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Kcal Vs Cal: What's the Difference?

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When it comes to finding out the number of calories you need, there are two different measurements: kcal and cal. What's the difference? The difference between Kcal and Cal is a difference in measurement. One is measured as kilocalories (kcal), which is 1,000 calories (cal). While the other is measured as calories, which can be used to measure food energy that represents one-thousandth of a kilocalorie.

What is a Kcal?

A Kcal is used to measure food energy. The unit of measurement for kcal is usually written as "kcal" or C (uppercase).

What does a Cal represent?

On the other hand, a Calorie represents one-thousandth of a kilocalorie and it is represented by the lowercase "c". So, a kcal is equal to 1000 calories.

This is why the Calorie (upper case "C") and calorie (lowercase "c") are used interchangeably.

Key Differences Between a Kcal and a Cal

Difference in values

The first difference between kcal and cal is the fact that both are units of energy but their values differ. One kilocalorie (kcal) has 1000 times more energy than one calorie, which makes it a large amount of energy in comparison to an actual calorie.

The difference is also in terms of how they are denoted. Generally, a kcal will be denoted by a capital C and a calorie will be denoted by a small C.

How are they used in general

They are typically used a lot in food labels to indicate the number of energy people will get from eating a certain food item. This is especially important in diets where you want to know how many extra calories that particular food might give you. Which can then cause weight gain or weight loss depending on your daily calorie intake and target body mass index (BMI).

However, it's not just about getting an idea of what kind of caloric values are present in different foods but also knowing exactly how many kilocalories you should be having for each meal if your aim is to lose weight. This usually requires working out your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and then working out a diet plan by adding or subtracting another few hundred kcal into the mix depending on whether or not you're active or not.

In addition, both values apply differently with regards to food labeling laws amongst different countries worldwide. In some regions, there's no distinction made on nutritional labels where either capital or lower case lettering may be applied interchangeably whereas in Europe only calorie content is required to be listed.


To sum up, the key differences between kcal and cal are in their values and uses. Although both refer to the energy content of food or drink, one kilocalorie has 1000 times more value than a calorie which makes it a larger amount of energy. Furthermore, how they can be denoted (capital C for kcal) also differs by region worldwide while usage varies across different laws according to country.


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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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