Why The CICO Diet Is Not The Healthiest Weight Loss Method

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Another day, another diet plan telling people (read: women) how to lose weight in the quest for the “perfect body”.

The latest concept hitting headlines is the CICO plan, which stands for “calories in, calories out”.

The plan, which has dominated Reddit threads in recent weeks, is based on the idea that you can eat whatever you want, as long as you exercise off more calories than you have consumed. 

But according to Aisling Pigott, a spokesperson from the British Dietetic Association, counting calories is not the best way to achieve a healthy body, or a health mind.

“Calorie awareness is absolutely important when it comes to healthy eating. But food is so much more than numbers,” she tells HuffPost UK.

“Food is our body’s fuel, it’s part of how we socialise, how we enjoy food and to simplify it to numbers alone is not helpful.” 

According to Pigott, focussing on calories alone when trying to lose weight can have a “potentially negative impact on our health”, especially if we exercise without proper fuelling. 

“For example, if you restrict your diet to 1500kcal, do a 500kcal workout, then re-fuel with only carrot sticks, you will achieve the ‘negative energy balance’,” she explains.

“Your body will not make any adaptations to the exercise you’ve just completed, such as getting stronger, fitter or reap the metabolic rewards of exercise.” 

Nutrition consultant Charlotte Stirling-Reed adds that just because a food is high in calories it does not mean it is unhealthy, and vice versa.

“Foods are more than just their calories and some nutrient rich foods such as nuts and avocados are actually full of nutrients that we would encourage people to include in their diets,” she tells HuffPost UK. 

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