How to Track Raw vs. Cooked Food

“Should I track the raw weight or cooked weight of my food?” ← I get this question all the time and it’s a good one.  As a general rule of thumb, tracking your food while it’s raw is typically going to be most accurate. 

Most nutrition labels show you the information for the raw weight or serving, unless the label specifically says “cooked” in the serving size.  Let’s take a look at the differences in raw vs. cooked food!

First, a quick refresher: macronutrients (also known as “macros”) are the nutrients our bodies need in larger amounts to function properly. These include:

  • Carbohydrates: Provide energy for your body and brain.
  • Proteins: Essential for building and repairing tissues.
  • Fats: Necessary for hormone production, nutrient absorption, and cell growth.

When tracking these nutrients, accuracy is key to ensuring you’re meeting your health goals.

Raw vs. Cooked Food: What Changes?

1. Water Content:  Cooking often reduces the water content of food. For example, raw spinach has a high water content, but when cooked, it shrinks significantly as the water evaporates. This change in water content affects the weight and volume, which can lead to miscalculations if you’re tracking without considering these differences.

2. Nutrient Density:  Cooking can alter the nutrient density of food. Some nutrients, like certain vitamins (e.g., Vitamin C and B vitamins), can diminish with heat. Conversely, cooking can enhance the availability of other nutrients (e.g., lycopene in tomatoes). This doesn’t drastically change the macronutrient content but is worth noting for overall nutritional balance.

3. Weight and Volume:  Raw foods are often bulkier due to their water content. A cup of raw vegetables is very different in weight and volume compared to cooked vegetables. For example, 100 grams of raw chicken breast will weigh less after cooking due to water loss, but the macronutrient content (protein, fat, carbs) remains the same in the portion that you eat.

Tracking Meat
Generally, cooked meat will lose 25% of its weight.

How to Track Raw Chicken vs. Cooked Chicken
6 oz. raw chicken → subtract 25% → 4.5 oz cooked chicken

How to Track Raw Steak vs. Cooked Steak
4 oz. raw steak → subtract 25% → 3 oz. cooked steak

How to Track Raw Turkey vs. Cooked Turkey
8 oz. raw turkey → subtract 25% → 6 oz. cooked turkey

Tracking Pasta
Generally, cooked pasta will be about 2.5x heavier than dry pasta.

How to Track Dry Pasta vs. Cooked Pasta
2 oz. dry pasta → x 2.5 → 4.5 oz cooked pasta

Tracking White Rice
Generally, cooked white rice will be about 3x heavier than dry rice.

How to Track Raw White Rice vs. Cooked White Rice
2 oz. dry white  rice → x 3 → 6 oz. cooked white rice

Tracking Brown Rice
Generally, cooked brown rice will be about 2x heavier than dry rice.

How to Track Raw Brown Rice vs. Cooked Brown Rice
1 oz. dry brown rice → x 2 → 2 oz. cooked brown rice

When we understand the differences between raw and cooked foods in terms of macronutrients we can more accurately track our intake and make better dietary choices. Remember, consistency is key, and using reliable tools will help you stay on track.  An excellent tool for tracking macros is the FASTer Way to Fat Loss app!  It’s included in my 6-week health and fitness program. I would love to help you reach your wellness and fat loss goals through macro tracking, carb cycling, and intermittent fasting.  Click the link below to grab your spot in my next round!

Were the differences between raw versus cooked food surprising to you?!  Let me know in the comments below!!

  1. elise says:

    How about raw vs. frozen, especially in terms of fruit and veggies?

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