Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What is the HCG Diet?

This post is for my friends who have asked for information about the HCG Diet. I am not a medical expert, nor a doctor. I am a simply girl who was looking for a permanent solution to obesity, and wanted to share what I've found. That's all. Any information I share will be based on direct observation and based on the book, Pounds & Inches, A New Approach to Obesity by A.T.W. Simeons, M.D.

First of all, after reading this post, to understand this diet and the principles behind it, I absolutely recommend reading Pounds & Inches. Download it here, or it is available for free all over the Internet and is about 35 pages. But, seriously, if you are thinking of doing this diet, read the book first. Do your homework and get the facts, then decide for yourself.

What is HCG?
HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin. HCG is a hormone which is exclusively produced in the placenta, from where it enters the mother's bloodstream.

Chorionic means of the chorion, which is part of the placenta.
Gonadotrophin is related to sex. However, HCG is not a sex hormone and according to Dr. Simeons, is safe for both men and women.

According to Pounds & Inches, HCG can eliminate abnormal fat when used with a very specific protocol (detailed below is the 500 calorie diet). Though the diet is very low calorie, because of the HCG breaking down the abnormal fat, you burn between 1500-4000 calories a day, so you're not really hungry.

HCG Diet - More or less in simple terms

According to Dr. Simeons, there are three kinds of fat:
The first is structural fat which provides padding for our organs, keeping our skin smooth and taut, and provides a buffer for our bones (like on the bottom of our feet) so that when we walk, it is cushioned.

The second is normal reserve fat, which provides fuel that the body can draw when the nutrition from the normal digestive system is insufficient to meet the demand.

The third sucks. It's that abnormal fat that gets stored away for some far away, imagined "emergency" that it never quite gets to. This fat is locked away, but usually quite evident.

Here's what Dr. Simeons says about how the body addresses these fats:
"When an obese patient tries to reduce by starving himself, he will first lose his normal fat reserves. When these are exhausted he begins to burn up structural fat, and only as a last resort will the body yield its abnormal reserves, though by that time the patient usually feels so weak and hungry that the diet is abandoned. It is just for this reason that obese patients complain that when they diet they lose the wrong fat. They feel famished and tired and their face becomes drawn and haggard, but their belly, hips, thighs and upper arms show little improvement. The fat they have come to detest stays on and the fat they need to cover their bones gets less and less. Their skin wrinkles and they look old and miserable. And that is one of the most frustrating and depressing experiences a human being can have."

If you've dieted at all like I have, the above statement is pretty real. This is the primary reason I chose to do the HCG Diet Protocol personally. To think that this diet actually addresses that hard to lose fat?? for good?? Sign me up!

Okay, so that's an overview of what HCG is and what it's doing in this protocol. Now, a quick orientation, because there is a lot of information on line, and some of it does not match up.

Spreading the HCG Word:
More than 60 years ago Dr. Simeons developed a specific protocol for handling obesity. His manuscript is the result of more than 40 years of hands on clinical research, and it was published sometime in the early 1950's. So his protocol has stood the test of time.

Now, a little while back Kevin Trudeau wrote a book and featured this diet with some additions and modifications. This popularized it in a new unit of time for a whole new generation. I'll be honest, I have not read it and I'm not that familiar with it.

I am personally doing the strictly Dr. Simeons, Pounds & Inches HCG Diet protocol. The decision to follow it to the tee is based on the fact that Dr. Simeons is very specific on why the protocol is to be followed precisely, and he claims that when followed, it can eliminate obesity. There are more technical aspects to this, so I refer you again to the book, Pound & Inches. So that is why I have chosen to do his protocol.

HCG Protocol (abridged version):

HCG Injections (read the whole post before panicking please, they really do NOT hurt.)

For less than 15 pounds: 26 Days. 23 Days of injections, plus 3 days of low calorie diet.
More than 15 pounds: 43 Days. 40 Days of injections, plus 3 additional days of low calorie.

Here's how that works out:

Day 1 & 2:
HCG Injections (not so fun). Load days (fun). Aka gorge days. Yep, just like it sounds. Eat lots of fattening foods for two days. These days are with injections and allows the HCG to get into the bloodstream while adding some volume of "normal reserve fat" (which will be burned your first days on the very low calorie portion of the diet).

Okay, the load days are a big deal. In fact, here's what Dr. Simeons says:
"It is usually at this point that a difference appears between those patients who have literally eaten to capacity during the first two days of treatment and those who have not. The former feel remarkably well; they have no hunger, nor do they feel tempted when others eat normally at the same table. They feel lighter, more clearheaded and notice a desire to move quite contrary to their previous lethargy. Those who have disregarded the advice to eat to capacity continue to have minor discomforts and do not have the same euphoric sense of well being until about a week later. It seems that their normal fat reserves require that much more time before they are fully stocked."

Days 3-23: Injections plus 500 calorie Diet as prescribed by Dr. Simeons:

The 500 Calorie Diet
"The 500 calorie diet is explained on the day of the second injection to those patients who will be preparing their own food, and it is most important that the person who will actually cook is present - the wife, the mother or the cook, as the case may be. Here in Italy patients are given the following diet sheet.

  • Breakfast: Tea or coffee in any quantity without sugar. Only one tablespoonful of milk allowed in 24 hours. Saccharin or Stevia may be used.
  • Lunch:
    1. 100 grams of veal, beef, chicken breast, fresh whitefish, lobster, crab, or shrimp. All visible fat must be carefully removed before cooking, and the meat must be weighed raw. It must be boiled or grilled without additional fat. Salmon, eel, tuna, herring, dried or pickled fish are not allowed. The chicken breast must be removed from the bird.
    2. One type of vegetable only to be chosen from the following: spinach, chard, chicory, beet-greens, green salad, tomatoes, celery, fennel, onions, red radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, cabbage.
    3. One breadstick (grissino) or one Melba toast.
    4. An apple or a handful of strawberries, an orange, or one-half grapefruit.
  • Dinner: The same four choices as lunch.
The juice of one lemon daily is allowed for all purposes. Salt, pepper, vinegar, mustard powder, garlic, sweet basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram, etc., may be used for seasoning, but no oil, butter or dressing.

Tea, coffee, plain water, or mineral water are the only drinks allowed, but they may be taken in any quantity and at all times. In fact, the patient should drink about 2 liters of these fluids per day. Many patients are afraid to drink so much because they fear that this may make them retain more water. This is a wrong notion as the body is more inclined to store water when the intake falls below its normal requirements.

The fruit or the breadstick may be eaten between meals instead of with lunch or dinner, but not more than than four items listed for lunch and dinner may be eaten at one meal.

No medicines or cosmetics other than lipstick, eyebrow pencil and powder may he used without special permission.

Days 24-26: No injection, but continue 500 Calorie Diet. (To allow the HCG to fully leave the bloodstream before increasing calories. This is explained in the book)

Day 27 and next three weeks: No sugar or starches.

After the Diet - Go ahead, eat whatever you want...or not.
According to Dr. Simeons, once you have completed the full protocol, you can resume eating whatever you want and you should not regain the weight. HOWEVER, I would like to put in my own thoughts on this: When Dr. Simeons wrote and prescribed Pounds & Inches, it was the late 40's, early 50's. Most meals were still eaten in the home and were comprised of lots of fresh foods. He DID NOT have BK, or Micky Ds, or (shudder) some other fast food, low nutrient, high calorie, sorry-ass excuse for a meal readily available! He did not expect that we would live in a culture of delivery pizzas, donut shops, and high calorie/sugary coffee drink stands on every corner. In fact, I'm sure he would have had a whole other section on that if he thought it was an issue.

I say this emphatically because in perusing the net for info on the HCG diet, I have found people complaining that they can't eat the way they used to (tons of junk food) without the pounds creeping back. Really???!!!

So, after this diet, the reality is that each of us will have to take responsibility for long-term health and NOURISHING the body. The weight will stay off if that happens. I'm personally going back to Eat to Live and have no doubts that this is the last time I will have to worry about my weight.

Okay, so what if you have to do another round because you didn't lose all the weight?

After the three weeks of no sugar and no starches, you would have to wait another three weeks before doing a 2nd round. Then you would do the same as outlined above.

If a third round is required, then it would be an eight week break before the third round.

This is explained in detail in the book. I hope this explained a lot. If you're still interested, then read the book. Please ;-)

By the way, if you don't want to do the injections, there are also sublingual (under the tongue) drops. My husband is doing that version because he's afraid of needles. Seems to be just as effective.

1 comment:

Kat said...

This is great. Good idea to blog it - when I first did Simeon's protocol I didn't know many others who'd heard of it and did a lot of explaining! I completely agree about going back to "eating whatever you want." I've heard people say the diet doesn't work because they gained it back. IMHO, any diet works if you lose weight. The person doing it is the one who doesn't work if they gain it back. The way we were eating before hand is the reason we were over weight. It's only logical that going back to that is going to make us overweight again!