Thursday, September 2, 2010

The HCG Diet

I don't want to offend anyone, but I really don't get the HCG diet craze. I have many friends, acquaintances, and even clients who have done it, but it just doesn't make sense to me, and I think it is just a dangerous fad. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women that is supposed to suppress hunger and help utilize fat as a primary fuel source. The diet requires injections of the hormone or taking it orally with drops under your tongue.

The diet also calls for reducing your calorie intake to 500 calories per day! Who wouldn't lose weight eating only 500 calories a day? Maybe they should rename it the Auschwitz diet. A person who is experiencing such a drastic calorie deficit is also going to burn muscle if they are in starvation mode, and this problem is only compounded when they begin to decrease their physical activity level since they don't have enough energy to exercise.

I also think it is ironic that it's socially acceptable to inject yourself with these hormones in an attempt to change your physique, but doing so with steroids is looked down upon as cheating and is against the law. I need to do more research, but I haven't seen any studies that prove that the HCG injections are the magic ingredient for weight loss as opposed to just a starvation diet. Going on this kind of diet can mess up your metabolism. Once you go off the diet and start eating like you used to, you can expect the weight to return, so it is really not a long term solution.

If you are on HCG or have had good results from doing it, I wish you the best, but permanent weight control is a matter of developing long term sustainable healthy habits. How I feel about the HCG diet can best be summed up with a quote from Mickey Blue Eyes. "The first time I saw that Charles Manson on the news I said 'I know this guy's up to no good'."


russell jack said...

here's how HCG works (as explained to me by the doctor who administered it to me):

the HCG hormone triggers/teaches your body to burn the abnormal fat reserves. you get energy from this - to the tune of 3500 calories of fat burned a day. the 500 calorie diet contains only very specific foods (eating non-approved food will block the hormone's effect). this leaves you with a deficit of 3,000 calories - or 1 pound of body fat.

here's why HCG is different than starvation:

during starvation, your body burns no calories, and starts getting energy from normal fat reserves, muscle, brain tissue, etc. it goes into starvation/hibernation mode and hangs on to every calorie it gets, and destroys your metabolism. your hair falls out, and you look sickly. for example, people who do gastric bypass look all sunken in, with loose skin hanging from their body.

during HCG your body actually ramps up its metabolism, and burns more calories. yes, you are hungry ALL THE TIME (because your stomach is used to having too much food in the first place). however, you don't have a lack of energy. you don't get shaky the same way you do on an extended fast. your skin gets smoother, and you get a healthy glow. you don't lose muscle tone, and your skin stays firm.

yes, HCG diet is a fad now, but it's been around for 50 years - pioneered by Dr. Simeon (actually not looking for weight loss at the time). read "inches and pounds" - which goes into depth about his research and findings. the diet is meant not to just be a 40-day deal, but is meant to change your lifestyle. this protocol is to "reset" your body's metabolism thermostat (teach it how to burn fat), and send you on your way for a healthy life.

Jen Yak said...

I agree. There is no way it can work long term.

Raymond said...

nice topic I have never heard of this before but I still am amazed at how people will try anything but the hard work and determination of just simply being in control of themselves when eating.
Its another easy way out!

Aaron said...

I'm glad to see you also recognize this so called diet for what it really appears to be- steroid abuse. A 500 calorie diet is a starvation diet, regardless of what it is composed of. The only thing making this "diet" unique from any other 500 calorie a day starvation diet is the hormone injections. I think it needs to be stripped of the word diet from it's name. I think if this becomes an accepted approach to weight loss we need to make steroids and performance enhancing drugs mandatory for professional athletes!

Tom said...

I had a college professor who taught a class on obesity. He didn't seem to think it mattered how people lost weight as long as they developed proper habits once they got to a healthy weight in order to maintain it and keep from gaining it back. Maybe this fits into that category, but it is certainly not a long term solution.

Map Maker said...

Russel Jack is right on. You need to read Dr. Simeons Pounds and Inches to understand how it was developed and why it works. I have a blog on my weight loss using homeopathic hcg. You say it isn't a long term solution, but you don't back that up in any way. Tell me the diet that has the most long term success. I have lost over 60 lbs on hcg and finally have hope to never be obese again.

Tom said...

Map Maker- First of all, Congratulations on losing that much weight!

I said HCG is not a long term solution because most people are not able to stay on a very low calorie diet for an extended period of time. I'm not a fan of any "diet" since so few of them have long term success once people revert back to their regular ways. I think it all boils down developing healthy habits for eating and daily activity.

I've also encountered people who say they can no longer exercise since they don't have enough energy while they are on the diet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining this to me, being from Sweden I had no idea what this was. Diets are not a big thing where I'm from, we simply just eat healthy.

Great blog, I love the information and the way your blog is set up. :)

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