The Truth About The HCG Diet
The HCG Diet has long been a topic of discussion in the health and wellness industry, and more often than not, the comments about the diet are negative. Most of the time, the negative comments come only from those who have not experienced the HCG diet. The reality is that most of the information in opposition as well as in support of the HCG Diet are completely clueless to how the diet works… or, doesn’t work.
HCG Diet Claims
We will go over a number of topics to helps us understand the Truth about the HCG Diet. To start, we will visit the positive claims that are made of the diet, and discuss the is reality.
Positive – HCG Diet Claims
What are some of the positive claims that individuals who support the HCG Diet make?
- HCG turns off hunger
- HCG causes you to burn abnormal fat
- HCG Signals the Hypothalamus (brain) to burn abnormal fat
- The HCG Diet Causes Rapid Fat Loss
- HCG Guards Against Muscle Loss
HCG turns off hunger
One of the most important claims made by many individuals who defend the HCG Diet, is that HCG causes a significant reduction of hunger in most dieters.
If we look at the known functions of the human Chorionic Gonadotropin, this comment can be true, depending on the individual. BUT, it is likely that HCG itself only plays a small role in hunger management, whereas the diet is what causes most of the reduction of hunger.
HCG and Hunger: HCG may cause a small reduction in hunger through the production of hormones. HCG is often used as a treatment for men with hypogonadism and low testosterone. In women, HCG can also boost testosterone, but is also used as a treatment to boost the progesterone hormone.
For men, and especially men who are heavy, increasing testosterone can have a number of immediate benefits. Some of the side effects of low testosterone are: Low Libido, Decreased Energy and Vitality, Anxiety and Depression, and many more. So, it should be obvious that the introduction of HCG in many men, especially those who are overweight, will experience some of the following effects.
- Increased Libido
- Increased Energy and Vitality
- Reduction of Anxiety or Depression
To get back to the point of hunger, one must understand energy balance. Energy balance is the balance between energy and calorie consumption. When men or women have low testosterone, they will almost always experience low energy. Sometimes it is an extreme lack of energy, and lethargy. For some, this is accompanied by increased hunger.
For Women, an increase testosterone and progesterone can improve energy levels, and just like men, this increased energy will inevitably increase Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). This is something that is often overlooked in the health and fitness industry. Energy balance is vital in controlling weight.
At the moment there is no evidence to suggest that HCG will cause any reduction of hunger outside of the effects that it has on hormones.
Then Why Do People Claim to Not Be Hungry On The HCG Diet?
It is likely that most of the reduction of hunger during the HCG Diet, is due to the diet. The HCG Diet is a low carbohydrate diet, that usually causes the dieter to go into ketosis, and rely heavily on fat oxidation. In the diet industry it is a well known fact that a ketogenic diet causes many individuals to experience a significant drop in hunger. This usually happens after 3-4 days of eating low carbohydrates, and after the body burns through sugar/glycogen stores in the liver and muscle, and starts relying heavily on fats and amino acids for energy.
So, does the HCG Diet cause a reduction of hunger? In most heavy individuals, it is VERY likely. But, is it HCG that causes that drop in hunger? Probably, but only to a small degree. Does that mean HCG is unnecessary? Not really. As already explained, HCG may play an important role in functional medicine for individuals who are heavy. Some of the benefits may not be directly related to losing weight, however.
HCG causes you to burn abnormal fat
Abnormal Fat? The real question is: what is Abnormal Fat? I think in the case of the HCG Diet, Dr Simeons actually categorized abnormal fat as a significant storage of fat in specific areas of the body. The distribution of fat storage throughout the body is highly genetic and hormonal. The idea that a hormone will cause a significant amount of fat loss from only “abnormal” areas is not likely. Generally, a person will lose weight in the opposite order that they gained it. If the last place they stored most of their fat was the love handles, the body will likely start burning fat from the love handles first.
The HCG Diet Causes Rapid Fat Loss
one of the most debated issues with the HCG Diet, is the very low calorie diet that Dr Simeons prescribed to his patients. Dr. Simeons orignially prescribed a 500 calorie diet, in conjunction with HCG Shots. While this may seem insane to a lot of people, keep in mind that Dr Simeons was treating very heavy individuals. When the body has a lot of stored fat, it can handle a significant drop in calories. While not all providers of the HCG Diet follow the 500 calorie diet, most of the rapid fat loss on the HCG Diet is due to the very low calories. But, it is also likely that an increase in Testosterone will boost NEAT, increase energy and vitality, and also make it easier for an individual to follow such a low calorie diet.
HCG Guards Against Muscle Loss
This is absolutely likely, in most cases. HCG is well known for it’s ability to increase testosterone, and with that will come anti-catabolic effects for muscle tissue. HCG Dieters often experience a high level of weight loss coming from fat, rather than muscle tissue.
Negative – HCG Diet Claims
Now, let’s take a look at some of the negative claims that individuals who support the HCG Diet make?
- HCG Doesn’t Cause Weight Loss
- HCG Can Cause Irregular Heartbeat
- The HCG Diet Can Cause Gallstones
- A Lack of Nutrients On The HCG Diet
- You Will Lose Muscle and Not Fat
- You Will Gain All of the Weight Back After the HCG Diet
HCG Doesn’t Cause Weight Loss
Most HCG Dieters would tell you that this is just a bold-faced lie, and then give you anecdotal evidence about how much weight they lost because of HCG Injections. Unfortunately for them, HCG does not directly melt fat, or make it disappear into oblivion. Consider what this means, however. Is there anything we can take that will force us to lose weight? Other than getting addicted to hard drugs, there isn’t anything. There are a number of reasons that the HCG Diet protocol will cause a person to lose weight, but anyone who understands basic human physiology would understand that the restrictive calorie plan is the cause of weight loss. But, that doesn’t mean HCG doesn’t have benefits. While HCG is actually more likely to cause an increase in hunger than a drop in hunger, as mentioned before, it can affect calorie burning or NEAT, stamina, strength, mental focus, mood, and a number of other habit changing effects. Weight loss is nonlinear with humans, because there is always the human component. We are prone and respond to hunger, energy balance, mood swings, and a much more.
HCG Can Cause Irregular Heartbeat
Nope, and this is almost too stupid to answer. During pregnancy, women’s bodies produce incredible amounts of HCG. As far as I know, women aren’t dying from heart attacks due to pregnancy on a regular basis.
The HCG Diet Can Cause Gallstones
Individuals who eat a diet high in protein and carbohydrates, but low in fat may be at risk of gallstones. You may have heard individuals say that high fat diets can cause gallstones, but that isn’t true. Gallstones are produced due to a deficiency in bile salts, which are produced when we eat saturated fats. These bile salts help to break down fats and prevent gallstones from forming. The HCG Diet is somewhat low in fat, and some dieters opt to eat only white meats in order to keep calories as low as possible, but the best advice is to make sure you regularly get dark meats in order to produce more bile production.
Watch the video for a better explanation.
Honestly, the HCG Diet isn’t high in any of the macronutrients (protein / fats / carbs), so gallstones should not be a risk for most individuals. Still, it’s better safe than sorry. If you plan on getting started on the HCG Diet, plan on eating some dark meats. Fat is a required nutrient too, so dropping fats too low isn’t advisable.
A Lack of Nutrients On The HCG Diet
Considering calories are nutrients, then YES, the HCG Diet will cause a lack of nutrients. However, this isn’t what people are referring to when they say the HCG Diet will restrict nutrients. The reference is for vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients. The truth is that most individuals in American society are already regularly deficient of a number of nutrients in the presence of high calorie diets. So, it would make sense to say that a diet so low in calories would cause further nutrient deficiencies. On the contrary, this usually isn’t the case. The HCG Diet requires the dieter to eat fruits and vegetables 2 times each, per day. This is usually better than what most Americans consume for their vitamins. So, while calories are down, nutrient density is up.
You Will Lose Muscle and Not Fat
Losing muscle on any calorie restrictive diet is a risk, but the truth is that the HCG diet, calorie for calorie, is likely one of the most defective programs for guarding against muscle wasting. Why? The HCG. HCG is known for it’s effects on improving testosterone levels, and testosterone is one of the bodies most powerful muscle anabolic hormones. Listed right after insulin, but that is for a different discussion.
You Will Gain All of the Weight Back After the HCG Diet
Gaining weight after the HCG Diet is common, but not any more common than that of other weight loss programs. The truth is that the HCG Diet is a rapid fat loss program, and unfortunately, weight loss is about habits. By the time a lot of clients hit their weight loss goal, they aren’t yet equipped to keep it off. HCG helps to guard against some of the physiological effects of a very low calorie diet, but once again we have the human component. Before starting the HCG Diet, be prepared to change your life after if you want to keep the weight off. It will require physical activity, and changes to your diet.