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What is a calorie?

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What is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy.

A calorie is the amount of energy, or heat, it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). This is about 4.184 joules. Joule is used in International System of Units or SI.

We tend to associate calories with food, but they apply to anything containing energy. For example, a gallon (about 4liters) of gasoline contains about 31,000,000 calories.

NOTE: Most of us think of calories in relation to food. For example, a burger contains 100 calories. However, calories on a food label are actually kilocalories (1,000 calories = 1 kilocalorie). The word is sometimes capitalized to show the difference, but usually not. So the burger containing 100 food calories contains 100,000 regular calories, or 100 kilocalories. A gallon of gasoline contains 31,000 kilocalories. In this site, we will continue discussing calorie as it is usually used on food labels. We simply refer to 1,000 calories or 1 kilocalorie as "calorie".


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