(CBS Local) — The internet’s hottest dieting fad is getting some serious backlash from nutritionists who call it bad science.
The CICO diet, which stands for “calories in, calories out,” has become one of the trendy weight loss programs being shared on forums like Reddit. The diet follows the thinking that to lose weight, you just need to take in fewer calories than you work off each day through physical activity. Supporters of the CICO diet say it doesn’t even matter what kind of food you eat, as long as you’re shedding more calories than you’re consuming.
“CICO will work regardless of what you’re eating. Junk food, healthy food, fancy food, cheap food. It doesn’t matter. CICO is essentially the only thing that matters when it comes to weight loss,” one person claimed in an online thread, via Yahoo. While nutritionists admit that counting calories are an important part of dieting, many are pushing back against the idea of an “anything goes” menu.
“If we simply look at calories in versus calories out, we forget about some of the complexities of weight loss, nutrition and our relationships with food,” the British Dietetic Association’s Aisling Pigott-Jones told IBTimes UK.
Pigott-Jones adds that someone who loves candy and junk food might actually see results in the short term, but the positive results won’t last.
“Because of the high sugar content, you will never feel full… Because of the high saturated fat content, you will feel sluggish… You won’t become fitter, stronger or have any impact on your long-term metabolism.”
“[CICO] is an outdated way of thinking,” Cynthia Sass, nutrition editor for Health said.
“Eating all junk, but keeping it low-calorie, will still wreak havoc on things like your skin, your mood, your gastrointestinal functions,” nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner added.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, dieting Americans will likely be focused on their calorie count even if they’re not using the CICO system. The average person will reportedly consume 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day.