HCG Diet Review

Few diets have sparked such controversy while being so popular. There are several myths about the hCG diet that tell of its benefits and dangers. In this review we will sort out fact from fiction. Read on to find out about the HCG diet.

What is HCG?
The scientific name for hCG is Human chorionic gonadotrophin. It is a hormone produced when a woman is pregnant. The hormone is made by the embryo after its conception. It is also created by the placenta during later stages of pregnancy. Small amounts of hCG are also produced by the pituitary gland in females and males.

HCG causes an increase in progesterone that helps the uterus to sustain the growth of a newly formed fetus. The progesterone causes the walls of the uterus to be rich with blood and blood vessels.

History of HCG Diet
British Doctor Albert Simeons is credited with “discovering” the weight loss benefits of HCG. Simeons was treating pregnant women and overweight children in India when he began treating them with low doses of HCG. He claimed that the HCG caused both populations of people to lose fat while keeping their lean muscle.

He hypothesized that the HCG was encouraging the body to metabolize adipose fat tissue for energy at a much quicker rate than normal. Simeons also advocated a very low calorie diet consisting of only 500 calories.

The diet did not take off in popularity until after Simeons passed away in 1970. Since then the diet has been marketed by several individuals and companies. Infomercial king, author, and felon Kevin Trudeau is probably the most well-known of those who have pitched the hormone as a weight loss miracle cure.

How the HCG Diet Works
The HCG Diet includes three phases:
    •    Loading phase – loading phase consists of two days of eating fattening, high carbohydrate foods along with taking hCG. 
    •    Burning phase – the burning phase lasts twenty-six to forty-three days depending on the individual weight loss goal. During the burning phase the participant takes injections, pills, or drops of hCG while following a strict 500 calorie diet. 
    •    Maintenance phase – this phase consists of three weeks of a starch and sugar free diet. 

No physical activity is recommended along with the HCG diet. The diet of 500 calories per day is at the starvation level. Exercising while consuming such little food could cause serious health risks including death.

HCG Meal Plan
Breakfast on the HCG Diet isn’t really breakfast at all. You are allowed as much coffee or tea as you would like. Sugar and cream are not allowed. You may use artificial sweetener if you choose to.
Lunch and dinner consist of the same size meals. You can choose from a limited number of foods including:
    •    100 grams of beef, chicken, white fish, lobster, crab, veal 
    •    One serving of cucumbers, spinach, onions, asparagus, cabbage, celery, 
    •    One piece of Melba toast 
    •    One apple, orange, half of a grapefruit, or handful of strawberries 
Beverages including water, coffee, and tea can be consumed all day long. It is recommended that you drink at least two liters of water each day while on the HCG Diet.

HCG Controversy
Virtually all weight loss and medical experts shun the HCG Diet. The Food and Drug Administration has stated that HCG is fraudulently used as a weight loss drug. It is also not protected under the FDA’s homeopathic drug clause.
Several studies, including one published in Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that hCG is not only ineffective as a weight loss drug, but is dangerous. Experts are also quick to point out the dangers of eating only 500 calories per day for up to 43 days at a time.

People on the HCG Diet have experienced symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, fainting, extreme hunger, fatigue, weakness, tiredness, and exhaustion. The minimum amount of calories per day recommended by experts is 1,200, which is well above the HCG amount of 500.

Health experts point out that any results derived from the HCG diet are because of the extreme calorie deficit created by eating only 500 calories per day. The hCG Diet now includes a meal plan of 1,200-1,500 calories per day in response to sharp criticism.

Health and Nutrition experts say that HCG has long-term negative effects on the metabolism because of the lack of calories. During the burning phase of calorie restriction the body’s metabolism slows down dramatically in an effort to conserve energy in response to starvation. People who go off the hCG Diet typically gain weight back faster, and have a harder time dropping weight because of a lagging metabolism.

Some psychologists also say that the HCG Diet can even contribute to eating disorders by creating a negative mindset towards food. Those prone to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are often attracted to hCG because of the lack of food they have to eat.

The HCG Diet has little to no long-term benefits because it is not a viable solution for living a healthy lifestyle. Experts speak to the diet’s inability to teach correct eating habits. In fact, they say that the HCG Diet encourages dangerous eating behaviors that cross the line of any feasible weight loss solution.
Studies show that the best diets are those that people can stay on. HCG is definitely not one of those diets. People in the United States are drawn to extreme diets that promise the world, which means that diets like the HCG Diet will always have a place.

Pros and Cons of HCG Diet
    •    Quick results 
    •    Starvation 
    •    Physical symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, etc. 
    •    Refuted by science 
    •    Deemed dangerous by health and medical experts 
    •    Expensive and painful (hCG injections can cost as much as $200 a shot) 
The HCG Diet does deliver quick results because of the lack of calories eaten, but has far more negative aspects. Anyone considering the HCG Diet should discuss it with their health care provider.

Suzanne Somers

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