Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is a hormone or peptide produced primarily during pregnancy. Dr. Albert T. W. Simeons, a noted endocrinologist, published his book Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity in 1954. He described the HCG Diet which involves taking low doses of the hormone and consuming a prescribed, low-calorie diet during the protocol. The diet gained popularity again in the 1980s and has since been marketed as a weight-loss solution for many looking to jumpstart their new year’s resolutions. However, it is important to understand that this diet is not something you can follow for the rest of your life. It works by limiting caloric intake to about 500 calories per day and dieters must take HCG in the form of drops or injections. This ups the fat-burning process while also keeping someone from feeling hungry. The specifics of this diet are fairly rigid, but there are some versions of the HCG diet that have different guidelines like the one I offer my patients at The Youth Fountain.
The HCG diet is a form of a very low-calorie diet or VLCD. In this diet, people eat about 500 calories per day and take the HCG hormone. The goal is to eliminate all fat in the diet to help you accelerate weight loss while burning fat and preserving muscle. While there are some variations of the diet, all of them include a very low-calorie intake. When someone eats fewer calories than they need to maintain their weight, they are in a state of “negative energy balance.” This means the person’s body needs energy from stored fat, sugar, and proteins. With no fat derived from dietary sources, the fat in your body becomes the main fuel source for the body that is needed beyond the low calories in the diet.
This diet has been claimed to help suppress the appetite and burn fat. That it can boost your metabolism. You could lose up to a half pound of weight per day. Although this may sound like a dream come true but keep in mind that you will only be eating 500 calories per day. If you plan to eat more than that, you will not lose weight as rapidly.
The claims made about the HCG diet are very attractive, but they are not necessarily supported by research. Yes, the hormone is identical to the hormone in a pregnant woman’s body. However, no studies have shown that taking this hormone has any effect on weight loss or appetite suppression different than a placebo. The overall caloric intake is so low that you will lose weight with this very low-calorie diet. The FDA has never approved the use of HCG for weight loss.
Fast results. When executed correctly, this diet can produce rapid weight loss in a short period of time. This can be motivating for some dieters and provide a powerful signal that the diet is working. Cost-effective. This diet does not require any special foods, supplements, or equipment, and you only need to make a few doctor’s appointments to get it going. Convenient. This diet does not require a lot of time and can be done while you are at work or doing other things.
Extremely restrictive. One of the main drawbacks to this diet is that it is extremely restrictive. You must consume very little food while on the program and no alcohol consumption. Uncomfortable. Eating so little can make the dieter feel extremely hungry. This is likely to cause some dieters to cheat during the diet. Difficult. This diet can be difficult because of the need to monitor your calories closely and prepare your meals ahead of time.
We have treated many patients in our clinic on this diet with great success despite the studies that may show no difference versus placebo. We see on average a fifteen-pound weight loss for our female patients and a 20-30 pound weight loss in men. We have also seen the preservation of muscle mass on this diet as demonstrated by bioimpedance testing. The diet is relatively safe for our patients and when followed correctly it can offer our patients a great method for weight loss. Ultimately you need to do your research and decide if this diet is right for you.
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