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How to calculate food calories

What it is:

A calorie is the amount of energy food provides the body to perform its vital functions.

To know the total amount of calories a food has, read the label and take into account the amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat, calculating the total calories as follows:

  • For every 1g of carbs: add 4 calories;
  • For every 1g of protein: add 4 calories;
  • For every 1g of fat: add 9 calories.

It is important to remember that other dietary components such as water, fiber, vitamins and minerals are calorie free and therefore do not provide energy, however they are of utmost importance to other biological processes.

How to calculate food calories

How many calories should you ingest each day

To know how many calories you should eat a day it is important to do the math because the value of caloric intake depends on your current weight, gender and height. In addition, the daily caloric value should also take into account each person's goal of either getting fat or losing weight.

There are several ways to calculate the calorie requirement for a day, however, the easiest is the direct method, which is done as follows:

  • To lose weight - multiply by 20 or 25 your current weight
  • To maintain weight - multiply by 25 or 30 your the current weight
  • To gain weight - multiply 30 or 35 by your current weight

For example, if I weigh 50 kg and want to maintain weight, I must multiply 25 x 50 or 30 x 50 and can ingest between 1250 and 1500 calories a day without fear of gaining weight.

This type of calculation is only valid if you are healthy and so may vary if you have a chronic illness or are bedridden, for example. So the most important thing is always to see a nutritionist, so that the calculation is always adapted to individual needs.

Find out exactly how many calories you need to ingest a day by entering your data below:

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How to calculate the calories in food 

To know how many calories a certain food has, you have to multiply the amount of carbohydrates by 4, the grams of protein by 4 and the total amount of fat by 9.

For example: How many calories does a 100 g chocolate bar have?

To know the answer you must know the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fat that the chocolate has, observing its label, and then just multiply:

  • 30.3 g of carbohydrates x 4 (each carbohydrate has 4 calories) = 121.2
  • 12.9 g protein x 4 (each protein has 4 calories) = 51.6
  • 40.7 g of fat x 9 (each fat has 9 calories) = 366.3

By adding up all these values the result is 539 calories.

Chart with food calories

The chart below indicates the amount of calories present in some of the foods that are consumed daily:

Food (100 g)CaloriesCarbohydrates (g)Proteins (g)Fats (g)
French bread30058,683,1
Ricotta cheese2572,49,623,4

Loaf bread

Orange juice429,50,30,1
Fried egg2401,215,618,6
Cooked egg1460,613,39,5
Cooked sweet potato12528,310
Whole grain rice12425,82,61
Simple tapioca without stuffing3368220

Apple without peel


The foods with fewer calories are fruits and vegetables and so they are especially used in diets for losing weight. Foods rich in fat like fried foods, processed foods have the most calories and so should not be consumed by those who want to lose weight.

A snack prepared with 1 French bread + 1 slice of cheese, accompanied by a glass of orange juice + 1 apple has a total of 430 calories, which has less calories than those of a chocolate bar with almonds, for example, which has an average of 463 calories.

How to consume less calories to lose weight

How to calculate food calories

The best way to consume less calories to lose weight is to know how many calories foods have and how many calories you can ingest each day. Once you know this you should choose foods with less calories, such as fruits, vegetables, greens and vegetables.

1. Use a calorie counter

There are charts that indicate the amount of calories each food has, but to be more practical, there are also several applications that can be installed on your smartphone to help with daily control.

2. Switch sweets for fruit

In any diet to reduce sweet consumption such as cakes, biscuits, stuffed biscuits and sweet desserts are prohibited because they are rich in sugar, which can raise blood glucose and in addition to gaining weight, cause more hunger.

So, if you feel the urge to eat something sweet, you should eat a piece of fruit instead, preferably that has peel or bagasse, and as dessert.

3. Switch potato for other vegetables

It is important to eat vegetables, greens and grains at lunch and dinner. Although it is important you avoid potatoes, yams, or sweet potatoes if you are looking to lose weight. Good choices are zucchini, green beans and the combination of rice and beans is an excellent source of protein.

4. Prefer cooked foods

Egg is an excellent source of protein, but eating fried eggs or scrambled eggs is not the best option because it has more calories. So ideally you should eat boiled or poached eggs, made on top of rice, because you don't need oil to cook them, and they have less calories.

5. Eat more fibers

The fibers are excellent for helping you to fight hunger and so you can add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed in a natural yogurt and at every meal, because it can help you get less hungry during the day, and with more patience to choose or prepare foods with less calories.

6. Plan your meals

If you choose to plan your meals weekly, it is a great way to know what you are going to eat and how many calories each food or meal has. Ideally, you should not put the exact calories you should consume each day, so there is room for variation if needed.

7. Choose the best calories

Although some foods have more calories than others it is important to analyze what type of calories you are going to ingest. For example, 1 cup of zero coke has probably zero calories, while 1 cup of natural orange juice has about 100 calories, however, orange juice has vitamin C which helps maintain your health and so the best choice is the juice, even though it has the most calories.

If you want something with fewer calories, but with some flavor, try drinking bottled water with a few drops of lemon.


  • MAHAN, L. Kathleen et al. Krause: Alimentos, Nutrição e Dietoterapia. 13.ed. São Paulo: Elsevier Editora, 2013. 19-30.
  • UNIVERSIDADE ESTADUAL DE CAMPINAS – UNICAMP . Tabela Brasileira de Composição de Alimentos. 2011. Link: <www.nepa.unicamp.br>. Access in 18 Apr 2019
  • UNIVERSIDADE ESTADUAL DE CAMPINAS – UNICAMP . Tabela Brasileira de Composição de Alimentos. 2011. Link: <www.nepa.unicamp.br>. Access in 18 Apr 2019
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