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

10 Nutritional Main Course Recipes under 400 Calories

If you’re cooking, plan out your big feast.  To help, Ive compiled a diverse list of delicious mains you can look to for inspiration. These 10 selections are all under 400 calories per serving!




Ultimate Roasted Turkey| Cooking Light
Gobble up this delicious ultimate roast turkey! It’s made with simple seasonings but don’t let that fool you. The bird serves up in succulent slices accompanied by classic gravy made from turkey drippings. Recipe makes 12 servings at 6 ounces turkey + 3 tablespoons gravy.


Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 396; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: g3; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 183mg; Sodium: 483mg; Total Carbohydrate: 13g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 10g; Protein: 62g

Can relaxing treatments and thoughts change your DNA to look younger?

Did you know that the expression of your genes is modifiable?

The old notion that genes control your life has been replaced by new epigenetic discoveries. For example, when you put stem cells in a petri dish with the conditions that support muscle growth, the cells evolve into strong contractile muscles. However, if you change the conditions in the petri dish, the same cells can become bone cells, fat cells, and even brain cells! When you put stem cells in a petri dish with the conditions that support muscle growth, the cells evolve into strong contractile muscles. I personally find this fascinating. While every one of your cells is genetically identical, their fate is controlled by the conditions around them.

Beyond the petri dish

Today scientists are taking this even further and way beyond the petri dish. They’re exploring the impact of what you eat, drink, breathe and do on your genetic activity. I think the most unexpected discovery is connected to yoga, meditation, prayer, and mindful breathing. Over one hundred studies found that these activities can also influence your genes and the rate at which you get older. More...

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Kiwifruit

The kiwifruit makes a perfect addition to fruit salads and desserts because of its beautiful, brilliant green colour and exotic taste. But aside from its attractive appearance, the uniqueness of kiwifruit comes from its amazing health benefits too. Come in for some Nutritional Therapy at al Covo if you would like to know more about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Kiwis offer the following benefits:

1. It helps control your blood pressure. The high levels of potassium found in kiwi makes it a great snack option for people with heart conditions. Potassium helps keep your blood pressure in check by combating the effects of sodium in your blood, which is a known factor for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.


2. It helps fight heart disease. Eating 2-3 kiwis a day has been shown to reduce the likelihood of blood clotting by 18 per cent and bad cholesterol levels by 15 per cent. 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...

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...

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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