Saturday, August 22, 2009

What is this hCG diet anyways...

There has been a lot of talk about the hCG diet recently. What is it? How does it work? Does it work? Is it harmful? etc. etc. etc. Though I've never participated in it myself, I've had family members, friends, and clients that have. I've read up on it and talked with individuals who administer it, trying to form my own opinion on the matter. Many of you have asked me my thoughts on it, so I hope through this post I'll be able to present factual information to explain what exactly it is.

hCG stands for human Chorionic Gonadotropin. It is a hormone that is found in both men and women. It is found more abundantly in pregnant women, and is crucial to a healthy pregnancy. The hCG hormone can be made synthetically or taken directly from a pregnant woman.

When on the hCG diet one combines an ultra low-cal (low carbohydrate, high protein) diet (500 calories per day, to be exact), with a daily dose of the hCG hormone. This process is followed for around three weeks depending on the program that is administered to you. If followed correctly, the diet claims to cause you to lose fat and to maintain lean muscle mass. The theory behind the diet's success comes from the idea that the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for many of the body's metabolic processes, is reset by the hCG. With these higher amounts of hCG, your body wants to "protect the young fetus," so to speak, so it metabolizes excess adipose/fat tissue, and protects lean muscle mass.

The diet claims that the The 500 calories you are allowed to consumer per day are not just any calories. The diet is very strict on what exactly can be consumed. Only certain fruits, vegetables, and very lean proteins can be eaten. hCG injections help to curb hunger, and keeps your body out of "starvation mode," that some restrictive diets put you into. The daily dose of the hormone is administered either by an oral supplement or a liquid injection.

Sounds easy enough right? So, if the diet works so well what are the downfalls? The dangers?
For starters this diet isn't approved by the FDA. The hCG injections have been approved for fertility issues, but not in association with weight loss. While those administering the hormone claim complete safety, Scientific and medical communities lack substantial evidence that prove these shots are safe over an extended period of time. Those who are administering the hormone by injection are at risk for blood clots. Common side affects include headaches, mood swings, depression, blood clots, confusion, and dizziness. Women who take the hormone are at risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome which can be deadly. Pregnant or nursing women should not take the hormone for risk of passing it on to the baby.

So does it work? Yes, if the diet is followed correctly you will lose weight. Those that I have seen participate in it usually lose around 10 lbs. Notice I said, if the diet is followed correctly. It is not strictly the hCG causing you to drop lbs. You have to have the calorie restriction.

Those were the facts, if you were strictly looking to find out what the hCG diet is bias free, I hope that answered most of your questions, and you can stop reading now... is my opinion...having worked in the weight-loss industry for a few years now I have learned one definite thing. If it seems to good to be true, it usually is. Weight loss is hard. It requires effort. When you are restricting calories in your diet, (especially upwards of 1200-1500 per day), of COURSE you are going to lose weight. That is not a sustainable lifestyle. Results that last come from habit changes that last. If you are under the impression that eating horribly previously to being involved in the diet, dropping 15 lbs in 3 weeks while eating very strictly, and then returning to your previous eating habits, is going to keep that weight off you are dead wrong. Remember that. "nothing changes if nothing changes." If you aren't willing to make changes in the way you are eating and living, no fad diet will be the answer for you. I like to eat. I enjoy healthy food. I do not enjoy starving myself, and feeling restricted. Now, I realize that for some this might be a great jump start into weight-loss mode. I have seen it work for some people, but I have also seen people put them through the whole process only to gain it all back. If you can follow up this diet by making positive changes in the way you are eating, you might be able to keep that weight off. However, for the most part old habits die hard, and the weight that you starved off yourself will eventually creep right back on.

So, for those considering it I guess you need to ask yourself if it's worth it to you? If you are going to be able to make the changes necessary to keep the weight off, than go for it. For most people I'd suggest making a livable restriction in your daily calorie consumption, get rid of the foods that aren't good for you, and get exercising. Make lifestyle changes that will last, and you will see results that will last!


The One Who Bakes At Midnight said...

Dear Megan.

This sounds crazy pants. How about a diet that allows me to eat 2000 calories of straight cookies and I'm still looking svelte at the end of the day?

Also...I am getting fat. Out of marathon training makes me fat...I start training again today but I love to bake...any tips on low-fat desserts?

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