Diet #8: CICO, or Calories in, calories out

My 8th diet involves tracking calories consumed, and calories burned.

There’s a sense in which this is the most “scientific” diet so far. There are questions now about some of the details – particularly from the low carb camp, who believe that carbs are the primary problem not calories per se. But dietary orthodoxy still holds that calories are the central factor in weight management.

Anyway, this particular approach to dieting was suggested to me by Rachel Hubbard, who knows what she’s talking about. So here I  go. Let’s try and maintain the following inequality.

Calories in < calories out

In particular, I’m trying to make calories in 500 calories less than calories out.

Calories out…

I wear a Garmin watch which tells me an estimate of how much I’ve burned through exercise, and also estimates my base rate calorie consumption. This means the second half of the equation, calories out, is easy.

Calories in…

The first half, calories in, I’m doing via MyFitnessPal. This is a site I’ve been on before (looks like I joined in 2014 – yes I have been trying to lose weight for a long time). One side effect of tracking all your food is that you find out how you’re doing on various other macro/micro nutrients.


It’s only been 4 days so far, and I am generally high on fibre and low on protein. If this turns out to be a long term pattern I might have to look into that and eat a few more eggs.


This is probably the most technologically advanced diet so far. It also represents my least favourite kind of dieting. I’m really not a fan of diets which require me to weigh stuff. What I tend to do is to weigh the amount of food I want (e.g. 3 tablespoons of porridge oats) then just have exactly the same volume of stuff the next time. Or if I’m making a recipe from scratch I’ll just add “medium onion” to MyFitnessPal, in much the same way that the recipe probably specifies medium onion, rather than some specific number of grammes. This means my measurements will probably drift over time but I’m going to assume that a reasonable guess is OK.

I’ve also got a tendency to become a bit obsessed about this sort of thing and a system which encourages me to record everything is not going to help there.

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