HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. Detecting pregnancy in women, it is released early in pregnancy by the placenta. HCG helps to utilize nutrients in the fat stores of the body. In this way nourishment is provided to the fetus on demand whenever needed.
How it Works
Basically, dieters follow a seriously high caloric feast the first two or 3 days of the diet. This is the fun part. If you have been following these blogs, you know you can eat just about anything at all.
Total fun fest.
Pizza, burgers, hot dogs, potato chips, you name it.
It can be right there on the table.
No holds barred.
Then, things get serious.
Following the loading phase, during the next 3 weeks your caloric intake is a strict 500 calories per day.
Foods rich in sugar and starch must be avoided. Remember, simple starches contain sugar; or rather they convert to sugar. A fresh baked baguette, for example even topped with salad remains off limits.
During this phase you must take the HCG injections. HCG supplies will provide you with everything you need to administer the HCG hormone (purchased separately).
A Stabilization phase or Phase 3 reintroduces some of the foods cut from your diet in Phase 2.
During this phase you may discover some foods enjoyed before such as bread, pizza, dairy; you’re now sensitive to. Feelings of sluggishness and general moodiness may indicate that a reintroduced food or its ingredients are no longer right for your body.
Remember, you have essentially detoxed your body from additives including sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, MSG, and simple starches.
Phase 4 is the phase where you will eat for life. So in other words, your new diet is now your lifestyle. During phase 3 you should have realized what foods work for you now and which do not.
But what if any are the side effects?
Preparation is Key
There is no denying that this weight loss program has worked wonders for many who have reported weight loss of between 15, 20 and even 30lbs during the three-week weight loss phase.
The use of HCG hormone is meant to maintain muscle mass and properly redistribute the body fat during the weight loss phase. HCG may also help to prevent loose and sagging skin from dieting. This is the benefit of the HCG hormone. Without the hormone, dieters may lose muscle mass in addition to fat, resulting in rapid weight gain after the program ends, even with a continued modified diet.
Muscle burns fat, so maintaining muscle increases the likelihood of maintaining weight loss after the program ends. This is particularly true with dieters following healthy food choices and continuing workout programs afterwards. Weight training is great because the anaerobic activity continues to boost metabolism after the workout has ended.
Cynics argue that weight loss has more to do with the calorie restriction and nothing to do with the HCG hormone. Those in favor of the founder, Doctor Simeons’ Protocol, argue the results and the benefit of the HCG program were suppressed by mainstream diet companies and researchers from around the 1970’s onwards. They suggest that today it is presented as an unconventional and new diet when in fact it has been around for over 60 years.
Clearly, there will be food cravings. It seems we are programmed to crave something we can no longer have. Tell a child not to eat the cookies before dinner, and you can bet from that moment, all the child thinks about is eating cookies before dinner even if they hadn’t thought about cookies all day!
This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t modify a busy routine. Nobody is suggesting your usual 3 hours a week Zumba. In fact, it is discouraged. What is recommended is gentle exercise. Additionally, nobody suggests tackling this diet while pregnant, or planning to become pregnant. Common sense should always win out.
The HCG diet even allows you to eat steak, shrimp, even lobster. What it does not allow you to do is to eat the entire cow, the entire lobster and an entire catch of shrimp.
So sure, if you’re used to loading your plate at every single meal, you may experience some hunger. Remember, for the health of your life, you are trying to retrain your brain to smaller portions, and a healthy approach to eating.
The HCG diet allows you to eat fruit and vegetables, even a few small crackers. The 500 calories are spread throughout the day with the injections taken at the same time each day. You are encouraged to drink plenty of water. You are also able to drink black coffee and unsweetened black tea.
Mood swings are another concern with critics of the HCG diet. But think of it this way. You are removing excess sugars and additives from your system. This may include alcohol, preservatives, and MSG. That can come as a shock to a body used to consuming those things regularly.
Some of those food and drink choices may have been a habit; they may even have been addictive.
Sugar, for example can be very addictive.
Think about that 2:00pm chocolate fix. Prior to starting the diet, you may not normally have eaten lunch, but you would have an afternoon chocolate bar. That is your habit. You don’t think of it as an addiction but, if you are dependent on it to get through the afternoon….
The same goes for the 5:00 o’clock wine and spirits when you arrive home after a crazy day at work. These routines become habits, potentially altering the brain chemistry.
Psychologically, if your attitude on the HCG diet is one of deprivation then our mood is going to bottom out even more. Attitude can really be everything.
Your HCG diet brain is rebelling. It is doing absolutely everything possible in order to survive.
We are hardwired to not like change. It keeps us safe. It keeps us warm. It maintains everything we know and trust.
It’s called survival.
So even though we want to eat healthy, even though we know we want to lose weight, even though our brain says, yes let’s do this, behind our back, it does everything it can to sabotage our efforts. Hence the mood swing as we reach for a treat that is no longer there.
Understanding the psychology can help us get through those moments. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, so long as you know why it’s there.
Remember, you are removing toxins and bad habits from the body.
Now, a disclaimer. If you have a history of depression, anxiety, or any other medical condition, consult with your doctor before embarking on this or any diet.
At the end of the day, where the real side effect is weight loss, and a healthy approach to nutrition and portion control, what is there to lose? The answer is pounds and inches.