The HCG diet has been popular for many years.
It is an extreme diet, established to result in a rapid weight loss of up to 0.5 kg per day, without feeling hungry.
The name “HCG Diet” comes from the fact that this diet uses a combination of HCG hormone and extremely low-calorie intake to achieve dramatic weight loss.
HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone present at high levels in early pregnancy. This hormone is used as a marker in home pregnancy tests.
HCG has also been used to treat fertility problems in both men and women.
However, high blood levels of HCG can also be a symptom of several types of cancer, including cancers of the placenta, ovaries, and testes.
In this article, we will try to outline the main aspects of the HCG diet: what it consists of, how it is practiced, its benefits, its possible side effects, and the precautions to be taken when practicing it.
HCG Diet: What Is It?
In 1954, the British physician, Dr. Albert Simeons, hypothesized that HCG allows mothers-to-be to have access to fat reserves to nourish their fetus.
He published a book, “Pounds and Inches”: A New Approach to Obesity, in which he suggested that HCG could help people access their fat reserves and lose weight.
Dr. Albert Simeons first proposed the HCG diet as a weight-loss tool in 1954. His diet has two main components:
- A deficient calorie diet of about 500 calories per day.
- Injections administer the HCG hormone.
Today, HCG products are sold in various forms, including oral drops, granules, and sprays. They are available on countless websites and in some stores.
The basic idea behind this diet is as follows: on the one hand, to practice a very low-calorie diet to force the body to tap into its fat reserves, and on the other hand, to make it easier for the body to access these fat reserves by administering the hormone HCG.
However, in his Fox health TV show, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon, and professor at Columbia University, introduced a new form of HCG diet that can consume 1500 calories per day.
Dr. Oz even claims that the original HCG diet limiting calorie intake to 500 calories “should no longer be practiced by any doctor.
This updated version of the HCG diet involves a less severe calorie restriction but still requires HCG hormone administration.
It should be noted that very little research has been done on this new version of the HCG diet.
HCG Diet: How Does It Work?
The HCG diet, which is very low in fat and calories, generally consists of three phases:
1ST PHASE: LOADING PHASE
During this stage, you can eat as much as you want to accumulate calories and fat.
HCG supplements are also taken.
This phase usually lasts two days.
2ND PHASE: WEIGHT LOSS PHASE
This phase consists of continuing to take HCG supplements and limiting caloric intake to 500 calories per day.
This phase lasts 3 to 6 weeks.
3RD PHASE: MAINTENANCE PHASE
During this maintenance phase, one stops taking HGC supplements and gradually increases one’s food intake.
However, sugar and starch are avoided for three weeks.
Those seeking minimal weight loss can spend only three weeks in the second phase of weight loss; those seeking significant weight loss must spend six weeks in this intermediate phase and may even repeat all the cycle stages several times.
During the second phase of weight loss, you can eat only two meals a day, usually breakfast and dinner.
HCG meal plans generally suggest that each meal should contain one serving of lean protein, one vegetable, one piece of bread, and one fruit piece.
Butter, oils, and sugar should be avoided, but drinking plenty of water is recommended. Mineral water, coffee, and tea are also allowed.
The following are examples of permitted foods and foods to be avoided in the HCG diet.
Examples of foods allowed in the HCG diet :
Asparagus, celery, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, spinach, and other leafy vegetables, tomatoes, apples, grapefruit, oranges, skinless chicken breast, lean ground beef, sliced turkey, shrimp, white fish.
Examples of foods to avoid in the HCG diet :
Oils, butter, nuts, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, sugar, dried and marinated fish, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
HCG Diet: Benefits
Proponents of the HCG plan believe that the program has several advantages, including the following :
Preservation of Muscle Integrity
Many diets that make you lose weight quickly reduce fat and muscle.
The problem is that after dieting, muscle is much harder to recover than fat, and you may gain back more weight than you lost.
HCG preserves muscle mass while releasing stored fat.
Increase of Energy
Dieting can cause exhaustion, hunger, irritability, and general fatigue.
By using HCG, the body releases fatty fat and converts it into energy.
Most people on diets report a significant increase in energy levels within a few days.
Reduction in Cholesterol Levels
HCG, combined with a deficient caloric intake, reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Maintaining healthy eating habits will reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
HCG balances the hormones in your body.
It releases testosterone, which can improve libido in men.
Also, estrogen levels in women are better regulated, promoting body homeostasis and healthy weight loss.
Absence of Associated Hunger
Most diets with a deficient calorie intake cause intense hunger.
The HCG diet requires a strict intake of only 500 calories per day.
However, HCG injections cause your body to draw calories from stored fat, so you do not feel a severe sense of hunger.
Please note that the HCG injections do not cause you to feel a severe feeling of hunger.
This extreme diet, which can be described as a “crash” diet, necessarily causes weight loss since it is shallow in calories. However, this result is only useful if you maintain this weight loss through a healthy, balanced diet without excess calories afterward.
Indeed, if after this HCG diet, which can only be of limited duration, one returns to bad habits, i.e., malnutrition with excess calories, all the benefits obtained will be lost.
Therefore, people who want to practice this diet to lose weight should keep in mind that they cannot maintain this weight loss permanently just by this diet.
Maintaining a correct weight can only be the work of a lifestyle that avoids excesses and permanently promotes a healthy and balanced diet.
HCG Diet: Side Effects and Precautions
People who wish to lose weight should consult a doctor or dietician for advice and information.
Usually, health professionals recommend reducing calorie intake between 1200 and 1800 calories per day while increasing physical activity.
However, these measures may not be appropriate for everyone, so individuals must speak to a professional before making any drastic changes to their diet or lifestyle.
Taking HCG may affect pregnancy test results based on HCG detection in a woman’s urine and blood.
If you are on such a diet, you should report it at each medical visit.
During a medical emergency, if the doctor is unaware of the hormone being taken, the high blood levels of HCG in the absence of an ultrasound image of a uterine pregnancy could be mistaken for an ectopic pregnancy extreme emergency.
You must carefully choose the supplier from which you purchase your product.
Indeed, some HCG products available online are homeopathic and do not contain the actual HCG hormone.
People with health problems or those taking long-term medication should seek a physician’s advice before maintaining this diet.
Under no circumstances should this diet be undertaken by pregnant or nursing women, children, or adolescents.
The HCG diet should be discontinued if you experience any discomfort or symptoms.
Not everyone reacts in the same way to severe caloric restriction.
HCG Diet: Sample Menu
Below we give an example of a menu for a day of HCG dieting during the 2nd phase, the weight loss phase.
As mentioned earlier, people in the 2nd phase of the HCG diet are generally limited to 2 meals only: breakfast and dinner with a total calorie intake of 500 calories.
A plate of vegetables
A white fish
A piece of wholemeal bread
A piece of wholemeal bread