The HCG Diet
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone most often associated with pregnancy in females. However, both males and nonpregnant females produce low levels of HCG throughout their lives as well. In the 1950s, British physician Dr. Simeons discovered that this hormone – when combined with a low-calorie diet of certain proteins, fruits, and vegetables – tricks the hypothalamus gland to mobilizing fat stores as energy, thus producing weight loss. HCG also works as an appetite suppressant and curbs hunger.
How Long Has This Diet Been Tested?
The HCG diet is not a new diet. The original HCG diet – developed by in Dr. Simeons (his book Pounds and Inches was published in 1954) – limited calorie intake to 500 calories: two lean proteins, two leafy green vegetables, two low-sugar fruits, and two Melba toast. Beverages allowed were water, coffee, and green tea. No artificial sweeteners were allowed. At that time, it was recommended to change all lotions and topical products to oil-free.
Since then, this diet has been successfully modified. Depending on the protocol, calorie count can range between 500-800 calories and topical products do not have to be changed. Some protocols allow such items like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, sugarless gum, berries, and Pam cooking spray. Eating 500-800 calories lasts anywhere from 3-6 weeks, after which fat is added back in for 3 weeks (still no sugars, carbs, or starches!). After this 3 week period, carbs and starches can be added back in (this essentially is back to regular healthy eating). Weight loss can be maintained when this protocol is followed. The problem is that many people do not follow this transition and re-introduce sugar and starches too quickly.
Is the HCG Diet Safe?
It should be noted that Dr. Simeon’s work was based on clinical, not scientific data. There have been attempts to reproduce his work; none successful. Regardless, millions of people have lost weight and kept it off by following the HCG protocol. It is not FDA-approved for weight loss. It is used off-label for weight loss and can be found prescription form at compounding pharmacies and is most effective when prescribed or used under medical supervision. In 2011, over-the-counter “homeopathic” HCG was pulled off the shelves for unsubstantiated claims and some were found to contain tiny amounts of HCG. If you’re interested in HCG, make sure and go to a medically supervised facility. HCG is offered as injections, creams, sprays, drops, or pellets.
Is the HCG A Fad Diet?
- Many fad diets limit entire categories of foods (think cabbage diet or grapefruit diet). After the short-term restricted phases of HCG diet, you are basically going back to regular, healthy eating.
- Fad diets – due to rapid weight loss – cause a lot of muscle loss. This muscle loss contributes to decreases in metabolism and rapid weight gain. HCG, however, targets fat stores and preserves muscle, thus maintaining metabolism. HCG also works on the hypothalamus to reset metabolism.
- Some fad diets eliminate exercise completely. Some HCG protocols encourage exercise on the low-calorie portion and some don’t. Your specific facility and provider would discuss the details of their protocol with you. For the majority of patients, exercise is not necessary.
- Many fad diets can be costly and require financial commitments for supplements, pre-packaged meals, and medications. HCG can be affordable.
Losing weight requires effort, commitment, and adherence. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about the HCG diet and if it’s right for you.
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