AskDefine | Define kilocalorie

Dictionary Definition

kilocalorie n : a unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree at one atmosphere pressure; used by nutritionists to characterize the energy-producing potential in food [syn: Calorie, kilogram calorie, large calorie, nutritionist's calorie]

User Contributed Dictionary



kilocalorie (plural kilocalories)
  1. a non-SI unit of energy equal to 1,000 calories, used (now rare) in chemistry or physics; equal to 1 calorie or Calorie as used in nutrition. Symbol kcal.
Usage note: This prefix kilo- is generally applied to the small calorie, and not to the large calorie used in nutrition, to avoid confusion because 1,000 food calories would be 1,000,000 small calories.

Extensive Definition

This article is about the unit of energy. For its use in nutrition and food labelling regulations, see the article on food energy.
The calorie is a pre-SI unit of energy, in particular heat. In most fields, its use is archaic, and the SI unit of energy, the joule, has become accepted. However, it remains in common use as a unit of food energy. It was first defined by Professor Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a kilogram-calorie, and this definition entered French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867. Etymology: French calorie, from Latin calor (heat).
The unit calorie has historically been used in two major alternate definitions that differ by a factor of 1000:
  • The small calorie, gram calorie, or calorie (symbol: cal) is the amount of heat (energy) required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1 °C.
  • The large calorie, kilogram calorie, kilocalorie (symbol: kcal), or Calorie (capital C) is the amount of heat (energy) needed to increase the temperature of one kg of water by 1 °C, exactly 1000 small calories, or about 4.184 kJ.
The second form is the one commonly used to express food energy. Its most common name is calorie; kilocalorie is sometimes used, more often in the symbol "kcal" than in the spelled out word.
Apart from these two major alternate definitions, there exist also minor variants of the definition of this unit, which differ in the exact experimental conditions used, most notably the start temperature of the water (see section below).
The factors used to convert measurements in calories to their equivalents in joules are numerically equivalent to expressions of the specific heat capacity of water in SI units. See "Versions" below for an explanation of the units.
1 calIT = 4.1868 J (1 J = 0.23885 calIT) (International Steam Table calorie, 1956)
1 calth = 4.184 J (1 J = 0.23901 calth) (Thermochemical calorie)
1 cal15 = 4.18580 J (1 J = 0.23890 cal15) (15°C calorie)


The energy needed to increase the temperature of a gram of water by 1 degree Celsius depends on the starting temperature and is difficult to measure precisely. Accordingly, there have been several definitions of the calorie:
The two perhaps most popular definitions used in older literature are the "15 °C calorie" and the "thermochemical calorie". Since the many different definitions are a source of confusion and error, all calories are now deprecated in favour of the SI unit for heat and energy: the joule (J).


kilocalorie in Arabic: سعرة حرارية
kilocalorie in Bosnian: Kalorija
kilocalorie in Bulgarian: Калория
kilocalorie in Catalan: Caloria
kilocalorie in Czech: Kalorie
kilocalorie in Danish: Kalorie
kilocalorie in German: Kalorie
kilocalorie in Estonian: Kalor
kilocalorie in Modern Greek (1453-): Θερμίδα
kilocalorie in Spanish: Caloría
kilocalorie in Esperanto: Kalorio
kilocalorie in Persian: کالری
kilocalorie in French: Calorie (unité)
kilocalorie in Galician: Caloría
kilocalorie in Korean: 칼로리
kilocalorie in Croatian: Kalorija
kilocalorie in Indonesian: Kalori
kilocalorie in Italian: Caloria
kilocalorie in Hebrew: קלוריה
kilocalorie in Luxembourgish: Kalorie
kilocalorie in Lithuanian: Kalorija
kilocalorie in Malay (macrolanguage): Kalori
kilocalorie in Dutch: Calorie
kilocalorie in Japanese: カロリー
kilocalorie in Norwegian: Kalori
kilocalorie in Polish: Kaloria
kilocalorie in Portuguese: Caloria
kilocalorie in Romanian: Calorie
kilocalorie in Russian: Калория
kilocalorie in Slovenian: Kalorija
kilocalorie in Serbian: Калорија
kilocalorie in Sundanese: Kalori
kilocalorie in Finnish: Kalori
kilocalorie in Swedish: Kalori
kilocalorie in Thai: แคลอรี
kilocalorie in Vietnamese: Ca-lo
kilocalorie in Turkish: Kalori
kilocalorie in Ukrainian: Калорія
kilocalorie in Yiddish: קאלערי
kilocalorie in Chinese: 卡路里
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