Why We Weigh

Who really wants to whip out the scale for a snack you are going to eat before you even make it back to the couch or while you are running out the door? Who has time for that? You do, if you want to reach your goal. It may seem silly to weigh a Tbsp of peanut butter but I promise it makes a difference to weigh before it touches your lips.

A moment on the lips, forever on the hips (legs, butt, arms, back) right…it all adds up.

Once upon a time if I wanted a tablespoon of peanut butter, I would grab the large spoon from the silverware drawer (because growing up I learned the small spoon was equal to a teaspoon and the large was equal to a tablespoon, right…just me?) and take a big, big scoop to equal 2 Tbsp of peanut butter and spread it all over my apple. Well flash forward to today, that large ONE scoop I thought I was having, was actually more like 4 servings. It dawned on me one day to stop and weigh my wonderfully fat filled treat and let me tell you, it was depressing.

Take Jif All Natural Peanut Butter

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
2 Tbsp (33g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories     190                               % Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g                                                      20%
Saturated Fat 2.5g                                              14%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg                                              0%
Sodium 80mg                                                   3%
Total Carbohydrate 8g                                3%
Dietary Fiber 2g                                                 9%
Total Sugars 3g
Incl 2g of Added Sugars                                   4%
Protein 7g                                                         7%
*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
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This is 1 Tbsp serving spoon. You can see how easy it is to over fill a measuring spoon and get almost DOUBLE the amount of grams!
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If I was taking that one very large scoop of peanut butter and logging it as one serving, but actually ingesting 4 Tbsp, that is twice the fat! I just wasted at least 16g of fat and over 200 calories that could have been saved for my actual meal. Also, I will likely be hungry again soon because peanut butter on its own is not going to fill you up until supper time. Peanut butter is macro dense, in other words it has a lot in it (carbs, fat, protein) and not many calories or food to physically fill you up.

 Side note: Make sure you double check the food you are logging in! When I scan Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter into mymacros, the calories match the label but the actual macros DO NOT. I have to adjust my serving size to accommodate for the macros eaten. See how the calories do not match up to the calories on the actual packaging, but the macros do? I would recommend going with the correct amount of macros vs. the correct amount of calories. Moral of the story, DOUBLE check what you scan based on the macros, not the calories.

Raw vs. cooked is a different reason to weigh or measure all together. If you can, always weigh. Do not rely on your measuring cups or spoons to give you the accurate amount. If you measure out 1/2 a cup of oatmeal and the 40 gram serving size of oatmeal, they are NOT the same! In fact, you are getting almost 1 1/2 servings when using a measuring cup.
Think about the importance of weighing rice, oatmeal, noodles, etc. dry vs. after it is cooked. One cup of jasmine rice UNCOOKED will yield around 3 cups COOKED. Carbs such as rice, will expand and you end up eating only a portion of what you cooked. When you log your food into your app, make sure you are logging in only the portion you are eating. So, if I want to use 1 cup of cooked rice in a recipe, I can scan the bag and it brings up the nutritional information for 1 cup of uncooked rice. I would log in 0.33 cups of uncooked rice, not the entire cup. It is very important to remember that the nutritional facts on the packaging reflect the food in the state of which you purchased it, raw or cooked. Unless it specifies otherwise.
Vegetables are the exact opposite, they lose water when they are cooked. Take for instance this butternut squash soup I love to make. I roast the butternut squash before blending it down and serving. If I weighed my squash after cooking it, then I would get a much lower number after its been cooked. Cooking out water does not change the amount of carbs the squash has. If I waited to weigh it after I cooked, then 56 ounces of squash might cook down to be 30 ounces. By not consistently weighing your food prior to cooking, you will likely be over eating and will not be on track to reach your goals.
Where this gets to be about as clear as mud, is when you are weighing your meats prior to cooking. If I weigh my bacon prior to cooking, it does not just cook out water. When I cook 80/20 ground beef, it does not just cook out water. Why do I need to log in the raw amount when a macro nutrient, fat, was just cooked out of it? I certainly will not be spooning the fat out of the bottom of the pan to guzzle it down. Just to be honest with you, this is where I break the rule of weighing prior to cooking. I just simply cannot wrap my head around weighing meat prior to cooking, if I will not be fully consuming ALL of its macro nutrients after cooking. This does not apply to lean meats, like chicken and pork loin, that do not lose much fat but only lose “water weight”.  I always look up the nutritional information on the USDA Food Composition Database for cooked meat when I weigh after cooking.
When I cooked the chicken for the chicken curry soup, the raw weight was 47.04 ounces and the cooked weight was 32 ounces. Tonight the steak meat for the tacos was 24.09 ounces  raw and 15.9 ounces cooked. There are MAJOR differences in the weight of the cooked vs. raw. Remember that the nutrition label of the meat you are cooking reflects the meat in the state that you purchased it in. All chicken, beef, and pork is not created equal. Chicken packaged from Tyson in Arkansas does not have the same nutritional label as chicken packaged from SYSCO in Texas. This is why it is important to scan the label or search specifically for the brand that you are using. It is also important to note here that the packaging itself is included in the weight on the label with some brands!
Weighing your meat prior to cooking does not take into account the manner in which you are cooking it. Frying chicken will obviously increase the fat content of your chicken and grilling will decrease the total amount of fat. If you compare 100 g of raw chicken  and 100 g grilled chicken from Poultry Products on the USDA database, you will see differences in the water weight. This is because water is lost during the cooking process. The loss in water increases the density of the chicken, ultimately increasing the caloric value as well. Based on the database 100 g of raw chicken breast contains 73.9 g of water and 22.5 g of protein. A 100 g of grilled chicken contains 66.14 g of water and 30.54 g of protein. Keep in mind that 100 g of raw chicken cooks down and is no longer 100 g. You will need more pieces of cooked chicken to equal 100 g than raw chicken. Take for instance the 47.04 ounces of chicken I cooked for the soup. If I had 7 chicken breasts total, then each chicken breast would have weighed on average 6.7 ounces. After they were cooked the chicken breasts averaged 4.5 ounces, each losing around 2 ounces of weight.
It is best practice to always weigh prior to, but that is not always possible or reasonable. If you are at a restaurant, it isn’t likely the chef will weigh your meat for you before he cooks it. Unless you carry a scale with you out to dinner (more power to you for sticking to your macros!) you are going to have to make an educated guess. An educated guess that comes from consistently weighing your food. Not all meat has a bar code that you can scan into your app. If you cannot scan your food or if there is not a nutrition label, a quick search on the USDA Food Composition Database can help get you in the ballpark. The database contains nutritional information for raw foods, as well as cooked, which really comes in handy with fatty meats! I have made several ‘custom foods’ on mymacros based on this chart to be able to log a meat to my meals for the day, use in recipes, and save for future reference. Above all, be consistent! If you only weigh 80% of the time, do not expect to reach your goal 100%. No, you will not have to weigh your food for the rest of your life, unless that is your preference, but I feel like it is necessary to weigh your food to really realize just how much you are eating!
Happy weighing & tracking,
Jackie
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