Out of all the nutrition questions/topics/debates out there within the fitness and health community, the question of when one should weigh their meat, before cooking it, or after, consistently finds it way to the top of forum boards, YouTube comments and Snapchat Q & A’s.
This is an age-old question, that has as many people advocating on one side, as the other. So what’s the answer? When should you weigh your meat? Either.
Either? How can it be either? Well, let’s take a look…
Nutrition Facts Label
When asking the question above, what many people want to know, is not necessarily when to weigh their meat, but rather, “What is the nutritional information found on a package of meat based on, it’s raw (uncooked) weight, or it’s cooked weight?”
For most products, the nutrition facts label is going to be based upon the products raw/uncooked weight. So when you pick-up a package of meat, for example ground beef, and the label says it contains “x” grams of protein, “x” grams of fat, and “x” amount of calories per 4 oz., these are the nutritional facts for the product when it is uncooked. This means if you are trying to get “x” grams of protein per meal, you would calculate this based off of the products raw, uncooked weight.
It’s a common misconception, that meat’s nutrition facts labels, are based upon the product’s cooked weight. People will cook the food, and THEN weigh-out the portion size they want, for example 4 oz. However, because meat on average typically loses about 25% of it’s weight during the cooking process, if you weigh your meat after you cook it, instead of consuming the protein, fat and calorie amounts listed for 4 oz., you are actually consuming quite a bit more than this, equal to that of around 5 or 5.5 oz. (more or less depending on the type of meat, and the method you used to cook it). If you do this every meal, by the end of the day, week, month, you may end up consuming significantly more calories than you thought you were, which can absolutely affect your ability to lose weight (I know what some of you are thinking at this point, and don’t worry, we will get there, I promise. Just give me a few more lines).
With all of that said…
Although most labels are based on the products raw/uncooked weight, there are some instances when these facts are based on the products cooked weight (I know confusing, right?). However, this is much less common, and when this is the case, they must indicate it, as well as which method of cooking these nutrition facts are based upon (baking, grilling, etc.). But for the most part, the nutrition facts label is based on the products uncooked weight.
Now to go Full Circle with all of this…
At the beginning, the answer to our question about when we should weigh our meat, before or after cooking it, was either. The answer is either, because when we weigh our meat isn’t the issue. The real question is:
“How do we accurately track our intake, so that the macro-nutrient/calorie amounts we record, actually match-up with what we ate?”
There are a few ways you can go about this:
1) Look at the meats nutrition facts label, and unless otherwise specified, assume the info provided is for the products raw weight. Therefore, the first method is simply to weigh the meat raw, before cooking it, and then record the appropriate values (based on the nutrition facts label) for that amount you are about to cook. Simple enough.
2) If you don’t feel like weighing-out each individual portion one at a time, raw, and then cooking these individual portions carefully spaced apart, so that they don’t get mixed together (can you tell I’ve done this before?). Weigh the meat when it’s uncooked, or look at the total amount contained in the package. After it’s cooked, re-weigh it, and then divide this new weight by the number of servings you wanted, based upon it’s raw weight. Then just portion it out.
For example: Let’s say the package of raw meat you are about to cook weighs 1 lb. If you want to make two, 8 oz. portions, knowing that this package weights 16 oz., you can cook it, weigh it after, then just divide that by two. Remember, that after cooking it, it may only weigh 12 oz., making each of the portions now only 6 oz. However, the nutrition facts for each of these meals will be equal to that of an 8 oz. portion of raw meat.
What if you don’t want to mess with weighing meat when it’s raw at all? Or you don’t know what the meat’s raw weight was, what can you do?
3) Be consistent with your cooking method. As long as you cook the meat the same way every time (baking, grilling, whatever), for the same length of time each time, this should give you pretty consistent, accurate values. Just look up the type of meat you are cooking, and the cooking method you are using to prepare it, then go by those nutrition facts (not the uncooked facts indicated on the package you bought), and cook it consistently the same way every time.
As we can see, there are a number of different ways we can go about tracking and recording our meat consumption. And that when we weigh our meat doesn’t really matter, so long as whatever method we use, allows us to accurately track it’s nutritional information.
I hope you benefited, and enjoyed reading this article. If there is anything you’d like me to write about in the future, leave it in the comments section below. You can also find me on:
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Wow! What a bunch of great info! Thanks for taking your time to post this!
Andrea Valdez says
so glad you think so! Thank YOU for taking the time to read it 🙂
Interesting. But, when I was wondering, just now, if I should be counting cooked or uncooked weight, it was not due to what was on a label. It is due to the fact that so many people say “You should eat …. oz. of meat or other protein.” Other protein meaning fish or fowl. So, if you should eat … oz. of protein, should be it be …cooked oz. or … oz. before cooking?
Though, i have decided I will go with the uncooked weight, anyway. And, if that doesn’t work out well for the week, I’ll add a little to what I purchase for the next week. Easy peasy.
Thank you for helping me to come to that decision.
So what if you have, say, ground turkey that is already cooked for taco fillings? Would you weigh it and times it by 1.25? Thank you!
It should get you in the ballpark.
Divide by .75 if he’s saying raw meat loses 25%
Great info! This definitely helps simplify a lot of things.
Emily Onderi says
I thought after because some of the nutrition evaporates or is it just water.
If you cook 100gm gammon steak uncookef and it says 18.5gms portion is it still 18.5 gsm portion after cooking
As after cooki g the weight would be less than 100gms right
Patrick Tuck says
I’m sorry this is tardy but I’ve a question for you. I believe you are correct about the label (uncooked values). However, for many meats, particularly hamburger, if the nutrition label refers to the uncooked product, does it not lose something in its cooked weight loss (particularly fat)? If the uncooked meat has, say 8 grams of fat at 1/3 lb, are we to assume that my now-1/4 lb cooked hamburger still has 8 grams of fat? It seems counterintuitive. I would guess the protein count would not change, no idea about the carbs, but the fat content should change, no? (What’s that I’m pouring out of my frying pan?) And how can we possibly measure the change? Your thoughts?
Steve Taylor says
Hey Patrick, it depends on the type of meat and the cooking method. Some meats like chicken, tilapia, shrimp, etc. have a very low fat content to begin with and therefore lose very little (if any) during cooking. Other types of meat such as fatty beef can lose measurable amounts of fat (depending on how they are cooked and if the liquefied fat is removed from the final product). In those instances where measurable amounts of fat are lost/removed, you can go to online food databases such as https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/beef/show and https://nutritiondata.self.com/ to find the nutritional information for that meat based on the cooking method used.
Jim G says
Following up on this thread, which I myself was mulling when I got to this informative piece…
The label on the ground OG turkey in our fridge indicates a high (17%) fat content. If I weigh the cooking vessel before and after cooking (meat removed), wouldn’t that give me a pretty good idea of how much fat was rendered out of the meat? I figure I could do that just once to get my ratios.
I am a predominantly meat eater. Not pure carnivore as some are. The fat is king. It is our energy. Protein is not energy. Protein is the builder of muscle. So tonight I made 1 lb of ground pork. I ended up with 11 ozs. I split that with my wife over our 1 lb of cooked vegees each. I mix the cooked vegees in with the fat and most of the rendered fat is mixed over the vegees. I then take the cooked chopped meat and weigh it and split it and pour each portion over our vegees. Grilling meat drains out a fair amount of fat, so there goes my energy. If I make a lot of meat ahead of time, I pour the rendered hot liquid fat into a metal bowl in the fridge and then scoop and re-add it in to other meals. Chicken is very fatty. It is not lean. Fish is fatty since they live in cold water. If you are eating only 200 grams of protein from meat a day, you better be sure you are getting the animal fat to complement the protein and get the energy you need to exist. I thank everyone for all their input!
Paul Bunning says
In fact, Iowa State University researched this question. A 4oz, 80% uncooked lean hamburger patty is 287 calories with 22.6 g of fat. Pan broiled, medium, this becomes 230 cal. and 15 g of fat. Blotted, the meat is 217 cal. with 14 g. Blotted and rinsed (yuck) it arrives at 130 calories and 5 g of fat.
Paul Bunning says
The last two steps crumbled the patty before blotting… if anyone is serious about trying this at home. There was no information about carb or protein changes
My question is what would someone do if they were meal prepping. I know weighing uncooked and the cooking it and sorting is the most ideal, but that get’s tedious, especially when meal prepping. What if you cook a pack of chicken and portion it how you want and weigh it cooked, but a piece of chicken isn’t exactly the weight you want it to be? I guess weighing food is tedious unless you really need to, that’s why it’s not for everyone except serious bodybuilders who have to do this. I mainly eat right and exercise to stay in shape and to feel and look good and I don’t weigh my food at all. But what if I wanted to gain muscle, can I cook and weigh after? Thanks!
Rita G says
Thank you! Always wondered about the fat content after cooking meat. Especially since fat has twice as many calories as carbs/protein per g.
I’m still confused. I’m about to cook a 6.7 lb. Boston Butt low and slow. Based on past experience, I will pull 4.4 lbs. out of the smoker 10 hours later. Removal of the inedible bone will drop it to about 4 pounds. If I wanted to create a nutrition information label for this product, would it be based on the 6.7 lbs of raw meat and bone I started with? If a serving size is 4 oz cooked, then it is 6.7 oz raw? 16 servings either way.
Great question! Inquiring minds want to know.
What about the bones? Is a chicken thigh/pork chop/porterhouse steak/etc. weight with or without the bone?
Bones do not count toward nutrition. Only the flesh and fat matters. Take beef bones and make bone broth for added nutrition.
I also weigh before cooking raw minced beef and portion it out after cooking. The problem i have is that i only have access to beef with 10 or 20% fat. I drain off and rinse meat during the cooking process. So my question is , if i weigh the meat raw, what % fat is the meat after i cook it. I could use 5% as a guide but i don’t actually know the fat content.
Buy meat with 20-30% fat and eat the fat. You need the fat.
hi! What if the nutrition label is on something that is already cooked, like deli turkey or a rotisserie chicken? without specification. it only makes sense that the nutrition would be for the cooked weight, as it is packaged, right?
Andrea Valdez says
yep! usually however it is packaged is how it is labeled. Here is a great video by steve that goes over the nuances of tracking in great detail – https://youtu.be/sLfdf_W2F4o
Fat content in meats has had me wondering about before/after cooking for years. If I have a slice of thick cut bacon, the package tells me it’s 120 calories per slice. Cooked to crispy, nearly half the fat would be rendered out, which means a slice would be significantly less than 120 calories, correct?
I take the 2 thick slices of bacon, cook them in the pan, take them out and then pour in 4 jumbo eggs scrambled into the fat and cook them. Very little fat is left in the pan. I get my protein and fat all in the right proportion. I eat the bacon with my fingers and the eggs with my fork. Salt and pepper is enough. Yummy.
chris v says
I have kind of same as bacon question above but for say 80/20 ground beef. Grill a 4oz (raw) burger to well done, a lot of fat is dripping off so what are you really left with? Trying to get keto macro % correct and getting the fat high enough is a challenge (while still doing a small calorie deficit at same time). If I’m calculating 23g fat from that burger, but it’s really 15g (or however many – no idea) after being grilled, 8g less is enough to put me under total fat macro % for the day.
Something like chicken breast which is much more lean, maybe no big deal, but bacon, ground beef, ribeye, etc with high fat content and some will be lost as dripping grease when cooking, how do you accurately estimate fat content?
Great article! Do you guys have any tips when having foods where you don’t necessarily eat the whole food? Like meat with bones, fruits with peels or seeds. Stuff like that. Should you just take the weight a few before and after removing only the part you’ll eat and create an average then just use that from now on?
Great! Thanks for sharing this! It’s a question that had been around my head for sometime.