Are All Calories The Same?

As a nutritionist, I’m often asked, “Is a calorie a calorie?” Well, according to the laws of thermodymanics, yes, all calories are created equal (at least on paper). But —and this is a big but— the way the body breaks down carbohydrates, protein and fat, the three main sources of calories in our diet (four if you count alcohol), and the effect they have on our bodies differ vastly. There are semester-long courses that explain just how our bodies break down, burn and store each of these four calorie sources differently, but since this is a 750-word blog post, I’ll try do my best to briefly explain why not all calories are created equal.


In addition to being a potent and flavorful source of energy, fats slow digestion, deliver important fat-soluble vitamins to the body, and provide important building blocks for every one of our cells.

All dietary fats provide about 9 calories per gram but, as you likely already know, some fats are better for our health than others. For example, polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, found in foods like wild salmon and flaxseed, have protective, anti-inflammatory properties, whereas artificial trans fats have been linked to increased inflammation and heart disease. More...

6 Appetite Controlling Technniques for Weight Loss

It can be hard not to overeat. You eat a healthy meal at home, think you’re doing well, then you head out (to almost any destination) and are surrounded by junk food. You get hungry, and pretty soon you’re at the local burger joint, diet forgotten.

Or maybe you stick to the “right” foods, but they’re just so good that you can’t have just one portion. We’ve all been there. That used to be me.

The following six strategies have changed the game for me—now I’m healthier, enjoy my meals more, and my appetite is low enough that, if anything, I have to make an effort to eat more!

Add Vinegar and Cinnamon to Meals to Control Blood Sugar More...

15 Nutritious Recipes under 400 Calories

Kick off 2015 with my 15 must-try recipes! Here at al Covo, healthy is delicious. Here’s to a happier new year and a healthier new you in 2015!

1. Zucchini Fritters | Damn Delicious
Nutritious and delicious zucchini fritters is a great way to sneak color and veggies onto the plate. Grated zucchini, parmesan cheese and eggs are whisked together then pan-fried to a golden brown crunch! Recipe makes 4 servings of fritters for a snack or appetizer.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 162; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 52mg; Sodium: 720mg; Total Carbohydrate: 12g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 3g; Protein: 7g

2. Garlic Prawns + Avocado Crostini | Cafe Delites More...

10 Nutritional Side Recipes Under 250 Calories

The holidays are just around the corner and if you’re like us your meal-prep wheels are spinning! This year we’ve put together a list of delish side dishes featuring trendy vegetables (here’s looking at you, kale) and old time favorites.  Our list of sides is guaranteed to be proper holiday sidekicks for these tasty main entrees that we shared yesterday. To help you realize a weight neutral holiday we’ve picked sides hovering around 200 calories or less. Give ‘em a spin and tell us what your tongue thinks!


Apple & Quinoa Kale Salad | The Wheatless Kitchen 
Crisp, refreshing apple meshes with quinoa and kale in this equal parts sweet and earthy salad. Add some crunch with chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds and you’ve got a texture savvy side dish. The recipe makes 6 side salads but can double as an entree for vegetarians or vegans if you up the serving size.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 191; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 8g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 141mg; Total Carbohydrate: 16g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 6g; Protein: 4g

How to make YOU the Valentine’s gift

Forget chocolates and flowers for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day - instead, YOU be the gift. Show how much you care by turning yourself into a sexy package with a bit of male grooming.

Valentine’s Day can be a source of intense pressure – when it should mean, pleasure? We tend to get overwhelmed with questions about what to do. Should I buy an expensive gift? Should I book a different restaurant? However, as with most things, keeping it simple is most definitely the way to go. So, skip over the clichéd red roses and box of heart-shaped chocolates and instead invest some money on a gift that will really make your favoured one smile…you!

So, follow my easy pre-date 10 point checklist, avoid bad grooming pitfalls and learn how to curb your errant ways and get in there stylishly my son. More...

11 Amazing Benefits from Eating Pumpkin

If you’re like most people, the first thing that probably comes to your mind after hearing the word ‘pumpkin’ is Halloween. But pumpkin isn’t just for Halloween. This versatile squash doesn’t only make a good addition to breads, pies, risottos and other delicious treats – it also comes with a number of healthy perks that will sure get you craving for more.Why would you want to add pumpkin to your diet? Here are the amazing reasons.


1. It’s low in calories

Unless you turn it into a pumpkin pie, a cup of this golden orange gourd only has 30 calories and almost no fat. This makes pumpkin a good snacking choice for dieters. Well, even the standard pumpkin pie is lower in calories than other pies and desserts!


2. It promotes weight loss

Pumpkin promotes weight loss not just because it is low in calories. Another reason is that it’s also high in fibre, containing 3 grams per one cup. This naturally creamy, sweet, delicious and low-calorie gourd will keep you feeling full for longer.


3. It’s high in beta-carotene

The reason why pumpkin has rich, golden orange colour is because it is loaded with beta-carotene – a powerful antioxidant that your body converts into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is known to boost the immune system and reduce free radical damage to cells. These healthy orange pigments are also found in carrots.


4. It strengthens the immune system More...

Belly Fats: What You Need to Know and Do

How much flab you have in your abdomen has a big impact on your health. Losing fats in your midsection does not only improve your overall appearance – it also improves your quality of health and lowers your risk of certain diseases.

Health experts all agree – abdominal fat is the worst type of fat you can get. But what makes it so harmful? To understand its impact on your health, you should know first that abdominal fat comes in two different forms: the subcutaneous fat and the visceral fat. The first type of abdominal fat is like the fat elsewhere in your body. It may not pose danger to your health but it doesn’t do you good either. The second type of fat, called visceral fat, is one that surrounds your internal organs. Visceral obesity is linked to the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and heart disease.

Unlike the subcutaneous fats, the visceral fats cells release their metabolic wastes directly to the portal circulation, which carries blood straight to the liver. As a result, visceral fat cells are enlarged and stuffed by excess triglycerides, which deliver free fatty acids to the liver. These fatty acids also accumulate in the pancreas, heart, and other organs. This results to organ dysfunction, affecting your insulin levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Visceral fat has also been linked to dementia, and certain forms of cancer, such as breast cancer and colon cancer.


What causes belly fats?

Consuming too many calories can lead to an increase in your waistline. Any kind of calories – whether from fatty foods, alcohol, or oversized portions of food, can lead to belly fats. Abdominal fat is often called ‘beer belly fats’ because alcohol calories are so easy to overdo. A glass of beer for example has about 150 calories. And if you down several glasses in one sitting, you can get calorie overload. Not to mention the calorie-dense foods you eat along with your beer.More...

12 Practical, Easy Food Portion Control Tips to Eat Less

Observing portion control is a very important, yet often overlooked aspect of a healthy diet. Many people who think about losing weight tend to focus on what to eat, and forget about how much to eat. But here’s the thing – calories are calories. Even if you’re choosing the right foods, eating more than the recommended serving portions can result to weight gain. Don’t worry. With these simple strategies, you can eat a little less, without measuring, even thinking!


It all starts on your plate. Here’s a very easy trick when observing proper portion control – divide your plate in half. Automatically fill one side of your plate with fruits or vegetables (fresh produce is much better). Spare the other side with equal parts of protein (beans, lean meat, legumes, etc.) and starch (complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole-wheat bread and wholegrains).

Make use of your hand when measuring food portions. Here’s another way to smartly measure portion sizes: your fruit and vegetable serving should be about the size of your hand opened, whilst fish, meat or beans altogether should not exceed the size of your palm. Then, whole grains should be a size of your fist.

Make use of smaller food containers. When storing leftovers, store foods in small individual containers instead of in a huge one.Also, consider packing leftovers before you sit down for a meal. This way, you won’t be tempted to get an ‘extra’ serving once you started eating.

Limit your food choices. More...

10 Foods Loaded with Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a lipid fat that is produced by the liver. Contrary to popular view, cholesterol is vital for normal body function, particularly in producing hormones and regulating cell membranes. But because our body is capable of producing cholesterol, deficiency in this nutrient is rare. Eating foods, especially animal-based products, which are high in cholesterol, is associated with a number of health problems, including heart disease.

Here is the list of ten foods highest in cholesterol. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid them completely as they may also contain other essential nutrients. Just as the old saying goes – moderation is the key.


Egg Yolk

Topping our list is egg yolk, which happens to contain the highest amount of cholesterol. A 100-gram serving of egg yolks contain 1234mg of cholesterol, which is almost four times the recommended daily intake (300mg). But eggs are relatively healthy. They are high in protein and choline which all promote weight loss. So you don’t really want to totally ban it from your diet. If you just want protein, just eat the egg whites. Or, if you eat the entire egg for breakfast, avoid eating any other high-cholesterol foods later in the day.



Butter can make almost any dish perfect in taste but beware – it isn’t just high in cholesterol but also in saturated fats. 100-gram butter contains 215mg of cholesterol. One stick has more – 243mg. More...

Eat to Lose Weight: 12 Foods that Curb Hunger, Speed Metabolism & More

Can you eat a little more but still shed some pounds? Yes it’s possible! So long as you know which foods to favour and which ones to avoid. In the past blogs, we have talked about foods that don’t just damage your health but also cause you to gain weight. Now, it’s time that we talk about the good stuff – the fat-burning foods.


Greek Yoghurt

This is the favourite snack of many dieters! It helps you burn fats because it is loaded with protein (than any other types of yoghurt). Protein stays in your stomach longer than carbs so you have to spend more calories to digest them. Not only that. It keeps you feeling full for extended periods. Add fresh mango slices or strawberries in your plain Greek yoghurt for added flavour.



Eat it with peel for extra fibre and added nutrients. For a change, spread humus on your apple wedges. You can also have pears if you don’t feel like eating apple for a day.


Green Tea

Green tea has long been popular in the weight loss niche. This healthful beverage contains catechins – pytochemicals that has a positive effect on metabolism. It is recommended that you drink 3-4 cups of green tea a day to get the most benefits.More...

About the author

Steve from AlcovoBorn in Worcestershire, and educated to second (Masters) degree in Geography, I worked in a corporate company before being inspired more fully into well-being from travels to the Eastern and Tropical countries of the Philippines, India, Kenya, the Maldives, Mauritius and Mozambique.

I gained an understanding of spas, treatments and clients along my way, and have developed this into my own practice, al Covo, to which I welcome you warmly. I pride myself on al Covo's warmth, peaceful aura, hygiene and thoroughness.

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