A very common question: “do I weigh my food raw or cooked?”
The answer is whichever is easier for you, as long as you’re consistent with it!
If you’re relying on nutrition labels of food, they will always refer to raw portions.
If you’re buying burgers, the label refers to the uncooked weight. The same goes for all products, not just meat: rice, pasta, etc. If you cook up some ground beef and then weigh out a 4oz portion, tracking it as such will be inaccurate- you’re actually consuming more than 4oz!
It’s not a set-rule, but you can safely assume that cooked meat will lose about 25% of its weight once it’s cooked. I’ve personally tested this and it’s accurate in most cases. Obviously things like the type of meat, the cooking method, or the sauces/liquids used in the cooking process will contribute slightly to the final weight. But in general, you can use this as your guide.
Let’s say you get a salad with grilled chicken and want to know how much chicken you’re actually eating. You weigh it out and you get 6oz. Simply divide 6 by 0.75, which gives you 8oz of raw chicken. For tracking your macros, you’d track 8oz of chicken, not 6oz.
So, what those other foods? Here’s a breakdown of how some other foods are affected when you look at the raw vs cooked weight:
We know that meat will lose weight once cooked, but grains will actually gain weight once cooked. If you want to weigh out 2oz of pasta, you’re going to be really disappointed when you weigh out 2oz of your cooked pasta and the serving is TINY.
Remember, food labels will always list raw values (unless it specifically says cooked on a serving size, like most bacon packages). So that 2oz of pasta is actually the same as roughly 4.5oz once cooked.
The part that trips most people up is wrapping their hand around how the cooked weight affects the calories/macros. The answer is simple:
Ignoring any sauces or seasonings used, the only reason weight is being affected is either losing or absorbing water. That’s it. There will be absolutely no change in the nutritional value.
So that 2oz of uncooked white rice is going to be the exact same nutrition as the 6oz of cooked white rice. It simply absorbed water and grew in size, that’s it!
My recommendation, if you can help it, is to always weigh your food raw. It takes away any guesswork and confusion, and it’s consistent every time! Whether it’s meat, potatoes, pasta, or rice, it’s very helpful to weigh it out before you cook it. If you boil 4oz of rice, you know that you are making two 2oz servings- then you don’t even have to bother weighing it out at the end!
Or with meat, trim your chicken breast to 8oz raw. Then when it’s cooked, it doesn’t matter what the weight is! You’ll know exactly what the size is.
That being said, I totally understand that sometimes you are not able to weigh before the food is prepared, so hopefully you can use this guide to help you estimate and convert the weights when needed!
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