How risky is the latest diet craze?

How risky is the latest diet craze?

It’s a no-brainer: If you burn more calories than you take in, you’ll lose weight.

And that’s the basis of a new diet craze called CICO, or Calories in, Calories Out. The enticement here is that it doesn’t matter what kind of calories you take in, as long as you burn them off. That’s true if you don’t care what nutritional damage you’re doing to your body.

But, as the people in any computer department will tell you: garbage in, garbage out. Nutritionists say your body’s hardware – from your brain to your heart to your intestines and everything in between – depends on the food you take in to deliver the nutrients those organs need, not just to function well, but to function at all.

Junk calories, or what nutritionists call “empty calories”, provide the basis for energy but without any of the goodies, such as vitamins and minerals.

“Candy and cookies are not the same as fruits and vegetables,” says Joe Ozanic, a personal trainer and nutrition specialist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Health & Fitness Center in Barrington, Ill. “If you eat whatever you want, including junk food, eventually, that’s going to catch up with you, and you’ll pay a price physically.”

Ozanic warns that if you follow the Calories In, Calories Out approach to dieting, you will ultimately experience nutrient deficiencies, or malnutrition. This could have detrimental effects on muscle mass and bone health and could lead to serious health problems.

Ozanic says a healthier approach to weight loss includes a combination of healthy eating and exercise.

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Kathleen Troher
Kathleen Troher

Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.