The Art of CICO – Calories In, Calories Out

So, you like to have your cake and eat it, too. And with CICO, you totally can! As long as you’re staying within your calorie deficit. Are you willing to sacrifice your afternoon lunch to save space for that piece of cake after dinner? Are you willing to put in the exercise to stay under your caloric intake to taste that sweetness? That’s what CICO is all about. Eating in moderation and the discipline to stay within your calorie limits.

Ultimately, CICO is what I’m doing right now for my weight loss journey. As long as I stay within my 1,221 calorie budget, I can enjoy anything I want. While it’s nice to have that freedom, it does come with some food for thought:

  • Not everything we eat is filling compared to how many calories it contains
  • Not everything we eat in our calorie budget may necessarily be nutritious
  • Portion control, portion control, portion control

So, you can absolutely skip that protein and fiber rich lunch for a very indulgent and sugar filled piece of cake, but is it really worth it? Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. With CICO, moderation is key and sometimes planning can make it easier to stick to.

Let’s take a look at my current calorie intake for today and see where we’re headed with it as an example:

  • Breakfast was 33ml of coffee creamer with my coffee and a honey almond oatmeal to-go cup: 268 calories
  • Lunch will consist of a sandwich thin and a Starkist pack of ranch tuna for a total of 170 calories
  • Dinner we will have a chicken teriyaki stir fry for a total of 300 calories

So with all three meals, I will have only consumed 738 calories in my 1,221 budget! So I still have some wiggle room to eat 483 calories worth of food. I could totally have a piece of cake for dessert. I could attempt to responsibly snack on some chips if I really wanted to. I haven’t thought that far, I’m actually just impressed that these meals are actually reasonably healthy and low calorie!

Wait, I have to count calories?

With this way of eating, counting calories is an absolute must. You need to be responsible for how many calories you are consuming in any given meal or snack. So tracking your food intake is vital. These days there are so many different food tracking apps that you can take your pick! At this current point in time, I’m using MyFitnessPal. It’s very straight forward, it’s easy to type in what you’ve eaten or even scan the bar code of the packaging for more convenience. I have used MyFitnessPal throughout all of my weightloss ventures and it’s just been my go-to. Other apps that I have tried are Lose It! and Noom. I definitely recommend trying any of them out though, get a feel for it, and get into the habit of tracking your food!

One thing that astounded me one day was to just track everything I ate while not thinking about the calories or cost of it. When I went to look back at the calories I consumed that day, it really opened my eyes to how much I had eaten; close to 2,700 calories. And during the day while I was tracking all of that, I thought of how much of a pain it was to keep track of so much food that I was eating. So I think the best approach is to minimize what you eat, keep consistent in your logging and you will eventually see the difference.

Tips for an easier CICO –

  • Try to limit drinking your calories; water is always highly recommended, but if you can’t ditch the soda, switch to diet
  • Stick to foods that have higher satiety rates like eggs, oatmeal, lean meats, vegetables
  • Try to avoid foods that are quick to pick you up but leave you crashing later (ie processed and sugary)
  • Try planning your meals ahead or logging your food for the next day, making it easier to stick to, more predictable and less likely to fall off track

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