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Anyone else frustrated with the CICO mantra?

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  • MargaretYakodaMargaretYakoda Member, Premium Posts: 1,573 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,573 Member
    Yes, I also get frustrated with it. I get additionally frustrated with other people getting intensely pushy about it the moment you even remotely say there is something wrong with the dogmatic approach it has. I live with a scientist and she has many of the similar complaints that you have. She was also remarkably doubtful of my own methods when a few years ago I determined that CICO wasn't enough for me. I actually did more research on it than she did and I had to do a whole lot of my own homework and tests on my own body until I found something that actually did work for me. She later came to accept that I was right about my approach.

    So as far as frustration goes, there is a personal frustration for both myself in that it didn't work for me. Additionally, when it didn't work, most people insisted that I was either doing it wrong or were adamant that I was lying about what I was writing down in my logs. The CICO community can be very supportive, but in this regard, remarkably toxic when it comes to people who have trouble with it. The latter frustration is on behalf of others. The frustration on behalf of others is compounded by other abusive perspectives on weight, such as hearing endless stories about women doing all that they could to get a diagnosis for their health problems and only being told that they should lose weight.

    Scientifically speaking, weight loss approaches are pretty witchdoctor-y at this stage as it's actually not entirely well understood why we gain or lose weight, especially when it comes to differences between men, women, transgender folk and other genders who take HRT and have changes in their metabolism and chemical make-up. The latter two especially have next to no understanding, if any.

    As far as treatment goes in medicine, most illnesses are diagnosed and prescribed a specific solution. When it comes to weight, it has one universal solution that is supposed to work for everybody and because of this, those who fall through the average do not get the proper help that they need. It does not make sense to me to think that one single solution is universal to all people. That is almost never the case for other health problems.

    There is a graph posted in this thread that is a drastic oversimplification about the mathematics involved. Unfortunately, this simplistic outlook on the issue is only applicable to bodies which have healthy metabolisms to which counting calories is all that they need and ignores those who have other considerations to take in about their personal health queries. It also ignores aspects such as nutritional depletion in crops which have developed in places like the US over the decades, and this factors into malnutrition.

    Calories are not nutrition. While there is a correlation between calorie-dense foods and low nutrition vs. calorie-depleted and higher nutrition and it's understandable to make note of fast foods in this instance, the point stands that conventional food has far less nutrition than it used to and this in itself causes malnutrition of a different kind than simply depending on fast food. If you are malnourished on a "healthy" diet, you're still going to feel inclined to eat more than what you probably need to. From the perspective of calories, there is only eating too much or too little in order to lose or gain weight and nutrition doesn't factor in. Nutrition should factor into food sciences when it comes to weight loss. To further back this up, let's consider the glycemic index. If you eat 2,000 calories of just table sugar, it isn't going to work. To think that only calories matter is drastically oversimplified. Our digestive system is not simply a black box that only observes inputs and outputs. Nutrients matter.

    I can come up with more ways to talk about why calories are not the pinnacle of weight loss solutions.

    Another point is how calories are measured. There are two ways. One is through a bomb calorimeter where they seal the food into a container, lower it into a pool of water, and then burn it and measure how long it takes to finish burning. The other method is a calculation by man named Atwater from the 19th century. While these methods provide us some insight into calories and how much energy food has, they are old and do not factor in other aspects of digestion. You can read more about it here: https://www.livescience.com/62808-how-calories-are-calculated.html

    In the US and other countries, companies are required to label their products with nutritional facts as I am sure you are aware of. However, companies know that lower calorie labels sell better than higher ones, and as a result they bend their numbers in what ways they can. As a result of the above paragraph and this, calories are actually remarkably imprecise. But imprecise as they are, they are capable of giving us some guidance. However, the complaint that it is overdogmatized is legitimate.

    On a personal note, I found other kinds of adjustment to my food intake which helped me in the past without needing to count calories, or calories were supplemented alongside what I did and they were far better than counting calories all by themselves. I had paths in life where I did not need to count calories at all because I adjusted my food accordingly to the guidelines of other techniques. The reason I am back to journaling was actually to start making sure I was eating enough, and balanced, rather than to restrict myself. I accept that the numbers that I have are imprecise, but put me somewhere near the ballpark of where I need to be, and that is what helps me for the time being until something better comes along.

    Thank you for reading, I know this was a long post.

    edited for clarification.

    Thank you.
    And now, here comes nine or ten more disagree reacts on my profile just to prove the point.
  • MsCzarMsCzar Member Posts: 567 Member Member Posts: 567 Member


    That often is the problem and people generally try to say so politely,, 'smug' seems in the perception to me.

    You are right. I should have said 'presumptuous.' Sometimes people really do underestimate their calories, but it never sits well with me when someone automatically makes that pronouncement.

  • EyeOTSEyeOTS Member Posts: 283 Member Member Posts: 283 Member
    Yes, I also get frustrated with it. I get additionally frustrated with other people getting intensely pushy about it the moment you even remotely say there is something wrong with the dogmatic approach it has. I live with a scientist and she has many of the similar complaints that you have. She was also remarkably doubtful of my own methods when a few years ago I determined that CICO wasn't enough for me. I actually did more research on it than she did and I had to do a whole lot of my own homework and tests on my own body until I found something that actually did work for me. She later came to accept that I was right about my approach.

    So as far as frustration goes, there is a personal frustration for both myself in that it didn't work for me. Additionally, when it didn't work, most people insisted that I was either doing it wrong or were adamant that I was lying about what I was writing down in my logs. The CICO community can be very supportive, but in this regard, remarkably toxic when it comes to people who have trouble with it. The latter frustration is on behalf of others. The frustration on behalf of others is compounded by other abusive perspectives on weight, such as hearing endless stories about women doing all that they could to get a diagnosis for their health problems and only being told that they should lose weight.

    Scientifically speaking, weight loss approaches are pretty witchdoctor-y at this stage as it's actually not entirely well understood why we gain or lose weight, especially when it comes to differences between men, women, transgender folk and other genders who take HRT and have changes in their metabolism and chemical make-up. The latter two especially have next to no understanding, if any.

    As far as treatment goes in medicine, most illnesses are diagnosed and prescribed a specific solution. When it comes to weight, it has one universal solution that is supposed to work for everybody and because of this, those who fall through the average do not get the proper help that they need. It does not make sense to me to think that one single solution is universal to all people. That is almost never the case for other health problems.

    There is a graph posted in this thread that is a drastic oversimplification about the mathematics involved. Unfortunately, this simplistic outlook on the issue is only applicable to bodies which have healthy metabolisms to which counting calories is all that they need and ignores those who have other considerations to take in about their personal health queries. It also ignores aspects such as nutritional depletion in crops which have developed in places like the US over the decades, and this factors into malnutrition.

    Calories are not nutrition. While there is a correlation between calorie-dense foods and low nutrition vs. calorie-depleted and higher nutrition and it's understandable to make note of fast foods in this instance, the point stands that conventional food has far less nutrition than it used to and this in itself causes malnutrition of a different kind than simply depending on fast food. If you are malnourished on a "healthy" diet, you're still going to feel inclined to eat more than what you probably need to. From the perspective of calories, there is only eating too much or too little in order to lose or gain weight and nutrition doesn't factor in. Nutrition should factor into food sciences when it comes to weight loss. To further back this up, let's consider the glycemic index. If you eat 2,000 calories of just table sugar, it isn't going to work. To think that only calories matter is drastically oversimplified. Our digestive system is not simply a black box that only observes inputs and outputs. Nutrients matter.

    I can come up with more ways to talk about why calories are not the pinnacle of weight loss solutions.

    Another point is how calories are measured. There are two ways. One is through a bomb calorimeter where they seal the food into a container, lower it into a pool of water, and then burn it and measure how long it takes to finish burning. The other method is a calculation by man named Atwater from the 19th century. While these methods provide us some insight into calories and how much energy food has, they are old and do not factor in other aspects of digestion. You can read more about it here: https://www.livescience.com/62808-how-calories-are-calculated.html

    In the US and other countries, companies are required to label their products with nutritional facts as I am sure you are aware of. However, companies know that lower calorie labels sell better than higher ones, and as a result they bend their numbers in what ways they can. As a result of the above paragraph and this, calories are actually remarkably imprecise. But imprecise as they are, they are capable of giving us some guidance. However, the complaint that it is overdogmatized is legitimate.

    On a personal note, I found other kinds of adjustment to my food intake which helped me in the past without needing to count calories, or calories were supplemented alongside what I did and they were far better than counting calories all by themselves. I had paths in life where I did not need to count calories at all because I adjusted my food accordingly to the guidelines of other techniques. The reason I am back to journaling was actually to start making sure I was eating enough, and balanced, rather than to restrict myself. I accept that the numbers that I have are imprecise, but put me somewhere near the ballpark of where I need to be, and that is what helps me for the time being until something better comes along.

    Thank you for reading, I know this was a long post.

    edited for clarification.

    There are absolutely some parts of diet culture that frustrate me, I just don't prescribe them specifically to CICO. And to an extent I think you should 'meet people where they are at' if you want to be supportive. Calories aren't literally the only thing that matters, but if you have to focus on one thing: that's what I focus on.

    I absoutely do think some doctors will blame weight without investigating. I feel like that part has gotten better over the last decades, or maybe I just found the right doctor.
  • MerryFit519MerryFit519 Member, Premium Posts: 43 Member Member, Premium Posts: 43 Member
    I believe which calories you feed yourself matter. (macros, keto, high-protein, low-fat..whichever fits your needs) I also believe "when" you feed matters. (yep, I'm an IF advocate) Studies show groups simply counting calories lose less than those who follow IF eating the same calories (metabolism differences) *Not sure I'm allowed to link to the studies? will do if I can.... but at the end of the day yep, cico, kinda. (but I'd rather eat 1500 calories and lose 2 pounds a week, than eat the same amount and lose 1 pound. the food I eat and when I eat can influence the rate of loss) I'm sure other factors weigh in, like genetics, where you started, etc. (without counting all calories in/out 4 days a week....and strictly counting them 3 days a week..I'm down 34 pounds in just less than 3 months...adding that bit for the user above asking for 'scientific solution' lol)


    I wouldnt, actually.

    I would rather lose at a slow and steady pace than think faster is better (although I think differences acheived by IF are minimal anyway, for same calorie intake) - and do so in a way that suits my eating style long term

    3 months is a good start - but hardly long term.
    and 3lb per week (34 in under 3 months) is too fast for nearly everybody

    And that is perfectly awesome, for you. :) I truly believe everyone is different as are their macros, calories, timing, rate of loss, and ultimate goals (bmi score etc)

    But I do wish it could be "ok" for me too, to have found something different from you and others that works for me without being "wrong" because I don't simply weigh/measure 7 days a week to hit a calorie number/macros. (the original topic of cico)

    I didn't set out to lose 3 lbs a week but tracking nutrients and doing it with IF just sped it up beyond expectations, made me very happy with food again finally, and, freed me from being too obsessive (which drives me nuts personally)...and I look forward to the simplicity with zero feeling of missing out on anything.

    As far as "3 months are a good start"..thank you! (though I know you didn't mean it as a compliment - you meant it as a slight to my success being short-term....) No worries though, kinda getting used to success from IF being downgraded, disagreed with etc..b/c If isn't "your" way.


  • MargaretYakodaMargaretYakoda Member, Premium Posts: 1,573 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,573 Member
    When someone says they weigh 250 lbs, work out six hours a day, and eat 1200 calories and haven’t lost a pound in six weeks, the overwhelming likelihood is dishonest logging. It’s either tell the truth or say nothing.

    Overwhelming, perhaps.
    But that still leaves room for some who are in fact telling the truth.

    I am good friends with one such person.
    They’ve been on a medically supervised inpatient diet for about four years now. And while they have lost some, they haven’t lost anything near what would get them to a normal BMI. And no. They’re not sneaking food. For a variety of reasons that’s impossible in their case.

    This person is native Hawaiian. Their genetics really, honest to Pete, is having a serious impact on their weight and health.

    CICO is a good rule of thumb.
    I’m never going to say that it isn’t.
    But there are differences between people.


    And I would like to see more emphasis on learning what those differences are, and how we can help people who are the outliers.
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