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What is a kilojoule and how many do I need per day?

Sep 22, 2023

A kilojoule is a way to measure energy in the foods and drinks we consume. 

A bit like metres measure distance, kilojoules measure energy.

As with measures of distance, kilojoules can be described in several different units depending on the country you are in. For example, in Australia we use kilojoules (kJ) but in the United States you will hear the word ‘calories’ instead. They mean the same thing but the unit is different. 


What is the difference between kilojoules and calories?

Kilojoules and calories are both a measure of energy, they are just different units. One kJ = 0.24 calories while one calorie = 4.18 kJ

Typically, you will find both units on a food label, it’s up to you which one you prefer to work in.

At Happy Apple Nutrition, we always work in kJ and create custom meal plans for our clients based on the unit of kilojoules. 


Where are kilojoules found?

Kilojoules (or energy) are found in the food and drink we consume. The amount depends on the quantity of macro nutrients; carbohydrate, fat, protein and alcohol that is present in the food or drink. 

Alcohol and fat have the highest amount of kJ per gram while carbohydrate and protein are lower. 

There are some kJ free foods and drinks like water and celery. The higher the water content of a food, the lower the amount of kJ it will contain. 

The more fat, alcohol and refined sugar a product has, the high its kJ content will be.

Choosing foods that are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals is the healthiest choice on a daily basis.


How many kilojoules do I need per day?

Energy requirements differ greatly from person to person and are dependent on factors such as age, activity level, gender, body composition, health status and more. 

To achieve and maintain optimum health it is important to consume the right amount of energy or kilojoules per day from nutrient rich foods. If you consume less energy than you need it can make you feel sluggish, foggy and unmotivated. While consuming more energy than you need can cause weight gain and increased risk of diseases. 

A Happy Apple Nutrition dietitian can calculate your daily kJ requirements and show you how to eat the right amount and types of food for your individual needs. 


Should I track my kilojoule intake?

Tracking is an excellent short term strategy to get to know where you’re at and become familiar with the kJ content of different food. It is not a strategy we recommend using long term.

By law, every product in Australia must have a food label that will show you the number of kJ it contains per 100g and per serve. 

Counting apps such as Calorie King and My Fitness Pal are also helpful for getting to know your energy intake and the nutritional value of the foods you eat regularly. 


Find out your daily kilojoule needs and the right foods to eat for optimal health

Happy Apple Nutrition offer a free Kickstarter call to chat about your goals and how we can help you achieve them. Get started for free today and speak with one of our friendly Albury based dietitians. Book here now. 

Lose up to 6kg in 6 weeks without dieting. Learn more about Happy Apple Nutrition's game-changing online healthy eating & weight loss program that has helped thousands of people feel more healthy again.

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