July 12, 2012


I got a few comments and e-mails on my last post regarding Matt mismeasuring his pasta, so I thought it would be a good idea to share a post that showed the difference between liquid and solid measurements!

Matt wanted to become more mindful of portion sizes since reading Racing Weight, so he invested in some measuring cups and spoons. He used them mainly for things like whole wheat pasta, which he eats before long runs. This is a typical box of pasta that Matt would be cooking from:

They say a serving is 2 ounces, or 56 grams. Often, you may also see the serving in cup measurements, usually 2/3 of a cup being a serving.

So, before a run, Matt would take his measuring cup and measure out 8 ounces, what he figured to be about 800 calories.

The problem, though, is that this is a liquid measuring cup - and pasta is clearly a solid. The 2 ounce serving is not 2 liquid ounces (for comparison, a shot glass is typically about an ounce, ounce and a half) but 2 ounces by weight.

This is the kind of measuring cup you need to use for measuring solids:

But the most accurate way of measuring is by weight. I set up a scale to subtract the weight of the cup, and lo and behold, we find that Matt was eating far less than the 8 ounces he thought he was eating.

It was actually 3.4 ounces by weight, or 98 grams. Since a serving is 2 ounces or 56 grams, the bowl of pasta he'd been logging as 800 calories was, in fact, only 350 calories. Needless to say, I think we've figured out why he dropped a ton of weight in the past month and a half or so! 

Everyone has his or her own method for losing weight - counting calories, counting Weight Watchers Points, etc. - but no matter what works best for you personally, it's still important to have an understanding of portion sizes. I bought a food scale a few months ago and used it for everything for a while, until I got a good idea of what serving sizes looked like. I don't see the point in neurotically measuring every piece of fruit, every plate of veggies, every chicken breast - after a while, you can more or less eye it, and the difference between a 90 calorie banana and a 110 calorie banana isn't worth losing sleep over, at least not to me. My issues with weight loss in California had nothing to do with small differences in fruits, veggies, and lean protein.

Things I *do* still measure, though? Nuts and nut butters. Avocados. Pasta. Things that are more difficult for me to estimate, or that I tend to go overboard with if I don't have a structured plan in place. I don't know if I'll measure these things forever, but I know that for now, I need them to be weighed out.

What about you? Do you weigh/measure your food? Do you weigh/measure everything, or just some things? Have you ever made any big over/under estimations about foods?


marisol said...

I am fairly good at measuring things when I use my measuring cups. But things like lean protein and pasta I guesstimate using different guidelines I've seen online. I think I need to invest in a scale though.

And when I measure out peanut butter, it's sad to see what a tablespoon is compared to what I used to think a tablespoon was.

Unknown said...

I go thru phases. When my weight starts to creep up or I feel like I need to revisit a little bit of a tighter approach to discipline, I'll whip out the measuring cups and stuff. I always measure my olive oil and I tend to usually measure my peanut butter

Ellen A. said...

I went through a phase where I measured all my food (with a food scale). Now, for the most part, I eye ball it. But every once in awhile, I got back to measuring everything just to make sure I keep my mind in perspective.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

I definitely need to measure things like peanut butter and pasta and cereal...things I eat often and really make a difference when you "fudge" them!

Debbie said...

I have to measure everything. I have a set of measuring cups that I keep in my car.

Sarah said...

It's good to remember to measure! I do it now, but never used to. Makes a big difference!


Anonymous said...

I don't measure fruit or veg; they've never been the issue. I measure meat pre-cooking: meaning, if I know 1 lb of ground beef has gone into a recipe, I expect to get 3-4 servings from that dish. I don't eat pasta anymore, but when I did it was definitely one of the things I measured. I weigh nuts and nut butters.

Caron said...

I measure most things as it's become a habit after all these years. I reach for the measuring cups or spoons without thinking about it. I also use a scale for some things. I especially like the scale for measuring portions of meat and also for things in grams like sunflower seeds.

timothy said...

i KNOW this is an area where i need work. when i lost the 80 pounds on atkins i just ate what i wanted and how much i wanted and it was fine, but at 80 pounds lighter it simply doesnt work any more. mayhaps on payday i'll get one of them there scales! lol i also need a pedometer but i looked at them and they all seemed way too complicated for me. i NEED simple, technilogically challenged here, i is pretty not smart! LMAO

Ingrid said...

Cups are not an common measuring unit over here in continental Europe, so I am always a bit at a loss when trying to convert a recipe from a US blog. Now apparently there are liquid and solid measuring units? This gets complicated :-)
I just use a scale for everything. At first I would weigh every single item, but as you said, after a while it gets easier to assess the weight of things. Although I keep measuring oils and butter, cereals and pasta too, because it's so easy to go overboard with them.

michelle said...

heh boys are funny. my roomie is convinced it doesn't matter if he uses dry or wet measure for things. i just shake my head

i've thought about getting a food scale, but keep holding off. for now, i just use my measuring cups and evenly split any meats i get based on raw weight :)