Home / Articles / Calories: Nutrients, Foods, Physical Activity

Calories: Nutrients, Foods, Physical Activity

What are calories?

Calories are a measure of energy. International units for calories are kilojoules.

1,000 calories (cal) = 1 kilocalorie (kcal) = 1 (large) Calorie (Cal) = 4,184 joules = 4.184 kilojoules (kJ).

In order to provide energy, a nutrient needs to be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood, delivered to the cells and broken down (catabolized) into simpler components.

Nutrients Calorie Content

Nutrients that contain energy (calories) and can release it in the human body include carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol. Minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients and water do not release energy in the human body (they have no calories).

Chart 1. Calories in Nutrients

Nutrient

Calories (kcal)/g

Kilojoules (kJ)/g

Carbohydrates
(collectively)
4 16.7
  • Starch
4.2 17.5
  • Polydextrose
1.6 6.6
  • Glucose
3.8 15.7
  • Fructose
3.8 15.7
  • Sucrose
3.9 16.5
  • Maltose
4 16.7
  • Lactose
3.9 16.5
  • Sugar alcohols 
    (collectively)
~2 ~8.4
  • Erythritol
0.3 1.1
  • Glycerol
4.3 18
  • Isomalt
2.7 11.2
  • Lactitol
2.6 10.7
  • Maltitol
3.1 13
  • Mannitol
1.9 8.1
  • Polyglycitol
3.2 13.2
  • Sorbitol
2.8 11.7
  • Xylitol
3.3 13.7
  • Dietary fiber
    (collectively)
~2 ~8.4
  • Soluble
    (fermentable)
2.6 11
  • Insoluble
0 0
Proteins ~4 16.8
Fats ~9 37.4
Alcohol (ethanol) ~7 29

Chart 1 source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition [1]. Values used in the chart represent “metabolizable energy” (ME).

Chart 2. Calories in Foods

FOOD (1 serving)

Calories

CEREALS: BREADS, GRAINS
Rice, white; boiled (1 cup, 260 g) 210
Cornmeal (polenta, corn grits); cooked (1 cup, 237 mL ) 205
Pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, noodles); cooked (1 cup, 125 g) 200
Cereals, ready-to-eat, raisin bran; dry (1 cup, 59 g) 200
Bread, whole grain (1 slice, 60 g) 160
Oatmeal; cooked (1 cup, 235 g) 160
Corn flakes; dry (1 cup, 28 g) 100
VEGETABLES and LEGUMES
Potatoes, sweet; boiled (1 cup, 200 g) 180
Yam; boiled (1 cup, 135 g) 160
Tofu, fried, with calcium sulfate (50 g) 140
Potatoes; boiled (1 cup, 155 g) 135
Chickpeas; boiled (1/2 cup, 82 g) 135
Soybean, green; boiled (1/2 cup, 90 g) 125
Kidney beans; boiled (1/2 cup, 90 g) 115
Lentils; boiled (1/2 cup, 100 g) 115
Seaweed, agar or spirulina; dried (1 oz, 28 g) 80
Green peas; cooked (1/2 cup, 80 g) 65
Beetroot, mushrooms (shiitake), squash (winter); canned, drained (1/2 cup, 120 mL) 40
Dandelion greens, kale, okra, peppers, radishes, tomatoes; raw (1 cup, 237 mL) 20-30
Collards, pumpkin; cooked (1/2 cup, 120 mL) 25
Onion; cooked (1 small, 60 g) 25
Asparagus, bamboo shoots, broccoli, Brussels’ sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, garden cress, mustard greens, sauerkraut, spinach, squash (zucchini), Swiss chard; boiled (1/2 cup, 237 mL) 15
Cabbage; raw (1/2 cup, 45 g) 10
Lettuce; raw (1 cup, 35 g) 5
Cucumbers; raw (1/2 cup, 35 g) 5
FRUITS
Avocado (1 cup, 150 g) 240
Persimmon (kaki) (1 medium, 150 g) 190
Prunes; dehydrated (2 oz, 57 g) 180
Pomegranate (1 medium, 200 g) 165
Dates; dried (2 oz, 57 g) 155
Grapes (1 cluster, 200 g) 135
Figs; dried (6 figs, 50 g) 125
Banana (8“, 135 g) 125
Pear (1 medium, 200 g) 115
Apple (1 medium, 200 g) 105
Orange (1 medium, 200 g) 90
Raisins (1 oz, 28 g) 85
Asian pear (1 medium, 200 g) 85
Watermelon (1 wedge, 1/16 melon, 285 g) 85
Blueberries (1 cup, 148 g) 80
Pineapple (1 cup, 165 g) 80
Grapefruit (1 small, 227 g) 75
Cantaloupe (2 wedges, 2 x 1/8 large melon, 204 g) 70
Peach (1 large, 175 g) 70
Apricot (4 small, 140 g) 60
Melon, honeydew (1 wedge, 1/8 of 6″ dia, 160 g) 60
Kiwifruit (1 medium, 100 g) 60
Papaya (1 cup, 140 g) 55
Cherries, sweet (1 cup, 138 g) 50
Plum (4 medium, 115 g) 50
Apricot; dried (2 oz, 57 g) 50
Strawberries (1 cup, 145 g) 45
Olives (5 fruits, 41 g) 45
NUTS and SEEDS
Chestnuts, European; roasted (1 cup, 143 g) 350
Coconut meat, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans; dry roasted (1 oz, 28 g) 190
Cashews, peanuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds; dry roasted (1 oz, 28 g) 165
Pumpkin and squash seeds, walnuts; dried (1 oz, 28 g) 120
MEAT and FISH
Bacon, cured; baked (2 oz, 57 g) 305
Sausage, Italian; cooked (1 link, 3 oz, 85 g) 285
Chicken, broilers and fryers, meat and skin, boneless; roasted (3 oz, 85 g) 280
Salami, Italian, pork (2 oz, 57 g) 240
Pork, center rib, lean and fat, boneless; fried (3 oz, 85 g) 230
Beef steak, sirloin, 1/4“ fat; fried (3 oz, 85 g) 225
Turkey, meat, skin, boneless; roasted (3 oz, 85 g) 210
Shrimps, breaded; fried (3 oz, 85 g) 205
Lamb, loin, 1/4″ fat; broiled (3 oz, 85 g) 185
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed; cooked (3 oz, 85 g) 170
Liver, beef, chicken; pan-fried (3 oz, 85 g) 150
Tuna, white; canned, drained (3 oz, 85 g) 155
Oysters; boiled (3 oz, 85 g) 140
Brain, beef, simmered (3 oz, 85 g) 130
Ham, pork; cooked (3 oz, 85 g) 100
Crabs, blue; cooked (3 oz, 85 g) 85
Sardines, Atlantic; canned (3 oz, 85 g) 80
FAST FOOD, SNACKS, SWEETS, DESSERTS, PASTRIES
Pizza, pepperoni (1 whole, 12“ dia, 744 g) 2,085
French fries (4 oz, 117 g) 370
Cake, chocolate (1 piece, 95 g) 350
Pizza, cheese topping (1/8 of 14“ dia, 125 g) 340
Pastry, danish, with fruit (94 g) 335
Cookies, shortbread (8 x 1-5/8″, 65 g) 320
Cheeseburger (119 g) 315
Potato chips (2 oz, 57 g) 305
Waffles, hazelnut filling (2 oz, 57 g) 300
Apple pie (1/8 of 9″ dia, 125 g) 295
Granola bar, peanuts (2 oz, 57 g) 270
Popcorn; oil-popped (4 cups, 44 g) 265
Hot dog (1 sandwich, 100 g) 240
Doughnut, plain (52 g) 215
Pretzels (2 oz, 57 g) 215
Ice cream, chocolate, waffle cone (2.6 oz, 75 g) 185
Chocolate, milk (1 oz, 28 g) 155
Pudding, chocolate (4 oz, 108 g) 155
Popcorn; air-popped (4 cups, 32 g) 125
Candies, hard (5 pieces, 30 g) 120
Puffed rice (1 cup, 14 g) 55
DAIRY
Milk, chocolate, 8% fat, 10% sugar (1 cup, 237 mL) 210
Cheese, gouda (2 oz, 57 g) 200
Milk, 3.2% fat (1 cup, 237 mL) 145
Yogurt, plain, 3.2% fat (6.3 oz, 180 g) 115
Milk, skimmed, 0% fat (1 cup, 237 mL) 85
Egg, cooked (50 g) 75
Sour cream (1 tbsp, 12 g) 25
Cream, liquid, half and half (1 tbsp, 15 g) 20
Whipped cream (2 tbsp) 15
OILS, SAUCES, SOUPS, SPREADS
Salad dressing, Ranch (2 oz, 57 g) 285
Tartar sauce (2 oz, 57 g) 200
Ghee, clarified butter (1 tbsp, 15 g) 135
Oil, vegetable, palm (1 tbsp, 14 g) 125
Bolognese sauce, spaghetti ragu (1/2 cup, 120 mL) 115
Beef tallow, mayonnaise, shortening (1 tbsp, 14 g) 115
Hazelnut-chocolate spread, butter, peanut butter, margarine (1 tbsp, 15 g) 100
Cream cheese (2 tbsp, 1 oz, 28 g) 85
Beef soup with noodles (1, cup, 237 mL) 80
Honey, jam (1 tbsp, 20 g) 60
Hummus (2 tbsp, 30 g) 50
Caviar, black or red, granular (1 tbsp, 15 g) 40
Tomato sauce, canned (1/2 cup, 120 g) 30
Pate, chicken liver (1 tbsp, 13 g) 25
Gravy, beef (1/4 cup, 59 g) 25
Ketchup (1 oz, 28 g) 25
Salsa (1 tbsp, 16 g) 4
Mustard (1 tsp, 5 g) 3
Vinegar, red wine (1 tbsp, 15 g) 3
SWEETENERS
Table sugar (sucrose) (1 tsp, 4 g) 16
Aspartame, saccharin, stevia, sucralose (1 serving) 0
NONALCOHOLIC DRINKS
Apple cider, 12% sugar (12 oz, 355 mL) 180
Cola and other regular soft drinks (1 can, 12 oz, 355 mL) 135
Orange juice (1 cup, 237 mL) 110
Energy drink (8.3 oz, 245 mL) 110
Soy milk (1 cup, 237 mL) 105
Sport drink, 5% sugar (8 oz, 237 mL) 65
Carrot juice, unsweetened (1 cup, 237 mL) 50
Tomato juice (1 cup, 237 mL) 40
Coffee, tea (green, black, herbal) (1 cup, 237 mL) 0-2
Tap water, mineral water, club soda, diet soda with aspartame, saccharin or sucralose (1 cup, 237 mL) 0
ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
Cider, 4-6% abv (12 oz, 355 mL) 100-300
Sherry, fortified wine, 15% abv (5 fl oz, 148 mL) 225
Liqueur, coffee with cream, 17% abv (1 jigger, 45 mL) 155
Beer, 5-6% abv (12 oz, 355 mL) 150
Beer, alcohol-free (12 oz, 355 mL) 50-100
Whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, 80 proof = 40% abv (1 shot, 45 mL) 95
Wine, dry, 12% abv (5 fl oz, 148 mL) 95

Chart 2 sources: US Department of Agriculture, Calorie King. NOTE: The values in the chart are approximate, rounded and may vary considerably by the food variety, brand, ripeness, etc. 

Body Calorie Needs

To calculate your daily calorie needs (total daily energy expenditure or TDEE), you need to summarize your basal metabolic rate (BMR), energy spent for physical and psychical activity and energy spent for digestion.

  • TDEE = BMR + activity + digestion

1) Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (calories) you spend in one day to maintain the basic body functions, like breathing, heart beat, metabolism, and for the production of heat. With other words, basal metabolic rate is the energy you would spend during 24 hour lasting bed rest.

BMR is partly inherited; it is higher in men, it increases with body height, weight, muscle mass, body temperature and high or low environmental temperature, and decreases with age. BMR is regulated by the hormone thyroxine; it is increased in hyperthyroidism (by up to 100%) and decreased in hypothyroidism (by up to 50%) (74). The hormone adrenaline, which is released during stress, also increases BMR. BMR increases in fever, burns and after surgery, and decreases during fasting or starvation (by up to 30 %).

A formula to calculate your BMR (for adults):

  • Men: 66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years). Example: BMR of a healthy man, 150 lbs, 6 feet (72 inches), 40 years, is around 1,670 kilocalories (Calories).
  • Women: 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

or with metric units:

  • Men: 66 + (13.8 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age)
  • Women: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age)

Very muscular individuals will have a higher BMR and very obese ones lower BMR than above equations show. If you know your lean body mass (body weight – percent of fat), you can use this formula to get more exact BMR:

  • BMR (for men and women) =370 + (9.8 x lean body mass in lbs)…..or in metric units….370 + (21.6 x lean body mass in kg). Example: BMR of an obese person with 150 lbs and 30% fat (105 lbs lean body mass) is 1400 Calories.

2) For a sedentary lifestyle (desk job, little or no exercise) you need about 350 Calories/day.For physical activity you need additional calories.

3) For food digestion and absorption, you need 10% of total calories (BMR + physical activity), so, for example, about 200 additional Calories for a sedentary life style.

Chart 3. Calorie Needs by Age

Gender Age (years) Sedentary
Moderately Active Active
Infants
  • 0-6 months: ~100 Cal/kg/day (70)
  • 6-12 mo: 850 Cal/day
  • 1 year: 900 Cal/day
Children 2-3 1,000 1,000-1,400 1,000-1,400
Females 4-8
9-13
14-18
19-30
31-50
51+
1,200
1,600
1,800
2,000
1,800
1,600
1,400-1,600
1,600-2,000
2,000
2,000-2,200
2,000
1,800
1,400-1,800
1,800-2,200
2,400
2,400
2,200
2,000-2,200
Pregnancy, breastfeeding 14-18
19-30
31-50
2,200
2,400
2,200
Males 4-8
9-13
14-18
19-30
31-50
51+
1,400
1,800
2,200
2,400
2,200
2,000
1,400-1,600
1,800-2,200
2,400-2,800
2,600-2,800
2,400-2,600
2,200-2,400
1,600-2,000
2,000-2,600
2,800-3,200
3,000
2,800-3,000
2,400-2,800
Elderly 1,600

Chart 3; NOTE: Calorie values in the above chart are rough estimates.

Chart 4. Calories Burned During Physical Activity

Activity Calories burnt per hour
154 lbs 196 lbs
Bicycling >20 mph (32 km/h) 1,100 1,400
Running 10 mph (16 km/h) 1,100 1,400
Running 8 mph (13 km/h) 950 1,200
Squash 850 1,000
Rock climbing 750 950
Running 6 mph (10 km/h) 700 850
Bicycling 15 mph (24 km/h) 700 850
Bicycling 10 mph (16 km/h) 400 500
Carrying heavy loads 550 700
Soccer, football, casual 500 600
Ice skating 500 600
Skiing, light effort 500 600
Tennis 500 600
Walking 4.5 mph (7 km/h) 460 550
Swimming, leisure 400 500
Aerobics 400 500
Boxing, punching bag 400 500
Hiking 400 500
Skateboarding 350 450
Gardening 350 450
Golf 300 350
Dancing 300 400
Bicycling <10 mph (<16 km/h) 300 350
Walking 4 mph (6.4 km/h) 300 350
Cleaning house 250 300
Walking 3 mph (5 km/h) 250 300
Standing 250 300
Bowling 200 250
Weightlifting, moderate effort 200 250
Stretching 200 350
Walking 2 mph (3 km/h) 180 220
Sitting 140 170

Chart 4 sources: ChooseMyPlate.gov [2], Wisconsin Department of Health Services  [3] NOTE: Calories burnt in 1 hour by a 154 lbs (70 kg) and 5’10” (178 cm) man; approximate and rounded values.

If you consume more calories than you spend, the excessive calories will be stored as body fat and you will gain weight. If you consume less calories than you spend, the energy stores in your body, mainly fat, will start to break down and you will lose weight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *