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Calorie Counting Myth

January 13 2015

Calorie Counting Myth

Calories In - Calories Out = Your Body Weight (CICO)

This is a myth.

We LOVE simplicity and that formula above is a very simple solution to a frustrating problem. We get frustrated when things get complicated and when the answers are not so clear cut. When that happens we let our frustration 'win' and abandon fact and other variables and will accept and even FIGHT for the simpler paradigm, even if it is wrong.

CICO involves only 2 variables. What you eat (calories in) and the energy you expend (calories out). The incorrect assumption is that if you eat less and keep the other part (calories out via exercise etc..) the same, then you will lose weight.

The problem is that that 2nd part (calories out) can and DOES change because you changed the first part (Calories in). Drop your calories too much and your body goes into starvation mode and won't let you lose weight. Increase them a bit, and your body may increase your metabolism to match, to keep you where you are. The CICO formula doesn't take all of the many, many variables involved in weight loss into consideration.

Think of all the situations where that formula does not seem to apply:

  • Women who gain weight on birth control (pills don't have calories) or on anti-depressants.
  • Larger built people who never seem to lose weight no matter what they do.
  • Why is it harder to lose weight as you slim down?
  • Vacationers eating heaps of buffet food all week long and gaining nothing when they come back. Some do gain some weight but lose it all within a week or two of being home without altering their diet/exercise routines to compensate for the gained weight. Almost like their body magically set them back to where they were before.

Then There's This Guy

Skinny Dude - I Can Eat Anything

We all love this guy! He eats anything he wants and never gains weight. He can be seen eating whole pizzas and 3rd helpings of dessert, OFTEN, and never ever has to worry about buying bigger pants. If he were to try a diet that reduced his caloric intake by 500 calories per day (that means maybe one less slice of pizza and helping of dessert/day - not much for him) then, mathematically, he should weigh - 42 pounds within a few years lol. But somehow we know, that without spending millions of dollars on a scientific study, that that guy will not waste away and disappear into nothing.

CICO can't explain this guy. It is much more complex.

What we have to do is find what works for us. The starting point for everyone is to exercise, eat less junk and more healthy food. After that we simply have to experiment and see what types, and what quantities, of each make the most difference to us.

Recommended Reading

*** If you click on the tiny red link above and check out the graph, you'll see how many variables are involved in weight loss/gain, and that it is anything BUT simple.

Of course diet plays a role. It's just not a linear one. Also, I believe that the body 'resists' change at certain points and stabilization occurs giving rise to the law of diminished returns. It means you will get less and less out of your efforts after a certain point.

- Peter