What is the CICO diet?
If you do not know what the CICO diet is, then you need to read this article. This weight loss regimen is one the most talked about slimming regimens of the moment. CICO stands for Calories In, Calories Out and is based on a very simple principle, which is to calculate the calories you eat during the day. The CICO diet has a lot of positive aspects. But, also like all the popular diets, it reveals a lot of negatives.
How does the CICO diet works
In practice, the concept is really simple. Every day we eat foods that meet our caloric needs. Through the calories we have the ‘fuel’ to do all the daily activities. The CICO diet is based on the calculation of the calories we ingest, normally, in one day. Based on a simple relationship between height, weight, age, and lifestyle, one can know the average caloric needs of a day, i.e. how many calories we burn without exercise – you can calculate yours here. Well, from this result, called Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE, just subtract 500 calories and don’t exceed the prefixed threshold.
In practice, you eat fewer calories during the day. This is a principle that underlies weight loss diets. And perhaps it did not even need a new name to come back ‘in vogue’ just because people like Wendy Williams or Angelina Jolie follow this weight loss diet. But it is a principle that has limits, some nutritionists believe. In fact, cutting calories may not be useful in itself if you do not balance your diet properly. If, for example, the calculation described above shows that you need to take 1200 calories a day, it is not the same thing to take them from a slice of cake or a bag of chips rather than rice, vegetables, fish, legumes. Cutting calories cannot be a valid indication in every situation. However, some caloric foods are excellent and can be perfectly integrated into a diet (such as walnuts, or avocados). While others are completely empty of nutritional elements (packaged foods, snacks, etc) and avoid all the calories coming from food rich in sugar, practically a junk food, and sugar detox diet. Cutting too many calories could help you lose weight, but also could endanger your health if there are not enough calories. There could be a lack of minerals or vitamins. In short, cutting a few calories are okay, but only if you eat in a balanced way.
CICO diet plan and guidelines
This caloric deficit can be achieved in two ways (represented by two other acronyms, but we do without):
- Eat less, and less physical activity: your caloric deficit is above all food. You have little time for physical activity, so try to lose weight by reducing the caloric intake to about 500 calories less than your daily energy needs, to lose about half a pound a week; this practice is known as ELEL or eat less exercise less.
- Eat less, you exercise more: in this case the caloric deficit from the diet is lower than the first (so you eat less but not like in the ELEL), because with the exercise we burn the calories that allow us to have a total deficit of 500 calories a day as in the first case. Known as ELEM (EAT LESS EXERCISE MORE).
Now let’s see how you can follow correctly the CICO diet.
Obviously, there is a right way and a wrong way to set your own calorie deficit.
The CICO diet: how to do it to have success?
The CICO diet must always be personalized.
- Establish your daily caloric needs: If you do office work or work at home and do not exercise, add in light activity; if you do office or sedentary work but go to the gym no less than 3 times a week or do manual activities, which make you stand a lot, then you are moderately active; if you like spin class and go to the gym 5 times a day, you are very active.
- Choose a calorie calculator online: it will track the calories of your activities and also your daily menu like Fatsecret, but there are many, such as Myfitnesspal and others.
- Eat for a week as in point 1: at least for a week, check that your caloric needs is the one established by the algorithm, using the online calculator for food and activity. You simply need to reach the number of calories you have found in step one, every day.
- After a week: are you right in your weight goals? Did you lose weight, get fat? Adjust your daily requirements by 50 calories more or less, until you reach a number that allows you to stay in your weight. This is a studying period of your needs and can last even a couple of weeks, but it is necessary.
- Once you get your calories, you have two ways to go:
- reduce your menu’s daily calorie by 500, with the online calculator
- get a deficit half from calories (therefore 250 less) and the half from activities: add daily activities that allow you to burn 250 calories a day (for example walking an hour very fast pitch), and cut only 250 calories a day your menu.
Now you have all the tools to lose weight according to the CICO diet system. With these tips, you can easily follow a 30 days diet menu with standard meals in order to get visible results and avoid continuously tracking your macros.
CICO diet recipes
This is the ideal protein diet recipe with fruit and only 435 calories, of that just 0.3 g fat
Ingredients for 8 people: 2 peaches – 500 g of blackberries – 500 g raspberries – 1 lemon – 2 scoops of protein powder – mint leaves to taste – 1 glass of sparkling water.
- Preparation of the recipe:
- wash the fruit and centrifuge it.
- Add lemon juice and a glass of sparkling water with the protein already mixed in.
- Garnish the glass with some mint leaves.
- The centrifuge can be done with fruit or vegetables.
CICO diet pros and cons LIMITS OF THE CICO DIET
- The Cico diet is based simply on the system of a caloric deficit to lose weight. It does not consider the breakdown of macronutrients, ie it tells us nothing about how much protein, how much fats and how much carbohydrates to eat. Nor does it consider the nutritional value of foods: you can also eat cupcakes or pizza, the important thing is not to overflow the daily calories (source). This is obviously a problem if we do not want to incur nutritional deficiencies and above all does not take into account the specific nutritional needs of each of us.
- Considering only the calories can be a fallacious system to lose weight, because it does not take into account some factors but reduces the human metabolism to an equation: so eat more and get fat, eat less and lose weight. In reality, everything depends on the individual starting conditions. If we have never had a diet in our life, the CICO diet system will work great, this is not a military diet substitution, so you have the possibility of eating all you want, just by staying in the macro count. If we have already stressed our metabolism with so many previous diets, we most likely should first learn how to improve our metabolism by eating right, and trying to cover our macro and micronutrient needs, because otherwise, the game of calories becomes lethal. We will end up eating less and less to stay fit.
- The caloric deficit makes us lose weight, but do not lose force or fat: no, if you cut the calories you lose muscles, especially if we choose the ELEL formula, or we are sedentary and eat a little to stay in line.
In short: it is right to pay attention to calories if you want to lose weight.
But it is not the only item we can consider if we want to get rid of fat and stay healthy. In that case, it is always better to eat healthily and find the time to let the muscles work a little!