Can Exercising on the HCG Diet Make You Lose Weight Faster?

Yoga
A woman holding a yoga pose on a mat in the park. (Image: i7do/iStock/Getty Images)

The accepted weight loss equation of less food plus more exercise has been drilled into our heads for decades. But a popular program called the HCG diet promises drastic weight loss with no exercise at all. While it may seem counter-intuitive, vigorous exercise on the HCG diet can actually slow weight loss. However, fitness fans can safely stick to a light exercise routine to stay fit while reaching their weight loss goals on the HCG diet.

How The HCG Diet Works

On the HCG diet program, dieters are given daily injections or sublingual drops of human chorionic gonadotropin, a substance produced by pregnant women that ensures the fetus receives adequate nutrition by pulling energy from fat stores in the event of insufficient calorie consumption. According to Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, who first implemented HCG for weight loss in patients in the 1930s, HCG is safe for both men and women and pulls fat from “abnormal” fat stores in the hips, thighs, abdomen and buns to burn as energy if calorie needs are not met. To ensure that the HCG will go to work burning fat stores, dieters are put on a strict diet of 500 calories per day composed of lean protein, vegetables, fruits and, optionally, small amounts of whole grains. Dr. Simeons theorized that the HCG burned approximately 1000 to 1,500 calories per day solely from fat stores, and that keeping caloric intake to 500 calories would cause dieters to lose weight quickly with little to no hunger or weakness.

HCG and Exercise

Because dieters following the HCG diet program are taking in very little calories, exercise should remain light and easy. While on HCG, you will be eating mainly protein and keeping carbohydrates to a minimum. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel and are especially crucial during long durations of cardiovascular exercise. Attempting to exercise for long periods of time without adequate calories, especially in the form of carbohydrates, can lead to dizziness, exhaustion, extreme hunger and fatigue. Dr. Simeons noted that patients who insisted on exercising vigorously while on the program typically became very hungry and overate, which stalled weight loss or even led to weight gain.

Acceptable Exercises

Most programs recommend light exercise such as walking, easy biking and yoga. These exercises will help you keep your muscle tone and stay fit without jeopardizing weight loss. If you are accustomed to more intense exercise such as running or vigorous swimming, it is acceptable to continue with the exercise but cut down on the duration. For example, instead of running six miles five days a week, run three miles and either walk three miles or finish the workout with some yoga.

Exercises to Avoid

If you’re new to exercising, you’ll want to stick to only light exercises that will not cause you to burn hundreds of calories. Now is not the time to start training for a 5K, unless you’ve been running very regularly for over two months. Experts also advise avoiding vigorous weight lifting, as it can lead to exhaustion and muscle fatigue while on the diet. Remember that exercising hard on only 500 calories per day can actually cause your body to hold onto fat rather than release fat. Once you have completed your round of HCG injections or drops and have lost a significant amount of weight, you may resume your normal exercise routine. Even after your break from hard exercise, you will likely find that exercising feels easier in your slimmer body.

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