18 Feb

What is the HCG Diet?

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Posted by Dr. Amanda Lee Categories: Naturopathic Medicine
What is the HCG Diet?

You may have already heard of this controversial diet that includes Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) injections with a low calorie diet to acheive rapid and lasting weight loss. The HCG diet is getting a lot of hype with its dramatic effects, and health care practitioners and patients are wondering – is it safe? and will it be effective in controlling the ever growing obesity epidemic?

HCG, are you kidding me?!
For those who already know what HCG is, you may have concerns about injecting yourself with pregnancy hormone and hoping for weight loss. HCG is a hormone produced in large amounts during pregnancy by the developing embryo. It is also used as a medication for fertility treatment, and even in males for delayed sexual development. Administration of HCG has been shown to be safe, but will it help you shed pounds?

How does it work?
For many women, pregnancy is not a time associated with weight loss, but when HCG is administered in the absence of pregnancy, it can help you lose on average 1 pound per day. HCG increases burning of fat at the level of the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that controls your metabolism. Instead of storing fat, or losing it at a very slow rate, HCG initiates fat mobilization, so that your fat is used for energy. HCG during pregnancy protects the growing embryo by mobilizing the mother’s fat stores so that the fetus is never without nutrients, despite whether the mother is consuming sufficient food or not. In men, or in non-pregnant women, HCG helps you metabolize your stored fat quickly, and re-sets your metabolic rate via your hypothalamus so you keep the pounds off.

Won’t I be hungry?
The HCG diet also includes an extremely low calorie diet of only 500 Calories per day. While this seems absurd, those doing the diet report that they are not hungry. The reason for this is that your body is using its stored fat as an energy and caloric source. HCG stimulates several thousand Calories of body fat to be burned per day, leading your body to use fat for fuel instead of food.

Do I need to exercise to lose weight?
While taking the HCG, you should stick to light exercise like walking, yoga, or rebounding. You do not need to exercise to lose weight on the HCG diet, but before and after the HCG Phase (described later), you should maintain an exercise regime consisting of aerobic exercise and weight training to stay fit.

How do I get HCG and how is it administered?
Bioidentical HCG can be obtained via prescription through your ND or MD. It is administered via intramuscular injection 6 days per week for 43 days, or 7 days per week for 23 days, depending on how much weight needs to be lost. For ease, the prescription is prepared for the patient in syringes, and they can be taught how to safely administer their own injections at home.

How long do I do it for?
The HCG diet has 4 steps which can be repeated until your goal weight has been acheived.
1. Phase 1: This step consists of necessary preparations before starting HCG. This may involve detoxification, Candida treatment, and dietary counseling. Nutritional supplementation before and after the HCG phase such as vitamins and minerals, greens, and a healthy whole foods diet is important for preparing the body for weight loss.
2. Phase 2, The HCG Phase: This step involves the HCG injections as previously described. The HCG phase will either be 43 days or 23 days, depending on how far you are from your goal weight. For the first two days while taking HCG, you will need to “fat load” your diet. This involves eating high fat foods such as nut/seed/olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters, fatty meats and cheese. Giving your body extra fats at the onset of the program helps you feel less hunger at the start of the low calorie diet. After the fat loading phase, you will follow a strict 500 Calorie per day diet for the remainder of the HCG phase. The food choices are limited, so it is best to follow an HCG diet recipe book to guide you. You must also avoid any oils, lotions or creams applied to the skin as these externally applied fats may stall your weight loss.
3. Phase 3: During this 3 week period after the HCG phase, you may eat a normal amount of calories but you must avoid starches and sugars. This phase involves the metabolism stabilizing at a new, higher level so that you do not gain back the weight you lost.
4. Phase 4: The last phase is the maintenance phase, where you gradually reintroduce starches and sugars into the diet. This phase is intended to transition you back to eating a well-rounded diet without calorie restriction, and without gaining weight. Ideally your diet should consist of whole grains, fiber, fruits, vegetables and protein, without processed foods or excessive amounts of sugar. Vitamin, mineral, and greens supplementation is also advised. A minimum of 3 weeks in the maintenance phase must be completed before you repeat the cycle.

The HCG protocol was originally developed in the 1950′s by Dr Simeons who discovered a relationship between using HCG as a treatment for obesity. Since then, the program has been published and has become increasingly popular due to its safety and rapid, lasting results.

Book an Appointment with Bloom’s Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Wilson to learn more about the HCG Diet.

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