The HCG diet has been all over the news for many years now. Per reviews of the, most people lose on average approximately 1-2 pounds per day. The secret to the weight loss? HCG. Taken as drops or intravenously, this miracle weight loss aid has helped many shed unwanted weight – FAST! Let’s look more closely and learn more about it.
What is HCG?
HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone present in elevated levels in early pregnancy. It is what makes a pregnancy test show positive on the take at home pregnancy tests indicating pregnancy. The hormone is made by the placenta once a woman is pregnant. This has also been used to treat fertility issues in both men and women.
The HCG Way
Albert T. W. Simeons was a British endocrinologist who was conducting a study in India on pregnant women and children who suffered from Frölich’s syndrome and were on low calorie deficient diets. He treated them with low-doses of the HCG hormone and observed that both had lost fat instead of muscle tissue. Then in 1954, he wrote a book called Pounds and Inches and the rest is history. The hormnone was introduced as a weight loss tool in the mid 20th century. It was shown to have decreased appetite and promoted fat loss. The plan basically comprises:
- An ultra low calorie diet of around 500 calories a day, with very little carbs.
- The HCG hormone injections.
How Does This Work?
When paired with low fat and low carb foods, HCG will help lose fat rather than lean muscle. The hormone causes the body to use fat stores as energy thus the dramatic weight loss. It also helps stave off the feeling of hunger which is what makes the 500 calories a day achievable. It is generally divided into 4 phases.
- Loading phase: Start taking HCG and eat plenty of high fat high calorie food for two days.
- Weight loss phase: Continue taking HCG and consume 500 calories a day for about 3 to 6 weeks.
- Transition phase: Stop taking it while you gradually increase your food intake. Keep in mind to avoid sugar and carbs for 3 weeks.
- Lifetime Maintenance phase: By now the dieter will know how to control his weight and will have better eating habits.
The weight loss on the 1st cycle can be anywhere from 20-40 pounds. Those of you who need to lose more weight can repeat the whole cycle and all the phases again.
What You Can Eat
The general guidelines indicate that you are allowed 100 grams of a lean protein of your choice, 2 fruits a day, 2 servings of vegetables a day, no carbs and lots of water. All meats must be grilled or broiled – never fried. Allowed foods are:
- Lean proteins: Chicken breast, lean beef, fresh white fish, crab. All the meat should be rid of fats. Only the lean meat is recommended.
- Vegetables: Spinach, beet greens, green salad (mixture), tomatoes, onions, red radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, cabbage
- Fruits: Apples, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit
- Bread: 1 grissini breadstick or 1 melba toast.
The allowed beverages include:
- Tea (sugar substitutes are allowed)
- Plenty of water. (5 to 6 liters a day)
- 1 Tbs of fat free milk
Foods and dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt etc. come with protein and fats. Eating dairy is off limits since it adds additional fat and calories. Carbohydrates from flour and rice sources are also not allowed however you can have melba toast or grissini sticks.
Meals at a Glance
Your typical meals may look like this:
- coffee with 1 tbs of fat free milk
- 1 piece of melba toast
- 1 orange
Snack – I cup of strawberries
- 100 grams of chicken breast
- 1 cup of mixed greens (lettuce and spinach)
Snack – cup of tea
- 100 lean flank steak
- 1 cup of cabbage
Thought-out the day drink lots of water!
You can flavor your food however try to keep salt at a minimum. Rely instead on natural flavorings such as lemon juice, hot peppers, herbs and spices. No salad dressings are allowed however you may dress your salad with a splash of vinegar of any kind or a sprinkle of lemon juice.
While on the diet, it is not recommended to go to the gym or perform any exercises since this will increase your bodies need for more fuel. This in turn may sabotage your diet. If you exercise, you will burn off more calories however your body will need more fuel and you will have to eat more. If you absolutely must exercise, then make it a very light session and limit it to no longer than 20-30 minutes. Do not do any running or any high heart pumping activities.
This diet has zero side effects. You can continue any medications you were taking prior to starting the diet without any fear of complications or negative interactions. Some people experience headaches or fatigue in the first few days of starting the diet however these symptoms generally subside. The first couple of days on the diet are usually the toughest but your body will adjust accordingly and the diet will become easier.
The hormone is not without its controversies but promises to be a diet plan that is easy to execute. All in all, the diet is simple to follow and has no gimmicks.