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April 21, 2021

Tracking Macros: Weighing Raw Vs. Cooked

Weighing Raw Vs. Cooked is a common macro tracking mistake.

Meat loses moisture content when it cooks (meaning it will weigh less after it has been cooked), whereas carbs like: rice, beans, and pasta gain weight during the cooking process from the absorption of water.

Although these foods change weight during the cooking process, the nutritional value does not change. (Aka the calories are the same).

Most people weigh their food after it has been cooked and log the food as RAW in MyfitnessPal, which is inaccurate and can lead you to eat hundreds of extra calories a day. What most people don’t realize is that most nutrition labels on foods are for RAW data.

Weighing and tracking your food accurately is key to getting consistent progress, whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain.

I’ve heard this scenario many times. “I’m tracking everything, but I still can’t lose weight”. Or, “I’m eating low-calorie but not losing weight”.

The solution to these scenarios is educating the client on how to properly weigh and track their food. This mistake can bring you out of a calorie deficit, so that you no longer make progress with your weight loss goals.

How to Accurately Weigh Food

When you are learning how to track your macros, a food scale will be your best friend.

You can use measuring spoons, or measuring cups, but a food scale is much more accurate and consistent.

A food scale also teaches you what portion sizes should look like based on your calorie goal, and keeps you accountable to eat what you are measuring and from eating more than you planned.

“Little” bites, taste, and licks throughout the day add up, and that’s why it’s important to weigh and track everything before putting it in your mouth.

If your goal is fat loss, you can easily be out of the calorie deficit by taking a few licks of peanut butter out of the jar, or just simply not tracking everything you eat.

If you don’t have a digital food scale yet, I recommend this one here.

Weighing and Tracking Raw Vs. Cooked Meat

The nutrition label on the package of meat is always based on it’s RAW (uncooked) weight.

Let’s take this package of chicken breast as an example:

Just Bare Chicken Breast Fillets picture

The nutrition label states that (4oz) is:

  • 130 calories
  • 3g of fat
  • 0g of carbs
  • 25g of protein

These are all nutrition facts based on the RAW (or uncooked) chicken breast, not cooked chicken breast. RAW weight and cooked weight of any food is not the same.

Nutrition facts for boneless skinless chicken breast

Now that you understand the common misconception of reading meat nutrition labels, let’s talk about how to accurately weigh and track your meat.

When meat is cooked, it typically loses 25% of its weight. However, just because the food weighs less, doesn’t mean the calories/nutrition of the meat has changed.

So, what does this mean for you?

If you’ve been eating 5oz of cooked chicken breast, but have been tracking it in MyFitnessPal as 5oz raw chicken breast, then you are eating an average of 1,176 more calories over the week.

(Hint, a MyFitnessPal chicken breast entry won’t state that the chicken breast is RAW.) Assume if the entry doesn’t state “cooked”, that the entry is for raw.

See below: a Raw Chicken vs. Cooked Chicken entry in MyFitnessPal (both 4 ounces)

If you do this every meal, this will add up to a large amount of calories that you aren’t accounting for, which will ultimately affect your fat loss progress.

Let’s look at more comparisons of raw vs. cooked chicken breast:

  • 3oz raw = 4oz cooked
  • 4.5oz raw = 6oz cooked
  • 6oz raw = 8oz cooked
  • 5oz cooked = 3.75oz raw
  • 5.5oz cooked = 4.12oz raw
  • 6.5oz cooked = 4.87oz raw
raw to cooked meat weight conversion

Do I Weigh Meat Before or After Cooking?

Weighing meat raw is going to be the most accurate way, since the nutrition label itself is based off of raw weight.

However, if you meal prep or batch cook, like most of my online clients, you will be using the cooked to raw conversion most of the time.

Since meat typically cooks down by 25%, you will need to do a little math each time you weigh and track your meat.

Don’t worry, it’s super easy to remember.

Conversions:

Raw to Cooked = Raw Weight x 0.75

Cooked to Raw = Cooked Weight / 0.75

Let’s work out some examples with 4oz of chicken breast:

  • Raw to Cooked = Raw Weight x 0.75
    • Most people don’t want to mess with weighing meat when it’s raw, however it is more accurate. This method is doable if you cook for yourself, or if you don’t cook in batches.
    • 4oz x 0.75 = 3oz chicken breast
  • Cooked to Raw = Cooked Weight / 0.75
    • You are weighing cooked meat and using a raw entry in MyFitnessPal, or other food tracking app.
    • 4oz x 0.75 = 5.3oz chicken breast

Whichever method you choose, pick one and stay consistent each time for the best results.

The conversions above are just estimates, and not 100% accurate.

Weighing and Tracking Raw Vs. Cooked (Other Foods)

Rice, potatoes, pasta, and beans are some more common foods that either gain or lose weight after being cooked.

When weighing these foods, it’s always more accurate to weigh RAW. However, when that isn’t possible make sure you choose a “cooked” entry in MyFitnessPal or other macro tracking app.

Choosing the Right Entry in MyFitnessPal

In order to log accurately (not overestimate or underestimate calories), you need to choose the right entries in MyFitnessPal, or other food tracking app.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find correct entries, so here are some tips to do so:

  • Pick entries with blue tick marks next to the food name.
  • Scan the back of the package into MyFitnessPal, and double check to make sure the nutrition facts from the package match what is listed in MyFitnessPal.
  • Make sure the entry you choose reflects raw (uncooked), or cooked.
  • Ignore entries that start with the words “Generic, homemade or an asterisk”. For example: “1 homemade pancake”.
  • Avoid any entry that has odd serving sizes (for ex: 3.9 oz). Instead, choose entries that offer 1oz or 1g. That way the serving size is fully adjustable.
  • Log your own entry or recipe if you cannot find one that matches accurately.

Summary

In conclusion, weighing and tracking your food brings awareness to how much you’re actually eating on a daily basis and whether you weigh your food raw or cooked doesn’t really matter as long as the calories and nutrition facts of the food is accurate.

That being said, make sure the method you chose matches the entry in the food tracking app. For ex: you don’t want to weigh your meat cooked, and log it as raw in MyFitnessPal.

My advice is to stay consistent with either method, and to choose the one that fits your lifestyle the most.

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Hi, I’m Abbey! Certified Training and Nutrition Coach. Of course, I’m a foodie as well, and I love to show others how GOOD healthy eating can taste. Here you’ll find fitness & nutrition content specific to weight loss, as well as easy, real food recipes. I’d love to get to know you!

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  1. Followed the concept meat looses 25% weight during cooking…but your math/examples show the opposite. I’m confused