Trying to lose weight? Most people will tell you it’s as simple as calories in = calories out.
But as much as we’d all (me included) like to think that 100 calories of ice cream is equivalent to 100 calories of vegetables, it’s just not when it comes to nutrition.
To help you shift your mindset, here’s why I think the CICO diet won’t work when it comes to long term weight loss.
When you’re trying to lose weight, your energy intake is crucial – I’m not trying to dispute that by any means. Obviously, you want your energy expenditure to exceed your energy intake, which means you’ll have an energy deficit and lose weight. Duh.
One of my main gripes with the CICO model, however, is that it makes you believe that as long as it fits the equation, you can have as much cake, soft drink and deep fried chicken as you want, and you can still be ‘healthy’.
But *news flash* these foods are far from ‘healthy’and aren’t good for you in the long term when they’re consumed in excess.
In my opinion, the CICO diet is just another silly fad that over simplifies the very complex arena of weight loss.
FYI: weight loss is far more than just a maths equation.This type of approach isn’t sustainable in the long term (seriously, who can be bothered to count calories every single day?!) and it can get you caught up in the never-ending dieting cycle where you end up feeling deprived, eventually give in, then feel bad about yourself and promise to start again next Monday morning, but never really get anywhere.
The best approach
Rather than get caught up in every minuscule calorie, my advice is to simply focus on portion size instead.
Don’t dive into a mountain of spaghetti, aim for just one cup of cooked pasta. Skip smashing a whole avocado on your toast for breakfast and portion out a quarter. Don’t pretend you’re Jamie Oliver and glug olive oil all over your meals, cap it at just one tablespoon. Got it?
If you want to be the healthiest version of yourself, what’s truly important is that you look at the nutrient density of your diet. That means focusing on super nutritious foods that are going to give your body sustained energy, keep you feeling satisfied and provide all of the micronutrients your body needs to function properly.
In case you’re wondering what that looks like, it’s a diet filled with fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, lean protein and reduced-fat dairy.
This way of eating has been associated with a raft of health benefits, which you’re likely to miss out on with a CICO mindset.
Focusing on these core foods will naturally crowd out all of those calorie-rich ‘treat’ foods anyway, and hey presto,you’ll lose weight without feeling deprived.
You’ll also feel like a million bucks because you’re giving your body all of the nutritious food it deserves, rather than filling it chock full of chocolate cake just because it fits within a certain calorie budget.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can follow her @honest_nutrition.