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A calorie is a unit of energy defined by how much energy it takes to increase the temperature of either a gram or kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. A ‘gram’ calorie in used mainly in the context of chemistry and physics, while the larger calorie that is measured in kilograms (referred to as a large calorie, kilocalorie or kilogram calorie) is the calorie used when measuring food energy. Most all social references to a ‘calorie’, of course, refer to this.

Although calories apply to anything containing energy, most people think of calories in terms of food and exercise. Humans need energy to function, thereby requiring a certain amount of calories or energy to perform tasks such a moving, pumping blood and breathing. One gram of carbohydrates equals four calories, one gram of protein equals four calories and one gram of fat equals nine calories.

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