If you are like me, you don’t have time to weigh out every single piece of food item you are going to consume for each serving. Meal prepping is time consuming enough and the whole point of flexible dieting is a FLEXIBLE approach right?
Well yes, but if you aren’t estimating the foods you track correctly (or even intuitively eat), you could be consuming way more than you had planned.
The macros in foods are based on the raw ingredients themselves and not cooked so to get a 100% accurate measurement, you should measure raw but who on earth has time for that? When I was prepping for a show, I was measuring it all out individually and wasting so much time prepping for a few days at a time. For the level of lean that you have to achieve as a competitor, accuracy is crucial, however if you aren’t trying to get into single digit body fat percentages, then you certainly don’t want to waste all of this time. I made a whole batch of jasmine rice using a boil in a bag on prep and literally threw it out because I couldn’t accurately gauge the portion because I cooked it first. Something that the competition lifestyle requires but I found so frustrating in the moment.
So let’s talk about converting the cooked meats/seafood into “close enough” estimates to track without being a crazy person in the kitchen.
When we cook the meat or seafood, it loses some of its volume, about 1/4 or 25% to be accurate-ish. If you are like me and torch your fish, it will be even harder to track. Don’t believe me? Try weighing raw meat and then cook it and weigh it when it is done. How much volume did you lose? Shocking, right?
When I cook 4oz of flounder or similar thin, flaky fish, it ends up weighing about 55-60% less than the raw fish. For this reason, I don’t do flounder much anymore haha. However, I love shrimp. Shrimp also loses volume but I don’t have to torch it to cook it thoroughly so this works better for me. I apply the same general guidelines for chicken, turkey, or beef to my shrimp and salmon. There are some coaches that recommend anywhere from a 1-1.25 multiplier but I find these to be inaccurate based on my own experimentation. So here is how I and a lot of other fitness professionals recommend to do it.
If you yield 4oz. of any of the above meats I mentioned (or similar) divide your cooked portion (4oz. in this case) by .75 (since it loses 3/4 of its volume) to get the estimated raw amount that you should enter into your tracking app.
I cook a sheet of 5 salmon for the week and weigh it and divide it by 5 for each day to fill my 5 Tupperware bowls. This leaves me with 4 oz. of salmon for each of my meals.
I take 4, the number of ounces my scale says once it is cooked, and divide by .75 which equals 5.33
I will then enter 5.33oz. of RAW salmon into my tracking app.
Note: If you decide to go for the flaky fish like tilapia (bleh) or flounder, I would strongly recommend dividing by .50 instead of .75 if you can see the volume has gone down tremendously. I have yet to weigh my flounder after cooking it without losing half of the volume.
Remember, if you cooked it and it weighs 4oz., you are NOT eating 4oz. of salmon. You are eating 4/.75 oz. of salmon which is 5.33oz. because the volume is recorded in raw amounts and you lose some volume by cooking it.
Items recorded in cooked grams are ounces are user driven and may have a higher margin of error so err on the side of caution and input it yourself.
In fact, when I tested out raw vs. cooked chicken in Myfitnesspal ( my go-to tracking app), it gives me several options which is confusing so I went with the raw one that was verified by Perdue and a cooked version.
For 3oz. Raw Perdue it stated the macros were: 19.6P/0C/.9F
For 3oz. Cooked Perdue it stated the macros were: 22P/1C/9F
You can see how skewed it can be. There are over 50 cals more in the cooked version than the raw. Unless you added a fat source, cooking meats will not add any macros to the final product. This can be so frustrating for newbies.
So, keep it simple and don’t stress about cooking it all individually unless you are a competitive athlete or just have OCD. Divide by .75 and get close enough. You can still get your dream body and jacked abs by getting it close enough! You will thank me on meal prep days!
3 oz. cooked = 4 oz. raw
4oz. cooked = 5.3 oz. raw
4.5oz cooked = 6 oz. raw
5 oz cooked = 6.7 oz. raw
5.5 oz. cooked = 7.3 oz. raw
6 oz. cooked = 8 oz. raw
6.5oz. cooked = 8.7 oz. raw
7 oz. cooked = 9.3 oz. raw