One of the first things I ask my clients to purchase is a digital food scale for weighing and measuring food. I am certain that for anyone who has tried to lose weight, portioning food is not a new concept, but it is important to understand how different tools can give vastly different portions. When it comes to weight loss, having the right tools and using them correctly can be the difference for many.
I know it is not a sexy thing to spend money on, but here you may want to stick with reputable brands and spend just a little more money to get the accuracy you are looking for. Digital scales today are small, fit into kitchen drawers, are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. A perfectly good digital scale will run about $30. The reason I am so dead set on my clients using a digital scale is that test after test show that measuring spoons and cups accuracy can vary wildly. Industry standards exist, but they are loosely followed and are just guidelines, not laws. I have seen tests result in variances of up to 20% from one set of measuring spoons and cups to another. Differences in shape and materials and lack of oversight in the industry lead to large swings.
Weight is, by far, the most accurate way to measure food portions because the amount of food you can fit (cram or shove) into a measuring cup or spoon can vary greatly. For example a quarter cup of almonds has about 200 calories, but what if some of those nuts are broken or crushed? Then you could fit a lot more into that cup. What if your measuring cups are not accurate? What if you “heap” your serving a bit? Each of those slight variances could lead to even a 100 calories difference. What if you made those errors all day long and accrued 300-400 unknown extra calories in a day? That could sideline weight loss and lead to maintenance and severe frustration! Additionally, there may even be times where you will get MORE food by putting it on the scale and have been cheating yourself out of a few extra bites here and there!
Now don’t feel like you need to get crazy and carry a scale in your bag and pull it out at the restaurant, but I urge you to use it at home as often as is possible. Don’t put it in a drawer, but instead leave it out on the counter so you always see it and be reminded to use it. Remember that the more you use it at home, the better you become at eye-balling portions outside of the home. Especially consider weighing calorie-dense foods like nuts, avocado, proteins, pasta, potatoes, and especially chocolate! If the serving size is given in weight, your best bet is to put it on a food scale.
The best food scale for you will hit the following:
- Within a budget that makes sense for you.
- Has an easily readable display.
- Has a tare button so you can use any plate or bowl to weigh food and easily remove the weight of that plate or bowl.
- Is easy to clean and store.
- Buy a scale that can measure small amounts.
You will need to have sets of measuring spoons as well. I suggest you get measuring spoons that are deep and round in shape, avoid anything flat or interesting looking.
You may already know, there measuring cups for measuring dry ingredients like flour and different typesmade of clear plastic or glass for wet ingredients. For dry ingredients, fill the measuring cup and use a straight edge like the back of a knife to scrape along the topto level. The problem that I have observed with clients (and myself) is that I will allow the cup to “heap”. I know it doesn’t seem like the biggest offense in the world to sneak a little extra cereal, but day after day, time after time the calories can REALLY add up, especially for higher calories foods like nuts or nut butters.
I know it may seem like a time-consuming, extra step in your day to weigh your food, but I can guarantee that you will see much better weight loss results now and long-term. When I am in a place where I need to take couple of pounds off I always return first and foremost to my food scale over the bathroom scale as the most important tool for success!