Refuting CICO platitudes

(Laurie) #1

Someone asked about weight loss on another forum. A few people said they’d had success with keto.
Then someone else stated that it’s “simply” a matter of taking in fewer calories than we use. And that success with keto is simply from eating fewer calories. We’ve all heard that before.

I’m pretty sure it isn’t true, and I’d like to say so, in, say, 2 sentences.

I hate debates. My motivation is simply to let the advice seeker know that weight loss on keto isn’t just about calorie reduction. If that’s all it was, no one would do it, right? (I mean for weight loss.) Thank you.

(Shannon) #2

I just don’t understand how people think that if you eat the same amount of calories, but one is a diet largely from starches, grains, pasta, etc. and the other is from meats, seafoods and fresh veggies, that it could possibly be the same. That’s a long, almost run-on sentence, but you get my point. Plus, I’m sure a bunch of people here are about to reply about how on keto, you can lose weight by eating MORE calories.

I get you about hating debates though. Some time ago, I responded in a comment thread on a public FB post about diet, and it degraded so quickly, it just was not fun. It’s a shame how far we’ve moved away from having anything close to respectful dialogue.

(B Creighton) #3

It isn’t true, but I don’t know how to convince others of that. I purposely tried NOT to reduce my calories, and yet I lost weight - esp fat. By the time I was done, I may have even been eating more calories. I can’t really say, because I never specifically counted calories before or after. Keto works because it changes the hormones. The different macronutrient groups are simply metabolized differently by the body. Fructose is the main culprit to the general obesity epidemic, because when it comes in with glucose, insulin goes up, and the extra fructose is converted into palmitate which is vitamin A and the saturated fatty acid palmitic acid. Higher insulin tells the body cells to store the palmitic acid away. So a nice antioxidant becomes body fat. If you eat fat, it just doesn’t drive up insulin enough to cause much of it, if any, to get stored away. The calorie is a calorie idea was promoted by the junk food industry to encourage the consumption of their products without regard to actual science. That together with a few other false ideas and fat phobia are responsible for the biggest pandemic man has ever faced - the metabolic disease pandemic.

(Jane) #4

You could avoid the whole “calorie” discussion by pointing out that your blood glucose on keto is much more stable because of the lower carb intake and the result is you aren’t hungry all the time, so easier to sustain (or doesn’t take as much willpower) eating a healthy diet in the long term.

It’s also a kind of a subtle jab at those who state (w/o ever trying keto) that “keto isn’t sustainable”.

(Doug) #5

For most of us (people who are benefitting from keto, or could benefit from it), keto is ‘about’ the differing hormonal effects among different diets. Taking in fewer calories than we use - certainly - but huge numbers of people find it easier on a ketogenic diet, or possible in the first place, while with a high-carbohydrate diet they find it impossible in the long run.


Presenting facts is courting disaster in casual dialogue. Especially when someone has played the “simply” card early. They may even refer to Ockham’s Razer. So, refutation is too draining. I think it is much better to have a better story. Ask the people engaged in the conversation to think. When the questions start, then their curiosities can be coaxed to expand. My gambit would follow something like…

“Imagine eating in a way where you never feel hungry, where you have no cravings. Eating in a way that makes you feel strong and confident. That is the ketogenic way of eating.”

(Bob M) #7

I don’t get in arguments (or try to avoid getting in arguments) with CICOphants. You might as well beat your head against a wall. They don’t care about “why”. All they have to do is keep saying that you lost weight because you reduced calories. And they just keep doing this: But studies have indicated that people in ketosis burn more calories than those not in ketosis; “This just means you ate less than you burnt”.

And I’ve seen quite a few arguments lately where they comeback is “But no one is saying that 100 calories of sugar are the same as 100 calories of salmon.” And I don’t know what to say to that, because, to me, that’s EXACTLY what everyone says.

(Pete A) #8

I’m somewhat a CICO guy…or a calorie balance guy.

Always have been.


I consider keto a way to get a chance to eat less, actually… :smiley: (It made perfect sense as carbs made me hungry but it didn’t happen. But my body liked the low carb intake and later I went lower where I got some proper benefits.)
My fat-loss only cares about calories, apparently, carbs aren’t a problem as long as I eat little (not like I ever could pull it off with much carbs. or with 80g without my fat adaptation honeymoon). And I never lose on keto as I eat just as much as before… Sigh.

But I am aware it’s not that simple for everyone. I really could use a tiny help but I don’t get it from ketosis.

I know protein calories are different but it doesn’t change things for me as I eat the same high amount of protein on every diet.

And it’s possible it’s more complicated even for me (I am pretty sure it’s the case) but it’s not significant hence my experiences.

So my struggle to eat as little as possible (for all macros except maybe carbs) continues. (I cling to carnivore so my carbs are inevitably very low most of the time :slight_smile: and some extra doesn’t seem to matter.)

Of course it’s not the same. But for fat-loss? It may be if the amounts are “right” and maybe if the one in question is healthy enough. Fat-loss may happen on ANY diets, not for everyone, some people get sick first but for most. Not necessarily good, healthy, realistic and even the metabolism may be messed up in the end but fat-loss is simple, if the body has no energy from the food, it eats itself. And lowers the metabolism in some cases.

I tracked. I ate to satiety, minimized my fat intake (it’s me so it just means I didn’t overeat it like crazy as I would have liked to) just like before keto and stalled just like before keto. I know I just ate enough not to lose fat as I lost when I was a bit fatter and lost when I lowered it a bit (and raised my carbs). Okay, obviously I can’t possibly know what my CO does, it may have sudden changes but when I lost fat, it didn’t seem so, it was so very smooth and predictable… It doesn’t drop suddenly, only raises suddenly when I overeat like crazy.

It’s good it doesn’t really matter. I don’t like to be wasteful and have other reasons (it’s most convenient just to eat 1-2 decent meals. 2 is a bit much, usually so I go for one) so I do my best to eat just to satisfy my body and mind :slight_smile: And happens what happens. I never forced things much.

I for one got fat because I ate way too much. Especially fat, it’s me but it was paired with much carbs, not a good combo for me, to put it lightly. Works wonderfully for my SO (he doesn’t eat too much because he is vain and careful and not a hedonist like me).

But I admit I don’t gain on keto. Not like I gain if I start to eat carbs (my CO just follows my CI, it’s quite impressive, it has its limits but I would get really sick before I reached that) but I can’t do that for long so I can’t even test it anymore. It was impressive on high-carb, you don’t know how hard I had to work on my overeating practices all the time to gain 1kg a year…
Automatic maintenance is my superpower, not perfect but close. Both losing and gaining is insanely hard, it just doesn’t happen most of the time, no matter what I do (eating little would work, sure but I can’t do that. I am trying).

So not bombing my body with sugar, I have many other reasons for it. Fat-loss too but just because what I wrote before. It makes me hungrier and changes me (both effect seems to wane as I do more and more close carnivore days but it’s not like I go and actively test it).

People may say but I usually say earlier that I go off keto all the time, I don’t count. But lots of people experienced very small to zero fat-loss even with much extra body fat and being careful not to overdo fat. So it definitely not as magical as some people seem to think. (The same for IF, why would it make me loss fat? It almost never did.)

But I am open to learn about the workings of the human body. It’s surely not simple underneath and keto seems to make enough changes to help people tremendously with fat-loss (often triggering a smaller food intake but apparently not always. lucky ones). Just not in everyone’s case.

It’s stupid in general as many people experience it is… It’s proven it can be sustainable, what to argue about that? But it may be easily true in individual cases.
And many people just use it as an excuse because heaven forbid they make a honest attempt to help their health…

I am glad for people who have it.
I was nearly always satiated on high-carb (okay, I ate a ton).
I have this on keto if I overeat too but if I try to be modest, my days are mixed. But I can be hungry for hours on carnivore and it’s quite annoying :frowning: WHY? I behave and I get hunger :frowning: And not because I eat too little for my meals. I may stuff myself and get hungry an hour later, okay those cases seem to disappear now, I learned how to eat meat galore :slight_smile:
Unfair. I need to experiment a lot, for years while I don’t lose any fat… Sometimes I wonder why I am trying? (I am super stubborn and it must be the way if I tweak enough, that’s why.) ONE struggling day can be so bad that even with 10 great ones, I may get disheartened. But I burned the bridges back ages ago so I must keep trying :smiley: It’s not THAT bad.

Sorry I stop whining here.

But isn’t it true? Okay, obvious, how else would we lose fat…
Of course the bad CICOers have stupid ideas and cling to their numbers while we can’t even track CI! Let alone CO. I never try with the latter but my very vague CI (well, what I eat but I suppose I use it well) gives me some information. Not very much but something. I like to know if I ate 1300 kcal or 4100. And I am bad enough at guessing that I may be tell apart the two but 1300 or 2000? 2000 or 2800? I would never figure it out all by myself. And I am curious about my protein intake anyway :slight_smile:

By the way, I envied people getting a quicker metabolism from ketosis. I didn’t. Now it’s fine, I am poor so I should be able to eat little and still keeping my body (but losing a little fat would be still nice).

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #10

You could simply say that insulin is the primary fat-storage hormone, and a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is a low-insulin diet. You could also add that, in studies comparing the standard diet with an isocaloric keto diet, the keto diet always has the better weight loss.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #11

Bingo! As Richard says, follow the money.

(Robin) #12

Keto almost always results in eating less calories, so I just say keto is a great way to reduce calories.

(Laurie) #13

Thank you all so much. Maybe I’ll mumble something about insulin. And say that one huge advantage of keto is that one doesn’t feel hungry all the time.

(Bob M) #14

There are many reasons why keto works well for many, but the primary reason is because you’re not as hungry. I remember starting Atkins multiple times (quit because I thought I needed carbs for exercise), and I remember getting a week or so into it…and not being hungry. I’m driving around at lunch time, and I’m not hungry.

There are so many things keto (and fasting) does that have nothing to do with calories. For instance, I can fast 32 hours, work out, eat a few hours later… and not be hungry. One would think I’d be starving, but I’m not. I must be affecting hormones.

But the human body is incredibly complex. For instance, while I think the biome is highly overrated at times, I’m fairly convinced the combination of 3 probiotics I’m taking has been making me eat less. I also think the boron I take at times really might raise testosterone, which may also make me less hungry.

For me, it’s about satiety and not “calories” per se. If I eat things that cause satiety, I go longer without needing to eat.

A CICO person would say that’s calories, but it’s much more complex than that. Why does taking a probiotic affect hunger? Why does fasting? Why are there foods that cause me to overeat (bacon, nuts)? Why are there foods that don’t (lean meats)?

If all you do is count calories, you don’t ever get to the realization that there are things that are beneficial to you for reasons you don’t understand. Calories may be affected, but they are not the reason you’re losing (or gaining) weight – something else is.


Yes :slight_smile: That’s why I have a chance at losing fat without being hungry (I wouldn’t be hungry, I would eat, I do that on every diet). Because different food has different satiation effect. As far as I know, almost everyone is like this. My SO is special, very nearly everything satiates him the same, it’s crazy. But maybe many people is like that, I always read about tiny carby meals so it must work for some.

Satiety is basic. I couldn’t just starve (the feeling, not the actual too low-nutrient way of eating) so I eat to satiety. I try to find the right items so I get enough nutrients and proper satiety at the same time. Without eating too much. Sadly, it takes very, very much experiments on my part, it’s easy to mess up with my overeating tendencies. My body isn’t easy to satiate and satisfy, at least not always.
That must be the problem for many first (and trying to eat a ton of fat unnecessarily), using the not quite right food choices for their individual cases. Just keto isn’t enough for everyone.

But I must say calories eaten in one sitting matter a lot regarding my satiation. Even with carbs, 2000 kcal (my body has a thing with some numbers, it makes no sense to me but it is like that) is pretty effective, it easily lasts for a day. Even without carbs, a mere 1500 kcal meal typically doesn’t last for long (even if the protein is high). My SO is the extreme one, he eats a bunch of carbs and is satiated for several hours (like 8). Why people are this different, I don’t know. Why some of us can’t eat a small meal and not being hungry in 1 hour at most? No idea.
If I eat multiple times, there is a bigger difference but I can massively overeat on any diet I am able to do (for one day so it doesn’t really matter, I just find my numbers interesting and fun). Still, less carbs help, they reduce the chance of overeating quite effectively unless I eat my worst items galore (almost everything, actually, I have a few good items I don’t need to be wary with).

So it’s mixed for me. I need lots of protein, lots of fat, preferably very little plant carbs and almost exclusively very satiating items. And then there is hope.

(Central Florida Bob ) #16

Sometimes I’ve thought the best response would be to stare wide-eyed in disbelief at someone preaching CICO and say, “you mean you don’t think food has any other effect on our bodies except heat?” Almost like you’d look at someone who said something preposterous that you think any child would know. The way you’d stare at someone who said the most stupid thing you’ve ever heard. Assuming they look at you the same way, you ask, “you mean with the thousands of intricate systems our bodies have, you think food can’t affect any system in your body in any other way?”

I don’t think I’d get into examples of blood sugar release vs. insulin and any of the details, but maybe I’d say keto addresses some of those things and it seems that a large percentage of the population benefits from that approach.

Since those two sentences depend to some degree on the your ability to do dramatic acting, it might be hard to do on a forum where you can’t do the voice inflections. :smiling_imp:

(Laurie) #17

Thanks. I stated very briefly that although some people might eat less on keto, keto works on a different principle from calories-in, calories-out (CICO). I also mentioned that one advantage of keto is reduced appetite.

The person responded by posting an article about keto being about calories only – that science had disproven (or failed to prove) the whole insulin thing, etc.

Oh well, I said what I had to say. Maybe it was of some help.


The calories absolutely matter, but so do the hormones, the problem with the argument that people force, is they chose to pick ONE and ignore the other, and our metabolisms aren’t that simple. They BOTH matter. Our bodies won’t burn fuel reserves when they have plenty coming is, we’re literally designed that way for survival, but whether we can access them or not is controlled hormonally.

The reality is given that most people (aren’t) eating keto, most people that lose fat are doing so while eating a ton of carbs, it’s absolutely doable, just not as fast as when eating keto since we’re prioritizing the fat burn, which is always funny when non keto’rs claim the doesn’t matter… as their doing a ton of cardio while fasted (wonder what they’re burning then???) LOL!.

Because it is, in every study I’ve seen where they control for calories and a specific deficit, High Carb, Low Carb and Keto all more or less burn the same. The Low Carb and Keto people always jump up real high at first, but after when it all balances out it’s essentially the same. I’ve tried poking holes in them, I can’t. Also, since going to my TKD/CKD hybrid with more carbs I actually take off fat much easier now than I did on years eating strict keto, can’t say 100% why, but my Thyroid values tanked bad after years on strict keto, and normalized again when there were more carbs coming in, so my metabolic rate is higher now. I’m a pretty bad example because a lot of stuff went bad with my metabolism in a short amount of time, and I fixed it using every single thing I could find, so nothing was singled out, only the shotgun approach, but ultimately worked.

(Doug) #19

Laurie, you said you hate debates, so directly arguing with that person may not be to your liking as well as possibly unpersuasive to them. I suggest finding common ground, and your two sentences above go together, eh? Reduced appetite goes toward the calories in, frequently; surely they could see that.

The overwhelming majority of people who have tried ‘diets’ find that they cannot maintain them. They can’t continue to do what is necessary to lose weight. This too is easy to verify, is common knowledge, etc. However, the “common ground” principle works both ways - and those who would argue ‘for keto’ should realize that for weight loss, keto works not in defiance of CICO but because of it.

The true common ground that we all have, regardless of our idealism, prejudices, etc. (anything that may predispose us to take one ‘side’ or the other here, i.e. pro-keto or anti-keto) is the physical reality of our existence, and human biochemistry.

Weight loss simply a matter of taking in less than we use? Well yes, of course. That’s true as stated.

But as a practical matter for people, it is not (always) as simple as that, because sustaining the process is necessary, and people often fail at that, with many ‘diets.’ If somebody is pretending that that’s not the case, then I would point them toward the abundant evidence of ‘diet’ failure, of stopped weight loss, and of weight regain. While it’s not a “sure cure” for everybody, keto often works because it avoids some of the sustainability pitfalls.

(Doug) #20

Well said.