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The New HCG Diet
By Sheri L. Emma, MD Creator of Dr. Emma’s HCG Protocol
The HCG Diet Controversy, Pt 1 (4:51)
By now you’ve probably heard about it: the HCG Diet, an extreme diet that involves injections of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). HCG is the hormone women make when they are pregnant. Previously, the HCG Diet was defined by a 500-calorie diet paired with daily injections of HCG.
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This diet is associated with dramatic weight loss, up to a pound a day. But the problem, up until now, was that no doctor could explain how it worked, and critics claimed the caloric restrictions are responsible for the weight loss and not the HCG hormone. Critics of the diet have also maintained that the weight lost can’t be kept off. The HCG Diet has also had some odd rules. For example, it required the consumption of only one vegetable per meal, prohibited the use of oil, body lotions and hygiene products, and limited use of the HCG hormone to odd cycles of 23 and 46 days. The Diet also did not allow exercise. In addition, there had been no published guidelines on how to dose the HCG hormone; as a result, most providers of this diet are generally using random dosing of the prescription hormone. This was called the Simeons Protocol, and, in my opinion, it was wrong.
After years of research and treating thousands of patients, I am setting the record straight. The Simeons Protocol should no longer be in practice by any physician. My protocol is supported by numerous studies and clinical trials, the latest of which was presented to weight loss physicians at the October 2012 meeting of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and can be read at DrEmmasDiet.com.
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My dosing method is customized, with much higher doses than previously published, and I’ve created specific guidelines for patients based on age and gender. I offer diets ranging from 500-1500 calories, and the diet should be chosen based on the patient and their history. I also encourage the proper types of exercise.
So, the most pressing question is: Do HCG injections work for weight loss? My answer is yes, absolutely. The trickier question is: How does HCG work for weight loss?
Here is my explanation, based on my research. Remember, HCG does not make you lose weight – the diet makes you lose weight! However, the HCG injections change how you lose weight!
- By patient report, HCG reduces feelings of hunger. This allows them to eat very little comfortably. Why? It is believed the presence of HCG in the bloodstream takes the appetite away. In pregnant women, HCG often causes feelings of nausea in the early stages of pregnancy.
- HCG is a pro-hormone which helps the body make more hormones. Since hormone deficiency or imbalance is usually part of the reason for weight gain, whether it’s your thyroid, or menopause (or andropause), this hormone offers help.
- Only HCG injections have been shown to raise blood levels of HCG, so that is the only acceptable way of taking HCG at this time. Any other way of taking HCG, such as drops, pills, or sprays, are likely dissolved before ever reaching the blood, and they do not raise blood levels; this would be like taking nothing at all. An injection is the only proven method of taking HCG at this time. Injections should only be taken with a prescription from a doctor, and under medical supervision.
HCG injections keep you from losing muscle while you diet.
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You do not have to worry about taking those ten thousand steps or trying to make it to the gym everyday.
By elevating hormone levels in the body, including testosterone, the HCG hormone creates an anabolic state (muscle-building) which counteracts the catabolic state (muscle-breakdown). There are hormone receptors on muscle fibers that respond to the increased hormone levels in patients taking the HCG hormone.
Why does that matter? During a fast, dramatic loss of pounds with crash dieting, there is a high amount of muscle that is lost. Because muscle is heavy, this loss looks good on the scale because the pounds are dropping quickly. When you lose muscle, it’s bad for your body, shape, and metabolism. The metabolism slows so much that dieter regain weight quickly, often regaining all the weight that was lost and then some. Additionally, it takes quite a bit of work to build back the muscle that has been lost.
My protocol, however, protects muscle from being lost. In fact, there is more of a pure fat loss, which causes a shrinking in inches and size of clothing. The great result is that one can become leaner, in a smaller clothing size, but with more muscle. This muscle allows for a stronger metabolism and helps people maintain their weight loss long after their diet is completed.
Article written by Sheri L. Emma, MD
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What Foods Can You Eat on the hCG Diet?
Diet fads come and go, but the hCG diet has been around for at least four decades, according to a study of the diet published in the Western Journal of Medicine in 1977.
Most adverse reactions included headache, dizziness, dry mouth, and GI complaints such as nausea and diarrhea.
While the diet claims that the injection of human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, is responsible for helping people lose weight, it's more likely the dangerously restrictive, 500-calorie diet you're expected to follow that causes the loss. You should not follow any extremely low-calorie diet except under the close supervision of a doctor.
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What is the hCG Diet
The hormone hCG is made by women's bodies when they're pregnant, and it's also sometimes prescribed for women having difficulty becoming pregnant. While not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for weight loss, hCG is touted to help people lose weight quickly by suppressing appetite and spot-reducing areas of unwanted fat.
In addition to receiving the hormone, which can be given as a pill or an injection, it's also recommended that you follow a 500-calorie diet when on the hCG weight-loss plan. Restricting your intake to such extremes severely limits your food choices and may make it hard for you to meet your essential nutrient needs. For reference, very low-calorie diets prescribed by doctors contain about 800 calories and usually include a liquid supplement to help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs.
Lean Protein on hCG
Most of the calories on the hCG diet come from very lean proteins, including white meat poultry, white fish, shellfish and very lean red meat such as veal. You are allowed 7 ounces of these proteins a day, which you should evenly divide between lunch and dinner. To make sure your portions aren't too large, it's recommended you measure your meats before they're cooked. Then trim away any visible fat and either grill or broil the meat without fat.
Low-Cal Veggies, Some Fruit and Carbs
In addition to your very lean protein, you're allowed one low-cal veggie at lunch and dinner.
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Options include spinach and other greens, cucumbers, onions, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes, celery, radishes and cabbage. Although just two servings of veggies a day won't provide all the vitamins and minerals you need, they'll provide add some nutrients and fiber to the restrictive diet.
At lunch and dinner, you also can have one piece of Melba toast or one bread stick and one serving of fruit -- either an apple, an orange, a handful of strawberries or half a grapefruit.
Food Flavorings and Drinks
While you can't use butter or oil on the hCG diet, you can add flavor to your food with a few allowed seasonings, including salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme, mustard powder and basil. Vinegar and garlic are also permitted.
Beverage choices are limited to water, coffee or tea. And you either have to drink your coffee or tea unsweetened or use a sugar substitute. One tablespoon of milk is allowed per day, which you can add to your hot beverage.
What a Typical Day's Menu Might Look Like
You can't eat any solid food before lunch on the hCG diet. So, for breakfast, you can have a cup of coffee or tea, either black or with the allowed 1 tablespoon of milk and sugar substitute. At lunch, you may want to have 3.5 ounces of grilled chicken breast and sliced strawberries on top of raw spinach, drizzled with vinegar and served with a bread stick. Dinner might be 3.5 ounces of grilled garlic shrimp, grilled asparagus, Melba toast and a fresh orange.
Efficacy and Concerns About the Diet
No evidence supports the claims that hCG hormones help you lose weight, according to the Hormone Health Network.
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Nor does the hormone and diet plan help control your hunger, which may make the diet portion very difficult to follow for any length of time.
In addition to being nearly impossible for you to meet your daily nutrient needs on the restrictive diet, you may also experience a drop in metabolism, which means you'll burn fewer calories. And, as you can imagine, eating so little can negatively affect your energy levels and mood. Rapid weight loss from a very low-calorie diet also increases your risk of developing gallstones.
Potential side effects from the injected form of the hormone include headaches, breast tenderness, breast enlargement in men or ovarian cysts in women. Blood clots, which can be serious and even fatal, are a possible complication of improperly administered injections. The injections may also cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in women, which leads to swollen ovaries, leaking of fluid into your belly and possible weight gain. You should not take hCG if you're nursing or have a history of heart disease, kidney disease, adrenal or thyroid gland disorder, or various types of cancer such as breast or prostate. The hCG diet isn't a healthy way to lose weight; therefore, anyone who attempts it should have close medical supervision.