The hCG diet combines a very low-calorie diet with hCG injections to encourage rapid weight loss. The diet comes with risks and considerations. Exercise, a typical staple for weight loss, is not encouraged while on the diet and there is also no scientific evidence that supports the diet's claims of safe, effective weight loss. If you plan on practicing the hCG diet, you must also be aware of the diet in relation to your menstrual cycle and the effects it may have.
Human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, is a hormone primarily found in pregnant women. HCG Diet Direct explains that the hormone provides energy to both the mother and the fetus and helps metabolize fat. As a weight loss supplement, hCG is used to capitalize on the same idea of metabolizing fat. The weight loss, the site explains, only occurs if you accompany the injections with a very low-calorie diet. The hormone tells the body to use stored fat as energy, which eliminates excess fat reserves. Though the hormone is typically found in women, the diet can be practiced by both men and women.
The hCG diet was developed by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, a British physician, in the 1950s. His original research concluded that a very low-calorie diet coupled with hCG injections eliminated hunger pains, irritability, headaches and weakness while aiding in weight loss. According to hcgdietinfo.com, the diet consists of only 500 calories a day in addition to 125 international units of hCG. The diet lasts for 26 days if you have less than 15 pounds to lose. If you need to lose over 15 pounds, the diet can last for 40 days maximum, or until you've lost 34 pounds, whichever comes first.
Dietsinreview.com points out that 500 calories a day is not enough to support normal brain function. The injections have not been approved by the FDA; in fact, all material related to hCG is required to come with the disclaimer that "hCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction." Side effects include headaches, mood swings, depression, blood clots, dizziness and, in some cases, women may develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
Menstrual Cycle Protocol
During a woman's menstrual cycle, she is not to continue injections. Hcgweightlossdiets.com explains that the high level of progesterone in a woman's body during her cycle prevents hCG from isolating fat reduction. The International Association for Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine quotes Dr. Simeons as saying that the lack of injections during menstruation does not halt weight loss. The diet should continue during the woman's cycle but injections should begin immediately after her period or extreme hunger will result. Because the amount of hCG present in your body from the injections is so small, your menstrual cycle should not change. HCG Diet Direct also claims that the diet will not affect your fertility in a positive or negative manner.
Proponents of the hCG diet claims that you will lose one to three pounds a day, which is generally the safest amount of weight to lose in a week's time. With the FDA's disapproval, no scientific backing and the possibility of the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in women, however, it would be best to consult your physician regarding the advisability of you pursuing this diet. If you are a woman with a dysfunctional menstrual cycle, you should be particularly cautious of hormones entering your body.
- Diets in Review.com: hCG Diet
- HCG Diet Direct: hCG Diet Frequently Asked Questions
- HCG Diet Info: The Original hCG Diet by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons
- Hcgweightlossdiets.com: HCG Menstrual Cycle
- Aesthetic Medicine News: HCG Diet and Cosmetics and Menstruation
- American Pregnancy Association: Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): The Pregnancy Hormone