What is hCG diet?

What is hCG diet?

The hCG diet is a diet based on female pregnancy hormone – human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced by placenta during pregnancy to help the baby grow. hCG has been used for a variety of medical purposes like infertility treatment for decades, but more recently it has become the centerpiece of the HCG diet. According to its creators, it can be used in drops, injections or pills to curb appetite and reduce weight.

This hormone is claimed to have several modes of action which results in weight loss: hCG accelerates the mobilization of fat and uses it as an energy source, it’s said to reduces appetite and activate metabolism

The main principle of diet is combining daily low-dose (125 IU) hCG injections and extreme calorie restriction with allowance of only about 500 calories per day. The diet lasts from three weeks or longer, depending on how many pounds you intend to lose. The promised result is losing 1-2 pounds a day.

This diet sounds like a perfect idea for those who want to get ready for the swimming season in the shortest possible time or those who are overweight and desire to lose extra-pounds quickly. It does sound simple and nice!

Although, starting this diet without consulting your doctor is not recommended, since you will need to make drastic changes to your diet, which are likely to be stressful for your body.

History

Although this diet became popular only in the last decade. Beta-hCG diet was discovered in Great Britain in 1950s by famous endocrinologist Dr. Simeons, story of discovery is quite interesting, the doctor noticed that overweight males who got hCG injections for low testosterone levels, lost significant amount of body fat, without losing muscle mass. Furthermore, doctor claimed that hormone can burn stored so called “stubborn fat” in places like hips, thighs, belly. And he later published a book titled “Pound and Inches” describing his methods of obesity management.

What are hCG diet phases?

hCG diet is grouped into 3 different chronological phases:

Phase 1 – Loading phase – 2 days

During this period you consume a lot of high-fat, high-calorie meals, while taking hCG injections or pills.

Phase 2 – Low calorie phase – 26 – 60 days

In this phase you go into extreme calorie restriction of about 500-800 calories a day.

Phase 3 – Maintenance phase – at least 21 days

After stopping hCG injections and being on an extreme calorie restriction diet, your goal is to maintain that weight by following a balanced meal plan with exclusion of refined sugars, starch and high-calorie foods. Your daily calorie allowance at this phase should be about 1500 calories.

Yes, it does sound like starving for days, but at the same time promises dramatic weight loss in the shortest amount of time, you are likely to get in your goal body shape in 21-40 days, as this meal plan + medication combination is supposed to cause weight loss of about 1-2 pounds a day (0,5-1kg a day)

As a rule, for this diet to be effective and quick only 500 calories are allowed per day. And you will probably be surprised – what can you even eat for these 500 calories ? That’s why we are suggesting meal plans to make it easier for you.

These 500 calories are limited to certain types of animal protein: chicken breast, beef, veal, turkey. Fish, crabs, lobster or shrimp are also allowed, as well as some vegetables, fruits and cereals. Oils are strictly forbidden with this diet, even if they are good for the body, such as avocado oil.

On the contrary, it is important to mention that scientific evidence proves otherwise, there are multiple studies stating that efficacy of this diet comes only from extremely low daily calorie allowance and not from hormone itself, that’s why FDA does not approve hCG off-label usage for weight loss purposes.

Beta hCG effects

According to Doctor Albert.T.W. Simeons –  Human chorionic gonadotropin is a natural fat burner and it does so by programming hypothalamus to mobilize excess adipose tissue.

The fact that the main role of this hormone is to control and regulate the use of fat stores in the body in order to free up enough calories to support a new life, made it possible to use it for weight loss in non-pregnant people. It is hCG that guides the cells that accumulate fat to begin converting it into energy.

It is also claimed to suppress appetite – servings of HCG help you feel less hungry and reduce your need for food.

Despite that fact, according to FDA “there is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

Although other researchers didn’t find any evidence to support those claims. Numerous studies concluded that there is no scientific evidence of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is an effective and safe way of management of obesity.

You should absolutely consult your physician to make sure that hCG and a very low-calorie diet combination is the safe way for you to lose weight.

Side effects of hCG diet

Just like all medications, hCG also has some side effects to be cautious about

  • Fatigue
  • Thromboembolism – Blood clot formation
  • Palpitations
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Gallstone formation
  • Edema – fluid buildup
  • Gynecomastia – swelling of the breasts in boys and men

Mayo Clinic states regarding hCG diet – “If weight loss is your goal, there are safer ways to lose weight. Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about how to make healthy changes that lead to permanent weight loss, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.”

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References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/hcg-diet/faq-20058164

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/avoid-dangerous-hcg-diet-products

https://www.webmd.com/diet/hcg-and-weight-loss

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/what-do-you-know-about-the-hcg-diet

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2405506/