Incorrect estimations when tracking food

I’m not losing any weight. I’m not losing any fat. I’m not seeing any progress.

I’ve said all of these at various times in my life.

I follow flexible dieting meaning I don’t like the idea of blocking out foods/food groups from my diet as they are deemed “bad”. Given that I don’t have any health issues that require me to cut out specific foods, I’m going to enjoy everything I like. I was using MyFitnessPal and now use MacroStax to track food intake.

I even felt proud that I measured everything I consumed. Now, every time I have set weight/body fat percentage goals, I have often found myself in a position where the progress is not where I’d like it to be. This time, I decided to check if I was doing something fundamentally wrong.

I always go by the label information. Everything I have consumed has information about weight in g/lb for solids and powders and volume in oz for liquids. And both always have standard kitchen measurements of cup, tbsp, etc. Of course, like many, I just used the standard kitchen measurements each time.

So I measured in both g and the standard tbsp for cocoa powder.


Uh oh. So, if tightly packed, 1 tbsp is actually 7g or 75% more than intended. If loosely packed, it’s 50% more than intended. And 4g is roughly 70-80% of what the tbsp might hold.

This is the cocoa powder I use for my morning breakfast protein shakes. While this error is trivial, many others are not. A medium banana(7-7 7/8 inches long) is supposed to be 118g with about 105 Cals. That statement is true. But the bananas I bought last week were the same length and packed in 185g resulting in 50% more calories. The worst of all is peanut butter. 1 tbsp is not the right way to measure it. Weigh it!

Considering that most of my diet is some form of solids, weighing ingredients goes a really long way in figuring out if I am overeating. Fun fact: when I use volume measurements instead of weight, I am overeating. There’s no two ways about it. Now, if you add these seemingly small inaccuracies throughout the day, I can bet you the total in a day is far more than 300 calories.

When you are trying to get to a goal with correctly calibrated numbers for macros, don’t lose precious time by assuming weights, or worse using volume measurements instead of weight. Buy a small weighing scale. You’ll be surprised how it can change your progress.

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