What is HCG Diet?
Can you imagine, waking up one day at the end of a month’s dieting regimen and realizing that it indeed worked. You lost all undesired pounds, you are lean just by eating less, not the usual starving yourself out, and no exercise. Sounds good to be true, doesn’t it? If indeed there was one, everyone should have known about it.
In a sense, who wouldn’t want to lose weight without making an effort? According to some diet and fitness authors, that diet exists, and it should be exploited. It is called the hCG diet, and it has been around for close to 50 years, only that since the 60s, it has been shrouded in controversy and mystery.
So what is the HCG diet plan?
Before we go any further, I would like to shed some light on what hCG is. hCG, otherwise known as human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, is a hormone produced by the gonads during pregnancy which helps the baby grow and develop inside the womb. Its use has been vast and has recently become a fad diet centerpiece that includes HCG drops, pills or even needle shots, all with the aim of suppressing appetite leading to weight loss.
The HCG diet naturally stimulates metabolism and leads to a lean body, is the ultimate weight loss program. The whole concept was championed and developed by a British endocrinologist in the 50s called A. T. W. Simeons.
Simeons claimed that when he administered HCG to his patients, it significantly reduced excessive body fat without the usual daily exercises. In his book, he outlined two decades of research into the idea that this treatment coupled with a reduction diet, could “program” the hypothalamus to fight off obesity by substituting muscle shedding for accumulated fat in tissues.
The Original Protocol
Since his initial work, slight changes have been made but the original protocol designed by the good doctor has remained intact. First, the hormone treatment is administered, either via injection or under the tongue drops. The second part is limiting calorie intake by reducing diet, usually done after the third dose of hCG.
The Diet To Consume
When under this treatment regimen, the foods proposed to consume were;
- High-protein foods, that are lean and fat-free like chicken breasts, shrimp, lobsters etc.
- Fresh organic vegetables that are low-calorie types for lunch and suppers like spinach, tomatoes, celery, radishes, cucumbers, asparagus and cabbage.
- You can also include super greens like sunflower and broccoli
And also certain foods were to be avoided altogether. Foods containing dairy products like milk, ghee and cheese were to be excluded from the diet. High-calorie carbohydrates, sugar, and alcohol were also to be scrapped off from the diet.
Dr. Simeons’ Findings
According to Dr. Simeons, one is not going to get miserable over time, with the HCG treatment, all that annoying hunger is avoided altogether, and the overall mood is enhanced. The HCG utilizes the excess body fat stored in the regions of our bodies termed as “problematic” (waist, hips, belly, and arms), allowing one to essentially “feed” on your own body fat. The small amount of food you are told to eat fights off hunger pangs.
Those championing the HCG diet have claimed that the injection treatment allows the body to maintain its original muscle mass whilst dieting. The hormones helped to increase in the body, called testosterone, creates an anabolic state (which allows the muscle to build) in the body which counteracts the opposite, catabolic state (where muscle to break down). The muscle fibers hormone receptors respond to the increased hormone levels.
The diet regimen was to last around 26 days minimum, it has the potential to go as far out as 43 days.
HCG is approved by the authoritative body FDA (Food and Drug Administration) but this approval has nothing to do with weight loss, its approval use has been restricted to treat infertility in men and women to raise sperm count and stimulate ovulation respectively. The HCG treatment regimen for weight loss is presently considered homeopathic and ineffective and inefficient by the FDA. They have considered it a tool by fraudsters out there selling the weight loss dream.
Dr. Simeon, from his research, he was convinced that his treatment regimen worked; unfortunately, he only holds that claim alone, no parallel studies were done and essentially was the only one who demonstrated the experiment and presented the results. No other clinical trial or sponsored research has ever been able to duplicate his findings.
Indeed research studies may have been done since the 60s but they may not have been documented for the purpose of reference. Could it be due to the prosperity this treatment entails? In the 26 days you partake in the regimen it costs you $495 on average.
Kindly note these 2 studies carried out and their supposed results.
A 1963 study:
Twenty women diagnosed with “severe chronic obesity” were separated into 2 groups, where one group received daily HCG shots, while the other received a placebo drug of saline solution. Both women groups were then further restricted to two meals a day (550 daily calories). They were allowed unlimited water and beverage intake of water without sugar of course. After 45 days, these women “registered a uniform average 20-pound weight loss”. There was no significant difference between the weight loss of the HCG shot receiving women and those given the placebo drug. The study concluded that “It is diet, aside from the action of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is the crucial factor in Simeons’ program”.
In 1976, a study was carried out again to put the efficacy of HCG diet in weight loss hypothesis.
Fifty-one women between the ages of 18 and 60 were encouraged to participate in the “double-blind”, random study over the course of 32 days. Each patient was provided with the same diet, weighed daily, and was counseled by the investigators who issued the HCG hormone injections. Twenty-five of the total women were given the HCG shot while the remaining 26 women were given a placebo. At the end of the study, it was discovered that “Statistically, the two groups had no significant difference in the mean of the number of the injections received, weight loss, weight loss percentage, hip, and waist circumference, or the rate of weight loss per injections.
These two studies decisively concluded that the HCG had actually nothing to do with enhancing or augmenting the extreme reduction of weight diet effectiveness. Not only did the women taking the HCG injections lose no less weight compared to the women taking the placebo, but also they were just as hungry. Since then, the FDA has labeled this treatment regimen for weight loss as illegal. It essentially can’t be purchased over the counter and anyone selling HCG for weight loss purposes is literally breaking the law.
Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of Harvard Medical School points out that: “It’s reckless, irresponsible, and utterly irrational. Can one lose weight on it? Yes sure, but that’s just mainly because you’re consuming hardly any calories. And any benefit gained is not going to last”.
The potential dangers of the HCG diet
The hCG hormone itself isn’t the problem. As it was mentioned before it is an accredited treatment for infertility in men and women. Its list of side effects, however, does sound a little jittery: potential headaches, abdominal cramps, possible constipation, depression, male breast enlargement (gynecomastia), infections, and blood clots. Although these complications are often rare in most cases.
The real danger lies therein the diet. And doctors and nutritionists have warned about the potential dangers of the diet. They all urged total avoidance of the diet plan.
According to a registered dietician at the Mayo Clinic, Katherine Zeratsky, consuming such few calories places the body in a “starvation state” and metabolism is forced to slow down dramatically to conserve energy as a natural mechanism set in the body, this hurts any weight control effort by the body in the long run.
Chances are, once off the diet plan and after your hormone treatment regimen has ended, you’ll basically end up eating a lot to make up for the extremely reduced calorie intake. This over-eating soon after eating so little would completely destabilize your body metabolism.
Since every individual’s body is different, recommended daily normal caloric intake values are 1800-2200 Cal. As per the HCG diet plan, eating only 500 calories a day is basically like eating one meal a day, it is just a small quantity not even enough to fulfill your daily needs
During this starvation mode, note that the body “leeches” muscle protein from the heart and other crucial muscular organs, this cardiac leaching can cause acute ventricular tachycardia that could be fatal and result in death. Dr. David L. Katz, the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre Director, in Connecticut was quick to point out. He also claimed that “The HCG diet is a complete sham. And I believe it will separate you entirely from your money, and even possibly your health”.
That would seem like a huge stack of evidence against the HCG diet plan. Of course, as a reader you are entitled to your own opinions and you can draw out your own conclusions as you read this article, but do consider, any time the placebo is known to be just as effective as the actual treatment, you’re potentially wasting your precious time and hard earned money seeking actual results. It’s also important to note that dieting itself when done right and carefully (not just starving yourself), it is super effective, ensuring weight loss. More so when coupled with regular exercise.
Please reader, before you go out looking for some get-slim-quick scheme to burn excessive fat and ultimately get in the shape you envision yourself in, do take the time to think critically and figure out which evidence supported diet will work best for you, and most importantly, seek your physician’s guidance on your chosen plan if it is right for you and will not have detrimental causes in your health and future well-being. Always trust the experts.
Like with any purported health trend out there, it is crucial to do your research before undertaking the process.