If you’re reading this, then you’ve heard about flexible dieting, counting macros or iifym and there’s no doubt in my mind that the thought of having to weigh your food and use a food scale is where you draw the line.
You just can’t and won’t do it. But you’re reading this right now, which means you’ve opened up to it. And it’s probably because it seems like everyone is counting macros these days, is looking fit as heck, and eating everything, BUT salads.
And at this point you want it.
I don’t blame you, counting macros is pretty awesome. OK, really awesome.
When I first started using a food scale, I told absolutely no one except my best friend because I calculated her macros and experimented with her (she lost 10 pounds). But, besides her and of course my family no one knew. I was too embarrassed people would judge me, make comments, or think I was weird.
Which they did, when I eventually was open about it. But by that point, you could see the progress I was making and guess what, I didn’t care.
So, after years of practice and trial and error, I made a list of things that will help you not stress over using a food scale.
Here’s a couple of things I’ll be covering.
- Whether you should use a food scale or not
- The best food scale to use
- Where to track your food after you use the food scale
- Whether you should be weighing your food before or after cooking
- Measuring in grams or ounces
- Measuring in bulk
- How to measure oils
OK, let’s dive in.
SHOULD I USE A FOOD SCALE
Do you need a food scale to track your macros? Or is it ok to use measuring cups or spoons?
If you remember taking home ed classes in middle school, you’ll remember having to use measuring cups to follow the recipe.
Let’s take an example and say you have to weigh a TBSP of chocolate chips. If you read the back on a nutrition label, 1 TBSP called for 14 grams, but let’s say you choose not to weigh the 14 grams of chocolate chips and instead use the measuring spoon. In the picture below, I scooped 1 TBSP and then weighed it. It turns out I was off by XX grams.
If you’re not familiar with the actual portion size, try using a food scale to see how much a serving size really is. This can be quite shocking, to begin with, but will help you out in the long run.
It’s a great tool to use at the beginning of your fitness journey, but by no means should you be tied to using a food scale for the rest of your life.
PICKING THE BEST FOOD SCALE
Does an expensive food scale help you achieve your goals better than a $9 food scale?
Not at all. A food scale is going to help you weigh the food you want to track and enter into your macro tracking app.
As long as your scale measures in ounces and grams, you are set.
My very first scale was $20 from bed bath & beyond, but I’ve seen better ones on amazon for less. Splurging isn’t necessary; the simpler, the better.
APPS TO TRACK YOUR MACROS
A macro tracking app will help you store and log the food you ate for the day. Look at it as your food diary. And to keep things simple, try out a couple and find the one you are most comfortable with. If it’s easy to use and understand – that’s the one for you.
After logging the same food items a couple of times, the app will remember and store these foods for you. That way, you won’t always have to go searching and scanning for the foods you ate. All you’ll have to do is start typing what you’re looking for, and the app will recognize that item if it’s something you’re frequently eating.
Quick tip! When you first download the app, it’s going to ask you a bunch of questions and have you calculate your macros through the app. Please don’t do it!.
There’s no need to set up your goals with the app. You should only use the app to log your food.
ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO WEIGH your food raw or cooked?
This used to be my biggest struggle. And if you ask anyone, the debate is probably still ongoing, which is why the best way to know whether you should track raw or uncooked is to ask yourself this.
Which is easier, and which way do you find yourself tracking more consistently?
Stick to that method.
For example, when it comes to dry foods, I measure them both raw and cooked. If I measure beans from a can already cooked, then I will measure them cooked no big deal.
If I am looking to cook dry beans, I will measure the dry serving size. This same rule goes for foods like pasta and rice.
Make sure to type in raw or cooked in your app.
Should you freak out because you’re not consistent with your method of measuring foods? Please no!
SHOULD YOU MEASURE IN GRAMS OR OUNCES?
The only difference here is the unit of measurement.
1 ounce = 28 grams and 28 grams = 1 ounce
How do you pick which one to measure in?
No, your math skills aren’t being put to the test well, maybe a little, just kidding. Take a look at the serving size of what you are looking to weigh. If the serving size is given in grams, measure in grams, and vice versa.
Just a quick tip. Small foods like nuts, seeds, oils, and sauces are easier to measure in grams, and heavier ones are easier to measure in ounces.
HOW TO MEASURE OILS AND SMALL PORTIONS
If you’ve ever tried to measure small portions of food and realized the scale wouldn’t capture the weight, it’s happened to all of us.
Nothing to lose your mind over, but here’s a quick tip.
Instead of adding weight to the scale, remove weight from the scale. Let’s take a look at this example. Let’s say you want to weigh out peanut butter on the food scale.
Instead of placing the amount of peanut butter you will eat on the food scale, place the entire jar of peanut butter on the food scale, and tare it out (set it to zero). Then remove how much peanut butter you will be eating from the jar (while the jar is still on the scale), and the weight will show as a negative on your scale.
This is my favorite hack.
HOW TO MEASURE YOUR MEALS IN BULK
Measuring meals in bulk is quite easy. Let’s use the example of cooking pasta:
- Take the box of pasta and sit it on top of the food scale
- Tare out (reset to 0), so the weight of the pasta is not being captured
- Remove the serving size from the food scale (the weight will appear as negative) and cook.
- Once the pasta is cooked, place an empty container on the food scale and tare to 0. (erasing the weight of the container).
- Place the cooked pasta in the bowl and grab its ENTIRE weight in either grams or ounces. (ounces is probably best if it’s a large portion).
- Divide the weight into how many servings you will be dividing your meals into. So if it’s five days take the total weight of the pasta and divide by 5.
- Then go into your myfitnesspal app, and for serving size divide the original portion, you removed from the box into the same amount of meals you’ll be eating
- Now enter that number into your macro tracking app and Voila!
NO FOOD SCALE NO PROBLEM
What do you do when you’re a food scale master now, but are out on vacation or out with friends, and don’t have your food scale with you to weigh your food?
Is this your cue to say screw it and eat everything in sight or not eat at all? I hope it’s pretty clear that you do not and should not live a life tied to a food scale.
Flexible dieting is just the ability to be flexible. And the food scale is a tool you will use in the beginning to learn more about food and how to track your goals.
Until you feel fully confident, this is where being prepared comes a long way. Here are a couple of things you can do:
- Meal prep
- Learn portion sizing with hands
- Prepackage your snacks
- Remind yourself that guessing is better than nothing.
Sure, you’ve probably thought using a scale was harder than it really is, but by now, I hope you realize that it is not as intimidating as you thought.
Learning how to use a food scale to track your macros is not hard at all. You don’t need to track every single thing you eat, and there is no such thing as the perfect macros. If, at any point, you begin to feel overwhelmed, try measuring out only one meal a day or every other day. With time you will learn that you don’t have to sacrifice delicious foods you love while losing weight.