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How Many Calories Does One KCAL Equal?

author image Peter Mitchell
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.
How Many Calories Does One KCAL Equal?
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KCAL stands for kilocalorie and it means 1000 calories. However, usage of the term "calorie" varies. The scientific definition is that a Calorie -- with an upper case "C" -- is the same as a KCAL. In common usage, calorie -- with a lower case "c" -- equals KCAL.

Energy Unit

KCAL is a unit measure of energy. It is equal to the heat energy needed to increase the temperature of a kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius, according to the Netwellness website. A calorie refers to the amount of energy needed to heat up a gram of water by 1 degree.

KCAL and Kilojoules

The scientific calorie unit with a lowercase "c" represents 1000th of a KCAL. This equals 4.1868 kilojoules -- a measure of energy. One KCAL equals 4.1868 megajoules -- or 4186.8 kilojoules.

Popular Usage

In most cases, when diet programs and organizations refer to a calorie, they mean a kilocalorie. For example, a chocolate bar with "only 50 calories" on the label actually means 50 KCAL, or 50,000 calories. The term "calorie" has, therefore, become accepted as a word for KCAL in non-scientific situations.

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