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For the Wellness of It - Nutrition and Yoga in Winston-Salem, NC / Blog  / Key to healthy weight loss-Measure your portions

Key to healthy weight loss-Measure your portions

Why it is a good idea:

The bottom line is portion control when trying to lose weight.  Knowing how much food you are putting in your body can make a huge difference in maintaining a healthy weight.

I keep a food scale out on the counter to measure proteins, measuring cups work well for pasta and grains.

None of us want to spend the rest of our lives measuring everything we eat. However measuring foods for a couple of months while adjusting eating habits, gives us a good idea of how much we are consuming. After a couple of months, you will be able you eyeball the portion, and have a good idea of how much you are eating.

Depending on the type of food you are eating will determine if the food is measured cooked uncooked.

What does 5 oz. of meat look like? What does a cup of cooked rice look like? You might be surprised.

Rice, pasta’s, and grains:

The important thing is not to confuse the dry and cooked measures, because confusing cooked versus dry can cause major discrepancies in daily calorie and macronutrient totals.

For example, dry rice has far more calories per unit of volume than cooked rice.

Basmati brown rice, 1 cup dry: 600 calories
Basmati brown rice, 1 cup cooked: 216 calories

Of course, rice, pasta’s and grains expand after it’s cooked, as it takes on water.

For example 1 cup dry is a LOT of cooked rice. However, this mistake is not unheard of: If you scooped out 1 cup of dry rice, then cooked it and ate all of it, thinking it only had 216 calories, you’d be off more than 400 calories from that one error alone.

This is the case with all foods dry vs after soaking up water. The caloric density decreases as water content in the food increases (and vice versa). Take grapes and raisins for example – raisins are calorie dense due to fact that they are dried fruit. Remove water and you increase the caloric density.


Understanding the difference between cooked and uncooked is also important for protein and meat, although it’s the reverse of rice or pasta: When you cook chicken for example, fluids leak out of the meat so the calories per unit of weight increase in the cooked meat. Stated the other way around, the chicken breast weighs a little bit less after cooking.

Usually, most people weigh their meat before cooking, but which way you choose is a matter of personal preference.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of whether the nutrition information is available for both cooked and dry measures. Most packages only show nutrition information for one or the other, the way the food is packaged. A chicken breast package in the supermarket, the nutrition information on the label of uncooked chicken breast is for the uncooked meat. Many good data base food calorie list, have both the nutritional information of cooked and uncooked food.

Measuring food, shows how much food is consumed on a daily basis.

This will not only be helpful when cooking at home but also very eye opening when dining out. Knowing what a cup of pasta or a 5 oz. chicken breast really looks like, makes the choice of consuming the entire plate of food or asking for a to go box for half the meal a lot easier and better for you!

Jennie Schwartz
Personal Health Coach

Jennie is a certified health coach and yoga instructor. Her approach combines yoga, fitness, and nutrition to achieve health goals. Her biggest joy is helping clients discover the tools needed for a lifetime of balance and well-being.

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