The HCG diet is an extremely low-calorie weight loss plan that’s combined with injections of human chorionic gonadotropin. It was developed by physician Albert Simeons in the mid-1950s as a way to rapidly lose weight. HCG is found in high levels in women in the early stages of pregnancy.
How the HCB Diet Works
To properly follow the HCG diet, you need to start on the hormones and consume a lot of calories for two to three days. Then you drop to 500 calories a day, and only at lunch and dinner. You stay on the 500 calories a day restriction for 3 to 6 weeks.
There are indications that the HCG diet would work without the hormone shots; at 500 calories a day for 3 to 6 weeks, you’re going to lose weight, and by eating only lunch and dinner, you’re on an intermittent fasting program whether you intend it or not.
What You’re Allowed to Eat
Foods allowed on the HCG diet include
- Limited Fruits, including oranges, red grapefruit, apples, and some berries
- High Roughage Veggies, including lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, and tomatoes
- Lean Meats, including white poultry meat and seafood, as well as lean ground beef
Nutritional experts express concern about the HCG diet and the extremely low-calorie allowance. The health risks of trying to function on 500 calories a day include
Additionally, dropping your caloric intake so severely can put you at risk for a starvation response, and this will cause muscle as well as fat loss.
When you put your body into a crisis mode with an extremely low-calorie diet, you set yourself up for the boomerang effect. Yes, you may drop pounds on the HCG diet, but they may include a lot of water and muscle as well as fat.
Worse, your body believes that there is a food crisis in the process, and makes preparations to put as many incoming calories it gets to good use; that is, rebuilding your fat stores. Once you’re eating normally again, you may find that your energy level stays low while your weight goes up as your body protects itself. Your body doesn’t really understand what happened to the fat stores and will do what it takes to get them back.
Thus, as soon as you start eating again, even if you’re only eating enough to stay healthy and not gain weight, you will likely add some fat back. Some dieters give up at this point and return to their former eating habits, regaining all they’ve lost and even more over time.
HCG and Thyroid Function
A physician monitoring your thyroid function if you’re struggling to lose weight will likely encourage you not to participate in the HCG diet. If you’re planning to take in so few calories, you’re functionally resetting your thyroid to fuel your body on an inadequate number of calories.
Your thyroid functions like the thermostat for your metabolism. If you choose a starvation diet, your thyroid turns down the temperature to conserve enough fuel to keep your body going. Your hands will be cold. You’ll be tired. Your gut will likely be a mess. Coming off the diet, your thyroid will keep your metabolism low as your body plans for the next round of starvation.
Kidney Function and Weight Gain
If your endocrinologist is currently treating you for hypothyroidism and weight gain, it’s important that you understand the link between weight gain and kidney function.
The thyroid as the thermostat analogy is important here. If your cleansing organs, such as the kidneys, the liver, and the lower intestines are dialing back due to hormonal imbalances or starvation dieting, your cleansing organs will function more sluggishly. Weight gain around the torso, general malaise, and constipation may be the result.
The eventual damage done by the HCG diet to your entire body may take time to show up. That being said, a lot of this damage is forever. Limited kidney and liver function will alter your quality of life for years to come, and a sluggish gut becomes a sick gut over time, possibly leading to further inflammation, ulcers, and other dangerous conditions.
Make a smart long-term choice in your health. Protect your metabolism, your cleansing organs, and your gut from the damage that can be caused by starvation diets. Work to support your body with good nutrition and effective exercise as you take pounds off logically for best results, now and in the future.
There are logical and safe ways to lose weight, and a full endocrinological workup is key to making the right choice for you. The professionals at Bay Area Endocrinology Associates of Tampa have multiple locations to see you in person and offer telemedicine appointments as well.