If you were looking for ways to keep your weight intact, you must have come across the idea of the CICO diet. This is quite an interesting diet as it allows to have optimal amounts of food and without even gaining any weight.
This diet is only favorable to a certain extent. You will be successful trying the CICO diet, only when you know the relationship between foods and their associated nutrients with our body.
What is the CICO diet?
The CICO diet plan stands for calorie in calorie out. The idea or motive of this diet plan to maintain one’s stable weight. Here, the number of calories you eat should be equal to the number of calories you spend.
By “calorie in”, is referred to as the number of calories one achieves after eating a meal. By “calorie out”, it is referred to the number of calories one burns while doing daily chores and most importantly workouts.
The three main ways in which our body processes the calories are:
- Basic metabolism
Our body uses most of the calories that we get from eating food, to carry on with basic body functions. To name one and most importantly, our heartbeat. This phase is medically referred to as our basal metabolic rate (BMR).
When we take in calories through food, we also need the energy to break that food. The energy is provided by calories. About 10 to 15 percent of the calories in-take is used as fuel by the body to digest food. This power is known as the thermic effect of food or TEF. This varies on the type of food one has eaten.
- Physical activity
After the body has burned the calories for doing basic functioning, the leftover calories are used by the body for doing physical activities. Even simple activities such as reading, brushing or even walking. So, now you know why food is considered to be the human’s fuel.
So, when the calories we gather from food match the calories we spend on doing the physical activities, digesting food, and basic metabolism, our weight remains stable.
Thus, the idea of “calories in calories out” holds true. To lose weight, one needs to stay on a calorie deficit.
How does CICO affect our health?
CICO will indeed help you maintain a stable weight. But not all the calories are treated in the same way when it comes to health. This is because all our bodies are different, so it reacts to different food in various manners.
1. Hormones and our health
How we achieve calories has different effects on our health and our hormones.
Let’s expel glucose and fructose. Both simple sugars have different effects on our hormones. These both also provide the same number of calories per gram. But, how our body processes it is completely different.
When the food you eat is high in fructose, it is linked to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases the blood sugar levels, thus resulting in raising amounts of triglycerides and the bad cholesterol “LDL”. The same would not happen if you take a diet rich in glucose, though both glucose and fructose are of the same calories.
Moreover, fruits comprise natural fructose in addition to fiber and water. Here, fructose will not have any bad effects on the body.
The type of fat that is present in your meals may have a different influence on the levels of the reproductive hormones. For example, foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fats will help in increasing fertility in healthy women.
Moreover, when you replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, your meals will benefit you with a lower risk of heart disease. Even though both types of fats carry the same number of calories.
2. The type of food will affect your appetite
The nutrients that provide the meals you eat affect your feeling of fullness and your hunger.
For example, when you eat a serving of rice that is 100 calories, it will reduce your hunger and give you a feeling of fullness. When you eat 100 calories of a chocolate bar, it would not have the same impact.
The reason behind this is that when foods are rich in fiber or protein, they are more filling than the foods which have lower nutrients in them.
The chocolate bar is low in fiber as well as proteins, which won’t give you a feeling of fullness. This will result in overeating. Thus, violating the idea of the CICO diet.
In addition to the above example, the simple sugar, fructose, will also increase the level of hunger hormones ghrelin, as compared to glucose. Fructose would not be stimulating the full centers of the brain in comparison to glucose. So, you will end up feeling less full and satisfied after having food rich in fructose.
This is also the reason why processed food is regarded as an empty nutrient, as it is filled with fructose. Processed foods fail to provide us with necessary nutrients as they are low on protein and fiber.
3. Different foods have a different effect on the metabolism
The source of calories affects our metabolism in various manners. For example, some foods require more time and energy to get digested, observed and metabolized as compared to others.
The time required by foods to get processed completely is known as the thermic effect of food or TEF.
When the TEF is high, more energy is required by the food to get mobilized. Fat has the lowest amount of TEF while protein has the highest. So, now you know why weight loss requires a lot of protein.
Protein also boosts metabolism as compared to carbs or fats.
The bottom line
So, to make the CICO diet work successfully, you need to have an ample amount of knowledge regarding the nutrients each food delivers. As only calories do not matter, nutrients matter too. So, the key is to go for foods that are rich in minerals, vitamins, and other essential nutrients and low in calories.