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When you are counting your macros, weighing your food is one of the most accurate ways to track exactly how much you are eating. Whether you decide to weigh your food when it is raw or cooked can affect the accuracy of your measurements.
So, should you weigh food raw or cooked when tracking macros? When tracking macros, the most precise method is to weigh and log your food raw before cooking. Since nutrition labels will typically contain the information for food in its raw packaged state before cooking, measuring your food prior to cooking will give you the most accurate results.
Using the wrong method for tracking your food can lead you to eat more or less calories than you think are consuming, which can make it more difficult to lose weight or build muscle. It’s important to be as accurate as possible when weighing your food so you can reach your goals sooner.
In this article, I will discuss:
- If it matters whether you weigh food raw or cooked
- Whether calories or macros change when cooking food
- 4 tips for weighing raw food when tracking macros
- Examples of tracking food raw or cooked using MacroFactor
Does It Matter Whether You Weigh Food Raw or Cooked?
While you can weigh your food in either a cooked or a raw state, it is most accurate to weigh your food when it is raw. This is because the fluid content of your food will change during the cooking process, which affects the weight of your food. This will ultimately cause your measurement to be off.
If you decide to weigh your food in a cooked state, it is important to remember that the information you enter in your calorie tracker based on your measurement may not be accurate since the process of cooking your food will create variables that are hard to account for.
For example, during the cooking process, your food can decrease in weight due to a loss in water or even fat. Certain foods (such as oats, rice and quinoa) can even increase in weight due to water absorption. For this reason, it is much more accurate to weigh your food consistently in a raw state.
If it is more convenient to weigh your food cooked, this likely will not affect your progress if done once in a while. However, if your goal is to be as accurate as possible with tracking your macros, you are better off weighing most of your food in its raw form.
The most important thing is to be consistent with whichever method of measurement you choose. It is not recommended to switch back and forth constantly between measuring your food cooked and raw.
If you are not consistent with how you measure your food, you could be unknowingly taking in the incorrect amount of calories, which will ultimately affect the rate at which you reach your goal.
- Related Article: Is It Better To Hit Your Macros or Calories? (What’s Best)
Do Calories or Macros Change When Cooking Food?
When you cook your food, the calories and macros will remain the same no matter how it is cooked. However, when food is cooked it becomes difficult to determine how much it initially weighed in its raw form because it loses or absorbs moisture.
This means you are not able to determine its calorie and macro content precisely.
For example, if you take 100 grams of raw sirloin steak, the calorie content is around 200 calories. When you cook it, the weight of the steak will change because it loses water weight, but the calorie and macro content will remain the same.
However, if you take a cooked piece of sirloin steak that weighs 100 grams, the calorie and macro content are not going to be the same as 100 grams of raw steak since the cooked steak weighed more prior to cooking it. Therefore, it would have had a higher calorie and macro content than 100 grams of raw steak.
There is no way to determine the exact accuracy of the amount of water lost through the cooking process, but a general estimate is that meat, poultry, and fish products can lose around 25% of their weight from water after being cooked.
While you could use this estimate when calculating the original weight of the cooked piece of sirloin, this will not be nearly as accurate as if you were to have weighed the piece of meat in its raw state.
It is also difficult to determine how much weight is lost during the cooking process of meat because of the variety of ways to cook it (for example, grilling, baking, or pan frying) for different lengths of time. However, it is safe to say that the longer you cook meat, the more water it will lose, and the smaller it will be.
Since it is hard to determine the original weight of a piece of meat after it is cooked, it is much more reliable to determine your food measurement while it’s in its raw form.
The same concept also applies to foods such as uncooked grains, except that the process of cooking your grains will cause their weight measurement to increase, not decrease. This is because grains absorb water in the cooking process.
The nutrition information on a bag of rice, for example, outlines the calorie and macro content of the rice at its dry weight, meaning uncooked. The calorie and macro content in 200 grams (1 cup) of uncooked basmati rice are approximately 675 calories, 148 grams of carbs, 14 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fat.
However, when you cook this amount of rice, the total measurement changes to around 600 grams (3 cups) of cooked rice. This would mean that the calorie and macro content for 200 grams (1 cup) of cooked rice would be about 225 calories, 50 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein, and 0.5 grams of fat.
As you can see with the rice example above, the weight of your food can change dramatically when it goes from uncooked to cooked. If you want to avoid the variables that come after cooking your food, it is best to weigh and log your food in its raw state.
4 Tips for Weighing Raw Food When Tracking Macros
Four tips to weigh your raw food when you are tracking your macros are:
- Prepare all of your raw ingredients for measurement prior to cooking
- Stick to “uncooked” or “dry weight” options when logging into a calorie counting app (or use the barcode scanner if available)
- If cooking in bulk, portion out your food servings after cooking
- ·Measure your food into the pot or pan you are cooking your it in and “zero out” the weight of the cookware to avoid using extra dishes
1. Prepare All of Your Raw Ingredients for Measurement Prior to Cooking
The most accurate way to log the calories and macros of your meal is to measure and track all of the ingredients in your dish prior to the cooking process. For this reason, I recommend preparing and weighing all the ingredients in your meal before putting them together and cooking them.
If you don’t track your calories and macros until after you are finished cooking a meal, it can be easy to let certain ingredients slip through the cracks.
For example, if you make a meal of chicken, rice, and broccoli, you might pay attention to logging each of these main ingredients while forgetting to log the coconut oil you used to cook the broccoli in.
This is an easily made mistake if you decide to wait until after cooking to log your ingredients, but it can make a significant difference in your calorie intake.
2. Stick to “Uncooked” or “Dry Weight” Options When Logging Into a Calorie Counting App (Or Use the Barcode Scanner If Available)
Even when you weigh your food raw, you want to ensure you search for food sources in your calorie counting app that include words such as “uncooked,” “raw,” or “dry weight.”
This helps ensure you are not accidentally logging a “cooked” version of the food you are searching for.
- Some foods don’t have labels to track calories or macros. Learn what to do in my other article How To Count Calories Without Labels.
3. If Cooking in Bulk, Portion Out Your Food Servings Prior to Cooking
When you cook food in bulk to eat for days at a time, weighing it in its raw form might make it difficult to track for future meals. In order to combat this, I recommend portioning out your food prior to cooking so you know how much each serving weighs.
For example, instead of just cooking a big helping of chicken breast, I would recommend weighing out your preferred amount prior to cooking (e.g. 4 oz of raw chicken breast) and separating these portions so that they are easy to “grab and go” and track for future meals.
- Don’t want to weigh and track your food, but still want to see results? Check out Gaining Muscle Without Counting Calories or Macros.
4. Measure Your Food Into the Pot or Pan You Are Cooking Your Food In and “Zero Out” the Weight of the Cookware to Avoid Using Extra Dishes
When you are weighing your food raw, particularly protein sources such as chicken, it can potentially create more dishes and more mess. One easy way to avoid this is to simply “zero out” your food scale with the pot/ pan/ sheet you are using to cook your meal, weigh your food in this cookware, and then start cooking!
The process of “zeroing out” your food scale is quite simple. First, place your empty bowl or dish onto your scale, and from there you click the “tare” or “clear” button. On some digital scales, this could also be the On/Off button. If you are using a mechanical scale, simply turn the knob back to zero.
Once you have done this, you can start to add each ingredient that you are measuring out. You can even measure multiple ingredients using one dish! Just make sure you are “zeroing out” between each ingredient and logging the measurements as you go.
You can do this using a digital kitchen scale such as this one here. This particular food scale is waterproof, so it can be easily washed if any raw meat touches it.
Example of Tracking Food Raw or Cooked Using MacroFactor
If you are using a macro tracking app such as MacroFactor, there are options for you to track your food whether it is cooked or raw.
While we have discussed that weighing your food raw is the most accurate method, there will be certain instances where you must track cooked food – for example, if you want to track already cooked food from a takeout restaurant. You can accomplish both approaches using MacroFactor.
For example, if you are weighing your food raw and measuring 100 grams of uncooked white basmati rice from the package, you can simply search the app for “white basmati rice uncooked” and enter 100 grams. This should come out to around 330 calories, 76 grams of carbs, 7 grams of protein, and 0 grams of fat.
Another option when tracking food prior to cooking is to use the barcode scanner in the app to scan the barcode on your package. This will allow you to have the most accurate information from the app, and therefore you should get the most accurate information to track.
On the other hand, if you are tracking your food after it has been cooked, it’s important to specify that the food item has been cooked in the MacroFactor app when searching for it in the database.
If you want to provide more detail when tracking cooked food, you can even specify the way in which the food was cooked. For example, you could search “100 grams grilled chicken breast, no skin” in the app, which comes to around 112 calories, 0 grams of carbs, 24 grams of protein, and 1.5 grams of fat.
Whether you are tracking your food in its raw or cooked state, you want to ensure you use verified food sources in the calorie counting app since this will guarantee you get the most accurate information for the food item.
If you are questioning the calorie and macro count given to you by a food source on MacroFactor, you can double-check the information by cross-referencing the amounts with other examples in the app to ensure they are the same or similar to each other.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Weigh Food Raw or Cooked on MyFitnessPal?
If you are looking for the most accurate method to log your food into MyFitnessPal, weighing your food in its raw form is the most precise. However, if you must weigh your food after you’ve cooked it, make sure to specifically search for the cooked version of the food in MyFitnessPal.
Do You Weigh Chicken Raw or Cooked When Calculating Calories?
When you are calculating your calories, it’s best to weigh your chicken in its raw form prior to cooking. This is because the weight of the chicken will change due to a loss in water when you cook it. If you track your chicken after it is cooked, you will not get a fully accurate calorie and macro count.
Should You Weigh Cooked or Raw Vegetables for Calories?
It is best to weigh your vegetables raw when counting calories since vegetables can lose a significant amount of weight during the cooking process due to a loss of water. While the calorie difference between cooked and uncooked veggies might seem insignificant, these calories can add up and impact progress over time.
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.