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How to calculate Calories for homemade food? | Nutrition Meet

Calories are the energy released in your body upon the breakdown of food, which is utilized for vital functions. If the story of calories is so simple, why are we always worried about it? Why do we always search for the calories in eggs, calories in a banana, calories in rice, calories in apples, and so on? and how to calculate Calories?

We are worried because behind all this search, there is one hidden question how many calories should you eat in a day? Nevertheless, let’s uncover the mystery step by step by understanding where extra calories go and how to burn the extra calories; Should we eat less to burn calories, or should we eat more to burn calories?

How to calculate Calories

Table of content

What is a calorie?

Scientifically speaking, small calories (Cal) are estimated as the amount required to increase the temperature by one degree of one gram of water at one atmospheric pressure. Whereas big calories are called Kilocalories (Kcal), generally used to refer to the calories in the food [2].

Calories are the unit through which we calculate the amount of energy the body needs to sustain or, in other words, the amount of energy food provides to our body to perform a specific task. Whenever we consume food, depending upon the body’s requirement, it will utilize or store the energy upon the breakdown of food [3].

What is calorie counting? (How to calculate Calories?)

Calorie counting is a familiar ritual, especially when you want to lose or gain weight. Nevertheless, anyone can adopt this practice since it makes you more aware of what kind of food you are eating, you can balance the intake of protein, fats, & carbs, and it prevents you from overeating the calories.

If you want to understand why we are stressing calorie counting, then let me tell you, according to data, by 2025, obesity among males is estimated to reach 18%, while in females, the statistics are even higher, i.e., 21%, in fact in the United States already 68% of the population is either overweight or obese [4, 5].

body transformation

Calorie calculator

Formula to calculate calories

  • The first step to calculating the calories is to know the nutritional fact of the foods. Either you can obtain from authentic sources, especially for farm produce, or it is mandatory to write nutritional facts on the packet in most countries; therefore, you can obtain from there.
  • Look for the food’s fats, carbs, and protein levels since these macronutrients account for most of the calorie intake. Alcohol also contributes to some level of calorie
  • Multiply each micronutrient with its caloric equivalent, for example:

1 gram of Protein = 4 calories

1 gram of Carbohydrate = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories


A product having 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of Carbs, and 5 grams of fats then, the calorific value of food is

Protein = 10 X 4 = 40

Carbs = 05 X 4 = 20

Fats = 05 X 9 = 45


Total calories in food = 105

  • You might be wondering what about the micronutrients like zinc, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, etc., and of course vitamins A, B, B-6, B 12, D, E, and K; they are so essential and present in food. Who will count their calorific value?
  • Then let me clarify, micronutrients are present in trace amounts and do not significantly contribute to calorie intake that is in the calorific value of food [6].

Are all calories equal?

The fundamental law of nutrition is maintaining a constant weight; the calories burned in a day should equal those consumed. If you don’t balance this weighing balance of calories intake and burn, then depending upon whether consumed calories are more or less than burned, you will gain or lose weight respectively [1].


But the question here is, can I manage my weight by counting calories? As long as I maintain the calorie count, can I choose between eating a 52 calories apple or whole grain and a burger or 25g of white bread (66 calories)? No, right, we all know eating apples keeps a doctor away, whereas burgers and white bread can invite a doctor.

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So, why this hypocrisy? I am eating more or less the same calories. Well, this is because not all calories are the same. Whenever we talk about calories, we denote it by quantity, and there we need to be better; the quality of caloric intake is also essential.

Let’s compare white bread and wheat bread considering equal weight; a loaf of white bread may have lower calories, but that comes from carbs and added sugars, whereas wheat bread may have higher protein and 2-3 times the higher dietary fiber. Hence, the quality will play a role, and the response of the body towards white bread and wheat bread will be different [7].

Another side of the story is intaking calories from one source; for instance, a diet entirely based on fat or solely based on refined carbohydrates may equate to the total calorie requirement, but it will increase the risk of the disease since a balance is lacking. Therefore, the right balance between the source of calories is vital [9].

How many calories should you eat in a day?

The calorie requirement depends upon various factors like gender, height, weight, activity level, and age.

For example, an infant depends only on liquid food, particularly milk, but as it grows and crosses the age of 5 months, they intake energy from various sources, i.e., fiber, healthy fats, protein, and calcium.

Following is the calorie requirement based on age, weight, and height [8].

CategoryAge (years)weight (kg)height (in)per kg (Cal)per day (Cal)
Infants0-16 – 924 – 28108 – 98650 – 850
Children1 – 613 – 2035 – 44102 – 901300 – 1800
7 – 102852702000
Males11 – 144562552500
15 – 2566 – 7269 – 7045 – 403000 – 2900
25 – 507970372900
Females11 – 1846 – 5562 – 6447 – 402200
19 – 245865382200
25 – 506364362200
Pregnant1st trimester+0
pregnant2nd and 3rd trimester+300

Take away

A calorie is energy obtained from the breakdown of food by our body for functioning throughout the day. Food-calorie counting through a calorie calculator or by the formula is a tool mainly used by weight loss aspirants or those who want to maintain a particular weight. However, not all calories are equal; hence, instead of just counting on the quantity, we also need to focus on the calorie quality.


Does sweating burn calories?

Sweating is the mechanism by which water and salt are released to maintain body temperature. Although we sweat during exercise, sweating itself doesn’t burn calories; instead, when we sweat, water released evaporates and helps in cooling down. However, excess loss of water in the form of sweat may reduce the water weight.

Written by

Sobin S. Gupta (MSc)

Sobin S. Gupta is a multifaceted professional—nutritionist, researcher, writer, and diabetes educator. She founded "Nutrition Meet," dedicated to educating the community on preventing and curing chronic diseases. With a passion for health and wellness, Sobin empowers individuals to take control of their well-being through informed dietary choices.

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