T Nation

Measuring Food


I just thought this was funny, and wondered how many people fall to similar approaches when trying to reach their goals ("I'm dieting but can't seem to lose weight!")

My younger brother is currently getting ready for his 1st contest. He dropped by yesterday to hit the gym with me, go over some posing and dieting approaches, and just basically hang out. As I always have clean food on hand (start my own prep in a few weeks), I cooked up a some tilapia for him, and then he said he'd just grab "2 Tbsps of Peanut Butter" after for some extra cals and fat.

I was pretty engrossed in watching a Star Trek Movie marathon, but happened to look up as he walked into my living room with a giant wad of Peanut Butter on a plate and a spoon. "How much are you supposed to eat?" I asked. "Two Tablespoons" he replied. I started laughing and explained to him that a tablespoon in actual 'cooking measurements' wasn't what a typical person might think.

I grabbed his plate and had him follow me into the kitchen where we took out the digital scale, weighed a small tuperware on it, and then started scooping small amounts of peanut butter into the tupperware until we had a TRUE 2 Tbsp amount of PB on it. It was probably 1/3 of what he had on his plate. The look on his face was priceless. I could see the tears in his eyes -lol.

I opened a drawer and handed him a baby spoon and told him to enjoy himself. Then I set about eating the rest of the Peanut Butter on the plate myself (I'm not dieting yet -lol).

How accurate are you guys with your diet. I know that personally, I leave nothing to chance.



Because I don't compete and am just into general fitness, I don't weigh all foods. I "eyeball" most of it.

However, with fat sources and high fat items (nuts, cheese, nut butters, oils), I do NOT "eyeball" because seemingly minor changes in quantity can add HUNDREDS of calories to a day's menu - without even feeling or noticing it.

ONE tablespoon of oil contains 135 calories.

TWO tablespoons of nut butter has 100+ calories.

And these are MEASLY volumes of food. Compare them to ONE CUP of rice which has 240 calories, or ONE cup of mashed potatoes (nothing added) which has 160 calories and you can see how someone can seriously screw up their diet if they're not careful when not measuring fats precisely.


I'm more obsessed with consistency than accuracy. I don't know/care if I'm perfectly accurate with my "2 tablespoons of peanut butter" in my daily protein shake, but I do know that it's the same amount every day (use the same spoon when I scoop it out). Just like when I cook a 2lb pork tenderloin, I eyeball it and eat it in four roughly equivalent meals instead of measuring out half pound pieces and packing them separately.

I measure some things, namely oils. Also when I introduce new foods into my diet I measure them pretty obsessively until I feel like I have a good handle on them.

Funny Stu, I had the complete opposite experience with my brother. I'm currently bulking, and he wants to put on weight for MMA. Except he constantly can't get ENOUGH food down and considers me lucky to have an appetite capable of anything (and he was similarly shocked when I told him what 4,000 calories looks like). I would've never believed people on internet forums saying they "can't eat 3,000 calories per day" if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes in my brother, who does desperately want to gain.


i use my kitchen scale a lot, though with me it's to make sure i eat enough food. i'm terrible at eyeballing quantities and almost always end up short-changing myself if i don't weigh things.


I weigh and log everything during workout days to make sure I eat enough, then I am much more lenient on off days when I eat mostly fruits/meats/vegetables.


I try to get the most of my foods, so I measure out meat accurately. Before I got a scale I would dice it up for volume measurements. It's the most expensive part of my diet and I don't have too much cash to blow, so I see how well my body responds to different size portions, 8oz seems to do well for me vs. 10oz, for example. When I cut I like measuring everything, not for contest though.


Yeah, obviously those who compete have to be a bit stricter, but after reading so many 'critique my diet' type threads on here, and people who just "can't gain/lose weight", well, it makes me wonder.

Most of the year I just eyeball things myself, although by this point, I do have a pretty good idea of what I'm eating at each sitting.



When I dieted in the past, I weighed everything and put every single meal in Fitday. It worked perfectly and the weight loss was very steady and systematic. I have a digital scale so it takes about 10 seconds to weigh something. Once you spend months weighing your food, you develop a good sense of eyeballing it. Regardless, I still weigh it to be sure. I weigh my meat when I'm on a bulk as well. The weight of red meat especially varies based on how you cook and how much fat ends up on your steak when it's done.


I weigh everything right now, and have done for a while. Leave nothing to chance.



My diet doesn't vary much from week to week so I pretty much know how my macros and overall cals break down. I don't measure things out because of this. If I was to compete I would probably be a little more exact.


Having a digital scale, which I had bought to get a handle on portions for dieting, actually saved my butt when I was cooking regular food or baking cookies or whatever, and had a seemingly impossible quantity to measure, but I was able to do by putting the entire mixing bown on the scale, taring it, and then adding mystery ingredient until I hit the right number of ounces.

all I try to "eyeball" right now is grams of protein. Which is, frankly, probably pretty damn inaccurate, so I try to err on the side of "a lot"


My wife upgraded me to a digital scale a weeks ago. It's nice because I can easily change between all unit of measurement, it almost brought a tear to my eye. :slightly_smiling:


I have a Salter digital scale - it's awesome. I do weigh and portion my food most of the time.




i started weighing n measuring food about 5 years ago n saw progress increase alot . now i dont really weigh unless its a food i dont often use . i have different sized marked containers and cups for measuring different foods such as rice , tuna , potatoes n oats etc .
spontanious eating wont help you reach your goals . write down your diet , eat whats written down n nothing else this is what works for me .


I calculate my calories everyday, and im bulking. I think beginners (like me) should track their calories to make sure they are eating enough.

So many people under eat and over eat then they blame it on genetics for either...not being able to gain, or gaining too much fat. Then they ask for help on nutrition not even knowing the macro breakdown of their food, lol.


I'm with you. I get full very easy, and go 3.5-4 hrs before eating again. If I don't track calories I always come up short as tracking I find I need another meal on top of what I would normally eat.


I think measuring food is important.

Sometimes I get a little lazy though, for example: I buy 3lb packages of beef and I usually can divide that up easily. 3lbs gives me 12 even 4oz servings.