Another day, another diet that claims to be different.
The HCG diet, however, may well be that diet.
Some say that the HCG diet protocol is extreme, but it needs to be. It promises weight loss of one to two pounds per day – not per week. And the creators say you won’t go hungry in the process.
What do you eat, how do you lose weight, and should you try it? Keep reading to learn more.
What Is the HCG Diet Protocol?
HCG is the acronym for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a naturally occurring hormone. If you’re a woman, then you might recognize it from at-home pregnancy tests.
The hormone appears in abnormally high levels during the first few months of your pregnancy. Fertility specialists also use it to help couples conceive.
Today, some say it’s a weight-loss tool.
The HCG protocol isn’t a new fad diet. On the contrary, a British doctor first named it as a potential weight loss stimulator back in 1954. Dr. Albert Simeons said you could lose weight – and fast – if you use HCG hormone injections and follow an ultra-low calorie diet plan (approximately 500 calories per day).
What’s the Science Behind HCG?
How does the hormone that helps you conceive and marks a pregnancy help you lose weight?
In theory, high levels of the hCG hormone boost your metabolism, but only when combined with the low-calorie diet.
The massive decline in calories alone will cause you to lose weight. However, the hormone should help you feel less hungry because you’re at only a third of your maintenance calorie intake.
How the HCG Diet Works: Three Phases
The hCG diet protocol occurs over three very different phases. How much time do those phases take? It depends on how much you want to lose. If you want to shed a few pounds, you’ll spend just over six weeks in total on the diet. Those who wish to transformative weight loss will spend nine weeks on the diet.
Here’s what happens over the three phases.
The loading phase is your introduction to both the hormone and the diet.
During this phase, you begin your hCG treatments, and you eat until the cows come home. You’ll load up on energy with high-calorie and high-fat foods.
This phase lasts for two days. Then, you enter the weight loss phase.
The weight loss phase requires you to do two things:
- Take your hCG hormone
- Eat 500 (or 800) calories a day
During the weight loss phase, you avoid anything with sugar, starch, and fat. In many cases, you eat your calories over two meals, usually lunch and dinner.
Most meal plans suggest eating:
- Lean protein
- Vegetables (usually dark, leafy greens)
- One piece of bread
- One portion of fruit
You also need to keep hydrated with plenty of water. Coffee and tea are also allowed as is mineral water. But butter, oils, and sugary drinks are all forbidden.
You can spend three to six weeks on this phase, depending on your weight loss goals. There are no cheat days or weekends off. You keep going until you lose the weight or the three to six weeks is up.
In some cases, you might be told to restart the diet and repeat the cycle to encourage more fat loss.
The maintenance phase is the final phase and lasts for three weeks.
When you enter the maintenance phase, you stop your HCG treatments. You also gradually increase your caloric intake over time, ideally sticking to the list of approved foods (if you receive one). You continue to avoid sugar and starchy foods for the entire three weeks.
How to Find HCG Products
Homeopathic HCG drops have FDA approval for fertility but not for weight loss. That makes them tricky to get.
Although you can find hCG in oral drops, sprays, and pellets online and in some stores, the FDA says that those selling them are doing so illegally. Again, while hCG is not illegal for use when prescribed from your doctor, both the FDA and FTC are actively trying to stop other companies from selling them.
Additionally, some companies sell fake HCG products.
The FDA and FTC issued seven warning letters to companies selling products requiring them to correct their course.
You can view here some more information about finding HCG.
Who Shouldn’t Try the hCG Diet?
Scientists and the FDA say that no one should try the HCG diet. They argue that the diet goes beyond being unsustainable and is also unsafe.
They argue that eating an ultra-low calorie diet, like the 500 calories recommended by the HCG protocol, sends your body into starvation mode. Your metabolism will slow down to protect the energy you have. And because you increase your caloric intake at the end, you are likely to overeat.
Secondly, they argue that the hormone does nothing for weight loss and instead is a way of selling a diet that would otherwise be unappealing. However, they do acknowledge that the risks of using HCG are small.
Your most significant threats come from the injection itself. Injection injuries can seem minor but can become problematic and require antibiotics.
Finally, if using HCG could indicate to doctors that you’re pregnant, even if you’re not. If a doctor assumes you have an ectopic pregnancy, then they believe you are in the midst of a medical emergency that requires surgical intervention.
A great way to boost health, lower calorie intake naturally, and help the environment is by following a pegan lifestyle. Read more about the pegan diet here.
Be Aware of the Consequences of the HCG Diet Protocol
The HCG diet protocol requires you to restrict your caloric intake severely and use an unregulated hormonal supplement. You should be aware of the potential risks involved before starting the diet and particularly understand the risks of buying HCG without a doctor’s prescription.
There are many different ways to lose weight. If you are struggling to shift the pounds, talk to your doctor or a registered nutritionist about sustainable and realistic weight loss plans.
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