What Is CICO Diet Plan? (Calories In, Calories Out)

In part one of our “What is …” series we take a look at the CICO Diet Plan.

What Is the CICO Diet Plan?

Simply put, CICO means Calories in, Calories out. It is not a diet plan per se, it’s more of a lifestyle based on the energy balance equation. To paraphrase the equation, the CICO philosophy can be described as follows:

  • If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight
  • If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight

As you can see, the CICO Diet Plan simply focuses on the calories in, calories out, and not much else. Which is why it’s incredibly important that you pair the philosophy with an easy diet plan that will ensure you get all the macronutrients and micronutrients you need to be healthy.

Does the CICO Diet Plan Work?

The CICO Diet Plan definitely works for weight loss. After all, it’s simple math: if you consume fewer calories than you burn, your body will make up the difference by burning a combination of stored fat and muscle.

That said, our goal isn’t simply to lose weight; we want to lose weight by getting rid of excess body fat, while retaining the lean muscle. I highly recommend reading up on the difference between body weight and body fat to understand this topic a little better.

How To Follow CICO Diet Plan

Following a CICO Diet Plan is easy. In fact, the easy diet plan on this website is a CICO Diet Plan. Just read steps 2 and 3 in the previous link and see for yourself.

First you need to calculate how many calories you burn in a given day, and then make sure you consume fewer than calories than that number. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to create a calorie deficit by eating less, you can continue to eat the same amount but burn more calories through exercise.

You pair a CICO Diet Plan with any of the diets we’ve covered in our how-to guides:

The key is to have a negative calorie balance at the end of the day.

CICO Diet Plan Risks And Considerations

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the CICO Diet Plan focuses on calories, whereas you should be focusing on calories and nutrition. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, but all the calories you eat are from junk food, you will lose weight (from fat and from lean muscle) but you’ll still end up in poor health.

A CICO Diet Plan is absolutely fine to follow as long as you get all your essential macronutrients and micronutrients.