The “Calories In, Calories Out” - or CICO - diet gains increasingly popularity on online forum Reddit, but may not be a long-term solution for healthy eating
Diet culture tends to advocate, in one form or another, the burning, slashing, or obliteration of daily caloric counts to improve weight loss, despite the fact that we will always require energy derived from calories in order to survive.
The CICO diet is founded on the idea of manipulating and harnessing this energy, going back to traditional, old-school principles of dieting.
Although experts universally agree that reducing calories consumed will help promote weight loss, calorie-cutting is not a healthy, sustainable, or safe measure to follow in the long-term.
The CICO diet’s founding principle does have some basis in fact: the technique is to eat fewer calories than you expend on a daily basis (referred to as TDEE).
Lisa DeFazio, a registered dietitian, stated that this approach to dieting can help weight loss if it is done correctly - for example, sticking to your standard diet but cutting roughly 500 calories per day off it.
However, a red flag with the CICO approach is that the sole focus of the diet is the calories counted (i.e. the numbers) and nothing else.
Malina L. Malkani, a nutritionist and dietitian, stated that for long-term health benefits and weight management it is important to focus on what foods are consumed and the quality of foods consumed, not only how many calories are ingested per day.
Only focusing on “quantity and not quality” can lead to health issues
Malkani stated that even if an individual was eating the right amount of daily calories to encourage and sustain weight loss, if those calories were coming from sugary junk foods health issues could arise, such as hormonal imbalances, skin issues, poor immunity, insomnia, fatigue, and lower metabolism.
The CICO diet can help boost weight loss in the early stages through its calorie-counting approach, but a strategy of exercise, nutrient-rich foods, and general healthy eating must be implemented in the long-term.