Being in the health, wellness, weight loss field I get a lot of questions from clients asking about different diets. Whether it is low carb, baby food, master cleanse or carb cycling, there always seems to be a new ‘IT’ diet going around. Lately, it’s been all about the HCG diet.
I’m going to do my best to break down in a simple way what the HCG diet is, then give you my thoughts at the end… so here goes:
What is HCG?
HCG is a hormone naturally produced by pregnant women. Part of its function is to guarantee that the fetus gets the nutrients it needs, by tapping into fat reserves, whether the mother is eating enough or not.
Is the HCG diet FDA approved?
HCG is approved as a fertility aid. The diet use of the drug is NOT FDA approved. However, it is legally able to be used a dietary supplement if a doctor is willing to write the prescription.
How does the HCG diet work?
A patient enters a treatment plan that lasts anywhere from 23-43 days. During the first 3 days the patient calorie-loads, eating over 3000 calories a day. Then, after receiving the first HCG injection, the patient is put on a strict 500 calorie a day diet, and encouraged to make those 500 calories high in protein, low in carbohydrates and fats. Also, alcohol is forbidden.
During the treatment, daily HCG injections are necessary. After 40 days, the patient must take a break in order to allow the body to ‘re-sensitize’ to the diet. A patient must wait 6 weeks before reentering the program.
Does HCG act as an appetite suppressant?
Contrary to popular thought, no. Studies have shown that when comparing HCG injections to saline placebo injections, there was no difference in the amount of hunger experienced by patients. Some people may claim they felt less hungry, but scientists agree that it is simply the power of suggestion at work.
Will you lose weight on the HCG diet?
Yes. You will also lose weight if you suddenly drop to eating 500 calories a day, even without injections. HOWEVER, as with any starvation diet, you will lose quickly, then hit a plateau, ruin your metabolism and gain all the weight (plus some) back once you return to normal eating.
How much does it cost?
The initial visit is usually around $150. Each injection is $10 (totaling $400 per treatment round). Plus, there are follow up visits to pay for as well.
What are some of the possible side effects of the HCG diet?
Headaches, blood clots, confusion, hair loss, swelling of the hands and feet, shortness of breathe, pelvic pain, possible increased fertility.
What’s my take?
It’s the newest health gimmick. I’ve said it before: pick any diet in the world you want- cabbage soup, nothing but gummy worms, seriously… whatever you want- and it will work for you.. short term. All these fads have a common thread- severe calorie reduction. These will lead to a rapid drop in weight. However, not only will you sacrifice your energy, health, lifestyle satisfaction, etc, you will ruin your metabolism. Your body is very adaptable and will slow down it’s processes quickly to adapt the the dramatic drop in calories. This is when you will hit the plateau. Then once you return to eating normally, or even if you just add in an extra couple hundred calories, your body will immediately store this as fat and your weight will quickly return, plus some.
That’s just the beginning. Don’t get me started on the fact that you are injecting hormones into your body.
Have you heard of the HCG diet?
What are your thoughts?