“What is a calorie?” Knowing the answer to this question will make the difference between success and failure in managing your diet.

So, let’s get started.

Calories Are The Energy In Food

A calorie is a measure of the energy in food. 1 calorie is the energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water 1 oC (and the same as
4.184 kiloJoules, if you’re curious).

In diet and food consumption, calories are sometimes referred to as ‘cal’s or ‘kcal’s. ‘Kcal’ comes from metric measurement since one calorie of food is actually equal to 1,000 small calories or gram calories, which are measures of energy usually used in science.

As far as your dieting goes, just remember that cals and kcals are the same things.

Macronutrients And Their Calories

Macronutrients are the large (macro) groups of food that your body metabolizes for energy and needs for life and health (nutrients). Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are the three macronutrients, and they contain different amounts of energy. Take a look…

Caloric Densities of Different Macronutrients

Macronutrient
Calories per Gram
Protein
4
Carbohydrate
4
Fat
9
*Alcohol
7

Alcohol is not a macronutrient, since you don’t actually need it to live, but you will probably consume it – so knowing its caloric density is helpful.

Asyoucanseefromthetableabove, fatisthemostcalorie-dense macronutrient – 9 calories in fat per gram! But there are only 4 calories in protein and carbohydrates per gram.

“What Is A Calorie?” A Calorie Is A Calorie… Is A Calorie

A calorie is simply a measure of energy. Nothing more and nothing less.

When talking about restricting the number of calories you eat through dieting, this is what we’re talking about. The same number of calories will give you the same amount of energy, whether they’re in a Kit Kat bar, steak, or salad.

…But Some Calories Are More Equal Than Others

However, macronutrients get metabolized (used) by your body in different ways. This is why people talk about getting a ‘sugar high,’ or a lot of energy from sugar or cookies very quickly, while fats and proteins are broken down to be used as fuel more slowly.

Correct macronutrient management will help your efforts to eat less (or more) calories. Keeping these macronutrients in balanced proportions is fundamental to eating healthy.

Eating healthy will help you lose weight faster and, in my experience, to keep it off. Which will really help your diet.