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A term for the measurement of the energy value of food. Nowadays, the term is most often applied to a unit of 1,000 original (small) calories. With a small 'c', it's scientifically the unit of heat required to raise one gram of water 1C (small calorie); or with a large 'C', 1 kilo of water 1C. Large 'C' calories are used as units of energy value of foods, and are correctly called Kcal (kilo calorie's).

As a measurement, calories are slowly being replaced by Joules - 1 joule is approximately 4.2 large calories.

Different types of foods supply different amounts of calories - for instance, proteins and carbohydrates provide 4 Kcal per gram each, while fats provide 9 Kcal per gram - and the calories received from food are 'burned' in the course of our daily activities.. Thus, in perfect situations, the amount of calories consumed from food should equal the amount of calories spent.

So, if more calories are eaten than spent, the excess calories are stored as fat and the result is weight gain. Conversely, eating fewer calories than the body requires will result in weight lose.

One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories, but the daily calorie requirement for each individual varies greatly according to age, sex, body type, genetic predisposition and lifestyle.

However, not all calories are created equal. Slimmers should remember that sugar calories are more fattening than protein or complex carbohydrate calories. See 'Calorie Restricted Diets'; ' Joules.'

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