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How are calories measured?

Q: We usually see information on food packets regarding calories. It is seen that on a packet of lays chips/wafers it is written that 15 grams of chips provides 89 Kcal of energy. What is a kcal; is it 1000 calories? What is the relationship between calories and kilo calories? There are sugar substitutes. Why are there no salt substitutes?

A:1 Kcal is an abbreviation for kilocalorie, which is equivalent to 1 Calorie. 1000 cal does not make 1 Kcal. A calorie is the unit of measurement of energy produced by food when it is oxidised, or used, in the body. Calories are like fuel for our bodies. We need them for our bodies to run. But if we pump more fuel into our bodies than we need for the amount of activity we do, the excess fuel just sits there. Your body will store this excess, unused fuel. It may store it as muscle, if you perform enough physical, muscle-building exercises such as weightlifting, or it may store it as fat. Each person is different when it comes to the amount of calories he or she needs each day. The amount of calories a person needs for fuel varies according to age, height, gender, amount of physical activity and other factors. Artificial sweeteners are chemicals that offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Because the substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a much smaller quantity of them to create the same sweetness. Therefore, products made with artificial sweeteners have a much lower calorie count than do those made with sugar. Artificial sweeteners are often used as part of a weight-loss plan or as a means to control weight gain. Salt substitutes are also available. They provide nutritional options for individuals who are looking to decrease the amount of salt, or sodium, in their eating plan. The human body metabolises sodium by diluting it with water, meaning, salt causes the body to retain water. If you are someone who is looking to prevent excess water retention, a potassium salt substitute may be a good option. When used as a salt substitute, potassium chloride causes a person to produce saliva and enriches the taste of food (similar to sodium chloride), but without causing water retention. A word of caution: excess potassium can be taxing for the kidneys. If an individual has a kidney problem or is taking medication that causes potassium retention, this salt substitute probably needs to be avoided. Too much or too little potassium can also cause heart disturbances for people with heart disease. If you are someone who falls into one or both of these categories, consult a doctor before you decide to use potassium containing salt substitute.

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