In 2018, roughly 39.6% of Americans, or 100 million people, were obese. Obesity is a risk factor for numerous medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. At Optimal Health and Wellness in Pasadena, CA, we want you to know that you can mitigate your risk of life-threatening illnesses through weight loss. Today, we review HCG weight loss as a viable weight-loss tool.
What Is HCG?
HCG, also known as human chorionic gonadotropin, is sometimes called the pregnancy hormone. An elevated level of this hormone in urine is used to identify pregnancy. It is commonly used to treat infertility in both men and women. However, since 1954, doctors have considered the HCG diet to be an excellent weight-loss tool. This was first proposed by British doctor Albert Simeons, who theorized drastic weight loss could be achieved via a 500-calorie-per-day limit and regular injections of human chorionic gonadotropin. Science has since proven his theory correct.
What Is the Function of HCG In My Body?
Human chorionic gonadotropin is a protein-based hormone necessary for the production of estrogen and progesterone. This includes the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in men. However, the most important function of HCG in your body is the weight loss mechanism. First, HCG revs your metabolism so you naturally burn more calories. Second, it curbs hunger, reducing cravings and making it easier to stick to a very-low-calorie diet.
What Can I Eat on the HCG Diet?
The HCG diet is very low in fat and calories and divided into three phases. The first is the loading phase which involves taking HCG and eating lots of high-calorie, high-fat foods for two days. The second phase, known as the weight loss phase, involves taking HCG while eating only 500 calories per day for three to six weeks.
The third and “final” phase of the HCG diet lasts three weeks. At this point, you are no longer taking HCG and you increase your consumption of food slowly. However, you must avoid sugar and other forms of carbohydrates.
One of the questions we get about HCG weight loss is which foods are acceptable throughout the plan.
Phase 1 Meal Plan
During the first phase of the HCG diet, you want to eat fat-dense food. Good examples include salmon sauteed in olive oil and drizzled with melted butter, bacon cheeseburgers, chicken liver sandwiches and nuts. Avocados are another great source of healthy fats. Just do your best to minimize the consumption of saturated fats and do not consume trans fats. During your initial consultation, we will help you devise a meal plan to help you enter ketosis before you really start the HCG diet.
Ketosis is a fuel consumption phase your body enters when your glycogen stores are depleted. Depending on how many calories you burn each day and your starting glycogen stores, this can take between 48 and 72 hours. Entering ketosis before phase 2 of the HCG diet is essential because it prevents all the nasty side effects of dieting, such as dizziness, headaches and vertigo.
Phase 2 Meal Plan
Once your body is in ketosis, you are ready to proceed to the second phase of the HCG diet. Because you are only allowed 500 calories daily, eat as little fat as possible. Fat has nine calories per gram while protein is excellent for keeping you full and has only four calories per gram.
So, what exactly should you include in your phase 2 meal plan? For protein, eat egg whites, chicken, turkey and game meat. If you’re not sold on the idea of game meat, eat lean red meat. Make sure you drain the fat that releases when cooking. For carbs, eat whatever low-carb seasonal fruit and veggies are available. Apples, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard and kale are great filling, low-carb produce options.
Phase 3 Meal Plan
The final three weeks of the HCG diet involves eating at maintenance for your desired body weight. If you haven’t reached your goal weight yet, this will allow you to continue losing weight slowly while teaching you how you should eat for the rest of your life to remain healthy. You can eat healthy fats, like nuts, oils and avocados. However, you should still avoid starchy vegetables, added sugars and high-carb fruits.
Phase 4 Meal Plan
If after three to six weeks of phase 2 and two to four weeks of phase 3 you haven’t reached your goal weight, you can re-start phase 2. Because the first three weeks of phase 3 exclude carbohydrates, your body is still in ketosis. Thus, you just need to come in for your HCG injections or tablets before you jump back into phase 2.
What Results Can I Expect During the HCG Diet?
Results from the HCG diet will vary on a case-by-case basis. At the very least, you can expect to lose half a pound of fat per day. During the first few days of the diet, you may lose three pounds of weight per day. However, this is due to losing water weight. For every gram of carbohydrates your body stores for future energy, it also holds between three and four grams of carbohydrates.
There are a couple of unit conversions that may help you understand the change you see in the scale. First, there are 453.592 grams in a pound. For simple arithmetic, we will round this down to 450 grams per pound.
Second, one gram is equivalent to one milliliter. Since there are four calories in a gram of carbohydrates, you would have to burn 1,800 calories to go through a pound of stored carbohydrate energy (glycogen). When you consider the three to four pounds of water your body stores with that single pound of carbohydrates, it is easy to understand that the four or five-pound weight loss on the scale isn’t fat yet.
What About Starvation Mode? Won’t My Body Eat My Muscle?
Starvation mode is real. We have all seen pictures of children with protruding stomachs who eat too few calories on a given day. However, this does not apply to individuals who are overweight, obese or morbidly obese. “Starvation mode” occurs when your body has no more fuel to burn except your muscle tissue.
Your body can use 34.1 calories per pound of body fat per day for fuel. Thus, if you had 120 pounds of body fat, your body could burn 4,092 calories daily from your fat stores. That doesn’t sound like starvation, does it?
I Won’t Experience Muscle Loss on This Diet?
Your body has two fuel sources for daily metabolic functions. The first is “sugar”, or carbohydrates. After you eat, the carbs you consume get converted into glycogen and stored in your liver for easy fuel consumption later. Only after these easy-to-access stores are depleted does the body turn to fat stores. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to eat very few carbs during the HCG diet. You want to keep your body burning fat for fuel instead of the carbohydrates you eat during the day.
For your body to consume its own muscle for fuel requires a lack of the two primary fuel sources: stored sugar and stored fat. If muscle loss occurs, it is from lack of use rather than your body using it as a fuel source. Keep in mind, it is essential to consume protein during your HCG diet. As long as you have body fat, your body will not convert the dietary protein into a form of sugar. Protein will keep you satiated and make sticking to the diet easier.
Should I Work Out During This Diet?
You should absolutely be physically active during the HCG diet. First of all, this will help you burn fat faster. Second, 150 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly is essential for heart health. Until you’ve reached your goal weight, aim for 300 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly. You’ll know your exercise is moderate if you can hold a conversation.
If you’re pressed for time, you can aim for 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity every week. Consider a scale from 0 to 20. If zero is lying in bed and 20 is sprinting as hard as you can, vigorous physical activity would be between 15 and 20 on a scale of perceived effort.
Indoor rowing is by far the best exercise for anyone. It is easier on the joints than walking, matched only by water aerobics and swimming. It increases your VO2 max, enhances cardio-pulmonary endurance and can even build muscle. However, you can customize your workouts to focus on fat burn while you’re still trying to reach your goal weight. The muscle-building can come later.
If you have trouble sitting down and standing up, look for an indoor rower that is fairly high off the ground. Otherwise, look for a used Concept 2 Model C. This is the indoor rower the Olympians use to train and can withstand whatever you throw at it. If you can’t afford an indoor rower or gym membership, walking and stationary bicycles are other great ways to keep active on the HCG diet. During your initial consultation, we will work out a workout regimen to help you achieve your fitness goals along with your weight loss goals.
Is HCG Weight Loss Right for Me?
During your initial consultation, we will work with you to devise a safe, effective weight loss plan that suits your needs. HCG weight loss may be right for you if you suffer from medical conditions related to obesity and are ready to change your life for the better. Keep in mind, however, that there is no silver bullet for weight loss.
You must be committed to leading a healthy lifestyle once you lose the weight. Here’s what you need to exclude from your diet during the second and third phases:
- Fatty foods – nuts, salmon
- Starchy vegetables – potatoes, yams
- Added sugar
Take the First Step in Changing Your Life Today
Obesity is a life-threatening illness and often requires medical help to treat. HCG weight loss is a scientifically proven weight-loss method and might be just what you need to change your life, health and happiness for the better. To schedule your initial consultation, contact the dedicated health and wellness experts at Optimal Health and Wellness in Pasadena, CA today.
We will help you devise a healthy customized weight loss plan that fits your lifestyle, palate and goals. We can’t wait to help you change your life for the better.