I’m a natural skeptic. I want hard facts before I’m convinced that something is real. This is especially true when something sounds “too good to be true.” For example, I believe a lot of the diet programs out there should be approached with a healthy dash of skepticism. Marketers will use one gimmick after another to separate you from your money but, if you’re not careful, in the end you’re likely to be disappointed with the results. Even worse than throwing your money away you can, all too easily, leave yourself with a health problem.
When I first started working as a nurse practitioner specializing in weight management, I was unsure about prescribing human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to patients who wanted to drop some weight and had tried everything with minimal results. After all, I need to be sure that what I prescribe for my patients is safe and effective. I needed more information. So, being the researcher I am, I sought out what the HCG protocol was all about. I read through multiple research articles and asked advice from credible doctors and nutritionists and asked them what kinds of results they were seeing with the protocol. The feedback was positive!
REAL LIFE RESULTS
Only then—with all the facts in, and convinced of its safety—did I decide I would prescribe HCG for weight loss to patients. The first was a 49-year old woman I had seen for food sensitivity testing. Even though we were able to find and cut out foods that were causing her problems and affecting her weight, she could not lose a stubborn extra 20 pounds, which seemed to stick around her belly and hips only. She was not a candidate for appetite suppressants such as phentermine because of another medication she was taking. I started her on daily HCG injections and a low calorie, low carb, high protein diet. She returned to the clinic once a week to follow up with me. Every visit when I asked her if she was hungry she always assured me that she wasn’t. She reported that her energy levels were fine. Yet, she was losing, on average, a half-pound to a pound a day. At the end of her thirty-day program, she had lost 21 and 2 inches off her waistline. Needless to say, she was thrilled! She went back to her original diet and exercise program and has kept the weight off…even during a diet-sabotaging cruise.
SEEKING OUT THE TRUTH
HCG is naturally produced by the placenta in pregnant women. In essence, it mobilizes fat away from undesired areas such as the waist, buttocks, and hips. Patients typically lose fat around the midsection, yet their faces don’t become skinny or withdrawn. HCG and a very low calorie diet has a revitalizing effect on a metabolic center of the brain. However, the exact mechanisms of how HCG affects metabolism and fat distribution are still not completely understood.
If you’re like most people, you’re likely wondering if it’s the very low calorie diet and not HGC that accounts for the weightloss. The answer is yes and no. Let me explain…
When people first hear the diet is 500 calories, they often gasp and say that it is no wonder people lose weight. They also comment that it would be a difficult diet to follow. The reality is that a 500 calorie diet in conventional medicine is an accepted medically supervised diet. In addition, while it’s true that many people can lose a similar amount of weight on a very low calorie diet without HCG, many are unable to lose weight by lowering calories alone. Their metabolism is unbalanced and weightloss is difficult no matter how many calories they consume. The HCG component is often what’s needed in these cases to finally kick-start the loss.
The fact is HCG makes it easier for almost anyone to lose weight for several reasons. First, HCG is a surprisingly powerful appetite suppressant. Another advantage for the use of HCG along with a lower calorie diet is that it appears to target fat in the typical problem areas including the abdomen, hips, thighs, and buttocks. A double-blind study with adults confirmed this unique ability when researchers found that HCG, plus a low calorie diet, significantly decreased waist and abdominal circumference compared to a low calorie diet alone (1). I can clearly see this occurring with my own patients as we measure the inches they have lost.
HCG also has several other major benefits: Fighting fatigue, mood swings, and irritability that often affect those on a very low calorie diet. In fact, there’s data suggesting that HCG acts like an endorphin (a mood benefiting and pain reducing chemical) in the brain. One study, done by Argentinian researchers, found those on a 500 calorie diet plus HCG “improved their attitude towards their environment, in the sense of an enhanced well-being, less irritability and lack of fatigue.” A side benefit of HCG’s endorphin-like action is that patients with arthritis or other types of chronic pain often find a dramatic reduction in their pain levels.
THE ROLE OF EXERCISE
Only light exercise should be done during an HCG program. A light walk for 20 minutes is fine. Weight loss is achieved through the very low calorie diet and moderate to heavy exercise is not required. In fact, too much exercise while on the program can lead to fatigue and the loss of muscle mass since the body would need to burn muscle tissue in addition to fat. Too much exercise can also backfire by causing your metabolism to slow down.
The most effective method is a small injection is into the belly area in the morning. We show patients how to do this at our clinic before starting the program. The traditional dosage for HCG for weight loss is an injection of 175 IU daily but it has been found a higher dosage of 250 IU works better. Before starting the program, new patients have a consultation with us to make sure they are a good candidate for HCG. Balanced hormones helps with metabolism so it’s important to get them balanced before or during the program. Thyroid balance is particularly important, but all the major hormones should be tested to make sure they are where they should be. Typically patients follow up at the clinic once a week to get their vital signs and body composition checked to be sure they’re doing well on the program. Most patients follow the program for 26-46 days. I have found that after that period, the weightloss plateaus and patients become sensitized to the HCG. If a repeat cycle is needed, I will have you follow a healthy, higher calorie diet with exercise for at least thirty days first. Women who are fertile and sexually active are notified their fertility may be enhanced and birth control measures are implemented.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SIDE EFFECTS
I have never seen any major side effects on this program. Some patients can feel tired. This is normally fixed by increasing the amount of calories they’re eating or by giving nutrient support such as B vitamins. With the decrease in calories, constipation can occur. This can usually be overcome simply by drinking more water and taking extra fiber or doing a round of the 7-Day Cleanse. Women who have a menstrual cycle may notice a temporary change in their cycle length. Patients often ask me if taking HCG is a cancer risk. Human data doesn’t show that it’s a risk and actually there’s some preliminary evidence that it may have a protective effect against breast cancer. A study published in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that women 40 years and younger who had used HCG injections for weightloss or fertility had significantly less breast cancer than a control group who did not use HCG (2). I recommend anyone with a history of cancer consult with their physician before starting treatment with prescription HCG.
WHO CAN USE HCG
HCG is safe for most, but you should utilize HCG with caution and consult your doctor with the following:
• Cancer or a tumor of the breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, Hypothalamus, or pituitary gland
• Heart disease
• Kidney disease
• Migraine headache
90% of people who try HCG will lose at least 15 pounds per cycle. Heavier patients…those with 60 or more pounds to lose…will often drop 30 pounds in the first cycle.
The HCG program is a kick start to dropping the pounds and inches, improving insulin resistance, and boosting overall. However HCG is not a magic bullet. After losingweight with the program you will still need to maintain a healthy diet and exercise program. Your goal should be to keep the weight off long term, otherwise there’s no point to doing the program. I do have some patients that repeat a round every couple of years to lose the extra pounds they have put back on due to things like “holiday weight gain.”
Regardless of HCG, a comprehensive analysis of your hormones and natural hormone balancing can do wonders for increasing your metabolism. In addition, I’ve found that food and environmental sensitivities can be a barrier to weightloss so I typically test patients for these and have them avoid any trigger sensitivities. Lastly, many patients benefit from occasional detoxification programs that cleanse out toxins and keep the bowels regular which prevents weight gain.