One of the most talked about diets today is the HCG Diet. Being in the health and fitness industry for many years, I have a lot of people ask me my thoughts about the HCG Diet. Even though, I personally have never tried the diet, I researched the diet and found the good and bad about the diet.
What exactly is HCG? HCG is the pregnancy hormone. It is the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone produced by women during the early stages of pregnancy. It is administered in a drop formula or by injections followed by a 500 calorie a day diet program. The diets proponents say the drops trigger the hypothalamus to turn stored body fat into fuel. The drops will not work unless you reduce your food intake. The diet is broken into 4 phases. The first phase is the two days that everyone loves. It is 2 days of “pigging out”. You get to eat everything you want. All the cake, pizza, fried food, etc. that you can imagine. After the two days of pigging out, starts the very low calorie days of eating only 500 calories. You are only allowed to eat 14 vegetables, 4 fruits, and 6 lean proteins, no oils and only black coffee, tea or water. The only sweetener allowed is stevia. Even the use of lotions or makeup is prohibited on the diet. Only eating 500 calories a day seems a little extreme. This will continue for 21 to 40 days When you are only allowed to eat 500 calories a day, anyone can lose weight. However, this will force your body into starvation mode and will start to eat away muscle tissue and be very damaging to organs. Over a long period of time, this doesn’t seem very healthy or realistic. Anyone would lose weight eating only 500 calories a day, regardless of what food you ate. By only eating certain foods is a good way to teach discipline, but by restricting yourself so much, can be very dangerous. When people restrict their selves so much, the chances of bingeing are very likely. I eat very healthy all the time, but if I was only allowed to eat 500 calories a day, I know I couldn’t survive. Learning to incorporate healthy food choices like the diet suggests, is a great idea.
After the 40 days are up, leads you to the next phase of the diet. This is known as the VLCD. This is when you stop the injections or drops of HCG but continue to follow the low calorie diet. The purpose of this phase is to flush out any HCG from your body before you move into the final stage of the diet.
The final phase is for three weeks. This is where you slowly start to introduce new foods into your diet, up to 1200 calories. 1200 calories is still very low calorie for an active person to live off of. You must avoid sugar and starches at this point as well. After 4 weeks, you are suggested to either start another cycle of HCG by beginning with the loading days, or continue the maintenance phase where you can slowly introduce sugars and starches back into your diet.
Researchers suggest that the reason you must eat 500 calories a day is so that the abnormal fat is lost. This is where fat is stored and locked away. Just eating 500 calories a day, will cause your body to start burning structural fat and muscle. Structural fat is the fat that surrounds the various internal organs, and protects the arteries and cushions the bones.
The HCG diet is not for everyone. If you only need to lose 5 to 7 pounds, this diet is not good for you because you will become extremely hungry eating only 500 calories a day. Your body doesn’t have enough abnormally stored body fat to keep your energy levels up on this diet. This diet was designed for obese individuals. Some people have adverse side effects such as increased blood pressure, headaches, etc. The FDA claims there is no evidence that HCG is effective in weight loss. A lot of people ask me my thoughts on the HCG diet so I am simply stating the facts. I think it is a great idea to educate people how to eat correctly and healthy. Disciplined individuals will learn lifestyle modification from this diet, but if you go back to your old habits of eating, you will indeed gain all your weight back. Learning to make health and fitness a lifestyle is the key to weight management.
Jodi Tiahrt is a fitness model and competitor who as competed in over 40 fitness,figure, bikini, and sports model competitions with 36 first place titles. She is also a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, pilates insturctor and fitness pole dance instructor with Bachelors of Science Degree in biology (Pre Med) with minors in chemistry and health science.