How Many Calories Does One KCAL Equal?

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.

A food journal is on a table next to a computer.
Credit: RYO/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images

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.

Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.