (the scale drops or measurements decrease), it's a sign your body is responsive, and you can continue with the cut.

If there's no fat loss, it's valuable feedback that your body may not be ready for a deficit, and I recommend a reverse diet and time at maintenance before attempting another cut.

2. Jumping from macro calculator to macro calculator

You enter your data into three different calculators and get three different sets of macros. Sound familiar?

Many find themselves stuck in indecision, overwhelmed by conflicting recommendations. But here's the secret: your starting macros won't be your finishing macros.

Spending excessive time trying to pinpoint the exact "right" starting macros leads to analysis paralysis. The truth is, you just need a ballpark figure to begin.

Think of it like guessing a number between one and 100—you start with a guess, receive feedback, and adjust accordingly. Macro counting works the same way.

The key isn't nailing the perfect number from the start; it's about starting somewhere and fine-tuning over time. Embrace the journey of becoming a Macro Scientist™ (something I teach in my signature coaching program, MACROS 101) using data and feedback to guide macro adjustments.

Remember, any starting place is better than none. Don't waste time fretting over perfection—getting started is the only way to discover the most effective macros for your goals.

3. Overshooting calorie goals to hit macro goals

What happens when you go over your carb goal? Or you overshoot your protein macros? Should you still aim to hit your other macros as well?

The answer is no. There’s a hierarchy of importance to macro counting.

Assuming you aim to lose fat, keeping your calories in a deficit is most important.

On those days that you end up going over in one of the macro categories, instead of hitting your two other macros, default to simply hitting your overall calories and letting your macros fall where they may.

4. Focusing on “optimal” at the expense of achievable

When setting macros, it's common for women to aim for what seems “optimal” rather than achievable.

For example, if a calculator suggests 140 grams of protein when you're used to 70-80 grams, it can feel like you have no choice but to guzzle egg white and gnaw on chicken breast so that you can hit the goal target, which often leads to frustration, discouragement, and ultimately quitting.

And the one way to guarantee you won’t succeed is to quit.

Instead, focus on what's realistically attainable for you.

It's better to aim for a goal like 100 grams of protein consistently than to constantly fall short of 140 grams.

By setting achievable targets, you set yourself up for sustainable progress and long-term success.

5. Giving up too soon

You aren't going to look overwhelmingly different one, two, or even three weeks into the process. You may not even see the scale move much in the first few weeks.


Sometimes, people tell me, “Tracking macros didn't work for me.” And when I asked them how long they stuck to their numbers, the response was, “Oh, like a week, and I didn't see any change.”


Be patient. Fat loss is a slow process. Give your macro at least 2 entire weeks to work before adjusting anything. If, after two weeks of consistency (meaning hitting your numbers spot on every day), there is no change on the scale, measurements, or progress photos, then try a small macro drop or a bump in cardio.

But please, for the love of carbs, give your macros a diligent effort before declaring you need new numbers.

By avoiding these common macro mistakes, embracing achievable goals, and staying committed to the process, you'll set yourself up for long-term macro counting success.

Ready to learn more?

If this resonated with you and you’re ready to learn more about becoming a Macro Scientist™ so you can figure out how to work with your unique body to get the results you want, I invite you to join me in the FREE 5 Days to a Fitter You Challenge running February 26th through March 1st.

During this challenge you’ll gain clarity about how to set and achieve your own fitness goals while in community with other women on their own journeys. Register today to take advantage of this exclusive offer.


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