Can someone tell me if my thoughts are correct on CICO

(Doug) #582

Yes indeed. Man, I wish things had been different when we were growing up…

That said, now I’ve got a real quest - something meaningful to do, with lots of learning along the way. Fix myself.


I think the issue (at least for me) is that some people use CICO and “calories matter” interchangeably. CICO is not the same as calories matter. CICO implies that all calories ARE equal (if you eat a very specific amount of ANY type of calorie, and expend less than that you will gain and vice versa), which I don’t agree with.

If all calories are NOT equal, then what is the importance of our focus on them vs. the sources of energy we are consuming?


The law of conservation of energy always applied, closed system or not.

In a closed system it is indeed a zero sum game, but in an open system you just add or subtract any energy leaking in or leaking out.

CO - CI = 0


(CO+x) - (CI-y) = x+y

Same thing.

I’m not sure if some people are using this “only applies in a closed system” as a loophole? The law of conservation of energy always applies (and let’s not get into Quantum Mechanics and the Uncertainty Principle. Most people are here are already uncertain enough).

Energy is neither created not destroyed only transformed (storage is a form of transformation).


I don’t think you’ll find many people who think how much we eat isn’t relevant, or that you can eat unlimited amounts of food. That is different than CICO, where all calories are equal and you are guaranteed to lose weight by eating less than a specific number of calories (based on your expenditure).


Can a CICOer explain to me why metabolic slowdown seems to be the body’s long-term action upon calorie restriction? Why doesn’t it just keep shedding excess weight, why does it instead just cut its BMR down to compensate? I mean, evolutionarily why we know the answer, but in terms of energy, why does it do it in y’all’s opinion? I know it’s fulfilling the First Law of Thermodynamics by having CO = CI, but why do you guys think the BMR slows down?

And why should people, with the exception of the seriously metabolically deranged, take the risk of long-term calorie restriction when we know the consequences of it?

(Take time to stop and eat the bacon!) #587

I’m not sure just what you’re implying here . . . :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:


I used to work in the university Physics Department for about 4 years, one of my jobs was to mark papers and experiments. I built up a feeling for which students really knew the material and which did not.

To be polite, let me just say even our most honored keto guru’s a weak in this area. Not out right wrong, but shaky. Any teacher out there will know what I mean.

We are not at our best when we argue about physics.

Personal testimony about T2D, weight loss, how we feel, what we lost over what time, what we eat, insulin, insulin resistance, is where we should focus.

(I love physics but when we talk physics on this forum, I’m trying not to vomit).

(Doug) #589

I don’t think CICO really implies that calories are equal as far as their effects on us and our hormonal response. In practice, we know that insulin resistance alone blows that out of the water. Yes, some people will say that they’re all equal, and mean it in an unqualifed manner. Perhaps, for them, it is true, or for people without metabolic issues, as far as weight loss or gain. But nobody can say that as a blanket statement that applies to all, and be correct.

Gotta say that if we expend/excrete less than we eat, we will gain weight. What goes wrong with calorie restriction for dieters is that they cannot stay on the program - they don’t feel satisfied enough, they feel bad, their metabolism slows - meaning they would have to further restrict, to stay on the program. Not at all recommending that people “stay on that program,” either - we’re just not set up well for it.

For some people I think they’re pretty equal. Even for we who are insulin resistant, and for who they’re demonstrably not equal, overall, it may not be a case of our focus being on overall calorie count instead of what type of calories they are. Maybe our macronutrient choice has already been made, as with going zero carb. With that as a premise, it’s still possible to gain or lose weight for most of us.


That’s what I thought. But apparently there are hordes out there (maybe at r/keto?) who believe we have a special get out of jail card. Eat all you want fat and you will not gain weight.

I’m very glad to be wrong and hopefully it’s only a minority with that view.

It certainly isn’t the view of Phinney, Volek, Westman, Noakes … they say calories matter just don’t count them because it is too complicated [not because they don’t matter].

(Doug) #591

Agreed - while the First Law of thermodynamics definitely applies to closed systems, the energy balance (and as you described it) that can cause us to lose or gain weight is always there. We can say that closed systems act in a certain way. That does not rule out some types of other systems showing the same thing, situation by situation.

(Take time to stop and eat the bacon!) #592

Sorry! I wasn’t actually unsure—merely channeling Herr Professor Doktor Heisenberg!


Oh yes ok. (Heisenberg yes - but please let’s not go there (delta-Energy)).

(Take time to stop and eat the bacon!) #594

There! All fixed!

(Doug) #595

Oh dude - yeah, those soft drink manufacturers… And Tyson, Weston, JBS, Sysco, Nestle, Bunge, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Mars… :rage:

(Take time to stop and eat the bacon!) #596

Do you by any chance know a good wave mechanic? My wave just collapsed, and I need to get it fixed . . .

(Sometimes I just slay me! :rofl: Don’t mind me, I’ll just see myself out, shall I?)


Calories in Calories out, that’s CICO (not certain calories more than others in, calories out). That is what has been ingrained in us our entire lives as the key to losing weight. Just eat less (any type of calorie) and exercise more (expend more calories). If we can agree it’s not nearly that simple, why the focus on calories? I don’t think many people are counting calories for issues other than losing weight (such as the hormonal response you mentioned) and losing weight is what CICO is consistently touted for.

I believe the majority of people who haven’t been enlightened to the importance of macros (i.e., the general population) has that same basic understanding of CICO. A quick search of “what is CICO” on the net supports that notion.


Ha ha, no go for it, you’re on a role. To find my mechanic I’ll draw you a Feynman Diagram you can follow like a map.


That is certainly the “logic” which crept into my thinking. My son echos it back to me, “as long as you eat less you’ll be right …”

I didn’t realize there was asymmetric logic involved. Eat anything in excess and you gain weight. But to lose weight you need to restrict carbs in particular.

The opposite of eating more is not simply eating less.

Or to lose fat - you should eat fat (and avoid carbs). But avoid fats - and you get fat.

It all seems so obvious now.

(Doug) #600

True, yet it works for some people.

Well it is that simple - if we expend more than we eat, we lose weight, no way around it. This is not to say that the approach makes sense, especially in the long run. Of course it’s not that simple (calories being equal) for many of us, due to hormonal effects, etc. That doesn’t change the facts of the in and the out. Hormonal effects, etc., may alter how the ‘out’ side works, but the equation/enegy balance is still there.

Yes, and that’s too bad, since in practice it does not work for most people. That does not change the fact about energy balance for us, however.

Indeed. :slightly_frowning_face: Hey, no argument that seeing calories as all the same, period, is wrong with respect to humans as a whole. Even among those who have an equal weight response to different macronutrients (because of pristine metabolisms, etc.), it won’t always necessarily hold true, as with developing insulin resistance over time.


I agree. Interestingly, my first introduction to Phinney and Volek was in Dr. Atkin’s original book many years ago where a study they’d done showed that people could lose weight eating more calories with HFLC than LFHC. That was the first time I’d ever read anything that bucked the reigning idea that weight loss was a simple matter of fewer calories and more exercise (CICO).