Calorie Science the new "fad diet" to hate?

I’ve listened to a couple podcasts recently that totally go against calorie counting. Mainly due to the fact that the science is old and atiquated (to which they are correct). I used calorie counting to lose over 100 pounds when covid first struck, along with buying a bicycle and starting to be active on a regular basis.

FF 4 years and I’m a bike racer with a detailed training plan on TR and count calories religiously to make sure I’m eating ENOUGH, rather than a deficit to lose weight.

I’ve noticed the weight start to creep up slightly, and the pants fit a little bit more snug. I will say when I was counting calories to lose weight I was also very focussed on eating whole minimally processed food. I don’t necessarily have that focus anymore as I’m typically just throwing calories into my mouth to try and keep up with daily training.

All this to say… have y’all had similar results? Do you notice a difference when you focus on the quality of food vs strictly the calorie number? Maybe these folks are onto something and calorie counting is no longer the right approach for me? This might be a good question for the podcast…


Eating whole minimally processed food is sort of a method of calorie restriction. There are fewer calories in whole foods versus pizza, beer, chips, soda, gatorade, burgers, etc.

There is also science showing that fructose triggers the body to store fat. That’s another point in favor of whole foods over prepared foods with added sugar.

The healthiest option is obviously eating healthy foods. I think calorie counting every now and then is good to keep yourself in check.


I calorie count, but for the opposite reason as most - I’ve always been a super skinny guy, and when I started cycling “seriously” and training I wound up digging myself into a massive hole - my natural appetite wasn’t enough to keep myself adequately fueled and I wound up losing weight I couldn’t afford to drop and stopped improving on the bike.

I now calorie count to ensure I’m adequately refueling after training sessions and making sure my protein intake is good, and its been the single biggest improvement in my training. Over time my body has adapted to the increased food intake, and I often find I usually wind up within a few hundred calories of where I should be through my natural appetite now.

I think the main benefit of calorie counting is in tracking your food, and showing you where your weaknesses lie in your diet. I’ve certainly had eye opening discoveries where things I thought were low calorie were not, and vice versa. It also keeps me accountable for bad food choices - I put in more thought about making sure to get a balanced diet with more whole foods when I have to log everything.




So which is it?

CICO is dead, or you can eat a surplus and gain fat?


A lot to unpack here. But I’ve used CICO to lose 100 pounds and keep it off. Which begs the question above. Is it truly dead, or just the next hot thing to hate. I don’t disagree that overly processed foods metabloize much different than whole or minimally processed food.


I dont think is dead… But is definitely not for everyone.
Endurance athletes need different nutrition compared to a body builder and their nutrition will also be different that of a martial artist, yoga practitioner, etc.

At the end… I was told by my doctor recently, that I need to drop the fast food, fried food, excess bread, and things with fat…
Although I am fit, my bad cholesterol is starting to rise. Its not out control yet, but it on the red now and its been trending up for about 4 years. Thats when I started eating way more stuff before working out. I am starting to cut a lot of things and will see what happens in 6 months.

What do you mean you’ve heard podcasts that “go against calorie counting”? Against it in what way?

This is obviously a very well-kicked dead horse. My own take as a scientist who also pays attention to both my calories-in and my calories-out:

-CICO is not dead, but not all calories are the same. Calorie content of food is measured in a bomb calorimeter, but we are not bomb calorimeters. Highly processed calories are absorbed differently, with impacts on our level of satiety and (very important!) our microbiomes. This is a good summary:

-For me, whole or minimally processed food makes me feel much better after eating it. I feel that I can eat to satiety without overshooting my calorie consumption goals.

-As athletes, it’s important to “fuel the work.” On rides over 2 hours, I consume a ton of highly processed sugar (gels, sports drink, Haribo Gold Bears) that I would never eat as part of a normal diet. Day-to-day diet and sports performance diet can (and probably should) be different animals.

-Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. That’s a Michael Pollan aphorism, but I think it’s pretty solid. Diets that mainly rely on minimally processed plants and lean protein (the Mediterranean diet being the best known example) are better for human health, across dozens of studies and observation of human behavior, health and longevity. Anyone who claims eating mainly red meat is healthy is full of it, and probably also slow.


Calory counting has lots of sources of error. But these are usually systematic.
So it could totally be that your counted 2k calories eating plant based were in reality only 1.800kcal, but with your current foot choice its rather 2.200 kcal on average.

The usual counter measure is to just adapt your kcal target depending on the actual change of your body. I.e., if you now feel you are gaining fat, just reduce your kcal target step by step to gain balance again.
There are apps like Macrofactor which help you with the trend watching and fine tuning, but you can of course also do it yourself.




All I can say is not that long ago everyone thought lactate was a poison. Anyone promoting a low fat high carb diet is poisoning you with triglycerides. There’s a reason America has a type II problem, sure highly processed food is part of it, but also low fat diets contributed immensely.

Eat a diverse and wide variety of food, get protein, fat and carbs. Make sure to have some fiber in your diet too. Gut health matters. But yes, at the end of the day, the amount of food you put in matters. Both on the up, and the down side. Don’t rob your body of macros to serve some TED talk influencer. Just be rational. ffs.

1 Like

And yet for all of humanity we have “managed” to gain weight by eating too many calories, and lose weight by eating too few.

Calories in calories out is just about the least bro science thing when it comes to this topic.

I’m not sure how calories in calories out can be a terrible approach when everyone of your examples still relies on it.


Are you single digit bodyfat? 5 w/kg? Cat 1? What method do you use to stay lean and perform and recover at a high level?


Do you ever just feel like you got duped into responding? Like…that urge you have to click on the 3 cool tricks to improving your FTP link. Ooof. I feel like cico is dead is just the latest AI generated debate starter for up and coming diet ‘scientists’ to get engagement with their paper/talk/nonsense.

Fell for it again.
Jimmy Fallon Reaction GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon


To be clear you are? Is this the requirement to post in this thread? Can you point me to the forum guidelines? Or evidence YOU even would meet your qualifications?

You contradicted yourself within a single paragraph and keep making up figures. All I did was call that out because it is harmful and offers no benefit to anyone on this forum.

When I was single digit body fat I ate waffles and ice cream for breakfast, I would eat french fries, pizza and peanut butter kandy kakes for lunch, and when I got home I ate roughly a lbs of pretzel rods and a half gallon of milk… then would have dinner.

I’ve not said there isn’t nuance, or that it is as simple as CICO, you are the one that said it is dead and proceeded to continue to prove it isn’t.


I’ll take it all back. Keep doing what you’re doing, I’m sure it will work out. :+1:

1 Like

Perhaps this is relevant. Am surprised by the claim that exercise does NOT help you lose weight.

Ok? Cico is something effective that has worked and will continue to work lol.

/thread :roll_eyes:


The concept of calories in, calories out is flawless. It is literally impossible to not gain or lose weight based on the laws of physics and chemistry if you over/undershoot calories.

It becomes tricky because it’s nearly impossible to measure calories both in and out accurately as an individual. Still, you can use numbers to get in the ballpark, and then adjust up or down until weight is going the direction you want it to.

People that claim calories in/calories out doesnt work are just looking for an excuse, rather than accepting the very obvious, incontrovertible truth of their situation - their numbers were wrong.


Entropy is flawless, however per the GCN video above the method for determining the true calories in any given food is not and is very dated. It’s also conflating the chemical process how the body digests food with literally burning it in a chamber. The method seems to work for losing weight though if you are conservative with your counting.