The Calories-In, Calories-Out diet (CICO) could be a dangerous path to weight loss, experts warn
The CICO diet is founded on the concept of counting calories through monitoring the energy you intake and expend and adjusting the number of calories you consume so as to stay in a deficit and lose weight.
The tactic of counting and restricting calories to achieve weight loss is an old technique that has appeared in diets throughout the ages, and although restricting and monitoring calories can be beneficial for some individuals, it can also be unhealthy if done incorrectly.
Health professionals and nutritionists are wary of the CICO diet because they fear that some individuals may focus exclusively on the number of calories consumed rather than the nutritional value of foods consumed.
Aisling P. Jones, the spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, stated that weight loss is more complex than simply restricting calories to a certain number every day: a healthy diet must be sustainable in the long term and healthy.
A sustainable, healthy diet must factor in nutrients, not just calories
Jones offered an example of unhealthy eating while still keeping within a certain caloric intake limit: for example, an individual could eat exclusively Mars bars over the course of one day and still keep within a set calorie limit.
Theoretically, that same individual could continue to subsist off a diet of candy bars or other sugary, processed foods while never exceeding more than 1,500 calories daily: but that person will not be healthy, and will not be able to sustain such a diet.
Jones goes on to say that inevitably, when a person feels tired, hungry, and unable to exercise after depriving themselves of nutritionally-rich foods, they will end up abandoning the “diet” and return to regular food consumption, thus gaining back any weight that may have been lost.