Tracking raw or cooked meats has to be one of the most common questions on get on nutrition tracking. There is a lot of conflicting information too. I hope for once and for all to get to the bottom of it!
Tracking Raw or Cooked Meats
You can actually do both: track raw or cooked weights of the meat in your diet. Now don’t think I’m being Mr. Diplomatic! LOL You have to adjust for how you track it… Here are the FACTS on tracking raw or cooked meats.
FACT #1: If you buy meat RAW (i.e. chicken breast), the nutritional data on the label is for that meat in its RAW state.
FACT #2: Meat changes weight as you cook it (in most cases, loses moisture and weight).
FACT #3: The amount of protein a piece of meat has raw will be the same as it has when cooked.
Ok, let’s look at those facts.The nutritional data on the food you buy is for that food as is. In some cases, they will give you weights and volumes for when it is cooked too. A lot times you’ve seen that for rice, 1/3 cup dry is equivalent to 1 cup cooked. But with meats, if you buy that meat raw, that is the nutritional data for that meat raw. So if you want 4 oz of chicken to get 26g of protein, you cut off and weigh 4 oz and then cook it.
Now think logically with me, does that piece of chicken change when you cook it? Does it become a new piece, or is it the same one your threw on the grill 15 minutes ago? The SAME ONE! It’s still 26g of protein. If you take it off and weigh it now though, you will see it is on average about 3 oz. Most meats are 25-35% less in weight after being cooked. Still 26g of protein (same piece of meat) but the weights are pretty different.
I hear it already, and have HEARD it a lot, “Coach Wayne, it doesn’t matter in the end…”
Now hold up! 25-35% difference is important. Now they are right… in most cases, some extra protein won’t hurt. Some extra chicken breast is almost ALL protein. But what if you had beef? Not only is that 25-35% extra protein but 25-35% extra fat! Take a look at what that can mean calorie-wise.
So my 10oz of RAW chicken is 312 calories, 65.5g protein and 3.5g fat.
So my 10oz of COOKED chicken is 468 calories, 88g protein and 10g fat!
If you are really dialed in on a deficit, you can see were ~150 calories would make a difference. And almost 7g of fat isn’t something you want to give up some of your almonds or PB for LOL
What about my 10 oz RAW steak? 330 calories, 60g protein, and 11g fat.
My 10oz COOKED steak is 490 calories, 73g protein, and 15g fat!
Again if you are really dialed in, these differences would matter!
So what should I do with tracking Raw or Cooked Meats?
I would track it cooked BUT take into account the weight loss. So if you record 8 oz of chicken in MFP, you are really going to weigh up 6 oz once it’s cooked. That will save you dirtying more dishes. You can also find a lot of entries in MFP for cooked meats. Lots of GRILLED entries that are ready to be weighed in the cooked form.
I just think if you are going to put all this work into tracking and weighing your food, be as accurate as you can.
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