Calories from Food

Main Sources of Calories 

Protein, carbohydrates, fat, and alcohol are the food components that contribute Calories to the foods that you eat. They, however, do not contribute Calories equally. As you can see from the table below, protein and carbohydrate contribute significantly fewer Calories per gram than fat or alcohol.  Common conversion factors, referred to as the 4-4-9 formula, are most often used by manufacturers to calculate Calorie values for their products.  More specific conversion factors based on food type, called Atwater factors, are commonly used by the USDA database to calculate Calorie values for foods.  The FDA labeling regulations allow six methods to calculate Calories reported on U.S. Nutrition Facts labels.   These calculations include 4-4-9, variations of 4-4-9, Atwater factors, and other methods.  The method used to report Calories for each ingredient in the database may vary.

Atwater Factors1

Food Item

Protein

Carbs

Fat

Alcohol

Baked Beans:





     with tomato sauce

3.40

4.00

8.40

     w/ pork & tomato sauce

3.50

4.00

8.80

Peas & beans, mature dry legumes

3.47

4.07

8.37

Beans, refried

3.50

4.10

8.90

Beef

4.27

...

9.02

Beef, processed meat

4.27

3.68-3.87

9.02

Beef tongue

4.27

4.11

9.02

Beverages:





     Beer

3.87

4.12

8.37

6.93

     Carbonated soda

3.36

3.87

8.37

     Coffee

3.47

4.07

8.37

     Distilled spirits

4.12

6.93

     Fruit flavored drinks

3.36

3.90

8.37

     Lemonade/Limeade

3.36

3.80

8.37

     Tea, unsweetened (all)

2.44

3.57-3.80

8.37

     Wine

3.36

3.92

8.37

6.93

Bran (corn, rice,  wheat, oat)

1.82

2.35

8.30-8.37

Breakfast cereals

1.82-3.82

2.80-4.16

8.37-8.80

Corn grits

2.73

4.03

8.37

Chili w/beans

3.50

4.00

8.70

Chocolate/cocoa

1.83

1.33

8.37

Eggs

4.36

3.68

9.02

Fish

4.27

9.02

Flours (average of corn,  rice, wheat)

2.96-4.04

3.78-4.12

8.37

     Corn

2.73

3.95

8.37

     Rice (brown-white)

3.41-3.82

4.12-4.16

8.37

     Rye, medium

3.23

3.99

8.37

     Wheat (all except whole)

4.05

4.12

8.37

     Whole wheat

3.59

3.78

8.37

Fruits, raw

3.36

2.48-3.60

8.37

Fruits, canned

3.36

3.60-3.78

8.37

Grains & grain products:





     Barley

3.55

3.95

8.37

     Bulgar wheat

3.59

3.78

8.37

     Buckwheat

3.37

3.78

8.37

     Cornmeal, degermed

3.46

4.16

8.37

     Couscous/Farina/Semolina

4.05

4.12

8.37

     Millet

3.87

4.12

8.37

     Quinoa

3.47

4.07

8.37

     Sorghum

0.91

4.03

8.37

     Triticale

3.32

3.82

8.37

Milk, milk products, butter

4.27

3.87

8.79

Nuts

3.47

4.07

8.37

Pastas & Noodles:





     Chinese Noodles:





     Cellophane/long rice, dehyd

3.47

4.07

8.37

     Chow Mein

3.93

4.12

8.93

     Egg Noodles

3.93

4.09

8.41

     Egg Noodles, spinach

3.88

4.08

8.41

    Japanese Noodles:





          Soba

3.37

3.78

8.37

          Somen

3.91

4.12

8.37

Macaroni or spaghetti:





     Regular

3.91

4.12

8.37

     Vegetable

3.86

4.11

8.37

     Whole wheat

3.59

3.78

8.37

Pork and  processed meats

4.27

3.68-3.87

9.02

Poultry and processed meats

4.27

3.87

9.02

Rice, brown

3.41

4.12

8.37

Rice, white

3.82

4.16

8.37

Rice & Pasta w/seasonings

3.87

4.14

8.37

Shellfish

4.27

4.11

9.02

Soy beans, flours  &  products

3.47

4.07

8.37

Sugar (beet or cane)

3.87

Vegetables:





     Beans, immature, &  peas

3.47

4.07

8.37

     Mushrooms

2.62

3.48

8.37

     Potatoes

2.78

3.48

8.37

          Potato Salad

3.60

4.00

8.90

          French fried

2.80

4.00

8.80

Other vegetables, average all

2.44

3.57

8.37

Tomato Sauce

2.60

3.70

8.40

Zucchini

2.00

3.70

8.40

Wheat (germ, sprouted, whole, etc.)

3.59

3.78

8.37

Wild Rice

3.55

3.95

8.37

1. Composition of Foods: Raw, Processed, Prepared. Agriculture Handbook 8. Retrieved from https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/naldc/download.xhtml?id=CAT10527663&content=PDF