Today we’re discussing how to weigh food to help track macros – and some of your hottest questions about it:
- Why does weighing food help you count macros?
- How can you use food measurements to get better results?
- How do you use a food scale?
- Do you need to weigh every ingredient for all your meals?
- Why should you track macros in the first place?
Let’s look at why macros are important, and then why a food scale could be your greatest ally in dieting success…
Counting Macros: How tracking food helps you lose weight
Weighing food and tracking macros are partners in your success. It’s a way to improve the quality and accuracy of your diet for weight loss and muscle gain.
Counting food makes tracking macros more accurate, helping you get your diet right for weight loss and muscle gain. It ensures you’re getting the right amount of food that you’re logging in your calorie and macronutrient tracking app or site.
By measuring your food, you make sure there are no holes in your plan. Everything is deliberate, and accurate down to the gram. This is an important way to make sure that your diet reflects what you’re tracking.
Most people aren’t clear on what 250g looks like. Most people will eyeball “1 ounce” completely wrong. It’s an important way of clearing up these misgivings to get the best from your diet. When you’re trying to build muscle or lose fat, even these small percentage differences can really add up.
Tracking food helps you lose weight by making sure that all the other effort you put into diet – calculating TDEE, figuring out your macro ratios, and selecting the right foods – isn’t wasted! If you’re tracking, but using the wrong numbers, then you’re basically just guessing on whether you’re going to hit your goals or not.
Measuring your food stops that from happening.
Macros and Food
Tracking calories and macronutrients helps you direct your diet to a goal. Food is obviously the raw material for those numbers and a key to your diet. Food choice and portion are equally important, and weighing your food is all about peace of mind on that latter factor.
Calories and macros are the main reasons we eat food in the first place. They’re the essential nutrients that make life possible – providing us with the energy we need to perform basic actions and maintain the body.
Macronutrients are important for maintaining, repairing, and growing cells and tissues. They also help provide the building blocks for other things – like hormones.
Calories are our major energy counter – they determine whether we gain or lose weight. They are usually balanced against our needs, which comes from a combination of basal metabolic rate (the things our body does to maintain itself) and activity (either from daily movements or exercise).
The result of these two factors is TDEE – total daily energy expenditure – which is what your body needs to maintain your current weight. Eating more will put you in a surplus, and eating less will put you in a deficit.
You use calories to account for your needs and give yourself a baseline of how much to eat. The ‘what’ comes with macronutrients…
Macronutrient Tracking and Food Database Logs
Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They’re the building blocks of food and we use them to figure out:
- What the calorie content of a food is
- Control what our weight gain or loss might be
- Support bodily processes – like muscle growth, energy storage, or hormone health – in the body
- They determine what serving size you should use for each food
These are the main reasons why macronutrients are so important. That’s why we track macros, because they’re one of the control levers over how your body changes with time. Diets high in protein are likely to burn more fat and build more lean body mass, for example.
Carb and fat balance is a good way of matching energy source to activity levels. More active people need more carbs, while lower activity lifestyles lean more on fats. Carb-fat balance is personal and should evolve with you over time, leaning more towards fats as you age, and more towards carbs during high-intensity exercise.
Food choices are at the crux of these nutrients. You can always figure out different sources where they overlap, and the calorie and macro content dictate how much of what you might need. You’re going to
Why weighing your food matters
Weighting your food matters because it’s the easiest way to stay on track with your diet, build robust habits, and make sure you’re eating what you think you’re eating. This is the missing link between macro tracking and everyday habits like meal planning and cooking.
It makes meals more reliable, planning more effective, and meal prep itself is much-improved for having a clear idea of what you need. A food scale is just like measuring cups or a protein scoop; they just make sure you’re getting a consistent, correct amount.
The great thing about measuring your food is that – with time and practice – you start to have a better idea of what portions look like.
This is important for long-term improvements, as you start to develop a clearer idea of what is what. This is the same as building up a better understanding of your macros – what foods contain what calories and macros – to develop a better food sense.
This is one of the most important and underrated aspects of diet self-education. When you get a better understanding of the content of foods and how they work, you’ll be better-equipped to make smart choices in future.
Ironically, more time weighing your food means that you can eyeball portions better in future. You may be surprised at just how far off you’ve been, before weighing.
Weighing your food is important to make sure your tracking works. If you’re putting effort into your macro measurements, measuring food is a huge step towards better results. It gives you an accurate way of measuring your intake and reliable calorie and macronutrient numbers.
This is key to make sure you’re not just ‘eyeballing’ the measurements. This is one of the easiest ways to over- or under-eat when tracking. It’s easy to say you’re eating 300g of chicken, but is that dry or wet weight? Is it really 300g if you picked it out of a container yourself without measuring?
Tracking and weighing food go hand in hand. It’s a way of maximising your dietary results with very little extra effort and a few dollars towards a food scale.
The routine of weighing your food is one of the main factors in establishing a more scientific approach to eating. You weigh, you track, you eat. This is one of the steps of conscious eating and will push you to maintain a more conscious sense of portion control.
It’s also a great way to build out a set of more-robust habits. If you take weighing food and tracking macros seriously, they become a part of your routine and build up a whole edifice around eating properly. During a determined fat-loss or muscle-gain diet, this helps maintain better adherence.
Food weighing takes very little effort but puts another, deliberate step into your diet that can help improve your relationship with food. It’s very individual, but it’s a huge help in making it stick and warding off bad habits and lazy meal prep…
Better for food prep
Food prep is all about putting things right in advance. When you prep food, the use of a food scale makes a huge difference. It not only ensures accuracy, but helps evenly share out portions across different days, making sure everything is where it needs to be.
Food prep is about attention to detail and diligence. When you use a food scale, you’re ahead of the curve and taking it seriously. This is another notch on your routine, and helps it stick, giving you
Can illuminate some hidden content and change expectations
This is one of the best changes to your relationship to food: making sure that what you think is correct. Or, on the other hand, it shows you that you had the wrong idea about portion sizes, calorie density, or your normal ‘staple’ meals.
This is one of the best results you can hope for – finding something that you were doing wrong. It’s one of the ways that weighing food, just like tracking what you eat, can open your eyes to how you’re sabotaging your own results.
Accurate measures will pick up on any over- or under-eating you were doing before you started weighing. This happens fare more often than you think, and we are all guilty of overlooking accurate measures from time to time.
Great for sub-container measurements
Finally, you should weigh your food for macro tracking when you’re using less than a container’s worth of something. Again, eyeballing 150g from a 1kg container isn’t easy – and even harder in imperial units where conversions are trickier.
This is difficult for things like chicken breast, Greek yogurt, and other staple healthy foods. Measuring can be hard without a good system. Weighing your food ensures that you can sub-divide from larger containers without any issues or undue inaccuracy.
Aside from your macro tracking, food scales are just great to have around. They’re going to be useful in meal prep and macro tracking, but also any more-advanced cooking you’re doing with measurements and weights.
You can always approximate, but the result will never be quite as good. It’s a great way to make sure you’re getting the most from your cooking, and not just your muscle-building diet!
Weighing food and macro tracking FAQ: How do you do it?
How much does a food scale cost?
Food scales are inexpensive and can be bought anywhere from 20 dollars up. They’re a simple piece of equipment that come at a great price with good accuracy. Developing technology in the area has made them affordable and high-quality, even since 2000.
How do you weigh raw chicken with a food scale?
First, you may as well start measuring your chicken cooked.
Measuring cooked food is the most reliable way to ensure you’re getting the right numbers. When you measure your food raw, you may be including non-nutritive weight like water that is lost when cooking.
However, if you want to measure raw chicken, you should zero your weighing scale with your bowl or other container already on it. Alternatively, you can use cling film to prevent the contamination of your surfaces. Again, you can zero your scale before use with the protective layer already applied.
How do you measure food? How do you use a food scale?
To weigh your food, first zero your scale with a container on it, and slowly add a little at a time. It’s always easier to add more than it is to take some out – especially with powders.
Zeroing with your container takes out the ridiculous math of measuring your bowl before starting, and then subtracting it from your resulting weight. Adding slowly helps cut down on time. You can add cling film to your scale to reduce the need for cleaning your scale.
Conclusion: Weighing Food for Macros Tracking
Measuring your food is one of the simplest and most important fools when it comes to dieting with macro tracking. It’s the same accuracy you get by checking the weight on the bar, and should be just as obvious an upgrade to your diet!
We measure food for a wide range of reasons – accuracy, reliability, and educating ourselves on nutrition. With the affordable range of food scales now, it’s a small investment in a lifetime of better quality dieting and certainty that your diet is helping you turn exercise effort into results.
If you put a little more thought into your food, you can get a lot out. Macro tracking and weighing your food are partners in making the most of your diet, and just one more sign that you’re taking it seriously – and are bound for success!
The Full Macro Solution for Getting Lean
If you’re looking for an entire solution to getting lean with tracking macros and losing weight, then you may be interested in my book:
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