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What is the HCG Diet?
hCG Stands for human Chorionic Gonadtropin (say that 3x’s fast). It’s a hormone that a woman’s body produces in great abundance when she is pregnant, but a lesser known fact is that everyone, male and female (more on this here as well) produce the hCG hormone from their pituitary gland in minute amounts as well.
In the 1950′s Dr. Simeons, an endocrinologist as well as doctor, discovered that injecting tiny amounts of the hCG hormone into patients, combined with a very low calorie diet with a specific food list, caused a great amount of not just weight loss but FAT loss and re-set the body’s hypothalamus (very interesting article and study done on the hypothalamus here) causing the body to maintain the lost weight very effectively.
Does the hCG Diet Work?
I am giving you this answer based on my own proof. You can come to your own conclusion based on your own research. The deciding factor as to whether the hCG diet “works”, to me, is whether the weight lost on the diet is composed of mostly fat. After all, when people assume it’s a starvation diet, what they mean to say is that they believe the person is losing a large amount of muscle mass and that their metabolism is lowering itself to conserve energy thus leading you to an unhealthier state of body after the diet that will easily rebound. But is this true of the hCG Diet?
Let’s look at my own personal facts:
Thankfully, I was concerned about wanting to know the answer to this question myself, so I chose to have hydrostatic body fat testing done, one of the gold standards in bodyfat testing, before and after each round of HCG Injections I’ve done. What I’ve concluded from my own statistics over time is that
- The majority of weight lost on the hCG Diet is fat.
- Any muscle loss that does occur is easily regained following the diet, while still maintaining the fat loss.
- Metabolism has not been affected negatively as I’m able to eat without counting calories and I eat freely of healthy fats, protein, veggies and fruits and a small amount of gluten free grains.
Basics of the hCG Diet:
I highly recommend that you read the original protocol that Dr. Simeons wrote in his book pounds and inches. Nothing I can say on this site can replace getting the sense of how the hCG Diet protocol works through reading his book- do not underestimate the importance of this.
In a nutshell though:
Do not exceed 500 calories
Eat the specific foods in the specific amounts from the list.
Allowable Foods on the hCG Diet:
The original food list as Dr. Simeons wrote it in his Pounds and Inches book are as follows:
Proteins: beef, chicken breast, veal, fresh white fish, lobster, crab, or shrimp.
Vegetables: spinach, chard, chicory, beet-greens, green salad, tomatoes, celery, fennel, onions, red radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, cabbage.
Starches: breadstick (grissini) or Melba toast
Fruit: apple, orange, strawberries, grapefruit
The juice of one lemon daily is allowed for all purposes. Salt, pepper, vinegar, mustard powder, garlic, sweet basil, parsley, thyme, majoram, etc., may be used for seasoning, but no oil, butter or dressing.
Basic Rules: Calories are not to exceed 500 calories.
The diet is designed to basically have two small meals a day that are made up in this way (all foods chosen from the approved foods list)
How to Apportion the 500 calories each day:
1 protein (100 grams)
1 grissini or melba toast (note: many hCG dieters leave this item out entirely- seems to add to cravings and difficulties on the protocol.)
Same as above
Not to exceed 500 calories.
Dr. Simeons said it was allowable to spread your meal throughout the day if you like, for instance, to have your lunch fruit for breakfast instead. However, you would never have 2 fruits or 2 proteins in one sitting.
Tea, Coffee, and Water with sugar free sweeteners in any quantity is fine. I highly recommend using stevia as your sugar free sweetener as it is one of the more “natural” ones to choose from, although in the end I guess they are all processed in one way or another!
hCGChica Side Notes
While the breadstick/melba is part of the allowed foods, I’d venture to say a large majority who do the hCG Diet do not eat these- many find it leads to more cravings while on the diet, and as you can imagine, it’s rather difficult to eat only one breadstick, especially since it feels mostly like air when you’re eating it.
It’s totally up to you whether you eat the grissini/melba or not- I just personally find the hCG protocol to be much easier mentally and the weight loss better when I leave it out entirely.
Most people do eat the fruits on the protocol and do well. I have experimented with not eating the fruits and eating more vegetables instead and this has worked well for me.
Another experiment I have done that has not seemed to interfere with my actual fat loss on the hCG protocol is to replace my fruits with 0% Fat Free Fage Greek Yogurt. Always check the sugar content if you decide to try a fat free greek yogurt, as typically these can be higher in sugars- the Fage brand though is fairly low in sugar.
The main thing to keep in mind on the hCG Diet is to avoid FATS while on the diet. No butter, no oil, etc. You don’t want to consume any fats. Outside of the hCG Diet, of course healthy fats are great and necessary, but while on hCG, the hormone seems to make fat volatile in a way that not only can I not explain, I don’t think it’s actually full understood how it works- however, the results have been noted and that is that you can both lose fat and GAIN fat very easily and quickly while on the diet- consuming fat on the hCG Diet will lead to quick fat gain.
Starting the hCG Diet:
Before you start the 500 calorie VLCD (very low calorie day) portion of the diet, you need to 2 “loading” days. These 2 days you will actually be taking hCG and eating a super high fat diet to purposefully get as much fat circulating into your body as possible- like way more fat than you would normally eat. You can see more about the loading phase for the hCG Diet here and an example of what I ate while loading for hCG during Round 5 in the photo below- keep in mind the photo is showing what I ate in 2 days, not 1 day. You will likely gain weight during these 2 days and that is purposeful.
After loading on lots of fats and taking the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) for those two days, the hCG should be fully circulating in your system by this point, and as you start the 500 calorie portion of the diet (also called P2 or phase 2), you’re weight will start dropping very quickly.