Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) hormone is produced during pregnancy to help mobilise nutrients from the mother’s fat stores and be delivered to the fetus. HCG levels rise during early pregnancy and this is what the urine pregnancy test is based on. HCG increases the production of progesterone hormone in the mother to allow her uterus to sustain the growth of the fetus.
The HCG Diet
The weight loss benefits of HCG has been studied since the 1950s. Dr Simeons was the first doctor to begin treating obese volunteers with a combination of calorie restriction and HCG hormone injections. It was shown to mobilise nutrients from the body’s fat stores whilst sparing lean muscle. The individuals in the study lost about one pound per day. Especially noticeable was the loss of inches around the belly. The patients were said to lack the symptoms normally associated with low-calorie diets, such as craving and mood swings, and also were able to maintain skin turgor. HCG has also been used to treat infertility as it promotes testosterone production in men and promote egg maturation and ovulation in women. This means that men have the added benefit of increased metabolism and prolonged periods of keeping the weight off after stopping the diet. Men tend to lose more weight that women over the 6week period due to this fact, despite both following the same protocols.
How Is HCG Given?
Pharmaceutical HCG is obtained from the urine of pregnant women and is available only with prescription. It can be administered just underneath the skin by daily injection, similar to an insulin injection. For those who are scared of needles, there is also a version that you can put under the tongue. Another option is a patch that delivers the hormone through the skin and can be combined with vitamin B to give the individual extra energy. A doctor is needed to monitor the correct dosages, possible side effects and to determine whether the diet can be started for that particular individual. The HCG diet should not be used by people with heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, chronic respiratory problems or those are currently pregnant.
The HCG Diet Protocol
Before starting the HCG diet, your doctor will need to do a variety of blood tests, take a full history and examine you. Laboratory investigations will include a full blood count, a complete metabolic panel to check your liver and kidney function, thyroid hormones and, for women, oestrogen and HCG levels.
The HCG diet consists of 4 parts. First, you are given HCG administration daily via the chosen method for a minimum of 21 and a maximum of 40 days. Second, you will need to maintain 800 calories daily intake of specific foods chosen from a list. Third, you need to perform daily low impact exercises like walking for 30 minutes at a time. Fourth, you will be given a regimen of nutritional supplements. In preparation for the HCG diet, you will need to eliminate sweets, fried foods, MSG, fast foods, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, etc from your diet. A vitamin and mineral supplement will be needed, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
The HCG administration is required for a minimum of 21 days in order for your hypothalamus to reset itself. The hypothalamus is an area in the brain that is responsible for setting the metabolism rate of our bodies. For ideal results, the treatment should be given for 40 days. High impact exercises like weight training is not recommended during the treatment phase because this will require a higher calorie intake. The calorie intake of 800 calories per day has been studied as the optimal amount to be ingested per day in order to maintain long and short-term health.
After your last injection, you will enter a maintenance phase. During this phase, you will increase your calorie intake to 1500 per day. Fruits and vegetables can be chosen and eaten freely, as well as lean proteins. Carbohydrates especially starches should still be avoided. This is because, the HCG effects are thought to continue for up to 3 weeks after the last injection. Thus, fat will continue to mobilise during this time and avoiding starchy carbohydrates will maximise the weight loss results.
The whole goal of the HCG diet is for long term maintenance of weight loss. After completing the treatment, daily calorie intake is calculated by multiplying 13 calories per pound body weight. You will need to limit refined sugars, avoid artificial flavour enhancers, drink plenty of water and consume organic food, if possible, to keep the weight off. You will also be advised to exercise at least 3 times per week.
Besides a multivitamin and mineral supplement, the diet should also be combined with probiotics to help your digestive tract, and Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in the energy production of the cells in our body. I have talked about the benefits of Coenzyme Q10 as one of the top 3 anti-aging supplements in a previous article due to its effect on diabetes and blood pressure regulation. Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in certain fish like tuna and salmon, has been shown to stabilise blood cholesterol and sugar levels in overweight people who follow a weight loss program. There is also a blend of herbs that helps to cleanse the colon, liver, lymphatic system and skin. This is normally given during the first and last week of the program.
The HCG diet has been touted as the first non-fad diet as it is designed to maintain its results. This means less of the rebound weight gain that is experienced as compared to other diets. It achieves permanent weight loss by addressing hormonal issues, proper nutrition and exercise. It is a challenge to maintain a healthy diet in our modern society with so many stimulants to appetite including advertising, hunger triggered by habit of eating at certain times of the day, feeling cold, etc. It is also sad that the least expensive foods tend to be the ones with the most refined sugars such as white bread, cereal and pastas. Other pre-prepared convenience foods are high in fat. There is good reason for the HCG diet’s increasing popularity. With obesity on the rise worldwide, so are the complications associated with it.