Difference Between Cal and Kcal
A calorie is the unit of energy, and the term calorie signifies the energy people derive while consuming beverages and food and energy burned during exercising. The term calorie can be alternatively used as kilojoules pr kJ and kilocalories or kcal, depending on the place a person lives. Such terminology can create confusion, particularly in such a situation, when calories are counted or compared with different drinks and foods.
Here, you can find the definition of a calorie, how calorie compares with kJ and kcal, and how to convert calories to kcal and kJ.
The Key Difference
Calories can be either large or small, and when the letter ‘c’ in calorie is in uppercase, it signifies a large calorie, and when written in a small case, it represents a smaller calorie. A large calorie is energy needed to cause an increase of one-degree centigrade (34-degree Fahrenheit) temperature of one kilogram, equivalent to 2.2 pounds of water. Further, a small calorie means the energy needed to cause an increase of one-degree centigrade (34-degree Fahrenheit) temperature of 1 gram, equivalent to 0.035 ounces of water.
Since I kilogram means 1000 grams, by definition, one large calorie means 1000 small calories. It appears that the term kilocalorie, where kilo means 1,000, was created to represent large calories, to simplify the understanding of the difference between small and large calories.
However, presently the expression ‘small calorie’, finds rare uses, except for chemistry and physics research. Instead, the terms such as calories, whether capitalized or not capitalized, and kcal, are interchangeably used and indicates the same quantity of energy burned during exercising or from food. There is no need for converting calories to the kilocalorie, and vice versa, as in nutrition, one kilocalorie signifies one calorie.
Further, calories can be expressed by kilojoules abbreviated to kJ, where one calorie or kcal is equivalent to 4,184 joules or 4.18 kJ. You need to multiply calories by 4.18 to convert to kilojoules, and you can divide kilojoules by 4.18 to get the corresponding figure of calories. For instance, a medium-sized banana of around 118 grams, can provide 105 calories or kilocalories(kcal) or 439 kilojoules (kJ).
Use of Terms Like Calories and Kilo Calories
As per regulations, manufacturers for food and beverages need displaying labels on the manufactured products containing nutritional information. The labels, need displaying information related to the quantity of energy that each item has, based on weight or per serving.
The nutritional facts that such labels contain help informing about the health advantages of packaged foods and beverages. Information like whether such items contain ingredients that are necessary to avoid due to intolerance, personal preference, or an allergy, are also provided.
The nutritional information panel can also express the energy value of beverage or food in terms of only or in a combination of calories, kcal, and kJ. Here, you can find a list of different countries that use labels indicating the unit of energy.
The difference between cal and kcal is the unit of energy indicated in labels in the US, and Canada are calories, while in the European Union or EU it is kJ and kcal. Further, in Australia, and New Zealand, the unit used is both kcal and kJ or kJ only, and in China, only kJ.
Manufacturers decide the calorie contained in the food or beverage based on the nutrients contained in the product. The three primary nutrients supplying energy are protein, fats, and carbs.
While carbs and protein provide around 4 calories each, fat provides around 9 calories per gram. Moreover, alcohol also provides 7 calories or 29.3 kJ per gram. Since manufacturers round up the calorie value to an immediate 1 gm increment, adding up the calorie value for each macronutrient can produce a slightly different result, to the number indicated on the nutritional label.
Further, the nutritional information in the labels containing fiber, categorized as a carbohydrate, can have fewer calories than the calculated figure. It is because, fiber is either poorly digested or indigestible, based on the type, thus contributing either a few calories or zero calories.
In the case of exercise and nutrition, the difference between cal and kcal or kcal are the same quantity of energy. Further, one calorie or kcal is equivalent to 4.18 kJ. Majority of packaged food and beverage comes with a nutrition label, listing the calories, or kcal, or kJ, or combination of the energy units, of the packaged item.
A calorie is a unit for the measurement of energy in exercise and nutrition. The difference between cal and kcal are interchangeably used and have the same energy value. Calories and kcal are measured in kJ also, where one calorie is equivalent to 4.18 kJ.