What is the hCG diet (and should you do it)?

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    What you’ll learn in this blog

  • What is the hCG diet?
  • How does the hCG diet work?
  • What food can I eat on the hCG diet?
  • Does the hCG diet work?
  • Is the hCG diet safe?
  • Can I lose weight on the hCG?
  • In your search for the “perfect” diet, we’ll be surprised if you haven’t stumbled upon the hCG diet at some point - it’s been the talking point of many radio and TV shows recently.

    And, with our research showing that 72% of women have always been overweight - it’s no surprise that many people are turning to alternative diets to help them with their weight loss journey.

    But despite much discussion about the hCG diet, there’s been little evidence to back up its credibility. 

    So is the hCG diet a safe, healthy and effective way to drop pounds? 

    Or is it just another pie-in-the-sky fad diet?

    In this blog, we’re exploring what the HCG diet is and whether it’s safe for you to do.

    What Is the hCG Diet?

    First, let’s talk about the hCG diet in case you aren’t familiar with it…

    HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone released in large quantities during pregnancy. 

    The human chorionic gonadotropin hormone is produced naturally throughout pregnancy by the placenta. It’s used as a marker to confirm pregnancy in the early stages and can treat fertility problems in men and women. 

    The hCG hormone maintains the production of hormones such as progesterone in the early stages of pregnancy to support the healthy growth of the uterus and fetus. After the first few weeks of pregnancy, the hormone naturally declines under normal circumstances. 

    How does the HCG diet work?

    In the 1950s, Endochronologist Albert T.W Simeons first suggested that the hCG hormone could be used as a tool to aid weight loss. 

    Following the hCG diet consists of two factors:

    • You take the hCG hormone injections or tablets orally daily (usually in the thigh).
    • Follow a low-fat and very low-calorie diet by limiting your intake of calories to a maximum of 800 calories per day.

    Nowadats hCG products are sold in different forms, including oral drops, pellets, and sprays.

    The hCG diet includes a short-term diet designed to quickly increase weight loss. 

    It is divided into three phases:

    Phase 1: Loading phase

    Take hCG and eat plenty of high-fat, high-calorie food for 2 days. 

    Phase 2: Weight loss phase 

    Continue with hCG and eat only 500 calories daily for 3-6 weeks. 

    Phase 3: Maintenance phase

    Stop taking hCG, and gradually increase your food intake but avoid sugar and starch.

    You can spend less time in the weight loss phase if you want moderate weight loss. However, if you want more weight loss, you should follow the middle phase for the full six weeks - or may even need to do the cycle a few times. 

    What food can I eat on the hCG diet?

    Food-wise, you need to stick to a very low-calorie diet, and what you can eat varies slightly depending on the phase. 

    During the weight loss phase, you can only eat two meals daily - usually lunch and dinner. 

    The hCG diet recommends your calorie intake should commence at lunchtime; if you have anything before, it should consist of something very light such as a cup of black coffee without sugar (milk should be limited to one tablespoon daily).

    Lunch and dinner should be protein packed with 3.5 ounces consumed at each meal, and you should also eat a limited amount of vegetables and fats.

    On the hCG, some things you can eat include:

    • Poultry
    • Fish, such as scallops, crab or white fish.
    • Lean meats, like buffalo or extra-lean beef..
    • One small portion of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, greens or celery.
    • You can have one piece of fruit at lunch and dinner.
    • One piece of toast or bagel without a topping.

    You are allowed seasonings but not butter, oils or dressing, and you should drink lots of water. 

    Does the hCG diet work?

    So, does it work?

    Those who think that the diet works believe that the hCG hormone injections help to boost your metabolism. The theory is that the hormone helps to blast your fat and increases weight loss. 

    However, no matter what research you do on the subject, science fails to back up the claims and describes them as “unreliable.” 

    Research by the Family Physicians Inquiries Network discovered that the diet has no benefit over a traditional low-calorie diet. 

    And it seems that any weight loss is due to the very low-calorie nature rather than the hCG-containing solutions. 

    In addition to this, many people who have taken the journey down the hCG route have reported that they have regained weight very quickly after coming off the diet as their bodies crave the nutrients they weren’t receiving previously.

    Is the hCG diet safe?

    So, is the hCG diet safe?

    The Food and Drug Administration confirmed that they have not approved hCG for weight loss, and you cannot get it over the counter without a prescription. 

    Any weight loss comes from the severe calorie restriction, not the hCG diet. A low-calorie diet of up to 800 calories is significantly short of the 2400 to 3000 calories per day recommended by the government. 

    Depriving the body of so many calories can safely be described as dangerous, as you are likely to feel lethargic due to the lack of essential vitamins and nutrients. 

    Several side effects have been reported by those trying out the hCG diet, including-

    • Blood clots.
    • Tiredness
    • Depression.
    • Female breasts in males.
    • Swelling in the feet and hands.

    With so many side effects, there is a good chance that those attempting this diet may have long-term health issues such as an irregular heartbeat or electrolyte imbalance. 

    It’s a risk, and you must ask yourself, “Is it one worth taking?”.

    Should you do the hCG diet?

    Cutting your calorie intake down to 500 calories a day for a continuous period is bound to result in weight loss (if you manage to eat that little). 

    However, it will have serious consequences, such as malnutrition, fatigue and an irregular heartbeat. Not only does this make it dangerous to follow, but incredibly difficult to maintain. 

    Plus, all evidence points to any weight loss resulting from a very low-calorie diet rather than the hCG hormones (which, remember, are illegal over the counter). 

    When wondering if you should do it or not, you should revisit why you want to lose weight. 

    For many people, it’s for health reasons and wanting to feel better. If so, we strongly advise steering clear of the hCG diet. While you may lose weight, it’s not safe or sustainable. 

    If you want to find the best sustainable way to lose weight, as told by nutritionists, then have a read of this.