Gaining much support in 2019 is the HCG diet. A weight loss program that uses the technique of boosting the fat burning capacity of the body, speed up weight loss and fight food cravings and overeating by modifying eating patterns and taking pellets, drops, lozenges or shots of products that are believed to contain HCG.
Although considerably gaining much popularity, the HCG diet is not entirely free of criticisms. There are some regulatory agencies and researchers that have expressed worry of the product. They claim that HCG products are ineffective and overpriced if not dangerous.
If you are seriously considering the HCG diet for weight loss, check this article and review to know if: Does Hcg Diet Work in Weight Loss?
What is the “hCG” Diet?
Also known as the Human chorionic gonadotropin, the “hCG” is a kind of hormone that is produced by the cells of the body that surrounds a developing embryo in pregnant women. This eventually develops to what becomes the placenta later. The placenta envelopes the baby in the uterus during pregnancy. It provides the necessary oxygen and nutrients to the growing fetus and gets rid of waste products out of the baby’s bloodstream.
Other than working to support the baby’s development, hCG injections are sometimes used to treat particular conditions in both women and men.
For women, hCG injections have been used to help in fertility and ovulation. While in men, hCG has been used to increase the production of testorone to help eliminate or treat symptoms of a condition called hypogonadism or a medical condition whereby there is a diminished production of the sex hormones.
First known as “The Simeon’s Method” it was British endocrinologist Dr. Albert T. W. Simeons, who first introduced HCG to complement an extremely low-calorie diet for weight loss that’s less than 500 calories. In the 1950s, he started combining HCG treatment with a low-calorie diet to counter the obesity problems of his patients.
From his personal research, Dr. Simeons published a book “Pounds and Inches” in 1945, where he recommended a low-dose hCG injections daily at 125 IU together with a custom fit extremely low calorie diet of about 500 cal/day, of mostly high-protein and low carb/fat. This he said is supposed to cause a loss of some adipose or fat tissue without necessarily losing some lean muscles.
How Does the HCG Diet work?
This diet program is restrictive and basically involves the injection of HCG for six times every week for weight loss. The diet plan also includes limiting food intake to only 500 calories a day with a very strict list of allowable food groups, sources of protein and the meals that can be taken every day.
The program is composed of 3 Phases or Stages: 1st is The Fat Loading stage; 2nd the Low Calorie stage and 3rd is the Maintenance stage. Each of these stages contain detailed guides and rules of allowable food to take and how much of HCG one can have.
Although many have supported the HCG weight loss technique, there is criticism as well that because of its very restrictive nature there is a potentiality for malnutrition, and that it could be unsafe and even dangerous.
The formulators of the HCG diet believe that it can boost the fat burning capacity of the body by improving body composition to transfer fat deposits of the body so it can be burned as fuel. They also said that HCG can help stabilize blood pressure levels, decrease pain and inflammations, improve management of insulin levels in the blood and help curb appetite by lowering ghrelin levels in the body.
The diet is also restrictive against high caloric foods. By limiting calorie intake there is created a calorie deficit which means that the dieter will use more calories than the calorie intake. This of course can cause weight loss.
However, the benefits that HCG offers is not totally supported by evidence. A 1995 meta analysis found that there is yet no conclusive evidence to support that HCG is effective against obesity. The current scientific consensus has not really departed much from the 1995 meta analysis and believes that weight loss in the HCG diet can be attributed to its restrictive diet of only 500-1000 calories each day rather than on HCG itself.
How do you Follow the HCG Diet?
You may follow the HCG diet in three different phases:
Firstly is the Fat-loading Phase: For 2 days while taking the HCG drops or injections, the dieter is made to eat a high-calorie and high fat diet.
Secondly is the Low-calorie Phase: Between 3-6 weeks during this phase and according to the dieter’s weight loss objectives, food intake is now limited to not more than 500 calories each day.
Thirdly the Maintenance Phase: At the 3rd phase of the diet, HCG drops and injections are halted while food intake is transitioned back to normal. In the first few weeks, a more high carbohydrates diet is introduced into the diet.
When the dieter has more significant weight to lose, a cycle can be repeated of the 3 phases of the diet and can be redone again until the desired weight is achieved.
At the weight loss phase of the HCG diet (1st and 2nd phases), the dieter can only have 2 meals per day. This diet may include a piece of bread, a serve of lean protein, a vegetable and a fruit.
The HCG diet has approved the following list of ingredients that can be added to the menu:
- Lean proteins: lean cuts of beef, chicken, shrimp, white fish, and lobster
- Fruits: oranges, apples, grapefruit and strawberries
- Non-starchy vegetables: spinach, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes and zucchini
On the other hand, these foods has to be avoided in HCG diet meals and recipes:
- High-fat foods: vegetable oil, lard, butter, seeds, nuts, fatty fish
- Added sugar: table sugar, honey, syrup, soda, desserts, sweet tea, juice, sports drinks, baked goods
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, plantains, parsnips
HCG Products: Shots, Drops, Pellets, Sprays and Dosage
There are many HCG products you can choose from and it can be drops, injections, pellets, sprays and lozenges. The HCG diet drops are the most commonly bought by users which can be purchased from sellers online or direct to the HCG website. Drops must be taken at least 3 times everyday during the fat-loading and low-calorie stages of the diet program.
Please be advised however, that all HCG products are classified as homeopathic. This means that they may or may not actually have any HCG. If they do it can only be trace amounts. Also there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that it can increase the HCG levels in the bloodstream. Those HCG injections which are used to treat specific conditions can be obtained but you may be required to secure first a prescription from your doctor.
Downsides: What are the Side Effects, Risk,and Interactions of HCG
Caution must be said as there could be a number of dangers and side effects that may come with the HCG diet. For one, HCG sold in the market has not yet obtained approval from the FDA (Food Drug Administration) as safe and effective against obesity and weight control.
The FDA said that there exists no conclusive evidence that HCG can help in weight loss except as a result of its caloric restrictions, or results that cause a more normal distribution of fat and lowers hunger and the discomfort that goes with diets with caloric restrictions. This simply means that the weight loss in an HCG diet can be attributed more to limiting the daily calorie intake than on the HCG itself.
The FDA of the United States has said that over the counter products with HCG are considered fraudulent and ineffective for weight loss. HCG has been classified in the United States as a prescription drug and has not been approved for over the counter sales and likewise is not a protected homeopathic drug.
Since the HCG diet relied mainly on limiting the daily calorie intake, dieters may be at risk of nutritional imbalance or malnutrition. Other side effects of the HCG diet include headaches, irritability, fatigue and constipation.
Remedy: Opt For Healthier Alternatives
If after counting the pros and cons of the HCG diet you come to think of wanting a better alternative which can still give you weight loss results then maybe you can benefit from what’s positive with the HCG diet and just avoid the downsides. For example:
Count and Limit the Calories in the Food you Eat.
One good thing that the HCG teaches is to limit calories. For example, if you don’t want to use the HCG diet, you can still use this idea to help you. You can try to limit your calorie intake because this is a sure way to lose weight. Limit your calorie intake to what is manageable and healthy for a normal adult.
Try enjoying a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, healthy sources of protein and fat like coco oil, olive oil, seeds and nuts or fatty fish. You can also include legumes and whole grains. Just keep in mind your healthy daily caloric requirement and keep what you eat within range. If you overindulge this time, try making up the next day to keep the balance and maintain your momentum to attain your weight loss goals.
As a matter of fact, decreasing the daily caloric intake by 500–1,000 calories each day can actually give you 1-2 pounds off your weight each week.
Although lessening your daily caloric intake is a very helpful tool to achieve weight loss, it is still recommended that you should get enough calories for your daily needs without having to cut calories too low that it becomes unhealthy. Your daily calories requirement varies according to your age, weight, height, health status and activity level .
Limit or Avoid Processed Foods or Added Sugars
Choose what you eat, try planning on a more healthy meal and filling foods with restrictions or avoidance instead of the consumption of those processed foods or added sugars that can easily spike the insulin levels in the blood and cause many more harmful side effects on the body.
Carefully planning your meal without much processed food or sugar added to it can actually support sustainable weight loss goals. It can also help promote your overall health and optimize your overall fitness.
Do not Forget to Exercise or Do Some Kind of Physical Activity.
Whatever diet you choose, exercise is an integral part which should not be forgotten about. It must be remembered that when we lose weight, it could mean fat loss and loss of some lean muscles as well.
If you are fit enough, doing weight training is highly recommended to maintain lean muscles even while losing weight. But if weight training appears to be a bit strenuous for you then hit the gym or do some form of exercise or activity to keep some of the lean muscles intact.
Walk around the house, do chores, jog or run. Forget the elevator and if possible use the stairs getting wherever you’re headed to. Park farther in the parking lot to give you a chance to walk and get your body active. Stand up and walk around after 1-2 hours of sitting around.
- The HCG diet is a popular diet method that includes the taking of HCG in various forms as drops, pellets, lozenges or injections together with a low-calorie diet of not more than 500 calories a day for fat burning and weight loss.
- Proponents say that the diet works by augmenting fat metabolism of the body and also reducing hunger while stabilizing blood sugar levels.
- While HCG diet offers some weight loss and other benefits, there are a few hesitations on the product specially from the medical field specially that it has not been approved by the FDA as a remedy against obesity to effect weight loss. The diet is unsupported by conclusive evidence and could be unsafe and potentially dangerous.
- Dieters are at risk of having nutritional deficiencies, and may suffer from headaches, irritability and fatigue.
- Although with serious known downsides and side effects, there are positive ideas that we can adapt from the GCH diet. Such ideas as limiting calorie intake and choosing the foods he or she eats and limit if not avoid processed foods and added sugar.
- Finally, a dieter should not forget some form of exercise to complement the diet or some form of physical activity to keep lean muscles. Weight training if possible is the best.
As with any other diet, alway consult your doctor first and get advice that will keep you safe and avoid any unwanted injury or harm.
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Cole LA (2009). “New discoveries on the biology and detection of human chorionic gonadotropin”. Reprod. Biol. Endocrinol. 7: 8.
Gregory JJ, Finlay JL (April 1999). “Alpha-fetoprotein and beta-human chorionic gonadotropin: their clinical significance as tumour markers”. Drugs. 57 (4): 463–7.