What Is CICO?
Short for "Calories In, Calories Out," CICO alludes you can eat what you want and when you want it, just as long as the number of calories you eat is less than the number of calories you burn. The diet seems fairly simple and straightforward, which can be quite appealing when trying to find your ticket to weight loss. And implying you can swap out that salad bowl with a bowl of ice cream, individuals are likely to be even more attracted to the diet. But CICO is not so new, and may even sound familiar, as it essentially is just another label for calorie counting.
Does CICO Work and Is It Safe?
Though the foundation of the diet is not novel and caloric restriction has shown to produce quick and active weight loss, individuals interested in CICO should consider the following risks and concerns:
• Poor Eating Habits
Thinking you can have your cake and eat it too on a daily basis may be appealing, but it is also dangerous. CICO can lead to poor eating habits, particularly as individuals fill their diet with foods that lack nutritional value. Obsessing over calories is also of concern.
• Nutritional Deficiencies
The CICO diet primarily focuses its attention on weight loss. While meeting and sustaining a healthy weight is a key to health, so is ensuring vitamin and mineral needs are being met. Nutritional deficiencies impose the risk of health concerns dependent on the nutrient itself, though may include the link between iron and anemia.
Yes, individuals may shed some weight following a calorie-restrictive diet. But there will like come a point in which individuals plateau or find themselves extremely hungry, potentially leading to frustration and food binges, and eventually putting back on the weight lost.
• Discounts Other Lifestyle Factors
Though CICO does not discourage exercise, it does not promote it, either. The process of weight loss and health is a continuous and ongoing journey and is further influenced other lifestyle factors, including regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and stress management.
While CICO may shed unwanted pounds, it is worth mentioning weight loss is complicated, if not frustrating, and often pursued under strict dietary guidelines. But unless advised and supervised by your primary care provider, deviate from diets that are restricting to lessen the risk of developing poor eating habits, nutritional deficiencies, and weight loss plateaus.
Rather than religiously counting calories, individuals can keep naturally keep calories in check and nutrients optimized by reducing highly processed foods and gravitate towards more wholesome sources, including whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources. As a general rule of thumb, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables; a quarter with a lean or plant-based protein, such as chicken, turkey, and beans; and a quarter with a whole grain, such as brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
And as mentioned above, weight loss and health extend further from strictly diet and embraces a regular exercise routine, adequate sleep, and stress management.
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