Your weight loss journey can be an uphill climb. Along with maintaining a diet and getting intense exercise, you also have to worry about measuring your weight throughout the process. And with words like “calories” and “kilojoules” being thrown at you all the time, it can be difficult and overwhelming to understand what exactly they mean and how they work.
If you’ve undergone a body composition analysis, you may know that the percentage of fat is taken quite seriously and most trainers ask you to reduce this percentage. Likewise, some people may ask you to count kilojoules instead of calories. Confusing as it may seem, calories and kilojoules are related to each other when it comes to food. To help you understand kilojoules and its usage better, here’s everything you need to know about it.
1. What Exactly Are Kilojoules And Calories?
What we often refer to as calories in food is actually a kilocalorie. If you look at product labels, you will notice the same thing – energy obtained per portion is listed in kcal or kilocalories. So, if you eat a snack with 200 kcal, and you tell your friend that you’ve just consumed 200 calories, you’re understanding of it is spot on. The measurement, however, is off by a thousand decimal places.
This is why some people prefer to count intake and exercise in terms of kilojoules. A Joule is a standard unit of measuring energy. A kilojoule or 1000 joules can be used to represent how much energy we get from food. In general, 4.184 kilojoules make up a kilocalorie.1
2. How Are Kilojoules Linked To Fat?
An average human being needs about 8000 kilojoules to function every day. If you wish to lose weight, you need to consume slightly lesser than 8000 kilojoules in order to begin using the body’s fat reserves for energy. This is because the excess kilojoules you consume gets stored in your body as fat. In other words, to burn fat, consume foods with a low kilojoule count.2
3. What Is Your Kilojoule Requirement?
Men and women have different basal metabolic rates and hence, different energy needs. Women need slightly lesser energy than their male counterparts. Growing children who are active often need much more energy to function. Pregnant women need close to 1800 kilojoules extra and lactating mothers need up to 2000 kilojoules extra to stay healthy and not be fatigued.
If you are working out and building muscle mass, your energy needs go up. However, as you age and lose muscle mass, you may find that your energy needs have diminished. Whenever you embark on a weight loss journey, you need to understand your body’s energy needs at that point of time and provide accordingly.3
4. Not All Kilojoules Are Equal
If you’re trying to lose weight, a mixed vegetable mash certainly sounds healthier than a plate of fries? But, did you know that both fries and a mixed vegetable mash can have the same number of kilojoules? However, a chocolate bar can leave you hungry again in no time while the vegetable mash adds to your daily requirements, keeps you full for longer and is overall healthier. So, if you have a snack in the evening, evaluate it to make sure it keeps you full for a few hours.4
In general, a kilojoule is a more sensitive measure of energy than a kilocalorie. It helps us map the energy we gain and spend in an accurate manner. Kilojoules and calories might sound like big, scary words. But, it’s important to understand what they are, as keeping a track your food and workout choices will help you figure out if your weight loss plan is working or whether it needs to be altered.
|↑1, ↑2||Kilojoules and Calories. Victoria State Government.|
|↑3||Passmore, R., and Jm VGA Durnin. “Human energy expenditure.” Physiological reviews 35, no. 4 (1955): 801-840.|
|↑4||What’s the difference between a calorie and a kilojoule? Queensland Government.|