What is the CICO Diet? CICO Basics for Beginners

Most Americans have heard of calories before, and a large percentage of us have “calculated calories” to lose weight. CICO is an acronym for Calories In, Calories Out, and it’s far from a new idea. Since about 1920, women in particular have carefully scheduled the calories in the food they eat. However, the rate of obesity continues to skyrocket across all genders, ages, and ethnicities.

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CICO is not a diet per se. You will not get a list of foods you should eat and others you should avoid. You don’t have to eat a certain number of servings from any one food group. Instead, you just count calories. A calorie is simply a unit of measurement that calculates how much energy a food produces. To be precise, the calories in food raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. Originally, scientists were literally setting fire to food to make this decision.

Potential pitfalls of CICO

When it comes to nutritional value, calories are not equal. Therefore, when someone exercises CICO, there is a risk that they will eat the equivalent of 1,500 calories of Twinkies and soda instead of an equivalent amount of salads and lean protein. Although one is full of nutrients, proponents of CICO believe that these individuals will lose the same amount of weight at the end of the day.

Experts are concerned that CICO’s focus is solely on calories, with no regard for nutrient content or other health concerns. Satisfaction is also not considered with CICO. You could, for example, have a large grilled chicken salad or a king-sized dessert for the same number of calories. Obviously, the salad will keep you satisfied and feeling full for longer thanks to the fibre, protein and water it contains.

Another drawback to CICO is that it doesn’t take into account the timing of eating throughout the day, according to Molly Kimball, founder of Ochsner Eat Fit, a nonprofit nutrition initiative, nutrition writer, speaker, host of the FUELED Wellness + Nutrition podcast and consultant in the New Orleans area. “So there might be certain things that make strategic sense for how you can refuel after a workout or different things that can really help improve our mental and physical performance, recovery and how we feel throughout the day.”

Being preoccupied with calories or other single nutrients can also lead to disordered eating habits. Kimball says, “It saddens me when we live our lives with this constant calculator that we feel like we’re living in a tight world all day long. So I think freeing ourselves from counting calories can be very liberating. To become more aware rather than the quality of the kinds of foods we choose to include. in our bodies.”

“The macronutrient content of your food will have a huge impact on satiety (how full you feel at the end of your meals) and satiety (how long before you feel hungry again). So, the same number of calories may “feel” really different for you, depending on Macronutrient content,” adds Monica Reingel, nutritionist, behavior change coach and host of the Nutrition Diva podcast, co-host of the Change Academy podcast and co-founder of Weighless, a program designed to help individuals lose weight without dieting by changing the way they think and habits .

“Instead of having people run around with a spreadsheet and calculator, I’d rather have them focus on how different it is Food and Meals It affects their appetite, energy and weight loss, so they can begin to develop a healthy relationship with food and eating rather than a dieting mindset.”

Understanding basal metabolic rate

If you want to try the CICO diet, you will first need to determine your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This is how many calories you burn, surviving each day – breathing, maintaining a heartbeat, and digesting food. It’s the number of calories you would burn each day if you were immobilized while you were resting in bed.

Next, you’ll add up the number of calories you’ve burned through non-exercise movement and planned physical activity. For the average adult, the basal metabolic rate in one study ranged from 1,027 to approximately 2,500 calories per day. For anyone who has counted calories, you know that this makes a huge difference in the amount of food an individual can eat and lose weight or maintain their current weight.

There are online calculators that can help you calculate your BMR. However, as Kimball explains, “unless someone is living in a metabolic room in a lab, that’s just guesswork.”

According to Reinagel, “The biggest misconception is that this is a number that you can accurately determine with some kind of calculator, where you enter your age, height, activity level, etc.” “These calculations are just estimates and are often very inaccurate. This error is then multiplied by calculators that tell you how many calories you burn doing different activities. Again, these calculations can be very inaccurate. Relying your calorie consumption on these estimates leads to a lot of frustration and disappointment because they don’t lead to the results you were told they would.”

Some fitness centers also offer tests, which generally require that you breathe into a manual machine early in the morning while you’re still asleep and before eating, drinking or exercising.

Many are surprised to learn that physical activity generally accounts for only 15% to 30% of total calories burned each day. And there’s no consistency either – two people of the same age, gender and size can do the same exercise and use up to 20% fewer or more calories than the other.

It’s more than just calories

Although there are many critics of the CICO method, very few people argue that it cannot lead to weight loss. However, research has demonstrated that many factors influence weight gain or loss other than calorie intake, including age, sleep quality, stress level, individual metabolism, fluid intake, physical activity, genes, and hormonal influences.

“Calories are not the only, and perhaps not the most important, part of the picture,” according to Kimball. “Even timing may vary. Intermittent fasting may work for others, while eating small, frequent meals throughout the day may be beneficial for others. Both can be really appropriate for an individual.”

Highly processed, calorie-dense foods

Experts know that ultra-processed foods increase the risk of many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and kidney disease. Ultra-processed foods contain added sugar, salt, and fat, as well as artificial colors and preservatives. They often contain artificial flavorings and stabilizers to increase shelf stability as well. Examples of ultra-processed foods include cornflakes, frozen lasagna, hot dogs, and snack cakes. Some studies have shown that people who eat a diet rich in ultra-processed foods consume more calories and gain weight as a result. This is mainly due to the higher calorie density of ultra-processed foods compared to less processed foods.

Calorie density indicates how many calories are in a gram of food, for example. Three small slices of cheese (commonly referred to as crackers) contain as many calories as six cups of cucumber. Due to the growth of processed foods, it is estimated that the average person now eats approximately 300 calories per day compared to 1970.

Kimball describes the “energy train” that results from eating a diet rich in these ultra-processed foods, causing people to believe they are addicted to carbohydrates and sugar and experiencing food cravings. This occurs as a result of irregular blood glucose levels due to a diet rich in highly refined foods.

Rather than focusing solely on calories and numbers, Kimball recommends taking into account how we feel 20 or 30 minutes after eating. For example, if you choose to have a piece of cake in the break room at 10 a.m., you shouldn’t be thinking about sugar grams or calories, but instead you might feel as tired as you might in a couple of hours when your blood sugar is running low. Energy level can be a measure of how food affects us if we pay attention to it throughout the day.

“Are we getting enough protein and fat, the best vegetable fat, in our diets? These things can greatly affect our energy and mood. Adjusting how we really feel can lead to choosing more nutritious foods.”

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