Everyone’s talking about the hCG diet and you’re wondering what is it and what is all the fuss is about. It’s really quite simple. On the hCG diet, a low calorie diet is combined with supplementary hCG. This acronym stands for human Chorionic Gonadotropin and it’s a hormone that naturally occurs in your body. The levels of hCG are particularly high in pregnant women and it has been noted that it increases their ability to burn fat.
If you’re a man, you don’t have to worry about this: it will also boost your testosterone production, but that’s not why you’re considering it. You want to know about weight loss and fat burning is what you need. Of course, you’ll have to limit your calories before your body decides to burn fat and that’s where the diet comes in.
The History of the hCG Diet
Although this might seem like a new fad, it certainly isn’t anything of the sort. The hCG diet was first promoted by a medical doctor, Dr Simeons, after observing pronounced weight loss in adolescents with hypogonadism when treated with hCG combined with a low calorie intake. They reported reduced feelings of hunger too and this led Dr Simeons to undertake years of work on weight loss, low calorie diets and the effects of hCG. His magnum opus, ‘Pounds and Inches’, a book detailing his original protocol was published in 1967.
In 2007, Kevin Trudeau re-discovered the work of Dr Simeons, adding a few refinements of his own and the resulting sensation has led to the revival of the hCG diet as an effective weight loss program. Participant reviews on the effectiveness of the diet are varied however it is interesting to note that in most cases when the diet was completed correctly, the reviews were very positive.
Is it a ‘Crash Diet’?
Answer: both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes, you’re going to lose weight really fast, but if you stick to the diet and follow all the phases carefully, you’ll keep the weight off.
In truth, the hCG diet is the introduction to a lifestyle change to healthier eating and a metabolic change that helps you to burn fat even after you’ve moved to higher calorie eating. The diet is one that recognizes the fact that you do need more than the initial weight loss calories, but doesn’t leave you to wallow in French fries once the diet is ‘over’.
If you’re going to take on this diet, be sure you’re committed to healthier eating in years to come for maximum results!
What Does the hCG Diet Consist Of?
This phased diet begins with an ‘eat all you like’ phase of up to three days. Thereafter, you’re going to experience a limited time (up to eight weeks) in which your calories are severely restricted. The original diet recommends a 500 calorie daily intake for up to six weeks, but variants consisting of 800 and 1200 calories per day exist.
The diet is supplemented with hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) a naturally occurring hormone that promotes fat burning and prevents the loss of muscle mass so often associated with ‘crash diets’. Thereafter, you gradually re-introduce extra calories in a planned manner and you continue to monitor your weight in order to determine what your ‘maintenance calories’ (the number of calories you should consume to maintain your new weight) are calculated.
Although not absolutely necessary in most cases, it’s probably wise to undertake this endeavor with the aid of medical advice and supervision. You’re more likely to stick to the program, will be equipped to deal with any side effects that may occur and you’ll have help and support when questions arise.
Phase 1 of the hCG diet is also referred to as the ‘loading phase’.
Often people plan to skip this phase and get right into the calorie restricted phases of the hCG Diet but that is not the recommended course of action.
This article examines the reasons you need to complete the loading phase and some food suggestions to ensure you really enjoy it!
Summary of the HCG Diet Phases
If you’re planning to try the hCG diet, it’s essential that you should follow the phases of the diet carefully.
Trying to skip one can seriously ruin your effort to lose weight.
Preparing your mind for the diet before you begin is a good start and in order to do that, you need to know what these diet phases consist of.
hCG Diet Phase 1
Why you need the Loading Phase
The loading phase of the hCG diet will cause your metabolic rate to increase and helps your hypothalamus to enter into a new routine that prepares you for weight loss. This phase is essential for enhancing your weight loss later on and should under no circumstances be skipped.
What does Phase 1 Involve?
For two days, you’re going to eat as many calories as you can. At the same time, your hCG treatment begins. You should ensure that you are in good health and women should time this phase to begin at least 5 days before menstruation and no sooner than two days after the onset of menstruation.
Keep yourself as full as you can and binge on carbohydrates as much as you like. The more calories there are in what you eat, the better and the best part is that it’s conscience-free.
If you don’t munch like mad, you’re not going to get the best results from your diet. From now on, you’re going to be weighing yourself every day and recording the results.
Here are some meal ideas and examples for the loading phase:
Eat a fatty full English breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage and buttery toast. Enjoy an omelet smothered with cheese or enjoy a fatty breakfast fry-up with a clear conscience.
While you’re loading, you can indulge in pastries to your heart’s content, so why not enjoy a doughnut or a slice of cake piled with whipped cream?
Indulge in fatty meat such as a pork chop and team it up with decadent potato and veggies drenched with oodles of butter. If you’re having bread, spread the butter on nice and thickly.
Keep up your momentum with something sugary and fattening like ice cream or a bar of chocolate. Enjoy!
Why not eat a cheesy pasta with a creamy sauce? It’s going to help you to lose weight later. If you’re going to eat fruit, let it be avocado and have garlic bread with the meal just to add to the calorie count. How about your favorite sweet dessert? Go for it!
Snack before bedtime
We all know one shouldn’t snack before bed time, but on your two loading days, anything goes. Have a sinful late night snack like potato crisps or some more ice cream. Perhaps this would be a good time to eat a slice of cake with thick, sugary icing. Spoil yourself!
Unfortunately, after Phase 1 comes Phase 2, and the party is definitely over! At least you will have some fond memories to think back to and a slimmer, healthier self to look forward to.
After your calorie-loaded first phase, you’re ready to start losing weight.
The party of Phase 1 over and you’re going to have to be strict with yourself and stick to the meal plan.
At the same time, you can expect to see those unwanted kilograms melting away, so there’s a lot to look forward to.
Let’s get started!
hCG Diet Phase 2 – What Does it Involve?
You’re going to be selecting foods from a very specific list. Your daily calorie intake is restricted to 500 calories (unless specified otherwise by your doctor), so you will have to plan carefully in advance.
The first few days are probably the hardest, but it gets easier if you stick it out and follow the program for the recommended 3 – 5 weeks. At the same time, you do have a fair selection of foods to choose from, so your diet needn’t become depressing.
You get a 100 gram serving of protein at every meal, vegetables can be eaten 2 – 3 times a day and fruit is allowed for every meal except breakfast.
Although you’re cutting out dairy products and oils, you are allowed up to a teaspoon of coconut oil with every meal and you can use almond milk to add a bit of creaminess to tea and coffee. Sugar is completely excluded, but you can use a natural sweetener such as Stevia.
It is important to note that Dr Simeons original diet protocol was a little more restrictive than this, disallowing the use of oil and requiring that the dieter begin the day with just a cup of tea or coffee sweetened with Stevia, not sugar.
The addition of the extra serving of protein at breakfast is to help ensure that muscle is maintained on the hCG diet and the teaspoon of coconut oil encouraged at each meal helps to switch the body into Ketosis (fat burning), provide extra energy and also help to lubricate bowel function to prevent constipation.
During this phase, you continue with the daily administration of hCG to boost your fat-burning abilities.
An Example Day on Phase 2
It’s really just a matter of checking out the allowable serving sizes and dreaming up a good combination for each meal. Here’s an example:
Scramble up two eggs (no milk, but they’ll mix nicely without that) and add up to a cupful of mushrooms to the mixture. If you are a tea or coffee drinker, you can have a cup sweetened with Stevia and with a dash of Almond milk.
You can have a cupful of salad at lunch time instead of cooked veg. Try combining Peppers, lettuce, celery, cucumber an onion. Remember: the more fiber you eat, the fuller you’re going to feel. You’ve also got a protein allowance and cottage cheese could be just what you need to add a bit of zing to that salad.
If you think the combo isn’t complete without tomato, use a small one and count it as having fulfilled your fruit allowance for lunch. Alternatively, you might enjoy a chicken salad instead. The vegetable ingredients can be up to a cupful and the chicken is over and above that.
You’re kind of spoiled for choice. You’re at home and you can cook up what you like best from the list meat-wise, so what shall it be? A bit of chicken breast? Some lean beef? Or how about a 100 grams of some of your favorite seafood? Lobster, crab, crayfish and prawns are all on the list.
Now for your cupful of veggies: mixing and matching is fun, but for day one, let’s go with the celery or we could bake up some mushrooms or roast an onion. That’s just the beginning!
Sauces and Spices
If this sounds bland, think again. Salads can be enlivened with a coconut oil and vinegar dressing and just about any calorie-free seasoning. A pinch of herbs won’t hurt you either! The same goes for meats.
Just check the label of the seasoning of your choice to make sure that it’s not going to add to your calories.
Tips for Dealing With Cravings in Phase 2
Even with the help of hCG, you’ll probably feel hungry, but cravings are another matter. If you’re craving sugar or starchy foods, it could be that your body is still in sugar burning mode. Avoid fruits altogether for two or three days.
If salty foods are what you dream of at night and crave all day, you’re probably not drinking enough water. Make sure that you’re not getting dehydrated by drinking the recommended eight glasses of water daily.
Fatty foods are what we eat when we’re looking for ‘comfort food’ and the trigger is usually psychological. See if you can discover what is triggering your craving. If it’s simply a matter of habit, you’re on the way to breaking that habit.
Above all, remember that weight plateaus are normal on any diet as your body attempts to reach a new equilibrium. Your doctor may have some suggestions about how to kick your body back into fat burning mode but the most important thing is to continue with the diet.
Don’t be tempted to give up, or to try anything drastic, if you persist – understanding that plateaus in weight loss are normal – you will triumph.
Congratulations on completing what can be described as the most difficult, yet rewarding phase of the HCG diet!
After three to five weeks of intense discipline, application, and calorie restrictions, you’re now ready to tackle phase three, known as the ‘Diet Break’, and stabilize all the progress you’ve made so far.
Here is how…
Phase 3 of the hCG Diet
During this phase, you’re going to start consuming carbohydrates once again. Although you may be feeling excited at introducing a new type of food to your diet, it’s not without its limitations.
The purpose of this phase is to help your body reset your metabolism, prevent long-term weight gain, and to help ensure insulin sensitivity is optimized to better prevent blood sugar spikes and fat cell storage.
Although you may feel so ecstatic at your weight loss and new body that you want to prolong phase two, it’s important that you start and complete the Diet Break phase to secure and maintain your weight loss and high, fat-burning metabolic rate.
What Does Phase 3 Involve?
The Diet Break is approximately three weeks long. Just long enough to allow you to introduce carbs, reset your metabolism, and stabilize insulin sensitivity. Your calorie restrictions will lift from the daily 500 – 800 plan to 1500 – 2000 calorie plan.
You’re going to allow yourself one serving of an approved carbohydrate to your dinner meal. You can also look forward to the optional serving of an approved fruit at your breakfast meal too.
Included in this Diet Break is the ability to introduce no more than two teaspoons of butter to each meal if you would like. Most people tend to stick to the preferred coconut oil instead.
Everything else about the diet plan remains the same. If you’ve quickly been caught up in the excitement of hearing ‘carbs’, let’s re-cap what the remaining part of your diet should look like:
- 100g protein (1 portion with all meals)
- 1 cup of approved vegetable (optional)
- 1 serving of approved fruit (optional)
Ensuring that you get the right kinds of carbs into your diet is just as important as not skipping this phase. One serving of carbs should be about 40 grams. You’ll expect that this serving size should be equal to one cup of the following:
- cooked rice
It’s also the same as having two slices of bread and one potato.
Although there is typically no weight loss during this phase, there is the possibility that you can gain weight. If this occurs, you need to implement the ‘Steak Day’ remedy where your only meal is a portion of steak at dinner.
This is done for one 24 hour period followed with continuing the diet plan for phase three. This usually helps to stop any further weight gain during the Diet Break.
Please note that during this phase you don’t want to introduce any dairy products at this time. After completing the three weeks of the Diet Break, you can restart phase two to begin a new rotation of the low calorie diet to kick-start weight loss again until you’ve reached your desired weight goals.
At that point, you can happily continue onto the HCG Diet Maintenance phase.
Phase 4 of the hCG Diet
You’re on the tail end of the HCG diet program, and although it’s the last phase, the Diet Maintenance Guide still requires discipline and strict adherence to protocol.
Because you’re reintroducing new foods to your diet and increasing your calories, you want it to be as controlled as possible to prevent weight gain on the new body that you just worked so hard for.
Use this phase to seal in all the progress you’ve made as you adjust your metabolism and body to a new and healthy lifestyle.
But how can you apply this new control during phase four?
This phase is about learning what calorie amount is needed for your body to comfortably function and flourish on while keeping the weight off. First you’ll want to increase another 500 calories to your diet plan a week at a time.
You’ll know where you need to stop and re-evaluate when you gain a couple pounds. At this point, you’ll want to factor in a Steak Day or an Apple Day before continuing on with this phase.
If weight gain continues, reduce the calorie amount 500 calories until you feel that you have stabilized your weight and diet plan to your maintenance calorie value.
A formula can be used as only a guideline to calculate what range of maintenance calories should be for you. Take your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and multiply it by the value of your activity level. To get your BMR, take your current weight and multiply it by 10.
Activity Level Values:
- Sedentary – 1.2
- Moderately Active – 1.3
- Active – 1.4
- Very Active – 1.5
- Athlete – 1.6
So if you’re active most of the time and you now weigh 125 lbs, multiply your weight by 10 and your BMR is 1250. Take your BMR and multiply it by your activity level which is 1.4 and your estimated maintenance calories is 1750. The math should look like this: (125 x 10) x 1.4 = 1750.
Although this calculator may give you a good idea which range you fall into, you should discuss this first with your HCG doctor or nutritionist.
Incorporating an exercise regime will help to tone your new body and will definitely prevent unwanted weight gain. You’ll want to continue your healthy eating habits that you obtained during the HCG diet by avoiding dairy, limiting starches, cutting out sugar, and eliminating processed foods from your diet.
Lots of whole and raw foods can empower you with a new, healthy lifestyle that can help you keep your new body and your new weight permanently.
How do advocates of the hCG diet claim that it works?
Although consuming a very restricted diet would cause weight loss in just about anyone, advocates of the diet claim that coupling a low calorie intake with doses of hCG make it all a whole lot easier.
So how does it work?
It’s pretty simple: you follow the detailed diet plan which, although limited in calories (at times as few as 500 per day) includes really healthy foods and some delicious recipes. Plus, you use daily doses of hCG to enhance your weight loss of stored fat.
There are numerous testimonials from people who shed kilograms really fast and who say that the weight stays off as long as you pay attention to your lifestyle. Obviously, you don’t stay on the diet forever, but you should stay away from foods that made you overweight in the first place.
If you have made it to phase 4 of the hCG diet, you will no doubt be feeling the desire to celebrate!
But you can’t quit your efforts just yet…
So what exactly does phase 4 involve and how do you find the right balance to set yourself up for long-term weight loss success?
Read on to find out!
What role does hCG hormone play in the HCG diet?
When we start talking about dosing oneself with hormones, many an eyebrow will be raised. Can it harm you? Exactly how is it supposed to help you? Here’s the skinny on hCG and how it helps you to lose weight.
First of all, adverse effects of hCG in the dose used on this diet are rare. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin naturally occurs in the body and during early pregnancy, the concentrations of hCG rise to a level that’s nearly 2000 times the concentrations you’ll be adding to your system.
While taking hCG will affect your metabolism, it is unlikely to cause any imbalances in your system as a whole.
HCG acts on your hypothalamus, an organ that regulates your weight by controlling your sensations of hunger and appetite and by regulating how much fat should be stored and how much should be burned. The effect of hCG is to instruct your hypothalamus that it’s fat burning, rather than fat storing time.
The problem with a low calorie diet on its own, is that you’re as likely to burn muscle as fat and that means you’ll pile the weight back on as soon as you stop the diet as your body tries to regain lost muscle.
If you add hCG to a low calorie diet, you burn off fat. This also limits the potential dangers associated with a low calorie diet. The fat you burn provides you with ample energy to keep on functioning effectively.
At the same time, hCG tells your hypothalamus that you’re not hungry, so you don’t experience an overwhelming desire to eat. Sticking to the diet becomes easy.
How is this different from a normal very low calorie diet?
If you’ve ever tried a very low calorie diet, you’ll know that you feel weak, tired and grumpy all the time. You crave food and sometimes you end up binge eating simply because you can’t take it anymore.
What’s more, the minute you start eating normally again, your body turns everything you eat into fat because you’ve managed to convince it that you’re starving.
Having got that message, your metabolism decides it needs to store as much fat away as possible for the next time there’s a food shortage. The result? Rapid weight gain as soon as you stop dieting.
Since hCG promotes fat burning, you don’t get as tired and weak as you ordinarily would on a low calorie diet. Fat is pure stored energy and burning it up helps you to feel more energetic and comfortable than you normally would on such a low calorie diet.
As a result of the release of all that stored energy, your body doesn’t go into starvation mode. It’s quite happy with things as they are and if you’re careful to follow the recommended steps for discontinuing the diet, there’s no radical weight regain.
Will I Be Hungry On The HCG Diet?
If you are thinking about using HCG injections and following the HCG diet you might be concerned about feeling hungry eating so little food. Surprisingly, most people report that they don’t feel hungry during this protocol, despite a big reduction in food eaten.
The theory behind the reason for this again falls back to the effect HCG has during a normal pregnancy. It is believed that high levels of HCG in pregnancy may be responsible for the nausea and loss of appetite known as morning sickness.
When taken in the much lower dose used for weight loss, experts believe HCG reduces appetite in a similar way, but without stimulating nausea.
Is This Really Enough Food To Live Off?
Many people are also concerned that 500 calories is too little food to live off. Firstly, it is important to keep in mind that you are also going to be living off your own body fat stores which will be burnt to supply energy needed.
Secondly, it is important to remember that these very severe calorie restrictions are only temporary. The goal is to get you down to a healthy weight as quickly as possible in a manner which is going to enable you to maintain the weight loss when you do reintroduce more calories back into your diet.
Please keep in mind that you are best to consult your doctor or a dietitian as to the correct amount of calories to consume.