A decade ago, only 14% of Americans were on a diet. Today, about 17% of Americans are dieting to achieve their weight loss goals.
Meanwhile, obesity rates in the country have increased from 34% to now 42%.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight or developing a healthy lifestyle. Many people are looking into the HCG diet as an option, though.
What exactly is the HCG diet, and can it help you accomplish healthy living? Keep reading to find out. In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know.
Read on to discover more about this weight loss option as you consider how to accomplish your health and wellness goals!
What is the HCG Diet?
First, let’s answer the question that’s likely on your mind: what is the HCG diet?
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin. It’s a pregnancy hormone the placenta produces during pregnancy. In fact, it’s the hormone that home pregnancy tests use as a marker.
It’s also used to treat fertility problems in women and men.
In some cases, however, elevated blood levels of HCG are associated with ovarian, placental, and testicular cancer.
Don’t worry; the HCG diet has very little to do with pregnancy.
The HCG diet combines HCG supplements or hormone injections with a low-calorie diet plan.
Please note that you should use this guide solely for informational purposes. Health experts discourage anyone from trying it. In fact, the FDA has deemed it dangerous, fraudulent, and even illegal.
The HCG diet was first developed in the 1950s by British endocrinologist Albert T.W. Simeons. He noticed that undernourished pregnant women in India delivered healthy babies. He theorized that the HCG hormone channeled stored fat into energy for the babies.
Simeons theorized that the hormone could promote weight loss in anyone.
His first diet protocol was based on two principles:
- An intake of 500 calories each day, spread between lunch and dinner (with unlimited amounts of tea, water, and coffee)
- Injections of 125 IUs of the HCG hormone
The HCG diet has changed a little since then. Today, it combines manufactured HCG injections or supplements with a reduction of calories. HCG products are sold in various forms.
They’re available as pellets, oral drops, and sprays.
HCG diet participants follow a short-term eating plan to lose dramatic amounts of weight within six weeks. Some participants claim they can lose two pounds per day.
HCG and Weight Loss
People who support the HCG diet claim it can boost metabolism. Improving your metabolism could help you lose fat. They also claim it could help you lose large amounts of fat without experiencing hunger throughout the day.
There are a few different theories that attempt to explain how HCG helps participants lose weight.
According to research, though, the HCG diet’s low-calorie intake of 500 calories is the reason participants lose weight. It has nothing to do with the HCG hormone.
Many studies compare the effects of HCG and placebo injections while participants maintain a calorie-restricted diet. For both groups, weight loss accomplishments were nearly identical.
These studies also indicate that the HCG hormone didn’t help suppress hunger.
People who want to accomplish healthy living turn to different diet plans, including the HCG diet. The HCG protocol and other diet options that restrict calorie intake can cause decreased muscle mass.
Your body could believe it’s starving if you maintain a low-calorie diet. Your body will then reduce the number of calories it burns each day to conserve energy. You could experience fat and muscle loss as a result.
Some participants also claim that the HCG diet could boost metabolism and elevate other hormones. They believe it could lead to an anabolic (growth-promoting) state as a result.
There’s no scientific evidence to support these claims, though.
How It Works
For people hoping to accomplish healthy living, the HCG diet involves three phases.
The loading stage involves consuming high-fat, high-calorie foods for two days. Participants also start taking HCG at this time.
The weight loss phase requires participants to eat only 500 calories for three to six weeks.
During this phase, people only eat two meals a day (usually lunch and dinner). Each meal usually includes:
- One serving of fruit
- A vegetable
- A piece of bread
- One portion of lean protein
Participants should avoid sugar, oils, and butter. They might use alternative sweeteners like Stevia instead. You can check out these HCG salad dressings as an example.
Participants are encouraged to drink a lot of water.
Once they reach the maintenance stage, participants stop using HCG. They gradually increase their food take. For the next three weeks, they avoid sugar and starch.
Participants who want to accomplish significant weight loss might remain in the middle phase longer. They might repeat all phases several times as well.
If you truly want to accomplish healthy living this year, it’s important to remain cautious. There are many scam products available on the market. Many of these products are labeled as homeopathic.
Most over-the-counter products don’t contain actual HCG. Real HCG is administered as a fertility drug or hormone treatment. It’s only available if you receive a doctor’s prescription, too.
It’s also important to note that the FDA hasn’t approved HCG as a weight loss aid. Many of the over-the-counter products available aren’t regulated, either. In fact, these products contain unknown ingredients.
Avoid taking products that don’t list ingredients.
You might experience side effects while on the HCG diet as well. These side effects include depression, headaches, and fatigue. One woman on the HCG diet developed blood clots in her leg and lungs as well.
Healthy Living: Exploring Your Diet Options for a Life of Health and Wellness
To recap, what is the HCG diet? This diet plan limits calorie intake. However, studies indicate that HCG doesn’t affect weight loss or promote healthy living.
Instead, you might want to consider other diet options to accomplish your health and wellness goals this year.
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