Calories - What are they?

Published in Blog
Calories: What Are They? 08 December 2016 Calories: What Are They?

With a plethora of calorie-tracking apps and nutritional information on food labels, it’s hard not to be at the least, 'calorie-conscious'.

Counting calories provides a structure, and yes, it sometimes makes us more aware of our habits and encourages behavioural change - but it's important to keep in mind that it's not about getting hung up on calorie counting, but rather that it's about making the right food choices.

Calories are simply a way to measure the energy in food and the energy released in the body. Although the technically correct name is kilocalorie, most people tend to use the shorter word ‘calorie’.  

Energy can be measured in either joules (J) or calories (cal). One calorie
is equivalent to 4.184 joules or one kilocalorie (kcal) is 4.184 kilojoules


1 kcal = 4185.8 joules

How do I convert kilojoules to calories?

To calculate the kJ content of a diet or a food, you need to multiply the calories by 4.184. For example: 1,300 cal diet = 1,300 x 4.184 = 5 439 kJ.

To calculate the calorie content of a diet or food, you need to divide the kilojoules by 4.184. For example: a 5 439 kJ diet = 5 439 ÷ 4.184 = 1 300 calories.

Have a link handy when shopping to help you out - Calorie Calculator

Strictly speaking, the non-metric unit of energy is the kilocalorie or kcal, which equals 1000 calories.

1000 Calories = 1 kilocalories.

In Australia, most food labels will state the number of kilocalories (written in Cal or kcal), again these are commonly referred to as just ‘calories’ when in fact they are actually kilocalories. For labels that only indicate kilojoule (kJ) values, you must divide this value by 4.2 to calculate how many Kcals this is equivalent to. 

On your journey you will start to notice that not all kilojoules are created equal. Different foods have varying affects on how full you feel after eating. In other words, your body responds differently to calories from different sources.

For example: If you compare a plain croissant with jam and large full-fat latte to a small bowl of untoasted oat-based muesli with low-fat milk, fresh berries, and a dollop of yoghurt, served with two slices of toast with peanut butter, finished off with a cup of tea, it’s hard to believe that they are equal in kilojoules — roughly 2500 kJ (600 cal) for both meals.

Now there's some food for thought!




Last modified on Thursday, 08 December 2016 22:43

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