This Popular Diet Won’t Actually Help You Lose Weight After All

There’s a new popular diet circulating online — and on the surface, it probably sounds too good to be true. CICO promotes an easy, calorie-focused method for eating less, moving more, and finally getting the results on your scale you’ve always wanted. What is the CICO diet — and will it actually help you lose weight?

What does CICO mean?

Calorie counter application on smartphone

Are you an avid calorie counter? | iStock.com/DragonImages

CICO stands for “calories in, calories out.” The CICO diet is based on the idea that if you eat fewer calories per day than you burn, you will automatically lose weight.

Many question whether or not this concept actually works. After all, isn’t eating healthier food more important than eating less? CICO encourages dieters to make sure they’re putting in less than they’re putting out. Some pair this concept with modifying their diets to match a healthier lifestyle. Many don’t.

What can you eat on the CICO diet?

calorie tot in food that on white plate

It’s not about the food you eat, it’s about the calories. | iStock.com/ssuaphoto

You can technically eat anything you want on the CICO diet — one of the reasons so many people likely jump at the chance to try it. On this popular diet, it’s the number of calories that matter, not the specific foods you’re putting on your plate.

To lose weight, you do want to burn more calories than you consume. Many people turn to exercise to create a calorie deficit and promote weight loss — but does that matter?

Is exercise required?

Girl tying a shoelace before workout

Make sure your workout counts. | iStock.com/funduck

To avoid significantly decreasing the amount of calories you eat per day — which can be dangerous — exercise can help you burn calories and lose weight over time.

However, exercise alone probably won’t help you reach your weight loss goals. Many people engage in activities that don’t burn enough calories to effectively burn fat. If exercise is your first step to living healthier, that’s great. It just might not be enough.

Which is more important for weight loss — food or fitness?

Paleo diet products on wooden table

Having a good diet is extremely important to achieving your fitness goals. | iStock.com/Magone

If you were to start trying to lose weight tomorrow, what would you do first? Would you choose a healthier breakfast, or head out for a jog for the first time in six months? Which matters more? Exercise is important. Your food might be your ultimate key to success, though.

No matter how much you exercise, what you eat matters — as well as how much. The problem is, we’re terrible at estimating — and reporting — both how much we’re eating and exercising. For many people, diets don’t work because they end up eating more by trying to eat healthier. In this way, counting calories sometimes helps — but not always.

This weight loss method just doesn’t work for everyone

Healthy diet and exercise help prevent cancer

It absolutely does matter where your calories come from. | Getty Images

Eating 300 calories’ worth of chocolate and 300 calories’ worth of fruit doesn’t provide the same nutrition, even though the calorie amounts are the same. It’s a myth that it doesn’t matter where your calories come from. If you fill your body with junk, your weight will become the least of your ailments.

Counting calories does sometimes make some people more aware of how much or how little they are eating. But it’s not a healthy way to lose weight, or keep weight off long-term.

You can’t take the easy way out

Woman on gluten free diet

Not eating right will cause you to gain back the weight you lost. | lolostock

People lose their minds over these diet trends because they promote fast, easy weight loss requiring minimal effort. Don’t we all wish this were actually how weight loss worked?

To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. That’s a no-brainer. However, to maintain a healthy weight, you have to maintain a healthy diet. Even if you do lose weight by eating less, not better, what happens when you stop losing weight? If you don’t know how to eat right, you’ll likely gain back the weight you lost.

How to actually lose weight fast

Man eating a very small meal

Starving yourself is not the answer. | iStock.com

Can you eat healthy, without counting calories, and still lose weight fast? It’s possible — as long as you don’t take things too far.

Successful weight loss requires small, gradual changes to your everyday life. It’s a combination of many factors, including learning how to move more throughout your day, make healthier food choices both at home and on the go, and putting fewer harmful foods into your system. There’s no one food, exercise, or diet that does the trick for everyone. You have to figure out the methods that work best for you.

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