Calories: Definition, Importance of Calories, Measurement of Calories

Calories: Definition, Importance of Calories, Measurement of Calories

April 3, 2013


“CALORIE is generally described as a heat unit and food value unit. It is basically the amount of heat necessary to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1 degree Celsius”


From the definition, it is now clear that a calorie is a unit of measuring heat and food. It is neither heat, nor food; but simply a unit of measurement. Now we all know that food is of supreme importance, then certainly a knowledge of how it is measured is also of equal, rather more important.

It is very essential for all of us to know and use the word “Calorie” more frequently. Hereafter you are going to eat calories of food; rather than saying one slice of bread or a piece of pie, you will say 100 Calories of bread, 350 Calories of pie.

Importance of Calories: Calories And Health

The caloric balance of your diet is major factor determining your overall health. Your calories will be balanced, when, over time, the number of calories you take matches the number of calories you burn. This all happens through the metabolism and physical activity. When you take excess of calories than you use or burn, it can lead to weight gain. Invariably, a caloric deficit is also very dangerous, that means you are burning more calories than you consume, causing you to lose body weight. For children passing their growth times, a caloric excess is necessary, but unintentionally eating more than is needed, leads to unwanted weight gain. However, deliberately taking less of calories can then help you lose some unwanted weight; but, losing weight in this way, may bring health issues that needs medical attention.

How Calories are measured:

bomb calorie-meter

The apparatus used to measure calories is known as the Bomb Calorie-meter. It has two chambers, one inner and one outer. The inner one contains the dry food to be burned, say a definite amount of sugar. And the outer is filled with water. The food is ignited with an electric connection and burned. This heat is transferred to the water. When one gram of water is raised 1 degrees Celsius, the amount of heat used is chosen as the unit of heat, and is called one Calorie.

Food burned (oxidized) in the body has been proved to liberate approximately the same amount of energy or heat, as it is burned in the calorimeter.

Comparison of Measures in calorie meter and Body

      30gm. Fat                                           = 280 Calorie

                                                       -about 260 in the body.


     30gm. Protein (dry)                   = 125 Calorie

                                                       -about 117 in the body.


     30gm. Carbohydrates (dry) = 125 Calorie

                                                       -about 117 in the body.

Can you perceive now why fats are valuable? Why they make more fat than any other food? Because, they give off more than 200% as much heat, or energy, as the other foods.

Notice that protein and carbohydrates have the same food value as to heat or energy, each 117 Calories to the 30gm. However, they are not interchangeable; i.e. carbohydrates cannot take the place of proteins, as proteins are absolutely necessary for building and repairing tissue, and carbohydrates don’t possess that power.

Share the Post

Related Articles