1 calorie vs 1 kcal. What's the difference?

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1 calorie vs 1 kcal. What's the difference?

Have you ever thought, what's the difference between kcal (kilocalorie) and calorie?


General definitions

In general, calories are the amount of energy, which can be taken from food and drinks.

However, depending on the place you live, the energy might also be expressed in calories, kilocalories and sometimes even kilojoules.

So what's the difference?

If we want to be precise, we can indicate two types of calories: written with a capital letter ("big calorie") and with a small one ("small calorie").

The big calorie (1 Cal) indicates the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 celcius degree (1°C).

The small calorie (1 cal) - shows the same amount for one 1 gram instead of 1 kilogram.

This is the meaning of calories in physics and chemistry, but definitions are used in dietetics as well.

Calories in 'real life' and dietetics

Outside of chemistry, we ususally use 1 kcal unit. 1 kcal is considered as the same as 1 Calorie. At the same time, the one kilocalorie means the same as 1000 calories.

1 kcal = 1000 calories = 1 Calorie

It may seems confusing, but no warries - in most cases 1kcal unit is used.

Calculating calories

If you want to calculate the amount of calories you're eating a day and you're using different sites and calculators for that purpose - check, what does those terms mean on the specific page. 

Even though the above mentioned definitions are the real ones, in everyday use words "kcal" and "calorie" are sometimes used as synonyms.

Check carefully, what is the policy in this regard on the website you are using.

Marcin Piotrowicz
Author of this page
Marcin Piotrowicz

calories-info.com creator
Healthy diet and healthy lifestyle promoter

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All information about nutrition on this website was created with help of information from the official United States Department of Agriculture database.

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