Do You Count Calories Before Or After Cooking?


When counting calories one of the big confusions can be how to weigh or measure the food, especially if the food needs to be processed or cooked. So in this article I clarify do you count calories before or after cooking?

Some of the calories should be counted as raw

You should count calories before cooking because, during the cooking process, most foods change their calorie density. Foods that are cooked in boiling water, like rice and pasta, will absorb the water, which will significantly decrease their calorie content.

But other foods like meats usually lose the volume of water, therefore, they become more calorie dense. So it all depends on the food type. Here are some of the most common questions.

Do Calories Change After Cooking?

Calories do change after cooking because the cooking process changes the nutritional makeup of the food. Some foods like rice or pasta have lower calorie density after cooking because of water absorption, where grilling foods like meats and fish will decrease their calorie density.

It all depends on the sources of calories, water content, and the cooking method you’re using. Some foods will gain more calories after cooking. But some foods will dramatically decrease their calorie density.

Does Calories Change After Cooking Meat?

Calories do change after cooking meat because meats and fish have a high to medium fat content and low starchy carbohydrate content. For those types of foods with some fat and low carbs, the cooking process usually will extract extra fat and water.

But it depends on the cooking method.

Grilling, oven-baking, boiling and microwave cooking will decrease amount of calories because of fat loss.

But during the frying process on the skillet or in the deep fryer, those food will absorb some fat from the cooking.

Also, the cooking process will extract some water because, during the heat process, water evaporates, and with today’s practices where meat producers inject the meat with extra water to add more weight for profit, after cooking you may notice a substantial decrease in the total weight, too.

When Counting Calories Do You Weigh Meat Before Or After Cooking?

Another aspect is weighing the meats. Because if you’re following a recipe, or you just wanna know what are the calories in the meat you should know when exactly to count them.

When counting calories do you weigh meat before or after cooking? You should weigh meat after cooking because the cooking process will change the nutrition profile and the weight of the meat. Most of the cooking methods will decrease water content and lower the fat content of the meat.

So this will dramatically change the nutrition ratio.

Apart from that, now you have plenty of food charts available online that will provide you an estimate of exactly how much each food has calories, depending on the cooking method. So it will be separated into calories in raw, boiled, grilled, etc.

Does Rice Calories Change When Cooked?

On the flip side, grain is a little bit different. Here because of the rich starchy content and low-fat content, they will likely absorb the water.

Do rice calories change when cooked? Rice changes calories when cooked because grains like rice, barley, buckwheat, oats, and rye don’t have much fat content. Instead, they have a high volume of resistant starch. So cooking not only is necessary to gelatinize the starch to be able to digest them properly.

But the whole hydrothermal treatment makes irreversible chemical changes that create the swelling effect where grains absorb the water content.

In the ned result, the dry mass (the mass with calories) stays the same, but because grains are puffed from water, the overall weight of the grains went up.

So the total calorie ration goes down per 100g gram of grain.

Overcooking grains will lead to easier digestion. But easier digestion means that the enzymes will need zero time to breakdown the pasta and extract glucose from it. This will lead to instant spike in blood glucose.

That’s why overcooked rice has got higher glycemic index, comparing to “al dente” (firm, but easy to chew).

However, when you reheat grains on the pan with cooking oil, all the calories will get absorbed from the oil into the rice. The easiest way to reheat grains, without adding extra calories is by microwave.

Do You Measure Rice Cooked Or Uncooked For Calories?

You can measure rice uncooked for calorie measurements because during the cooking process rice absorbs a significant amount of water and lowers its calorie density. However, there are already charts available online with specific data for raw or cooked rice.

So when you google “how many calories are in rice” or simply “rice calories” you will see a little chart where you can select not only the type of rice you want but also you can choose the form. So you can literally see the difference in 100g of cooked rice versus raw.

Which makes it very convenient because now you can see exactly how much rice you need based on your recipe or based on your diet that you follow.

Do Calories Change When Pasta Is Cooked?

Pasta is very similar to the grains because its mainly made of the flour. Flour does have plenty of starchy carbohydrates and during the cooking it will blow up with its volume.

Do calories change when pasta is cooked? Calories do change when pasta is cooked because the hydrothermal treatment will break down the amylose (starch), leading to higher starch availability and affect the chemistry of the pasta by soaking up the water.

This means the more water content pass the pasta structure, the less calories it will have per 100 gram.

Similarly like with rice, the longer you cook pasta, and the more it will emulsify and will lead to a higher glycemic index. So cooking your pasta al dente will ensure you have not only better taste, but also lower insulin spike.

Reheating pasta in cooking oil will also absorb the fat content fomr the oil and therefore, increase the caloire count.

But let’s be honest.

You cannot have a pasta without a drizzle of a Italian olive oil, can you?

Do You Weigh Pasta Before Or After Cooking?

You can weigh pasta before cooking because the cooking process changes the structure and will condense the nutrients, together with the calories. Even after you cook pasta, the volume of food will get bigger, but the number of calories will stay the same.

This means if 100g of uncooked pasta has 131 calories, the cooking process will add bulk, but it won’t change the calories. Your pasta will now have more weight (130 grams), but with the same amount of calories.

But if you would measure your pasta after cooking, you would get a false number because you would make calorie calculations based o the 130g, not the 100g.

Conclusion

Some of the foods should be measure before cooking, like grains and pasta. But foods like meat or fish, where there is substantially more fat than carbs should be weighed after cooking because the cooking process decreases number of calories.

Counting calories can be a pain in the bum if you’re thinking about all the extra details.

And with more options available, it can get overwhelming very quickly. But if you’re looking for some easy way on how to stop counting calories and still lose weight, check out my article on how to stop counting calories.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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