One of the most confusing aspects of macro tracking is the use of a food scale to weigh, measure, and track macros. For someone who’s new to using a food scale, learning how to weigh food for macros is vital to your success.
If you’re serious about tracking and hitting your macros, you’re going to want to get familiar with a food scale as it’s the most accurate way to measure how much food you’re actually eating. Can you get by without a food scale? Of course, but you’ll be estimating and relying on food labels which are often inaccurate thanks to the FDA’s allowance of up to a 20% margin of error.
Furthermore, there’s a ton of room for a margin of error when it comes to using measuring cups and spoons. For example, if you’re adding a scoop of protein powder to your smoothie, chances are that scoop will contain a different amount of protein powder every single time. However, if you measure your protein powder using a food scale, you’re ensuring that you’re getting the exact amount that you’re intending each and every time. These small nuances matter when it comes to reaching your goals!
The purpose of this article is to provide you with a full guide on how to weigh and measure food for accurate macro tracking. We’ll the ins and outs as well as answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get around the topic of weighing foods.
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Why Weigh Your Food?
If you’re tracking macros, weighing your food should go hand in hand. Weighing your food is the best method to ensure the accuracy of your intake in relation to your unique macro goals. If you have a goal, whether it be to lose body fat, maintain your weight, or gain muscle, your ability to precisely weigh and measure your food will play a critical role in your success.
Measuring your food means that there’s a significantly less margin for error when you’re tracking your macros. Sure, you can guestimate, but that will only take you so far. And the truth is, even a small margin of error will add up over time and can result in your plan not working.
If you’re going to put in the work to track your macros inside an app for macro tracking, you might as well add in the extra step of using a food scale as it eliminates the guesswork and ensures that your efforts are not wasted. Plus, using a food scale to weigh your macros is not complicated at all once you get the hang of it. In fact, it’ll actually save you time in many cases!
Benefits of Weighing Food For Macros
- You will be far more accurate with your tracking and intake when you take an extra second to weigh your food.
- You will know exactly how much of each food you are eating - no more guesswork!
- Your recipes and meals will be optimized. Have you ever baked something with an inaccurate amount of flour? Ingredient portions can literally make or break your recipes.
- You’ll have far fewer dishes to wash. Who wants to wash a collection of measuring cups and spoons multiple times per day?
- You’ll save a bunch of time once you get the hang of it!
How to Weigh Food For Macros
Here are the basics of how to weigh food for macros:
- Step 1: Set up your food scale on the counter.
- Step 2: Place your bowl, plate, etc. onto your food scale.
- Step 3: Zero out the scale by using the “tare” function.
- Step 4: Select what unit of measurement you’re utilizing (grams, ounces, etc.)
- Step 5: Add your food or ingredient to the scale until you have the correct amount.
- Step 6: If you’re measuring multiple ingredients at once, zero out your scale again and then add your next ingredient.
- Step 7: Repeat the process of “taring” or “zeroing” out your scale after the addition of each ingredient until all ingredients are accounted for.
@fithealthymacros How to Weigh Food For Macros Quick kitchen scale tutorial for weighing food to track macros. Link in bio for more macro tips & recipes! #howtoweighfood #macrotrackingtips #macrotracking #macros #kitchenscale #howtouseafoodscale #fithealthymomma ♬ original sound - Fit Healthy Macros| Tami Smith
What Types of Food Should You Weigh?
Ideally, everything! Weighing your food while following a macro-based nutrition plan will ensure that you’re consuming the precise amount that you’re logging which leads to optimal results. So weighing everything from protein powder and pancake mix to chicken, cereal, and fruit will give you the best and most accurate results.
It only takes a couple of extra seconds to throw your foods/ingredients on the food scale and measure them before eating or preparing them, and doing so allows you to have the peace of mind that you’re actually consuming the amount that you’re logging.
Probably one of the most impactful experiments you can do is to use peanut butter as an example. If you’ve been eating peanut butter and “measuring” it using a kitchen tablespoon, take a second to actually measure out what 15 grams of peanut butter (or 1 tablespoon) looks like vs. the amount you’ve been consuming. Most people are shocked by how much extra they are eating. These small discrepancies add up! Especially when we’re talking about a high-calorie, high-fat food like peanut butter.
Is It Better to Weigh Food Cooked Or Raw?
It’s more accurate to weigh your food raw vs cooked. When you cook food, it will either absorb or evaporate the liquid, thereby changing its weight. For example, if you were to weigh 100 grams of raw chicken and then weigh that same piece of chicken after it’s cooked, you will notice that the chicken weighs less once cooked because it lost some of its water content. The same applies to veggies.
But while it’s optimal to weigh your meats and veggies raw, sometimes we forget or we’re using pre-cooked options. In this case, just make sure that you’re logging it correctly in your macro-tracking app. Most apps will have entries for raw vs cooked options, select the one that reflects how you’re measuring.
Weighing Food With Bones
If you’re eating food with bones, like a steak or chicken wing, you can weigh the food before you eat it and then weigh it again after you’re done. Then, you’ll subtract the weight of the bones from the original weight and log that amount. Or, you can remove the meat from the bone and weigh just the meat. Just make sure that you log it as fully cooked, not raw.
While it may be tempting to just log a “medium banana” in your macro tracking app, there’s a ton of variance between the size and densities of fruit which means that your entry will not be accurate.
In many cases, a piece of fruit will have a peel, core, or pit that you won’t be consuming. For best accuracy, weigh your whole piece of fruit before eating it and then weigh the remnants (peel, core, or pit) when you’re done. Then, you can subtract the amount you didn’t eat from the original measurement to get the exact amount you consumed.
@fithealthymacros How to Weigh Fruit Quick tip for weighing fruit on a kitchen scale! #macrotrackingtips #macrotip #macrotips #howtousekitchenscale #weighingfruit #howtoweighfruit #fithealthymomma ♬ original sound - Fit Healthy Macros| Tami Smith
Should You Weigh Food In Grams or Ounces?
It depends! I like to take a look at the packaging (if there is any) and see what they have it labeled in. If it’s grams, use grams, if it’s ounces, use ounces. If you are measuring multiple ingredients, you can either toggle back and forth with your scale’s units or you can convert them into the measurement that’s most common among the ingredients you’re using.
Just don’t forget to make sure that your macro tracker entry unit matches the unit that you’re using!
How to Reverse Weigh Your Food
If you like to eat things right out of the container, you’ll want to learn how to reverse-weigh your foods! Reverse weighing food is a good tool to have for many situations.
To reverse-weigh your food, you will need to put the container directly onto the scale and zero it out by using the tare button. Next, eat or take out however much you want and watch your scale go into the negative. To get your consumption, turn that negative number into a positive.
Reverse weighing is a great way to track those little bites, licks, and tastes and to hold yourself accountable.
@fithealthymacros How to Reverse Weigh Macros Super helpful macro tracking tool! For more macro content, head to the link in my bio. #macrotrackingtips #howtoweighfood #macrotracking #macros #kitchenscale #howtouseafoodscale #fithealthymomma #reverseweighmacros ♬ original sound - Fit Healthy Macros| Tami Smith
Do You Have to Weigh Food to Count Macros?
No, you do not need to weigh your food to count macros, however, it’s an incredibly helpful tool when you’re trying to be as accurate as possible. You can count and track macros without ever weighing a single food or ingredient, but you may experience a larger margin of error. If you’re not utilizing a scale to track macros, you are likely relying on food labels or measuring utensils like cups and spoons.
Food labels, as I mentioned above, have a 20% margin of error. And using measuring cups and spoons has an element of human error to it. But with that being said, it’s 100% possible to track macros without using a scale and to still see incredible benefits and results.
Personally, I think the time when weighing your food becomes critical is when you’re striving for a very specific goal and need to be 100% accurate with your nutritional intake. For most people, this isn’t the case.
Does Weighing Food Create An Unhealthy Relationship With Food?
This is a question that I want to answer very carefully. Weighing your food does not inherently create a negative relationship with your food. It’s simply a tool to measure the amount of food that you’re consuming. Assuming that you’re eating adequate and appropriate amounts of food each day for your body and needs, the act of weighing your food should not be the catalyst for an unhealthy relationship with it.
That said, some people do take things too far when it comes to macros, tracking, measuring, and weighing food. Some can develop an obsession with hitting their numbers and having “perfect’ macro days. For those inclined to take a healthy habit too far and go to the extremes, weighing your food might not be the best option.
If you’re struggling with obsessing over food or the amount you’re eating, you should seek professional help from an eating disorder specialist.
Final Thoughts On Weighing Your Food For Macros
The bottom line is that weighing your food while tracking macros is going to be the best way to ensure you’re eating the amount that you’re logging. While other methods like scanning the barcode, using measuring cups/spoons, and “guestimating” can be effective as well, there’s a much higher margin for error when compared to weighing your food.
For those who are hesitant to add the element of weighing food to your macro tracking tool kit, I encourage you to just give it a go. Before long you’ll see that the small extra step is actually well worth it and that you’ll likely be saving yourself a lot of dishes and mess (no more measuring spoons and cups everywhere!). There will almost certainly be a small learning curve, but if you’re serious about hitting a specific macro goal, weighing your food will help ensure you’re doing it efficiently.
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