Obesity is a global concern. In 2016, over 650 million adults were obese and 1.9 billion were overweight. Those struggling with stubborn fat are at higher risk for heart disease, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, and premature death. Even the slightest weight loss could save their lives.
Considering these facts, it's no wonder why crash diets are all the rage. It's not unusual to see teenage girls, women, and even men starving themselves and skipping meals to lose a few pounds. Unfortunately, these things rarely work. In fact, a whopping 95 percent of dieters fail to get in shape and regain the lost weight within one to five years.
Luckily, there still is hope. Certain weight loss plans have stood the test of time and are proven to work. The HCG diet, for instance, is based on solid medical research and can help you drop one to five pounds per day. Sounds quite amazing, isn't it?
This guide to the HCG diet will teach you everything you need to know about this weight loss plan. From how it works to what to eat, we got you covered. Let's get into it!
The HCG Diet at a Glance
This low-calorie diet plan was developed by British endocrinologist Albert T. W. Simeons over 50 years ago. Simeons discovered that pregnant women treated with small doses of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) lost fat rather than lean muscle. After years of research, he realized that this hormone signals the hypothalamus to preserve muscle and promote fat oxidation in order to protect the fetus.
Later, Simeons published a book describing the link between HCG and fat loss. Other researchers have confirmed his findings. Today, HCG drops and injections are used along with low-calorie diets as a means to prevent and fight obesity. Even though these products are not approved by the FDA, thousands of studies prove their effectiveness.
People from all around the world have lost massive weight due to the HCG diet. Compared to other slimming programs, this dietary protocol is safe and works with your body, not against it. HCG suppresses hunger, increases fat burning, and supports overall health. Plus, it's natural and unlikely to cause any adverse reactions.
Beware that HCG is not a magic bullet for fat loss. It does work, but you still need to stick to your diet and eat clean. Since there are several HCG diet protocols available, it should be easy to find one that best suits your needs. Even though exercise is not required, it can speed up your progress and bring you closer to your goals.
What Is HCG?
This weight loss program couples HCG injections with a low-calorie diet. HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Its role is to signal a woman's body that she's carrying a baby.
The levels of human chorionic gonadotropin reach their peak during the first three months of pregnancy and then gradually drop. This hormone plays a key role in prenatal development and has direct effects on estrogen and progesterone levels. Due to its therapeutic properties, it's widely used for medical purposes.
Doctors often prescribe HCG to women struggling with fertility problems. This protein-based hormone is available in various forms, such as pills, oral drops, sprays, pellets, and injections. Since it's produced by the placenta during pregnancy, it's safe and natural.
The Science behind HCG
The science behind this dietary plan is simple. Most pregnant women suffer from nausea and other conditions that affect appetite and nutrient absorption. The placenta produces HCG to ensure that the developing fetus would still have a reserve of energy to draw on.
Basically, HCG helps your body use stored fat for fuel rather than relying on food sources. If, for some reason, you can no longer eat or develop vitamin or mineral deficiencies, your unborn baby will not starve.
Dieters can use HCG products to maximize fat burning and preserve muscle. When combined with a low-calorie diet, this hormone can help you lean out in a short time. It not only resets your metabolism but also suppresses appetite and keeps your energy levels up. You'll eat less and reduce your daily calorie intake without even realizing it.
According to Dr. Simeons, there are three types of adipose tissue:
- Normal fat
- Abnormal fat
- Structural fat
Normal fat is healthy and serves as a source of fuel. Structural fat protects your organs, enhances nutrient absorption, and regulates your temperature.
Abnormal fat, on the other hand, wraps around your organs in the abdominal cavity. It also accumulates on your thighs, arms, stomach, and other areas, causing unsightly bumps. It's the hardest to lose and affects your health on long term. Additionally, this type of fat is not easily accessible as an energy source.
Most diet plans will cause your body to burn structural and normal fat, and have little or no effect on abnormal fat. In the worst case scenario, they lead to muscle loss and metabolic disorders.
HCG, by comparison, makes abnormal fat more accessible to your body. In other words, it allows you to burn stubborn fat for energy. At the same time, it balances the hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased satiety. You'll feel less hungry and experience fewer cravings through the day. Healthy eating will no longer be a chore. Low energy, weakness, and fatigue will soon be just a bad memory.
How Does the HCG Diet Plan Work?
Now that you know the benefits of HCG, you might wonder how this diet works. The standard HCG diet plan was first described in Simeons's book – Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity. Since then, several versions have emerged in response to the obesity epidemic. However, most programs share similar characteristics.
The HCG diet plan has two key components. One involves limiting your energy intake to 500 to 800 calories per day. High-protein foods should come first on your list. Lean meat, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, and leafy greens are all an excellent choice. The other component is taking HCG oral drops or injecting this hormone into your thighs or other muscles.
This low-calorie diet has three phases. During the loading phase, it's recommended to consume high-fat, high-calorie foods and use HCG for two days. The next phase is designed for weight loss and involves eating 500 calories per day for three to six weeks. HCG drops must be used daily. Dieters are allowed to eat twice a day.
Once you reach the maintenance phase, you can gradually increase your calorie intake and stop taking HCG. Starches and high-carb foods must be kept to a minimum. At this point, you can enjoy most foods in moderation. There are no restrictions concerning the number of meals.
What Can You Eat?
The HCG diet plan is quite restrictive at first but becomes more flexible during the third phase. Plus, the results will last, so it's worth the effort. This weight loss program will cause your body to mobilize fat out of the adipose tissue so it becomes available for energy. Thanks to HCG, you'll have better appetite control and lean out faster.
Even though this hormone is not an appetite suppressant, it acts directly on the brain. This makes it more efficient than any diet pill. Some people even say that their sleep has improved since they've started to take HCG.
The HCG diet plan won't work unless you stick to it. Make sure you know what to eat, what to avoid, and how to spot hidden sugars.
During the loading phase, you can enjoy most foods without restrictions. From ice cream and cheese to potatoes, fried meats, mayo, vegetables, and even cookies, nothing is off limits. For best results, choose high-fat, nutrient-dense foods. These will provide your body with the energy needed for the weight loss phase.
Here are some foods you can enjoy during the second phase, which is the most restrictive:
- Lean beef (extra lean ground beef, filet mignon, etc.)
- Chicken or turkey breast (skin and fat removed)
- White fish (cod, sea bass, tilapia, etc.)
- Canned tuna (packed in water)
- Non-fat cottage cheese
- Egg whites
- Most vegetables (cucumbers, spinach, kale, celery, lettuce, green salad, etc.)
- Low-sugar fruits in small amounts (oranges, grapefruit, apples, berries, etc.)
- Unsweetened tea
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Herbs and spices
- Liquid aminos
- Apple cider vinegar
- Beef or chicken broth
- Sugar-free chewing gum
Vegetables should be consumed in moderation. Eat fruits occasionally; think of them as dessert. Fill up on protein and cut back on fats. Lean meat and fish are the best choices.
You can add low-fat, sugar-free sauces to your meals. However, these are typically high in sodium and may cause fluid retention. Beware that vegetable oils, coconut oil, olive oil, flour, sugar, and starches are not allowed on the HCG diet plan.
The maintenance phase is more flexible and allows for a wider range of foods. During the first three weeks, avoid high-sugar fruits, such as bananas and grapes, as well as dairy, nuts, cheese, and fried meals. Later, you can gradually introduce new foods into your diet. At this point, you may eat up to 1,500 calories a day. Track your progress and adjust your calorie intake accordingly.
A common mistake during phase III is to add in too many foods at one time. This can lead to weight gain and digestive distress. Return to normal eating gradually by introducing one new food at a time.
For example, you can have a piece of chocolate on day one, a slice of whole bread on day two, cheese on day three, and so no. Avoid high-fat and high-calorie foods, such as pizza and sausages. Maintain a high protein intake at all times.
Milk and dairy are allowed during the maintenance phase. However, steer clear of flavored yogurt and other highly processed dairy foods. Stick to plain Greek yogurt, butter, cheese, and sour cream in small amounts.
Watermelon, mango, bananas, and pineapple should only be consumed occasionally because of their high sugar content. Fructose, the sugar in the fruits, is just as bad as table sugar. It has been linked to weight gain, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. In the long run, it can raise bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
In case you eat something that's off limits, simply return to your diet. This may slow down your progress, but it's important not to give up. One bad meal won’t make you fat. If you stick to the recommended foods and take HCG, you can expect to lose one to three pounds a day. Most dieters drop at least one pound on the first day.
As far as exercise is concerned, stick to light activities during the first few weeks. At this point, your body is trying to adapt and shift its metabolism. High-intensity workouts will work unnecessary stress and may increase hunger. Later, you can gradually resume your exercise routine.
Are There Any Side Effects?
The HCG diet is safe for most people. In rare cases, it may cause mood swings, irritability, fatigue, headaches, and electrolyte imbalances. However, most side effects subside on their own as your body adapts to the new eating pattern.
Also, it's extremely important to choose quality HCG supplements. Opt for a trusted brand with no fillers or proprietary blends. Check the label to make sure the product actually contains HCG.
Get creative and experiment with different recipes! This will make dieting easier and increase your chances of success. Try healthy, delicious recipes, such as beef stew, flank steak, ginger marinade, baked Italian meatballs, spicy chicken strips, French onion soup, crab salad, and mint coffee. The HCG diet is anything but boring!
So, what are you waiting for? Start your weight loss journey today! Use this guide to the HCG diet to make smarter food choices and lose stubborn fat once and for all.
Forget about diet pills, strenuous workouts, and quick weight loss plans. If these things worked, you would already be slim. The HCG diet plan is backed up by science – the results will exceed your expectations.
Shannon, a self-employed, foodie and social media junkie lives in Sunnyvale, CA. Formerly a Nutritionist who left a professional career stays at home with kids. Currently writes for purehcgdietdrops.com and other weight loss supplement websites. You can reach her on FB for weight loss queries.