Article by the Drummond Team

CICO – “Calories in-calories out” 

When it comes to changing our weight and body shapes, this whole “calories-in vs calories-out” topic is really controversial. Why is this? Some people think it’s the ONLY way to lose weight. Others may disagree and say its too easy and the information around it is foolish. The following article discusses both sides and looks at the advantages and disadvantages.

What exactly is CICO? Basically, its:

  • When you take in more energy than you burn, you gain weight.
  • When you take in less energy than you burn, you lose weight.

This is a fundamental concept in body weight regulation, and about as close to scientific fact as possible.

So, why is CICO so controversial?

Well, it’s all about the extremes. One group believes CICO is straightforward. If you aren’t losing weight, the reason is  because you’re just eating too many calories, or not physically active enough, or both. So,  eat less and move more!

On the other side, there’s a group of people who believe CICO is a fallacy. Skeptics of CICO claim it doesn’t account for hormone imbalances, insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and other health problems that affect metabolism. They believe some diets and foods provide a “metabolic advantage,” helping you lose weight without worrying about CICO.

The answer? – its neither right – nor wrong! Confused? Read on….

Whether you’re a health and fitness professional who helps clients manage their weight, or trying to maintain your own weight, adopting an extreme position on this topic is problematic; it prevents you from seeing the bigger picture.

Rethinking common misconceptions:

Much of the CICO debate—as with many other debates—stems from misconceptions, oversimplifications, and a failure (by both sides) to find a shared understanding of concepts. So let’s start by getting everyone on the same page for a change.

CICO goes beyond food and exercise.

There’s an important distinction to be made between CICO and “eat less, move more.” But people, especially some CICO advocates, tend to confuse the two.

“Eat less, move more” only takes into account the calories you eat and the calories you burn through exercise and other daily movement. But CICO is really an informal way of expressing the Energy Balance Equation, which is more  involved.

The Energy Balance Equation—and therefore CICO—includes all the complex inner workings of the body, as well as the external factors that ultimately impact “calories in” and “calories out.”

Imperative to this, and often overlooked, is your brain. It’s constantly monitoring and controlling CICO. Think of it as mission control, sending and receiving messages that involve your gut, hormones, organs, muscles, bones, fat cells, external stimuli (and more), to help balance “energy in” and “energy out.”

In summary

It’s best to remain flexible in your thinking. By  experimenting with a variety of ways to influence CICO, you will find your own strategy for maintaining  energy balance for you and your clients.

Source: Precision

Are you interested in Instructing Nutrition Training? Have a look at our courses here