Have you ever gone to a restaurant, looked over the menu and noticed items with their weight listed underneath? (Or, even as part of the dish name?) For instance, maybe you’ve seen a quarter-pound burger or a ten-ounce steak. Knowing this information can help you count calories or make sure your order will fill you up—but, those measurements could be a bit misleading.
Are those numbers really the weight of the food put in front of you on your plate? How do you know?
You might be wondering, “How much weight does meat lose when cooked?” Animal meat and potatoes lose about 25 percent of their total weight after cooking, while pasta and grains increase in weight after cooking. The amount of weight that is gained does depend on how the pasta or grain is cooked.
There are many reasons why people would want to know the difference between raw weight and cooked weight and many times it is for health or diet related reasons. However, it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider if you are making any changes to your diet or food tracking.
Why Might You Want to Weigh Food?
Weighing your food before you eat it can help give you a good idea of the nutritional value of the food you are about to consume. Whether it is to meet needs in a diet or to ensure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables, using a kitchen scale is the most accurate way to know how much you are getting. Using weight is much more reliable and accurate than using volume to measure solids.
Reasons why someone might want to weigh their food will vary from person to person, but some common reasons to weigh food would be:
- To check portion sizes
- Counting macros
- Health concerns
What is Raw Weight?
Raw weight will always be the most accurate weight of the food you will consume. When ordering at a restaurant, the weight of the meat that is advertised will be that of the raw weight.
For meats, raw weight is the amount that the meat weighs prior to cooking. When shopping in the grocery store or ordering at a deli counter, the amount that you ask for or see on packages is that item’s raw weight.
As mentioned above, meat can lose up to 25 percent of its weight after cooking. This means that once a ten ounce steak is cooked, it would end up weighing about 7.5 ounces (about 212 grams). To see what you’re cooked chicken or steak might weigh once it has been cooked thoroughly try using our online percentage calculator.
What is Cooked Weight?
Cooked weight is the weight of the food after it has been cooked. For dry good items like pasta, rice, and oats, the cooked weight is heavier than the raw weight. Due to the addition of water to the cooking process, the grains soak up the water and expand. With this expansion, the weight can double that of the uncooked pasta or rice.
For pastas, the raw weight is the amount indicated on the outside of the box or package.
What’s Better: Raw or Cooked Weight?
To answer this question simply, it really depends on what you are cooking and how you are cooking it, as well as what your goals are, whether that is health, diet, or overall curiosity. It is important to follow food safety guidelines set so that you do not become sick eating undercooked foods. Using a meat thermometer will help ensure that you are getting to the correct temperature.
Let’s jump into another example of raw weight vs cooked weight using chicken breasts. Using a kitchen scale, you can weigh each chicken breast prior to cooking. (Or, look at the packaging on the chicken at the grocery store.) Let’s say the chicken breast weighs about six ounces or 170 grams. This would be the raw weight. Remember that once it’s cooked, it’ll lose 25 percent of its weight. So, the cooked weight will be four and a half ounces or 127 grams.
It is recommended to always weigh meat raw to get the most accurate results versus weighing for volume.
The short of it is; it is best to weigh foods raw than cooked.
Why To Weigh Food
Many people choose to begin weighing their food to help track their calorie intake or help with maintaining a healthy weight. To help keep track of your health, check out our calorie intake calculator.
Emily is a freelance writer and teacher. Originally from New York, Emily now lives and works in Europe.