CICO Diet Plan: Does It Really Help You Lose Weight?

Calories in-calories out (CICO) is a diet plan that includes some elements of long-term weight loss. The goal is to burn more calories than you take in.

food light bulbs and confused lady on the cico diet plan

Are you looking for a basic diet? If so, you should consider the calories in-calories out (CICO) diet. It basically is about burning more calories than you consume. The CICO diet plan includes some possible effects of long-term diets. An interesting aspect of this diet is it mainly focuses on the number of calories you consume instead of what you eat. This requires your body to burn stored fat like other diets including Intermittent Fasting (IF) and the keto diet. The CICO diet is very basic in terms of its structure but can be effective in weight loss. It’s about the basic math of calories in minus calories out. 

However, the CICO diet has also received some criticism. That’s because it just focuses on calorie burning. Another important issue is to make sure you’re getting the daily value (DV) of certain nutrients needed like vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and probiotics. This is very critical for a person’s overall health. CICO has some positive benefits like caloric deficits and weight loss. However, there are also some possible problems when you also aren’t getting all the nutrients you need for a healthy body and mind. If you’re getting lots of “empty calories” it can also increase your risk of various health problems like type-2 diabetes and heart disease.


What’s the CICO Diet Plan?

Today’s diet plans are very complex and involve features like ketosis, high-fat, and carb cycling. However, the approach of the calories in-calories out (CICO) diet is to get back to basics. Fun Fact: In 1845 the word “calorie” first appeared in a French dictionary.

Calorie-counting is nothing new and CICO puts it front and center. It’s simply about burning more calories than you consume. It takes into account people’s weight loss goals. Then it’s just a matter of counting calories in food and drinks, and how many calories are burned through exercise.

Supporters of the CICO diet argue that weight loss isn’t related to what you eat. The only thing that matters is the calories you consume and burn.

This is true to a certain extent. If you’re not aware of how many calories you’re consuming then it will be tougher to achieve weight loss. It’s especially true if you’re consuming high-calorie foods like refined grains, white sugar, and bad fats. In that situation, it’s actually highly likely that you won’t lose weight.

There’s nothing game-changing about the basics of CICO. Most health experts would agree that you’ll need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight. However, there will be some debate about whether or not calorie counting itself is needed.

It’s not surprising that this diet has become popular. You can eat whatever you want without memorizing a bunch of diet rules and food restrictions. Many people on the diet have claimed they’ve lost lots of weight.

Today ease of use has become one of the most important features people look for in a diet. As the old saying goes people claim there aren’t enough hours in the day. So it’s a big plus when a diet not only is easy to learn but also easy to follow.


Does the CICO Diet Work?

Some diets focus more on aspects like low-carb, carb-counting, and so on. However, the ultimate goal is still to cut calories through diet or exercise. In theory, CICO can help you lose weight because you cut calories by eating less and exercising more.

In a sense, CICO is also easier than various complex diet plans on the market. While it’s low-calorie it’s not a restrictive diet. So, you won’t have to worry about keeping track of what you’re eating in terms of healthy/unhealthy foods.

For example, it might be confusing about whether certain approaches to dieting are effective. Should you go low-carb? Is it healthy for 70% of your diet to be fats? Should you avoid the protein lectin? You might read different answers to these questions from different sources. It can be tough to sort through them.

So, while CICO is calorie-cutting and easy to follow it’s also received some criticism for other reasons. The main issue is it doesn’t deal with what kinds of calories you should be eating. The human body needs a daily amount of vitamins, minerals, and enzyme in order to function properly.

This is also critical in terms of your overall health. If you don’t eat mostly healthy foods you might lose weight but you’re going to be at higher risk of other factors. They include health conditions like high blood pressure/cholesterol, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Those conditions are much worse than being a little overweight, for example.

There are even question marks about the CICO caloric reduction. The number of calories you need to drop in order to lose weight is based on various factors. How much muscle do you have? Are you active all day or do you sit at a desk? Do you have a fast, slow, or average metabolism? Other key factors are genetics and health conditions.


How to Lose Weight without Calorie Counting

Use smaller plates

This might sound like a silly gimmick but it actually works. Studies show the main exception is obese people.

Your mind thinks that you’re eating more than when you use a large plate. When you use large plates/bowls your brain thinks you’re actually eating more. Meanwhile, small bowls or plates fill you up with fewer calories.

Go low-carb

Studies show that diets like Atkins, South Beach, and Keto result in fewer calories and more weight loss. They can also achieve those goals without tons of effort, which is another plus.

Replace refined grains with eggs

If you’re struggling to lose weight it could be the toast, bagels, and waffles/ or pancakes you’re eating. This is especially true if they’re made with white flour. If you want to eat those foods try eating ones made with whole grain flour.

Another option is to eat eggs instead of grains. An interesting study compared obese women who ate either eggs or bagels for breakfast. The eggs turned out to be better than bagels for weight loss.

Eat “dense” calories and more fiber

Studies show these factors can help you lose weight without cutting calories. For example, pick foods with high water content like certain fruits and veggies.

You should also consider vegetables with water-absorbing fiber. Studies show this can help with weight loss. The process also makes a fatty acid that is anti-obesity.

Boost your protein

Studies show this can provide many health benefits. They include more fat-burning, more muscle mass, and smaller appetite. Many studies show that protein can provide these benefits.

In fact, protein seems to boost metabolism more than carbs and fats. Here’s why. The body uses more calories to digest or use protein versus carbs and fat.

One study showed that boosting protein to 30% of total calories resulted in eating fewer calories/day, which could benefit your CICO diet plan.

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