The CICO diet stands for ‘calories in, calories out’ and is based on the premise of eating fewer calories than the amount you burn.
Scientifically, burning more calories than that you consume causes weight loss.
But the idea that you can eat whatever you want and lose weight still has some limitations.
Fitness trackers and apps all tell you how much you’ve burned off and how much you’re consuming so the diet is popular among lots of people.
The concept isn’t entirely new but interest in it has regurgitated following popular Reddit threads vouching for its success.
The CICO subreddit even has more than 16,000 followers.
It certainly sounds easy – you get to munch limited portions of whatever you like and then burn it all off, shedding weight.
It’s not the most sustainable though as it means you’re not focusing on quality and the types of foods you’re entering into your system.
Does the CICO diet really work?
Users on social media have said they’ve noticed changes. And while it can be a useful tool for quick weight loss, it’s not the healthiest.
Since it’s about eating whatever you want, it might mean getting your calories from unhealthy snacks instead of healthy fats and proteins.
It might leave you feeling hungry too if you set calorie targets for yourself and aim to burn more than that.
‘At the core of it, it’s true that calories will rule things when it comes to weight loss,’ says Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Superfood Swap.
‘If you’re eating just a tonne, you’re not aware of calories, you will not be successful. That is true in the crudest, raw possible way.’
The aim of his diet is to create a calorie deficit but not all calories are created equal.
So if you chomp 1500kcal of Mars bar throughout a day and then work it off, it doesn’t mean it’s a healthy choice.
The issue with calorie-counting
If you live an otherwise healthy life full of exercise and a balanced diet and need to lose weight in a short amount of time, CICO might work for you.
But consult with a dietician before starting it to ensure you’re getting all the right nutrients.
Many have been critical of CICO as it forces people to count calories in each item consumed rather than enjoy the food they’re eating.
The obsession with calorie-counting may even lead to problems like eating disorders which was the issue with Ocado’s saver option.
Ultimately, food is also about enjoyment and not about meticulous consumption.
CICO might produce weight loss but getting your calories from any old food item can cause other problems to the body such as skin breakouts and lethargy.
Calorie-counting may help, but it’s also important to look at where you’re getting it from and the benefits of it.
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