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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Weighing Your Food Raw vs Cooked

Should I Be Weighing My Food Raw or Cooked?

This is a great question! One I have spent a lot of time researching myself in the past. This is what I learned.

When you see references to weight when looking at points or calories for meat, they are referring to cooked weight, not raw. So how do you know how to calculate your points or calories when you buy chicken, beef, pork or fish? The most accurate way to do this is to weigh your meat before and after. Meat shrinks when cooked but the calories remain the same. A good rule of thumb I use for meat is, 4 oz of raw meat will usually yield 3 oz.

For most accurate results, always look for the nutritional information for raw meat if available, and weigh/calculate the meat based on that.

When it comes to grains like rice, quinoa, pasta, etc., the nutritional data listed is the uncooked weight. These grains expand to more than double since they absorb a lot of water, so if you measure it after it's cooked, you'll be way off.

If you don't have a food scale, you should buy one. I have an inexpensive scale that is about $25 by EatSmart. It's easy to use and has a tare feature where you can eliminate the weight of a plate.

54 comments:

Misti said...

Great! I'm always wondering what to do. ;D

Sarah said...

Gina, you rock!

Gina said...

One thing I forgot to mention, make sure you weigh your food after you trim the fat! ;)

Gina said...

As I was cleaning my shrimp the other day, I had 1 lb of shrimp I decided to weigh it after I shelled it and it became 3/4 lb! So don't cheat yourself, if the recipe calls for 1 lb shrimp, chances are you need to buy a little more.

Margaret said...

Thanks, I was always measuring rice and noodles cooked. Better stop doing that!

Anonymous said...

Thats a great tip about the shrimp, I had 2.5 oz of shrimp last night but the tails were still on..

Anonymous said...

Hmm I eat 1/2 cup of rice after I have cooked it. So that means I should be eating one cup of rice? I hope so, because I am so hungry with just 1/2 cup of cooked rice! thanks so much for the advice!!

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

1/2 cup cooked white rice is 2 points if you cook it without oil.

Kim said...

ok, well that answers THAT question! I, too, was eating the rice, pasta, etc AFTER it was cooked and kept finding myself going back for more. Thanks for clearing it up!

GiraffeMSW said...

That is interesting. The Points books though notate for pasta and rice whether the points are based on raw or cooked portions. For example:

Rice, brown, cooked 1 cup(s) 4 points
Rice, brown, raw 1/4 cup(s) 3 points
Pasta, cooked 1 cup(s) 4 points
Pasta, uncooked 2 oz 4 points

Hope that helps. :)

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

It's just important to know that the nutritional information is different, so be aware when you are counting calories or points or your values will be off.

Anonymous said...

How do you figure out the points on the foods you eat?

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

I figure out the nutritional info, then plug the numbers into my ww calculator.

Cass said...

The Eat Smart scale is terrific! I love to use it especially when I'm making salads because you can 'zero out'/reset the tare for each ingredient. i.e. chicken and black bean salad

Thanks for the info Gina!

Anonymous said...

I am very confused - I just started ww and my leader told us to weigh the pasta of (1CUP)After its cooked cause other wise you will have much more if you weigh out a cup of dry pasta.

Also how do you know how much a serving is like example I made your receipe of pepper steak... so 1 serving is what exactly??

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

I weigh pasta dry, the nutritional info is always or dry, I'm sure it weighs more after it absorbs the liquid.

Most of my recipes have serving sizes, when they don't it's just equally divided by the number of servings.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the assertion made. The calories in a cooked meat are only the same as an uncooked meat if all liquid is retained and all nutrient removed. Otherwise, there is inevitable loss of fat due to rendering. Clearly, when you make a roast and the gravy has a coating of fat, it came from somewhere, right? Weigh your meat COOKED. Meat cooked longer with more fat rendering will have fewer calories than rarer meat. Meat that still retains water and blood will have a caloric density that reflects this. In all honesty, because the changing fat content throws the numbers off, the nutrition data for meat is merely an approximation anway. Weigh it COOKED, and compute your calories then.

Anonymous said...

I disagree!

It refers to the calories in the COOKED product, but the WEIGHING should take place BEFORE COOKING because the rest of the weight is water. The reason the calories refer to the cooked product is because this number can change through the cooking process. So my advice is to weigh the product before cooking.

It would make no sense to weigh after cooking as that would depend on whether you're cooking in oil, water or with other stuff in the mix.

Anonymous said...

Clarification: I don't disagree with the previous post, I was disagreeing with the article, and I was thinking more in terms of rice and the like as opposed to meet.

Anonymous said...

meat!

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

I agree about dry food, I always weigh rice, pasta, grains dry. I think I mentioned that above.

For meat, I weigh it before and after but use the cooked weight to determine the nutritional info based on the USDA cooked values.

Anonymous said...

i cooked shrimp last night and i forgot to weigh it before i cooked it. if i needed 3.5 oz of shrimp raw what would that weigh cooked?

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

Not sure off the top of my head, it depend on how you cook it.

Anonymous said...

I use a postal scale which is much more accurate than any diet scale. I bought it for about $20 at Staples and it has a tare feature that eliminates the weight of the pan. It's been extremely durable and weight is the most accurate way to measure ingredients--it's what professional use.

Anonymous said...

The tracker gives point values for both raw and cooked meat and cooked or dry pasta or rice. Different values for each.

Rachel Holloway said...

I have struggled with this issue--because when I weigh my meat after cooking, it's substantially less! (and not just 1 oz per 4 oz) Even the leanest meat I can find (the 97/3) cooks from the 1.3 pounds to about 10 ounces. Consistently. So do I measure it at 1 pound (which I think it the goal of starting out with 1.3 oz of raw meat). And I suppose while I am here I should clarify--you are meaning 1 pound 3 oz of raw meat, right? Honestly, I have never had mine weigh even close to the pound weight afterwards, so I am wondering if I have been putting too little in!

Betts said...

Love your site - my daughter turned me on to it when she was home from University for the summer. I'm on weight watchers so it works really well to change it up! Thank you - I do have a question though - When a restaurant says it's a 6 oz steak - is that before or after it's cooked?

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

When I calculate the nutritional info for meat, those values I get are for cooked meat. So if I use raw weight, my n.i. will be wrong, which is why I weigh it cooked.

Rachel Holloway said...

I understand why you weigh after it's been cooked, but my question is--you put 1.3 oz. That is meaning raw meat, correct? What I am saying is that when I use 1.3 oz. of raw meat, it doesn't cook down to 1 pound of cooked meat--which is what I think the n.i. is calculated from. It cooks down to more like 10-11 oz of cooked meat. Am wondering why that is (you say your 1.3 cooks down to about 1 pound but mine is so far off!) and if I should them be calculating more like 10-11 oz instead! :)

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

Betts- When a restaurant says it's a 6 oz steak - is that before or after it's cooked? Really good question, I don't know but I would ask the waiter!


Rachel, different meat and cuts will lose a different amount of weight after it's cooked. This also depends on how it's cooked. Which is why I weigh it cooked and use those values.

Rachel Holloway said...

I am beginning to realize how difficult it is to get things across via internet. :) I was specifically referring to lean ground beef or turkey--because all your recipes that use that state 1.3 pounds instead of 1 pound, because you are allowing for cooking weight loss. :) I get that. I was just trying to figure out why when I use the same weight of the same cut of meat you do, mine weighs so much less than 1 pound after it's cooked. But apparently I have a terrible time trying to get my question across. :) Sorry to have bugged ya so much.

Gina @ Skinnytaste said...

Oh I see what you mean. Actually when I buy ground turkey, the packages they sell are usually 1.3 lb. I don't do it to compensate what it would cook down to,it just happens to be the weight of most pre-packaged ground turkey.

Rachel Holloway said...

Oh, that's funny! I never thought about it being the package size--I buy mine in bulk so it's never close to 1.3 pounds! lol. GOOD TO KNOW! :)

Anonymous said...

When meat is being used in a casserole, I find it important to weight everything individually which I identified as actual weight (subtracting weight of dish). Then after the casserole is finished baking, I measure it again to determine the new resulting weight (subtracting weight of dish) to adjust for the heat loss. While at the start you are calculating the actual raw weights by product and nutrients, the only adjustment being amde againt the nutrients is for actual finished weight for individual servings.

I.E. Actual Weight 59.00
Resulting Weight -43.00
Quantity Adjust. 16.00 Heat Adj.

I use the new weight to determine nutrient values per serving.

I.E. Total calories of 1677 would be divided by the resulting weight 0f 43 times the number of ounces per serving. 1677/43 =39 x 4 Oz. or 156 calories.

Claire Iznajar said...

Hi I'm new to weight watchers and a friend recommended your site (a big 'thanks' to her!). Can I be a bore and ask if you can clarify that for 100g of wholemeal cooked pasta for 3 points I need to cook 50g of raw product? and so on for grains? I wish the WW site made it clearer.

fast diets said...

Informative! I never knew this till then! Okay, I must start a habit of checking out on the net about diet tips.

Hannah Acheson said...

I'm confused. If meat reduces in weight but its calorie content remains the same, why determine calories based upon the end weighed product? Are you inputing "3 oz. [meat], cooked" or using the nutritional information of the raw meat, but reducing the ounces (and thus throwing off the actual calorie count)?

Anonymous said...

Trying to create a beef stew recipe using myfitnesspal.com
I've got 1.25 oz of raw cubed beef which after I cook it, trying to fish all the beef out of the crock pot with the veggies & liquid can be problematic to weigh, so how can I calculate the weight of the meat to figure out the nutritional info for the dish, assuming I'll make it go 6 servings? Any easy ideas?

Anonymous said...

Here's a bit of FYI: I just cooked a one pound bag of shrimp. Tail & shell on, but deveined. It only weighed 9&3/4 ounces after cooking & peeling. Is this to say that 2+1/4 ounces cooked equals 4 ounces raw? I think that's a bunch of baloney. The bag even lists a serving as 4oz. and servings per bag as 4. BAH!

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Best Cookware said...

great article! i think i am gonna weigh from now on!
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Adrianne said...



One thing I forgot to mention, make sure you weigh your food after you trim the fat! ;)
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