The Right Way to Weigh
You are working hard in the gym & in the kitchen to meet your fitness and nutrition goals, but something just isn't adding up...could be the numbers on your food scale! Here are some tips to make sure your macro tracking is more on point!
Whether you’re a seasoned macro counter, a newbie just dipping your toe into the macro managing waters, or are even trying to perfect the balance of a recipe, habit #1 is to become BFF’s with your food scale. This is the friend that doesn’t lie....like when that ooey, gooey, dripping “spoonful” of peanut buttery deliciousness is really closer to two tablespoons....(probably even two and a half tablespoons) and you need to step away from the jar- she’ll tell you. In this case, while it can be a total downer at first, those extra grams and ounces (aka CALORIES) here and there really can add up. Totaled over the course of a day, week, and month they will have a huge impact on your progress toward your goals.
So, it seems pretty simple right:
Buy scale (there are tons of inexpensive options in most department stores or amazon for $20 or less)
Put food on scale
Kinda...but there are some important things to consider:
Especially with meats and produce- is the food raw or cooked? You want to weigh your food closest to the way it was purchased, which is what the nutrition label on the package represents. So, if the label on a package of ground beef is for a 4oz. serving, that contains 10g fat, 0g carb, 24g protein- those are the macros for 4 ounces of RAW beef, which is what you want to record into your food log.
If you take that same 4oz of beef, and cooked it first then weighed it, it may weigh only 3 ounces or so...now, if you logged that it would reflect less fat and protein than it actually has because it lost some weight (mostly due to water) through cooking. Your log would only reflect 18g Protein, but you’re actually getting closer to the 24 that was on the label.
Same goes for raw veggies- raw vegetables will typically weigh more than cooked, and if they come with a nutrition label, that info is for the raw weight. If you cook a bunch of carrots, then weigh them afterward, you’d likely eat a much larger portion than if you would have weighed them raw first, then cooked that amount.
When at all possible, weigh and record foods raw- and specify that in your entry. What if you forget or are trying to log something when you’re out to eat? I got you...here are a few tips:
For cooked meats, you can eyeball the portion size...if it’s about the diameter and thickness of your palm in its COOKED version, that means it is most likely around 3-4oz (small lady hands=3, giant man hands=4...give or take...but an estimate at a restaurant is better than nothing)
BUT, it was probably a bit bigger when it was RAW. For a rough estimate on raw weight, you can multiply the cooked weight by 1.3. So, that 4oz grilled burger, was probably closer to 5oz raw. Now, you can go forth and log your meal with 5oz beef.
Now, before you go getting into a math frenzy, and start paying more attention to your calculator then you do to your friends & fam at dinner....you can also just be a little smarter about how you log your food into our smarty pants trackers like MFP, Fat Secret, or any other tracking app you like. When you are inputing your entry type it in as 4oz COOKED/GRILLED/BAKED etc. ground beef, chicken, etc. vs just 4oz ground beef, chicken, etc. That way, the results that pop up will be nutrition values based on the cooked portions, rather than raw.
Same goes for veggies, if the portion size on your plate looks about the size of your fist, it’s close to about 1 cup. So, if you’ve got 1 cup of broccoli, enter it as 1 cup STEAMED/ROASTED (however it was cooked) broccoli, vs just 1 cup broccoli.
This is super important for starchy carbs too- as 1/2 cup of something like dry rice would come out to nearly 2 cups of cooked rice...and not too many of us need to be downing 2 cups of rice with dinner. So, when you weigh and log these types of foods, do it in the COOKED version, then be sure to log it that way too. For example: weigh out 100g of cooked rice, then log as 100g COOKED rice. Now you know the macros for what’s on your plate and what’s in your log match the best they can.
Tracking apps now include info for many chain restaurants, so try searching for that as you’re entering foods too. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your server if they know the sizes of the meal portions...there are typically standards they go by, so the info could be available!
Again, whether you’re out to eat or cooking at home, measuring macros is all a bit of an estimate, but doing things this will get you way closer, which is really the main goal with tracking. More detailed entries= more precise results. It should be kind of fun, informational, and used as one of the tools in your goal-getting toolbox! If it starts to cause elevated stress and frustration around meal times, it might be time to take a break, or ask a coach for some tips on how to make it easier.
As always you can DM, comment, or email me with questions about food tracking, macros, or nutrition coaching in general!