Calories are a measure of energy

Calories are the amount of energy in foods and beverages, or the amount of energy you burn exercising.

Energy is measured in Kilocalories (kcal) and kilojoules (kJ). If you're counting calories or comparing the calorie contents of foods, this can cause confusion.

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The term kilocalorie (kilo meaning 1,000) was created to refer to a large calorie. The term small calorie is only used in physics and chemistry research.

This means that with nutrition, the terms calories and kcal equal the same amount of energy (1 kilokalorie = 1 calorie in nutrition.)

One calorie (kcal) = 4.18 kJ

To convert from calories to kJ, multiply calories by 4.18.

For example, a medium-sized banana (118 grams) provides 105 calories (kcal). 105 x 4.18 = 439 kJ.

Calories can be small or large.

  • A large calorie estimates the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of water by 1°C (34°F).
  • A small calorie estimates the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram (0.035 ounces) of water by 1°C (34°F)

This means that 1 large calorie = 1,000 small calories, as 1 kg = 1,000 grams.

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