# Difference Between Kcal and Cal

## Main Difference – Kcal vs Cal

We measure different things in order to quantify them. For these measurements, we need units. Units are standards that are used to express the value of our measurements. These units are helpful in comparison of different values and to get an idea about dimensions of matter and energy. Calories are units of energy. This term is mostly used regarding the nutritional values of food or the energy produced by body tissues. The symbol for this unit is Cal. The main difference between Kcal and Cal is that Kcal is the unit used to express kilocalories whereas Cal is the unit used to express kilogram calorie.

### Key Areas Covered

1. What is Kcal
– Definition, History, Application
2. What is Cal
– Definition, History, Application
3. What is the Relationship Between Kcal and Cal
– Kcal and Cal
4. What is the Difference Between Kcal and Cal
– Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Cal, Calories, Energy, Kcal, Kilocalories, Nutritional Value, Unit

## What is Kcal

Kcal stands for kilocalories. It is a unit of energy. It measures the amount of energy or heat. The unit Kcal can be defined as the approximate amount of energy that is needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1oC at 1 atm pressure.

For example, if you burn a substance, the Kcal value is the amount of heat that substance can produce. According to the definition for small calories (cal), one cal is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1oC at 1 atm pressure. Then Kcal equals 1000 cal. This is because, Kcal stands for kilocalories where, the prefix kilo- stands for 103.  In other words, a kilogram contains 1,000 grams, and a kilocalorie contains 1,000 real calories.

Figure 1: A beef burger is typically composed of around 354 calories (0.354 Kcal).

When we eat or drink something, the body breaks down the components in our food in order to use the energy content of that food. This is done through a process called metabolism. This amount of energy that can be obtained by this food is measured in the units of Kcal.

## What is Cal

Cal stands for kilogram calories. This is also called large calories. The unit Cal should not be confused with the unit cal or small calories (note the lowercase “c”). Cal can be defined as the amount of energy that is required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1oC at 1 atm pressure. But the definition for small calories uses the unit gram instead of kilograms. Then the definition for cal is the amount of energy that is required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1oC at 1 atm pressure.

Figure 2: The amount of calories in apple is known to be around 95 (0.095 Cal).

Although the name is different, both Kcal and Cal define the same concept. Therefore, 1Kcal = 1 Cal. The unit Cal is used to measure energy or heat. The amount of energy that can be obtained from food is measured as calories. These calories are given in either Kcal or Cal.

## Relationship Between Kcal and Cal

• Both units have the same definition: the amount of energy that is required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1oC at 1 atm pressure.
• 1 Cal = 1 Kcal
• Both units are used to measure the amount of energy or heat.

## Difference Between Kcal and Cal

### Denotation of Unit

Kcal: Kcal stands for small kilocalories.

Cal: Cal stands for kilogram calories.

### Value

Kcal: Kcal equals 1 Cal or 1000 small calories.

Cal: Cal equals 1 Kcal or 1000 small calories.

### Nature

Kcal: Kcal explains the amount of energy in terms of kilograms and the unit uses a prefix to show that.

Cal: Cal explains the amount of energy in terms of kilograms but the unit does not use a prefix to show that.

### Conclusion

Both Kcal and Cal have the same definition; only the way of expressing the unit is different. The unit Kcal describes small calories. The unit Cal describes large calories. The main difference between Kcal and Cal is that Kcal is the unit used to express kilocalories whereas Cal is the unit used to express kilogram calorie.

##### References:

1. “Calorie.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2017, Available here. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
2. Hoyle, M. Gideon. “What Are Kcal Calories?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 1 May 2015, Available here. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
3. “How many kcal are in 1 calorie?” Rapidtables, Available here. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.

##### Image Courtesy:

1. “1238459” (Public Domain) via Pixabay
2.”1681977″ (Public Domain) via Pixabay