A few weeks ago we posted about how important the use of a food scale is when tracking your macros or just food intake in general (The Best Tool You’re Not Using: The Food Scale). It is an objective tool that can greatly increase your awareness of your serving sizes and the calories/macros within that serving size.
But are you using it correctly?
There was a period of time when we certainly weren’t. We were efficiently tracking our food, weighing what we could, measuring what we couldn’t. Unfortunately, there is a clear distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. We could be efficient all we wanted, but until we did some research and found out how to properly weigh our food, we were essentially efficiently doing the wrong thing. By taking the time to correct this misconception, we became effective in our tracking and weighing habits.
Now, what is that mistake we were making? We were weighing our food after we cooked it. There are so many types of food that change in weight after they are cooked. Some get lighter (meat and poultry) and some get much heavier (pasta and rice). We were making the repeated mistake of weighing everything after being cooked, which essentially threw off all of our macros that we were trying so hard to keep track of.
Why Weighing Food BEFORE Cooking Is Correct
Think about it for a minute: when companies sell you their product (chicken, pasta, turkey, etc.) they are giving you the nutritional facts of what is currently in the package. They have no way of knowing how dry you are going to cook your chicken or how rare you will make your meat. The style and type of cooking will change the weight of the product, but it will not alter the nutrients (on a whole) of the food you are making. The amount of change in nutrients is very small, if at all, so it is best to weigh everything before it gets cooked.
However, if you are tracking food as it’s cooked weight (don’t do it!) instead of it’s raw weight that it was prior to cooking, you may be throwing off your macros and calorie intake due to ignorance.
Let’s look at some examples:
The boiled chicken on the right comes in at 3.7 ounces. Macros for that weight of chicken are 3.1f/0c/26.2p. BUT those are the nutrients in an UNCOOKED piece of meat. We were logging it as the portion of chicken we were having for dinner. What we should have logged is the 5 ounces of uncooked chicken on the left. That has macros of 4.2f/0c/35p/. We know, not a terrible difference. But imagine doing that for every meal we had meat or poultry for! It’s going to add up. Also, as we talked about in What The Hell Is A Macro?, protein is the head honcho of the macros and here there is a difference of 9g. That much of a difference could certainly compile over time and skew any results you were hoping to gain. Let’s look at some ground turkey for comparisons sake:
The cooked ground turkey on the right weighs in at 3.25 ounces. In the past we would have gleefully (and ignorantly) logged that as our serving size. This would come in at 5.7f/0.8c/19.5p. Again, those are the nutrients that are accurate for an UNCOOKED portion of ground turkey. What we again should have done (and now do all the time) is log the uncooked amount (4.4 ounces pictured on the left). Those macros would come to 7.7f/1.1c/26.2p.
These differences aren’t crazy, but small differences over time can make a big difference. Will it cause you to gain a bunch of weight because of these few grams of macro that you’re miscalculating? Absolutely not. The point to be made here is that for some, IIFYM is their go to diet or lifestyle because of the control that it imposes on your diet and the insight and awareness that comes from it. This little adjustment will just increase that awareness and put you in the driver’s seat to finding more success with your diet.
Until next time!
-Nick and Christina