What Do Calories Mean in Food and Exercise?

A calorie is a measure of energy expenditure and stored energy. The calories referred to in diet (calories eaten) and exercise (calories burned) are kilocalories (kcal). One kilocalorie is equal to the amount of heat that will raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius at sea level. One kilocalorie is equal to 4186.8 joules and 1000 calories (small calories) referred to in science labs for heat energy.

  • Pronunciation: cal er ee
  • Common Misspellings: calourie, calory
  • Examples: I will walk for 3.5 miles to burn off the calories in that Snickers bar.

Calories in Food

Calories in food are grouped as fats, alcohol, carbohydrates or proteins. Different nutrients have more or fewer calories packed into the same weight (higher or lower calorie density). Nutrition labels in the US use these rules of thumb:

  • 1 gram of fat has 9 calories (kcal)
  • 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories (kcal)
  • 1 gram of protein has 4 calories (kcal)
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate (sugars and starches) has 4 calories (kcal)

Excerpted from Very Well Fit

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