There are many ridiculous myths in nutrition. The “calorie myth” is one of the most damaging. It is the idea that calories are the most important part of the diet, that the sources of those calories don’t matter.

“A calorie is a calorie IS a calorie,” they say… that it doesn’t matter whether you eat a 100 calories of chocolate or broccoli, they will have the same effect on your weight.

It is true that all “calories” have the same amount of energy. One dietary calorie contains 4184 joules of energy. In that respect, a calorie IS a calorie.

But when it comes to your body, things are not that simple. The human body is a highly complex biochemical system with elaborate processes that regulate energy balance.

Different foods go through different biochemical pathways, some of which are inefficient and cause energy (calories) to be lost as heat.

Even more important is the fact that different foods and macronutrients have a major effect on the hormones and brain centres that control hunger and eating behaviour.

The foods we eat can have a huge impact on the biological processes that govern when, what and how much we eat.

Here are 6 proven examples of why a calorie is NOT a calorie.

1. The Thermic Effect of Food

Different foods go through different metabolic pathways. Some of these pathways are more “efficient” than others.

The more “efficient” a metabolic pathway is, the more of the food energy is used for work and less is dissipated as heat. The metabolic pathways for protein are less efficient than the metabolic pathways for carbs and fat.

Protein contains 4 calories per gram, but a large part of the protein calories are lost as heat when it is metabolised by the body.

The thermic effect of food is a measure of how much different foods increase energy expenditure, due to the energy required to digest, absorb and metabolize the nutrients.

This is the thermic effect of different macronutrients:

  • Fat: 2-3%.
  • Carbs: 6-8%.
  • Protein: 25-30%.

Sources vary on the exact numbers, but it is clear that protein requires much more energy to metabolize than fat and carbs.

If we go with a thermic effect of 25% for protein and 2% for fat, this would mean that a 100 calories of protein would end up as 75 calories, while a 100 calories of fat would end up as 98 calories.

Studies show that high protein diets boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets.

Put simply, high protein diets have a “metabolic advantage.”

Bottom Line: Protein calories are less fattening than calories from carbs and fat, because protein takes more energy to metabolize. And similarly, whole foods also require more energy to digest than processed foods.

2. Protein Kills Appetite and Makes You Eat Fewer Calories

The protein story doesn’t end with increased metabolism. It also leads to significantly reduced appetite, making you eat less calories automatically.

The studies show that protein is the most fulfilling macronutrient, by far.

If people increase their protein intake, they start losing weight without counting calories or controlling portions. Protein puts fat loss on autopilot.

If you don’t want to go on a “diet” but simply tip the metabolic scales in your favour, then adding more protein to your diet may be the simplest (and most delicious) way to cause “automatic” weight loss.

It is very clear that when it comes to metabolism and appetite regulation, a protein calorie is NOT the same as a carb calorie or a fat calorie.

Bottom Line: Increased protein can lead to drastically reduced appetite and cause automatic weight loss without the need for calorie counting or portion control.

3. The Satiety Index

Different foods have different effects on satiety. It is also much easier to overeat on some foods than others.

For example, it may be quite easy to eat 500 calories (or more) of ice cream, while you’d have to force feed yourself to eat 500 calories of eggs or broccoli.

This is a key example of how the food choices you make can have a huge impact on the total calories you end up consuming.

There are many factors that determine the satiety value of different foods, which is measured on a scale called the satiety index.

The satiety index is a measure of the ability of foods to reduce hunger, increase feelings of fullness and reduce energy intake for the next few hours.

If you eat foods that are low on the satiety index, then you will be hungrier and end up eating more. If you choose foods that are high on the satiety index, you will end up eating less and losing weight.

Some examples of foods with a high satiety index are chicken, beef, eggs, beans and fruits, while foods that are low on the satiety index include donuts and cake!

Clearly… whether you choose fulfilling foods or not will have a major difference on energy balance over the long term. Because a calorie from an egg is not the same as a calorie from a doughnut.

Bottom Line: Different foods have different effects on satiety and how many calories we end up consuming in subsequent meals.

4. Low-Carb Diets Lead to Automatic Calorie Restriction

Since the year 2002, over 20 randomised controlled trials have compared low-carb and low-fat diets.

The studies consistently show that low-carb diets lead to more weight loss, often 2-3 times as much.

One of the main reasons for this is that low-carb diets lead to drastically reduced appetite. People start eating less calories without trying.

The biggest reason for this is probably that low-carb diets also cause significant water loss. Excess bloat tends to go away in the first week or two.

Another reason is that low-carb diets tend to include more protein than low-fat diets. Protein takes energy to metabolise and the body expends energy turning protein into glucose.

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets, even when calories are matched between groups.

5. The Glycemic Index

There are many controversies in nutrition and the experts don’t agree on many things. But one of the few things that almost everyone agrees on is that refined carbs are bad.

This includes added sugars like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, as well as refined grain products like white bread.

Refined carbohydrates tend to be low in fibre and they get digested and absorbed quickly, leading to rapid spikes in blood sugar. They have a high glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar.

When we eat a food that spikes blood sugar fast, it tends to lead to a crash in blood sugar a few hours later… also known as the “blood sugar roller coaster.” When blood sugar crashes, we get cravings for another high-carb snack.

So… the speed at which carb calories hit the system can have a dramatic effect on their potential to cause overeating and weight gain.

If you’re on high-carb diet, it is crucial to choose whole, unprocessed carb sources that contain fibre which can reduce the rate at which the glucose enters your system.

The studies consistently show that people who eat the most high glycemic index foods are at the greatest risk of becoming obese and diabetic because not all carb calories are created equal.

Bottom Line: Studies show that refined carbohydrates lead to faster and bigger spikes in blood sugar, which leads to cravings and increased food intake.

Take Home Message

Different calorie sources can have vastly different effects on hunger, hormones, energy expenditure and the brain regions that control food intake.

Even though calories are important, counting them or even being consciously aware of them is not at all necessary to lose weight.

In many cases, simple changes in food selection can lead to the same (or better) results than calorie restriction.

3 key elements for weight loss: protein, fibre and water.

A WOMAN'S WEEK AT THE GYM – Week beginning Monday 4th March 2019

This is dedicated to everyone who ever attempted to get into a regular gym routine with a personal trainer.

Dear Diary, For my birthday this year, I purchased a week of personal training at the local health club. Although I am still in great shape since being a high school cheerleader 33 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try.

I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Christian, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear.

Friends seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.
Started my day at 6:00 am. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Christian waiting for me.

He is something of a Greek god—tall dark and handsome with dancing eyes, and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!!

Christian gave me a tour and showed me the machines. I enjoyed watching the skilful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring!

Christian was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around.

This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!
I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door.

Christian made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then he put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. His rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT! It's a whole new life for me.
The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals.

Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop.

Christian was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. His voice is a little too perky for that early in the morning and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying.

My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Christian put me on the stair monster. Why the hell would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by lifts? Christian told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. He said some other rubbish too.
Christian aka Hitler was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth exposed as his thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help being a half an hour late-- it took me that long to tie my shoes.

He took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not looking, I ran and hid in the loos. He sent some skinny witch to find me.

Then, as punishment, he put me on the rowing machine-- which I sank.
I hate that thing called Christian more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anaemic, anorexic, little aerobics instructor. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat him with it.

Christian wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps! And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the blasted barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.

Satan left a message on my answering machine in his grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing his voice made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.
I'm having the Church taxi pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my husband will choose a gift for me that is fun-- like a root canal or a lobotomy.
I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!

6 More Ways To Be Positive Every Day – Week Beginning Monday 25th Feb 2019

  • Last month we highlighted 5 ways to be positive: Smile; Relish small pleasures; Practice a morning routine; Use positive vocabulary; Embrace camaraderie.
  • Today I give you 6 more.
  • Remember a positive outlook will help you as you lose weight and improve your fitness.

1. Make a 'To Do' list.

In a world where there are a million things to do within 24 hours, it’s extremely easy to get overwhelmed.

A ‘To Do’ list is a great remedy for that – they provide organization and make you feel more grounded.

In addition, you can avoid a lot of anxiety by having a ‘memory aid’ to ensure you get all of your tasks completed.  

2. Complete your 'To Do' list.

As you cross items off your to-do list, you’ll feel a sense of progress and accomplishment that can be missed when rushing from one activity to the next. The affirmation that you are making progress will help motivate you to keep moving forward rather than feeling overwhelmed.

3. Be in control of your life.

This means you have to stop complaining, assigning blame and procrastinating. Taking responsibility for and of your own life is essential.

Accepting that it’s all up to you gives a great sense of meaning and motivation. Instead of leaving it up to others, take it upon yourself to make a conscious decision to live a positive life.

4. Give yourself a break.

It’s important to make goals, be in charge, and reach for success; but it’s not healthy to be too hard on yourself.

Accept that you’re not always going to win… it’s just part of life.

5. Surround yourself with positive people.

People who are happy have the “ripple effect” factor: their positive attitude rubs off on those around them.

Surround yourself with positive people so you can benefit from this effect.

Another huge advantage in embracing the “ripple effect” is that you yourself will start having a positive impact on others, which will only make you happier!

6. Redefine failure.

As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  

This is an idea embraced by many successful and positive individuals.

Apply it to your life and you’ll soon see great results!

Porridge – Week Beginning Monday 18th Feb 2019

  • 35g porridge oats = 125 calories
  • Porridge is naturally rich in soluble fibre, which has been known to help lower blood cholesterol and is vital for gut health.
  • Eating oats on a regular basis can help to improve blood flow and bind to cholesterol to aid its removal from the gut.
  • From a dieting view, porridge is an invaluable commodity as it is 100% natural, contains no added salt or sugar and it is free from additives. Combine this with its high fibre content (a complex carbohydrate) helps to give us that full feeling, staving off unwanted hunger pangs – it is low Gi!
  • When we eat foods such as porridge on a regular basis we may well be actually reducing our risk of developing (non-insulin dependent) diabetes by absorbing sugar from the gut, thus reducing the needs for excessive amounts of insulin to be produced.
  • For those women thinking of having a baby, porridge is a natural source of folic acid which when taken before conception and up to the 12th week of pregnancy can reduce the risk of the baby being born with spina bifida.

Porridge oats can be used in so many ways:

  1. Cereal
  2. When making a crumble topping substitute 1/3 of the flour for porridge oats
  3. When making meat balls for every 400g beef mince add 25g porridge oats to add bulk and fibre – the porridge will take on the flavour of the meat
  4. Try adding 15g porridge oats to natural yoghurt, stir, leave for 10 minutes in the fridge and served with 1 tsp honey and fresh raspberries for an alternative breakfast


You diet more than ever, but don’t weigh less.

Exercise regularly but still feel flabby and your once perfectly fitting clothes now seem snug.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, chances are you’re in the over-35 club. Like most members, you probably have a stay-slim formula (something like regular walks plus no ice cream at night) that no longer seems to be working.

If you never had problems losing or maintaining your weight in your 20s and/or early 30s, you may not be ready for what happens next.

Your metabolism slows by 5 percent each decade. Compared to age 25, you’ll burn about 100 fewer calories a day at 35 and 200 fewer at 45. Do nothing, and you could gain eight to 12 pounds a year!

With age, muscle mass diminishes and so does your metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns throughout the day, whether you’re sleeping, sitting, or sprinting to catch a bus).

Many women unwittingly sabotage their calorie-burning potential with crash diets, ineffective exercise strategies, and other metabolism-busting habits.

Although there are no quick fixes, there’s plenty you can do to boost the number of calories your body burns every day and so maintain or even lose weight.

Mistake 1: Relying on Just Your Scale

The Fix: Measure Your Inches. Take regular photos and compare them to see the change. A standard scale will not tell you about your body composition.

Mistake 2: Crash Dieting

The Fix: Shed Pounds S-L-O-W-L-Y. Crash dieting damages your metabolism.

Mistake 3: Only Doing Cardio

The Fix: Pump Iron or Do Body Weight Training (like the toning we do in class). Muscle burns calories faster than any other body tissue. The more muscle you have the faster you will be burning calories.

Mistake 4: Sticking to the Same Exercises

The Fix: Mix It Up. Doing a variety of exercises means the muscles are regularly challenged rather than getting used to the same moves over and over again.

Mistake 5: Eating Lightly (or Not At All) Before Noon

The Fix: Munch on More Food in the Morning. Quite often people experience an afternoon slump and end up reaching for something sugary. This is because they haven’t fuelled themselves properly during the morning and at lunch.

Mistake 6: Living a High-Stress, Low-Sleep Life

The Fix: Sleep More, Stress Less. More sleep and less stress leads to the lowering of cortisol levels. Cortisol promotes the laying down of fat around your abdomen.

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