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Difference Between Carbs And Calorie


People looking forward to losing weight are often asked to cut down on their carbs and calories. While sometimes they are used interchangeably, they are different components of the diet. A calorie is a unit to measure energy, and is needed in a specific amount by the body. Whereas, just like proteins, fats, and nucleic acids, carbohydrates are macronutrients essential for your body’s growth. Calories refer to the energy released when food is digested and metabolized.

Many people opt for low-calorie and low-carb diets when shedding weight. Low-carb diets are not recommended for the long run, but it is always suggested to cut down on calories and take as per nutritional needs. While both are an important part of a healthy diet ( snacks or meals ), they should only be consumed in moderate amounts. To see if you should cut down on carbs or calories, it is critical to understand the difference between carbs and calories. Let’s tell you about both in detail so you are better aware of your health.

Comparison Table

SourcesStarchy foodAll foods
Daily Value
225 – 325 grams1500 – 1000 calories
FunctionProvides energyMaintains basal metabolism
Food SourcesYam, cookies,
potatoes, etc,
Fried foods,
fats, candies, etc,
Health IssuesNausea, constipation, diarrheaObesity, heart issues

What are Calories?

As mentioned above, a calorie is a unit to express the amount of energy released when your body metabolizes food. Different kinds of food around us have a specific number of calories that give you energy. Calories are vital for your body to perform functions when the body is at rest. The calories help you perform bodily functions by breaking down food and storing energy.

All carbohydrates are calories, but all calories are not carbs. Calories can be obtained from numerous sources, some of which might be surplus in fats while others may have a higher protein content. Vegetables, oils, and fats are considered rich sources of calories, with fats and fried food bearing the highest number of calories among other food groups.

Foods Rich in Calories

All foods you intake, whether organic or synthetic, have a specific number of calories in them. Natural foods usually have less amount of calories than processed food. Some examples of high-calorie foods are:

  • Sausages
  • Peanut butter
  • Candy
  • Lard
  • Fried food

What are Carbs?

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients that your body needs in an adequate high amount to function properly. They contribute to providing energy to the body, avoiding the breakdown of proteins for energy and the metabolism of fatty acids. Carbohydrates are of different types, out of which dietary fiber is critical for digestion.

Carbohydrates are primarily divided into two categories; simple sugars and complex sugars. Simple carbohydrates are in their most basic form and are found in many natural foods like milk and fruits. Alternatively, complex sugars are made of complex carbohydrate chains like rice, bread, peas, etc.

Foods Rich in Carbs

Some carbohydrate-containing foods are organic and are healthy for your body, while some are not that healthy. Foods rich in carbohydrates are

  • Milk
  • Spaghetti
  • Potatoes
  • Soft drinks
  • Cookies

Similarities Between Carbs and Calories

  • As we discussed, carbohydrates and calories are interconnected but are not the same. However, cutting the excess amount of calories and carbs from the diet can help you lose weight.
  • Carbohydrates and calories are both essential for obtaining energy and carrying out normal body processes. The energy released by the breakdown (calories) of carbohydrates is used in biochemical processes and body development. Taking any of these in excess can cause weight gain and lead to multiple health conditions like diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

Difference Between Carbs and Calories



Carbohydrates are an important food group, also known as sugars. They are responsible for providing energy to the body for daily functions.


The unit to measure the energy released by the metabolism of different nutrients in the body is called a calorie. It is also defined as the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1°C.



Carbohydrates come from starchy foods and are also metabolized in the body.


You obtain calories from everything you eat. Some foods have higher calorie content, while some have fewer calories.

Recommended Daily Value


Nutritionists recommend taking 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates from different sources every day.


Adults should take up to 2500 calories per day, depending on their physical activity. Typically men are suggested to take 2500 calories while women should take 2000 calories.



Their main purpose is to act as an energy source for the body when needed.


The energy produced by carbs, proteins, and fats helps with bodily functions by maintaining basal metabolisms.

Food Sources


Carbohydrates are typically obtained from potatoes, spaghetti, fruits, bread, cookies, etc.


All foods contain calories; some of the foods with high amounts of calories are processed foods, fried food, candies, cookies, etc.

Health Issues


Taking a high amount of carbohydrates on a daily basis can cause diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and ketosis in diabetics.


Taking excessive calories regularly can cause obesity, leading to heart issues and other chronic health problems.


Are rich-in-carb foods also high in calories?

Yes. All foods rich in carbohydrates have high calories, especially processed food and candies. If you want to have a healthy lifestyle, it is important to take enough calories and carbs within the recommended values.

How much carbohydrate should you use for weight loss?

The normal amount of carbohydrates is 300 grams per day. However, if you are trying to lose weight through a low-carb diet, the count goes as low as 50 grams every day. Restricting the number of carbs to a fraction of the recommended value encourages your body to burn fats (preferably saturated fats) to release energy instead of carbohydrates. 

When choosing a low-carb diet that is not low-calorie, people usually opt for reducing carb intake and managing the rest of the calories through healthy foods. To ensure that the carb-deficient or ketogenic diet does not lead to drastic weight loss at once, nutritionists usually increase the fat content in the diet, and some nutrients come from proteins.

Should I choose a low-calorie or a low-carb diet?

Low-carb and low-calorie diets both work in different ways, and it depends on what you find more beneficial for you. Low-calorie diets focus on reducing the overall daily calorie count without increasing or decreasing the consumption of any food group in particular. Yet, reducing carb and fat intake to a healthy amount contributes to a low-calorie diet.

According to studies, adults take 1200 to 2000 calories per day depending on their requirements and activity. If you take more than 2000 calories a day without much physical activity, you may need to reduce 500 calories or more to get on a healthy track. On the other side, if you want to burn fats faster, your dietician may recommend a low-carb diet.


The Bottom Line

To summarize, while carbohydrates increase calorie count, all calories are not carbs. They both are different in expression and play different roles in the body. Calories play a role in maintaining basal metabolism, whereas carbohydrates provide energy to the body to carry out body functions. Taking both in an adequate amount is essential for health, yet it can also cause health issues if taken in surplus. Count your calories and cut excess carbs to live a healthy life.

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