What Is the CICO Vitamin? (Counting Energy for Weight Loss)


Yeah, it can be confusing when you don't understand CICO.

It’s time to be told about The CICO (“energy in, energy out”) Vitamin!

When you’ve got questions like

Steve, does CICO paintings? 

Will counting energy assist me drop pounds?

Ok, what the hell IS a calorie?

Smartly my good friend, you’ve arrived on the proper position!

I’ve been writing about these things for 13 years, and our staff of nerdy mavens assist our On-line Training shoppers with all varieties of diets (together with CICO). We’re in point of fact flippin’ just right at it!

Right here’s what we’ll quilt to respond to the query: “What’s CICO?”

It’s time to get began!

What Is the CICO Vitamin plan?

I guess this is kind of CICO, in a way

“CICO” stands for “Energy In, Energy Out.”

The CICO Vitamin is a weight-loss technique the place the player tries to tip the steadiness of what they consume (energy in) towards what they burn (energy out).

That’s just about it.

It doesn’t in point of fact subject what meals you consume, as a result of there are not any restrictions on any particular meals teams with CICO. 

It additionally doesn’t subject what workout you do (if any).

So long as you get the equation proper, and the energy you consume are not up to the energy you burn each day, you’re just right to head.

Naturally, Barney would like CICO, because it doesn't forbid beer.

The CICO Vitamin is in point of fact easy and has helped somewhat a couple of other people drop pounds

That is most likely why the CICO Vitamin has grown in recognition within the subreddit r/loseit

Is Shedding Weight In point of fact About Energy?

One way to lose weight is to be eaten, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Sure. Reducing weight in truth does come all the way down to burning extra energy than you eat.

It’s about as on the subject of truth as we will be able to get in diet science.[1]

As we deal with in our information The right way to Lose Weight (The 5 Laws of Weight Loss), our our bodies obey the Rules of Conservation of Power and Thermodynamics: 

To drop pounds, we wish to burn extra energy than we eat incessantly. 

With this information, it is sensible to design a vitamin particularly round this theory: fit the energy you consume (in), with the energy you burn up (out).

No different meals laws wish to observe:

So long as you meet your calorie function, you’ll omit in regards to the laws of any particular vitamin.

I can see why CICO might appeal to the Joker...

This appeals to me in my opinion, as a result of I’ve created my very own pointers for easy methods to consume, and I don’t pledge allegiance to any explicit weight loss program technique.

As a result of I’m a mind-reader, I do know your subsequent query is most likely…

Does Calorie Counting Paintings? (CICO and Weight Loss)

You can totally eat Dim Sum on CICO!

In theory, CICO works.

In follow, it turns into a bit extra difficult. 

Ok, high-quality, A LOT extra difficult.

That’s as a result of numerous issues affect “energy in.” 

Ditto for “energy out.”

Let’s damage a few of this down.

Listed below are one of the crucial issues that affect “Energy In:”

Oh, and all the above assumes we’re in truth monitoring energy correctly. Which just about no one does. Ever. However I’ll get to that in a while. 

And have in mind, that is best part of the equation.

I'll be honest, I don't really know what's going on here...

Listed below are one of the crucial issues that affect “Energy Out:”

  • Power burned whilst resting: your Basal Metabolic Fee is a rely of what number of energy you burn at leisure and shall be managed via your age, weight, peak, organic intercourse, muscle composition, and many others. 
  • Power burned via Non-Workout Process Thermogenesis (NEAT): do you fidget so much? That will increase your NEAT, or the power you burn doing stuff rather then exercising. Suppose tapping your toes, twirling your hair, the usage of your fingers when talking, and many others. Even simply an hour of this type of motion can gather an additional 300 energy burned.[6]
  • Workout: after all, how a lot you deliberately workout will affect your energy out, despite the fact that most likely no longer up to most of the people assume (extra in this later).

That is best scratching the outside on what determines “energy in, energy out.”[7]

The essential factor to believe here’s that not one of the above invalidate the fundamental premise of an power deficit being vital for weight reduction. 

Those elements will simply affect one finish of the equation or the opposite. 

As an example, let’s chat about protein and CICO:

  • Consuming quite a lot of protein has been proven to assist stay other people feeling complete and satiated.[8] So a lot of protein can assist other people drop pounds, no longer as it adjustments the necessities for weight reduction, however as a result of it will let them get during the day much less hungry (reducing their “energy in.”)
  • Good enough nutritional protein can assist with constructing and keeping up muscle.[9] The extra muscle any individual has, the extra energy they’ll wish to care for it (elevating their “energy out.”)[10]

Learn our information “How a lot protein must I consume?” for extra in this topic.

To recap this segment: from a organic viewpoint, consuming fewer energy than you burn is 100% vital for weight reduction. 

However all forms of issues affect the choice of energy we consume and the choice of energy we burn up. 

That is going to steer us to…

The Downside With CICO (People Are Unhealthy Estimators)

Yeah, humans (or LEGOs) aren't good at estimating calories.

The vast majority of the issues other people have with CICO is that it permits nutrient-deficient meals to go into the vitamin, best proscribing “how a lot.”

They’ll argue that individuals must be consuming vegatables and fruits, lean protein, fending off processed meals, and blah blah blah… 

Everyone knows this. 

You don’t want any individual else telling you to consume your veggies.

Eating veggies for health is a no-brainer.

This isn’t the issue with CICO. 

The issue with CICO is it’s in point of fact laborious to estimate “energy in” and “energy out.”

Like, REALLY laborious. We people are TERRIBLE at it. 

Take “energy in” or how a lot we consume: other people most often UNDERestimate what number of energy they eat via about 30-40%.[11] Even dieticians, who’re particularly educated in diet science, underestimated how a lot they consume.[12]

Millhouse is probably just realizing the issue with CICO

“That can be true Steve, however don’t concern about me. I learn the label on the entirety I purchase so I do know precisely what number of energy I’m consuming.”

Smartly, do you know that the FDA permits a 20% leeway on overall energy known on applications?[13] That means that 100 calorie drink of Orange Juice would possibly in truth be 120?

Should you’re a meals producer, which method are you going to lean against? Particularly while you know other people would possibly scrutinize the energy of your diet label to be able to drop pounds.

This isn’t simply paranoia: this learn about discovered that packaged snack meals most often accommodates MORE energy in it than marketed.[14]

Yeah…and have in mind, that is best part of the equation. 

It’s about to get even worse.

Persons are additionally in point of fact unhealthy at estimating “energy out.” 

When other people self-assess what number of energy they burned via exercising, they’re most often WAY OFF, via up to 50%![15]

Oh, and the ones health trackers we put on?

Our Fitbit trackers can help us with analyzing trends and getting in more steps.

They’ve been proven to be faulty, some via as much as 90%![16]

That’s why we made this infographic on monitoring “energy out”:

This infographic shows calorie discrepancies from fitness trackers compared to actual calories burned.

That is the principle drawback with CICO: we’re caught with trained guesses for “energy in” and “energy out.”

So we underestimate the energy we consume via 40%. After which we overestimate what number of energy we burn via 50%.

No WONDER we expect our metabolism is damaged if we will be able to’t drop pounds!

In fact we’re unknowingly consuming an excessive amount of, and/or transferring too little.


Heck, even what number of energy you wish to have an afternoon (your baseline or Overall Day-to-day Power Expenditure) is an estimate, one thing we recognize in our calorie calculator, which you’ll play with proper right here:



In abstract: balancing “energy in towards energy out” is in point of fact all somewhat messy while you get proper all the way down to it.

Does that make all this hopeless?

Now not even remotely.

Nevertheless it does give us some context in the event you can’t appear to drop pounds.

Pointers for Sustainable Weight Loss (Subsequent Steps)

A plate that that contains a portion of protein, healthy carb, veggies/fruit, and unsweetened drink.

This put up isn’t made to dissuade you from attempting The CICO Vitamin.

I in truth inspire everybody to trace their meals and energy for one week, as it’s frequently an eye-opening enjoy on how a lot they’re actually consuming.

If imaginable, take a couple of days and use an inexpensive meals scale as an alternative of simply eyeballing it. You’ll be surprised about the true portion sizes of a few meals!

With regards to sustainable weight reduction, right here at Nerd Health, we inspire two paths:

  • Make small tiny adjustments against “actual meals” (just like the Nerd Health Wholesome Plate above).
  • Make small tiny adjustments against a energy coaching follow.

Either one of those methods can dramatically – and certainly – affect “energy in” and “energy out” respectively.  

In our Information to Wholesome Consuming, we provide an explanation for why each and every website online tells you to consume greens (which we additionally let you know): greens are filled with vitamins, include loads of fiber to stay you complete, and are most often low in energy.

These image shows some real food, critical if you're trying to lose body fat.

Consuming loads of greens, or “actual meals,” will let you naturally decrease “energy in.”

How about any other instance to consider? Listed below are 200 energy of a blueberry muffin:

Yeah, you don't even get the whole muffin.

Examine it to 200 energy of broccoli (Because of wiseGEEK):

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

Which one do you assume you’re more likely to by chance overeat on your calorie allotment?


For our different technique, the Power Coaching 101 collection explains why rising robust is essential for fats loss: 

Construction muscle takes numerous energy (and so does keeping up it).

In different phrases, a more potent model of your self would require extra energy.

Miss Piggy pulling bars apart in jail.

And can have the ability to get away from prison more uncomplicated. 

This will likely naturally elevate your “energy out.”

The trick with all of it is the “make small tiny adjustments” bit.

We’ve observed again and again that small steps (consuming one new vegetable per week, a easy body weight exercise) create momentum. Through the years, those small adjustments are the keys to completely getting wholesome.

All the Nerd Health Training program is in line with this premise.

So what must you do now? Pick out a small trade and get going!

Listed below are some choices for a wholesome new behavior:

Crucial factor you’ll do now: get started!

If you wanna win a race, you need to start it!

The precise “small tiny trade” doesn’t subject such a lot, simply select one you’re feeling happy with and get going! As soon as that behavior turns into sustainable, select a brand new one! And so forth and so forth…

We’ve observed it time and time once more right here that that is the true trail against luck.


Nonetheless right here? Need some extra steerage? An actual plan to apply on the place to head subsequent?

Alright, you were given it, however best since you’ve been great this complete time.

Right here’s how Nerd Health can assist:

#1) Our 1-on-1 On-line Training Program: a training program for busy other people to assist them make higher meals possible choices, keep responsible, and get more healthy, completely.

You’ll be able to agenda a loose name with our staff so we will be able to get to understand you and spot if our training program is best for you. Simply click on at the symbol underneath for extra main points:

Your NF Coach can help you lose weight and get healthy!

#2) If you wish to have a roadmap for buying in form, take a look at NF Adventure. Our amusing habit-building app will let you workout and consume higher, all when you construct your very personal superhero.


Take a look at your loose trial proper right here:

#3) Sign up for The Riot! We have now a loose e-mail publication that we ship out two times a week, filled with pointers and methods that will help you get wholesome, get robust, and feature amusing doing so. 

I’ll additionally ship you lots of loose guides that you’ll use to start out leveling up your existence too:

Alright, I feel that about does it for this newsletter.

Now, your flip:

What are your ideas on The CICO Vitamin?

Do you have got a technique for balancing “energy in” and “energy out”?

Suppose I’ve were given all of it utterly flawed? 

Let me know within the feedback!


PS: Be sure you learn the remainder of our content material on sustainable weight reduction:


GIF Supply: Millhouse, Barney Thumbs Up, Joker, A Gorgeous Thoughts, Leo “duh,”

Photograph Supply: A Wonder Efficiency Appraisal, Towards the Present, There may be at all times a larger fish, Dim Sum Trike, miam miam



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