Hey! Quick note- this post was original 4 different blog posts & videos, and I’ve compiled them into 1 comprehensive guide so you don’t have to keep clicking around. You can either watch or listen to the entire discussion above, OR I have also divided up the discussion into smaller bite-sized videos below.
I’ve been getting this question a lot, “should I exercise on the HCG Diet?” And it’s a good one to talk about because whether you personally exercise on hCG could bring you even better results, or could cause you to totally give up.
(Click the links to jump directly to a particular section)
Before we get into all this, whether you do exercise during the hCG Diet or later once you’re done, I am creating the perfect home-based strength-training exercise program for women like myself in their over 40’s here: inspirefulwomen.com
- The hCG Diet and Your Body
- What to Consider When It Comes to hCG and Exercise
- Why Exercising on hCG Can be Beneficial If Your Health Allows It
- What You Can Expect If You Combine Hcg And Exercise
- What Type of Exercise Should I Do on the Hcg Diet?
- Will I Lose More Weight If I Exercise On The Hcg Program?
- When Exercise Isn’t Such A Hot Idea On the hCG Protocol
- Others’ Experiences With Exercise DURING hCG Use
- Exercise after hCG and Why It Might Help Keep Us Doing the Right Thing
So, let’s get to the meat of this info on the whole Exercising + hCG Diet plan idea – how can you tell if it’s a good combo for you? What’s important to note here, as with so many things in life, is that what will work well for one person, may not work at all for another. We are not all the same (as some other articles on the net will lead you to believe) we are so unique and the state of health we are in could be very different from the person sitting next to us.
The fact that you can lose a significant amount of fat with HCG Injections in a short period of time, especially if you are very overweight and either suffering from, or at risk of serious health issues because of that extra weight, is truly a good thing. For instance, notice what is going on with your liver and gallbladder when you are gaining weight.
At the same time, losing so much fat so quickly appears to be a bit more of a strain on the body than just maintaining your weight- I read 2 articles that say pretty much the same thing, that the process involving breaking down your fat involves more work on the part of your adrenal glands. How Fat Cells Work and How Fat Cells Split Up.
For some of us who might either already be dealing with adrenal fatigue or are close to it because of health conditions we’re already dealing with, while losing fat is healthy of course, the process itself could prove to be a bit taxing for your body- which is why it’s great that this protocol is done only in 3 and 6 week rounds typically. Your body gets to have a break and stay in optimum working condition, or might even need a little “healing down time.”
Why is this important?
The issue is, if you are one of those people who are in a state of more fragile health, the hCG protocol itself may be all that your body can really manage– adding exercise to the mix may be too much.
Exercise Is Work
When I’m not on this weight loss protocol, my exercise in the form of Crossfit is truly beneficial for me- in ways even deeper than I can explain in this post. So you know that having this background now I’m not “partial” to an excuse to be lazy or anything. You know I think exercise is extremely important.
Basically, I think it comes down to this-
- When you do exercise on the protocol, how do you feel? Do you feel fine? Good even? That’s probably a pretty good indicator that for you, adding exercise to the diet plan is a good thing, beneficial even.
- If you exercise on the diet, do you feel crappy afterward? Do you get bad food cravings, feel extremely fatigued or depressed? This is an indicator that exercising while on the protocol is not in your best interests.
It appears that some people really can exercise on this diet plan and do quite well. If your body is in sound enough health to handle it, meaning, you’re overweight but that’s really all that’s wrong with you, exercising while on HCG Injections can actually be better for you than just the diet alone- it can help preserve more lean muscle, if not increase it (the latter part more if you’re a guy). In general, there is very little lean muscle loss anyway, but exercising could eliminate even the small amount that happens.
One little word of caution though- you could also potentially cause excess muscle loss by exercising too much when you don’t have enough calorie or protein intake to rebuild torn muscles….so keep that in mind. If you do exercise, you will likely want to add a 3rd protein serving like a protein shake (sugar-free, low carb, obviously), unless it’s something super chill like walking.
Aside from this, exercise may increase your feeling of well-being while on the hCG program as well.
If you choose to do this, do keep a few things in mind so you won’t inadvertently get discouraged okay?
- Expect Slower Losses
You might experience some water retention from the exercise, which may translate into what appears to be slower losses on the scale or more frequent “zeros” or “gains”- just keep in mind that your actual fat loss is not really being affected here. Please, if you are exercising and losing hardly anything on this diet and feeling crappy, do not email me asking if the hormone is bad okay?
- You May Need to Eat A Little More
I’ve seen it recommended and it really seems to make sense, that if you do choose to exercise while on this protocol, you may need to increase your calorie intake a little bit. Think an extra protein portion either in the morning or before or after your workout. Some ideas might be some egg whites, or perhaps whey protein powder. I can’t exactly know how much extra calories you might need, but I’m guessing somewhere between 100-250 extra calories over the 500 may be in order, depending on the length and intensity of your workout.
- You’ll Likely Need to Decrease the Intensity of Your Usual Workout
While you may be able to continue your previous workout program on hCG, you may find that you still have to turn down the intensity of it. In fact, one woman on this hCG forum thread put it nicely- she said, “It’s that your body has no sugar to work out – and the using of the fat for fuel is not as immediate. Before this protocol, for example, I could do 35 min on the EFX machine with no problem. Today I did only 7. It’s still a benefit to me. I feel better, and I still get the endorphins.”
So she didn’t really lose actual strength in her workouts- it was temporary while being on the protocol, but for her, even doing the little exercise she could manage was beneficial and worth it to her.
- Make Sure to Replace Electrolytes
A lot of emphases is placed on drinking a lot of water on the diet protocol, but you can actually drink too much water believe it or not, and you can seriously screw up your electrolyte balance if you’re exercising, drinking tons of water, and not replacing lost electrolytes.
A simple way to keep your electrolytes in balance while sticking to the protocol is just to add a little fresh squeezed lemon or orange and a dash of salt to a glass or two of your water.
This is a GREAT question. I’m glad you asked. There’s a few things to consider here, but one thing that may help you is knowing this one simple fact:
–> Very low calorie diets promote muscle loss.
–>The best way to retain muscle and grow muscle is through weight training also known as strength training.
Incorporating even a small amount of some sort resistance training can do a LOT to prevent muscle loss on the diet Hcg Diet. It doesn’t have to be much. What you’re doing is just giving your body a little message that says “hey body, I still need this muscle. I’m doing stuff that requires this much muscle. So don’t let it go.”
I don’t think I have to remind you that it’s the fat we’re looking to lose. Losing muscle just isn’t desirable. It’s what gives our body shape, keeps us strong and capable, and muscle is also a big part of metabolism.
But where do you begin? For many of us ladies, strength training is something we know would be good to do but we have little or no experience with it, don’t know where to start, and are worried about getting hurt. Not to mention the idea of heading to the weights section at a gym gives you that sort of oh-my-god-no-that-ain’t-gonna-happen feeling.
Fear not. You don’t need to step foot out of your cozy little house to effectively do resistance training.
I’ve been gradually creating a HOME strength training program for women in their over 40’s – I’ve been working with both a physical therapist and an exercise physiologist to ensure that you are getting effective training! Every single exercise in our movement library has a detailed video that breaks down that movement, along with things to avoid, ways to make the exercise easier and harder – basically ALL the things. So you don’t have to feel scared or intimidated and can start learning effective exercises you can do in your very own home, with minimal equipment (only dumbbells, resistance bands, and a stability ball). Check it out here: inspirefulwomen.com
This program is being designed for normal life (not necessarily when on hCG). However, because the type of strength training I do and am designing this program after are not intense, they may work well for you on the hCG diet, with minimal adjustments to volume an intensity.
What about other types of exercise?
HIIT: My advice on HIIT is…..save it for after hCG. Seriously. It’s so intense, and the hCG program is a time that your body is both getting by on a lot less calories, which means you will often have less energy to copy with stress (good or bad) as well as recovery time is longer. Doing something like HIIT can really knock you out. When I get exhausted like that, I tend to overeat. Additionally, our bodies are smart and i you do something too taxing your system in it’s current state, it will rebel to protect itself and you guessed it, stop losing weight. Which REALLY sucks.
YOGA: This tends to be a gentler form of exercise that many may tolerate well on hCG.
PILATES: This too may be well tolerated.
Bootcamp Type Programs: This is more in the category of HIIT in my opinion. Any type of exercise where you are super pushing yourself, your heart is pumping major hard, all your muscles are burning at once type stuff, is typically TOO much on Hcg.
CROSSFIT: Don’t do it. I mean it’s your choice! But coming from someone who LOVES crossfit (I did it for 9 years), if anyone wanted to say YES to this, it would be me! But again, this type of exercise is just SO intense.
WALKING: This may be tolerated well. We’re not talking marathons here. Just easy enjoyable walking.
JOGGING/RUNNING: This may cross over into too taxing for a lot of us.
Bottom line: If you’re going to exercise on the hCG Diet, go for exercise that is not super intense & taxing to your system. Try to pick things that will not cause huge heart-rate elevations for long periods of time. Exercise where you can still hold a conversation is good.
That all said, you still may choose to not exercise on hCG at all. Read on to learn more that will help you decide this.
Mathematically speaking, it sure seems like it should right??
Like okay, my resting metabolic rate (RMR – what it takes to keep me alive and kicking minus my daily activities) is say 1400 calories or something. I walk around and feed my dog and have a pillow fight with my kids and feel emotionally disturbed when they start fighting. All this burns calories. I load the dishwasher and do late night studying for the one of six classes online college classes I have left to get my business degree on the side. So let’s say now we’re at like 1900 calories. I exercise my little butt off to burn 600 calories on some elliptical or spin class or something. Now we’re at 2,300 calories used for the day. Now I eat only 500 calories on hCG that day. That SHOULD mean that I have a deficit of 1800 calories right? So I SHOULD lose about a 1/2 lb of actual fat right? (they say 1 lb of fat is about 3500 calories, although even this isn’t completely a sure thing) And if I did this exact same thing every single day, then I SHOULD lose another half pound of fat every single day on the diet then right?
But in reality, our bodies don’t seem to understand math so that’s just not how it goes. Our bodies are more interested in homeostasis (keeping things balanced and the same) than in math. So our bodies will adapt and adjust hormones levels and activity and such to make our bodies more comfortable with what we’re doing to it so there isn’t TOO much drastic change that it can’t handle going on.
All this is to say sometimes you may lose more weight by employing exercise on hCG, but in many cases you will not, and in some cases you will actually lose less (as we discussed above). This is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just important to know WHAT IS. So you’re not surprised or frustrated.
And again, I know I’m always hammering on balance and listening to your body, but it’s because it’s true! So often we find something seems to be okay when in reality we are only “getting away with it” for awhile, and pretty soon our body starts to let us know that what we’re doing is actually not cool. I have seen several cases where initially a person was exercising on hCG no problem and seemed to feel healthy and fine and energetic, but then a few months later I get emails saying they are really run down and gaining weight and feel horrible. I feel this is likely overdoing it catching up with them. I’ve totally been guilty of this too, so I’m not putting shame and blame – I’m sharing these stories to hopefully spare you.
Perhaps you are one of those people like me who has dealt with some chronic health issues in the past or has a very fragile system for one reason or another- let’s talk about that.
I’ve already kind of mentioned this, but if you have health complications, it may be all your body can handle to just do the diet itself. That is the experience I have had when I’ve tried incorporating exercise into the weight loss protocol. I have tried what you might call “low-key” exercise in the form of taking longer walks, and I’ve tried continuing my Crossfit program which is very high intensity on Human Chorionic Gonadotropin in the past. The symptoms I had when trying this were:
- Extreme Fatigue
- Feeling like the Protocol was so hard that it was impossible to stick to
- No Weight loss
- Major Food Cravings to eat a lot more, and of foods that weren’t allowed on P2.
Bad combo you guys! This weight loss protocol and P2 are not kind masters! Do you what you need to do to make this phase manageable!
Yes, here I am being dogmatic because I truly believe in the importance of this to overall long-term success. We ARE all different- you’ll be successful when you learn to work with your own unique body. So much of my life and efforts in life have been wasted by trying to make myself and my body do what worked for someone else when I should have been working with how my own unique self-operates best.
What About Exercising Once the HCG Diet is Over?
My feelings on exercise change a bit though once Phase 2 is over. I wrote quite a lengthy post a bit back about How To Maintain Weight Loss Long Term.
I hope you’ll read it because I’ve really come to believe that exercise for many of us will be an important component to maintaining weight loss- not because of “calories burned” or anything like that though. Not at all.
More because of the healthy, proactive mental state exercise will keep us in. I find that really keeps me in the right place mentally to stay focused and motivated on doing the right, healthy things for my body to keep it in its healthy state, without having to obsess over it.
Here are some great forum threads regarding the Protocol and Exercise I found useful (hearing the experiences of others is always helpful to me). The individuals who gave their input on these threads were running, jogging, lifting weights, doing workout videos and programs at home or in the gym, doing pilates, etc- there’s a wide variety of perspectives.
And here are some testimonials from people with personal experience with exercising while on the hCG diet:
“I did continue to do Crossfit at first but stopped after realizing I was super hungry all day.”
“I have done many round of HCG with no permanent results, due to dang P3. (I am buying your program today!) but, here is the thing. I started this round the highest weight I have ever been. 182.4. I have gotten down to 167.4 as of today. This is normally where I “start” with HCG. UGH. But, I am ending this round because I feel good, Thanksgiving and LOTS of travel is next week and (I “feel” that continuing will not be wise because of the time of year, travel and etc.) even though my weight is higher, I am listening to that inner voice telling me it is time to be done!😬🤪🙌
I have normally ended P2 at around 148-154. I have this dang # in my head that I need to be lower in weight… But, I feel good. I am premenopausal, 39 years old, and 5’6″. I also am a lover of CrossFit, AND did CrossFit the entire time on p2!! 👌I have lowered my dose to.11 (normally the lowest I have gone at a higher weight is 12.5.) So, why does a lower dose feel good when I weigh more than before?
I actually lost more weight on the days after I did crossfit! (3x a week.) everytime when I have done HCG, I have continued to workout (running, weights and most recently crossfit) and it has always, at least for me, resulted in greater losses… Not the norm but, I though you should know! 🙌 .” -Jill
“I had typically been going to Boot Camp, Soul Cycle, amongst other workouts and tried to do that for the first three weeks of HCG. Realized I could not do that and actually lost more when I stopped. I had been so conditioned my whole life to work out like a draft horse to attack my weight that this felt like a very radical decision but I get now why it’s not recommended to work out during the protocol P2.” -Nancy
“Exercise causes stress to your body that results in elevated cortisol levels. Muscles will retain water. I couldn’t exercise on Phase 2 since it would cause a stall every time. We are not eating enough protein for the exercise.”
“I didn’t work out during my first round of P2, but I am working out on this one and have had really good losses. I do about a mile on a treadmill and 3-5 miles on a stationary bike everyday. I also do 30 minutes of pilates twice a week to tone as much as possible. I’ve only had one stall this round, after that first 10 pounds like my first round. My losses have been so much better this time around also. I lost 23 pounds during my first round of 40 days and I’m nearly there now.”
“If you do any heavy exercise (Break a sweat) the weight loss can slow down and even stop. You want to leave boot camp until you have finished. The HCG diet will make you lose weight about 4-5 times faster…Trust me! I have done both.”
“When I started the hCG shots I ate about double the suggested amount i.e. instead of 500 calories I ate roughly 1000 calories per day but like you, I did it with physical activity. I also cut out most of the simple carbs and I saw good results and had the energy I needed to get through my workout.”
“Bikram yoga really was sort of a neutral activity for me during P2, I lost while doing it but only slightly and did have many days of stalls. It does make you hungrier and does make you drink a lot of water. I would reserve doing Bikram for P3 when you can actually sit down, enjoy it and have coconut water or whatever after. I think it’s far too strenuous during P2 and again, I think it prohibits your body from really enjoying the max benefits of doing it.”
“I haven’t been doing too well with exercising during the HCG, I don’t feel weak, but I do feel more hungry and since I read that you can consume a few more calories and extra protein when working out I seem to use it as an excuse to eat more even though I don’t feel weak just more hungry. I am supposed to be at my power pilates class as I type but I think I may chill out and see how 500 cals without exercise works out for me.”
“I’m actually starting to run again and have been simply increasing my calories. I add another “100 g protein as well as eat the second apple and perhaps some more breadsticks about every 2-3 days. So far I haven’t felt fatigued by exercising and bumping up my intake slightly to compensate. BUT, I realize I’m experimenting so it will be interesting to see what my fat-muscle ratio test shows at the end of the month!”
“I have just started the HCG diet and losing a little over 1 lb a day, but I am exercising, riding my bike to burn about 100 calories and doing sit ups, weights and resistance type exercise. weights every other day and the bike every day, I am losing steadily, I was told to eat a fruit before exercise and a protein or protein shake after in addition to the 500 calories and I am losing steadily. just don’t do too much strenuous exercise, if you do you need to eat just a little more.”
“I am on day 8 (R2P2D8), I am a personal trainer and yoga teacher. Last night I worked out to the max both sessions with my clients. Today, I am super tired and did not lose. I feel like I got hit by a bus. I am not doing that again. Stick to moderate walking. It worked for me on round 1!”
“A few weeks back I did the HCG diet, but on a 800 calorie plan.. what I can tell you is.. 1-yes it works.. within a week I did lose 5.3 pounds.. 2- DON’T do any sort of heavy exercise.. I was boxing at home..speed walking up hills on the treadmill for an hour 3-4 days a week.. and by the end of my 2nd week on it.. I wanted to die in a corner. “
I hope you guys will find these helpful.
This is a bit of a ramble, but perhaps you’ll find that it speaks to you in some way, and if that’s the case, this post (and video) will be really worth it.
One of the reasons that I feel like I can so freely enjoy my body, make the right choices, etc. on a daily basis now, without it requiring a huge amount of effort or willpower, is that I found something to do in my life regularly that I really enjoy, that is active, and that makes me feel very good inside and out. For me that is Crossfit, but for you it might be something else- hiking, jogging, tennis, biking, zumba, whatever.
I just feel like our bodies and minds were not meant to be stagnant- it creates this stuck feeling when we feel like we aren’t going anywhere and we have no goal.
That’s why this protocol can be an exciting time, and a person might even start to crave getting back on the weight loss protocol, simply because something kind of dramatic is happening in their life when this protocol is going on.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting things to be happening in your life- to me this makes sense and it’s only natural.
The thing though is that we don’t want to fulfill this desire or need in an unhealthy way by being a constant dieter.
Excited to be losing weight, but then bored when we’re done, so to find something to do, we start eating again, etc. We are meant to be in motion, so if don’t create specific ways to move ahead and forward, we’ll find ourselves moving back.
That’s where I feel finding something active in your life that you enjoy can fill that desire to have something “going on” in your life that is a positive force for your continued journey for a healthy body.
Over this past year, I feel that my relationship with my body and with food has drastically changed, and the exercise has really helped with that. I am no longer obsessed with food and how much or what kinds I’m allowed to eat. I’m no longer obsessed in a negative way with staying a certain size. I am serious about my maintaining my current body composition, but I don’t get panicky over it- if I find myself getting a little “off” with my eating I feel like I now have the self control to make the needed adjustments to achieve what I want. If I wasn’t attending crossfit, I really do not believe I would have this capability, and believe me a few chips would turn into the whole bag would turn into the whole bag every day. I’m not joking- my current lifestyle has trained me and given me the self-control I need to make the right choices on a daily basis.
My Past Abnormal Relationship with My Body
I used to be so paranoid about my body that even if I ate a large meal, I would be worried that my stomach had suddenly grown by 3 inches- it wasn’t until I had woken up the next morning and my meal had fully digested that I would feel my anxiety lessen that I hadn’t just totally gained weight. It’s really humorous now looking back, but my feelings were quite real back then.
Later I swung the other way and became completely addicted to sugar- literally, a binge eating disorder. I could eat 3000 calories in the span of a half hour, all from cookies full of sugar. Addictions are a very yucky thing to have- when you’re addicted to something this badly, it consumes a lot of your mental space and you find yourself very preoccupied with getting whatever it is you’re addicted to, and until you do, you’re not of much use to your family or friends. Aside from the distraction of the actual addiction itself, you are also consumed by all the guilty feelings that go with it- feeling guilt over craving something so unhealthy for you, feeling guilt over giving into those cravings, feeling guilt over how your addiction is badly affecting your family, feeling guilt over being overweight, feeling guilt over not being able to control yourself.
The answer for me was to cut sugar out of my diet completely, 100%, forever. It works. I don’t think about sugar anymore. I don’t crave it anymore. It’s easy to eat right. I don’t have to think about it. It’s not a daily struggle. But what keeps me motivated and happy to continue living in this sugar-free state is my crossfit- it’s something positive, proactive that is gradually shaping my body and my strength in a beneficial way, instead of my previous addiction that was shaping me in a way that was harming me.
I hope one of you out there might find this of some use to you – perhaps you have dealt with similar struggles. If so, please know you are NOT alone and you CAN overcome this. I will write a more in-depth post on sugar addiction later and how I got away from it.
Further research on physical benefits to women, especially as we get older, with exercise
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