What’s a Calorie?

Reactions - Uncover the Chemistry in Everyday Life

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Reactions Science Videos | May 12, 2021

Did you know that the calorie labels on foods are only required to be accurate within 20%? That’s a pretty wide margin, but it exists for a reason: Calories are complicated.

Energy in pistachios
Baer D J, Gebauer SK, Novotny JA. Measured energy value of pistachios in the human diet. Br J Nutr 2012; 107 (1):120-5.
Energy in almonds
Novotny JA, Gebauer SK, Baer DJ. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 96 (2):296-301.
Energy in walnuts
Baer DJ, Gebauer SK, Novotny JA. Walnuts Consumed by Healthy Adults Provide Less Available Energy than Predicted by the Atwater Factors. J Nutr 2016; 146 (1):9-13.
Energy in different forms of almonds
Gebauer SK, Novotny JA, Bornhorst GM, Baer DJ. Food processing and structure impact the metabolizable energy of almonds. Food & Function 2016; 7(10):4231-4238.
Energy in cashews
Baer DJ, Novotny JA. Metabolizable Energy from Cashew Nuts is Less than that Predicted by Atwater Factors. Nutrients 2019; 24;11(1).

Weighing in on calories

Calorie restriction

H.R.3562 - Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990

What are calories?

Understanding calories

Food label accuracy

Bomb calorimeter

How are calories calculated?

How Do Food Manufacturers Calculate the Calorie Count of Packaged Foods?

General chemistry: calorimeter

Produced by the American Chemical Society.



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