What is the CICO equation?

CICO is an acronym that stands for “calories in, calories out.” which has been around for a long time now. It’s a way of eating that has generally been used to aid in weight loss, but it’s capable of much more. No particular diet is involved; it refers to the concept that consuming less calories each day than you burn – results in weight loss, whereas eating more calories than you burn results in weight gain.

This implies that regardless of the amount of macronutrients consumed or the quality of the diet, weight loss and weight growth are entirely a factor of calorie consumption. 

You must have a strong understanding of your daily energy needs in order to follow a CICO diet effectively. The first step in doing this is determining your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which enables you to determine how much energy your body requires to carry out daily activities. You can define your BMR by getting tested at a nearby laboratory or seeing a certified nutritionist.

After that, you can calculate how many calories you need each day using this formula below – depending on your objective. Remember that any amount you have calculated is merely an estimate of your body’s needs. 

The CICO Formula:

1. For maintaining energy balance: calories in = calories out

2. For a weight loss: calories in < calories out

3. For a weight gain: calories in > calories out

Following this diet can provide a learning experience by keeping track of your meals and snacks. You could discover more about the nutritional content of the foods you consume and spot dietary gaps within your diet that could help you find more suitable foods later on.

People can maintain a healthy diet and way of life by following the “Calories in, calories out.” diet. Regardless of the objective, people should be aware of its disadvantages, particularly when not adhering to the recommended diet.

When it pertains to weight loss or maintenance, the most significant risk with the CICO diet is that even if your calories in matches your calories out—meaning you’re keeping an energy balance—you can still have low energy availability. Daily activities should therefore be considered or taken into account; it would be best to work with a dietitian. Always pay close attention to your energy levels and how you are feeling. 

Too much calorie deficit can also be very harmful as this may lead to fatigue, trouble sleeping, headaches and, in some worst cases, an injury. 

Furthermore, because the CICO diet places such a strong emphasis on calorie monitoring, it increases your chance of developing disordered eating patterns. It may encourage people to constantly strive to eat less or to select foods solely for their low-calorie content rather than necessary for their nutritional value.


Regardless of your ultimate objective, it’s beneficial to understand your energy requirements in order to support your daily routines. However, it’s also crucial to follow a nutrient-rich diet that you enjoy. The CICO diet can be utilized on occasion to assist you in reaching your nutritional objectives, but if you notice disordered eating habits or it’s simply depriving you of the enjoyment of food, you should reconsider the diet. Keep in mind that there are other factors besides calories in versus calories out to consider while thinking about this diet.


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