A Closer Look at the hCG Diet


Today we are talking about a topic I have had an unusually large amount of questions on recently, the hCG diet. If you haven’t heard of it, good. If you have I’m guessing that, like most people, you have questions about it. Lucky you! You are in the right place! I’m going to explain  what  hCG is,  what it does, the “science” behind how the hCG diet “works” along with some of the risks associated with it AND, of course,  my humble opinion. Well, it is my blog after-all! Okedokee, let’s get started!

What is hCG and what is its role in the body? hCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. (Say that ten times fast!)   It is a hormone that is produced by the placenta during pregnancy. While a woman is pregnant, hCG almost completely controls her metabolic functions.  hCG’s  role is to encourage cells to grow and reproduce, which makes a lot of sense if you are pregnant, that’s exactly what you want to happen. What about when you’re not pregnant?     hCG still encourages cells to grow, but there is no baby, so now what? Let’s say, hypothetically, that a person  has a very small amount of cancer cells floating around. No worries, there aren’t enough of them to cause a problem,  the persons  immune system is strong enough that it can totally handle them and keep them at bay. Along comes  hCG and guess what? You guessed it, those few cancer cells become more cancer cells, which become even more cancer cells,  which become many cancer cells, which leads to a  ton of cancer cells and  pretty soon, the body can’t overpower them anymore. Get the picture? Kinda ugly, huh?
We’ve all had advertisements for different hCG diet centers, similar to the one above, pop up on our computer screens. A thin woman in tight jeans and a halter top, measuring tape wrapped around her middle, bold words strategically placed with the sole intent to catch your attention and promise you a better life as a thinner person, and of course, the “read more” button. Lose a pound a day, how can they make such claims? Here’s the “science” behind it: The hCG is injected into the muscle (or ingested). It goes in and tricks the hypothalamus (that’s the part of your brain that controls your body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue and your circadian cycles) into burning approximately 4000 calories a day. There  are 500 calories a day allotted for you to eat while on the hCG diet plan, and only specific foods that are allowed, mainly veggies. After you do the math, the difference between the two is a 3500 calorie deficit. Understanding that, 3500 calories is the amount of calories equal to a pound, and because it is a deficit amount,  your body loses a pound a day.
No exercise? Are you confused? I was when I first heard about the hCG diet and all the restrictions that come with it. Exercise is taboo while on the hCG plan because of the extremely low calorie intake. On 500 calories a day, your body does not get the energy or nutrients it needs to support exercise! No exercise, for me, is a deal breaker – but in addition to that, there are some possible negative side effects that include:
  • Arterial Thromboembolism – which is a potentially life-threatening condition
  • Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) another potentially life-threatening condition (not to mention, who wants hyper ovaries? NOT me!!)
  • Over stimulation of the ovaries, which causes production of extra eggs which can lead to…
  • Risk of multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. -I have to say that this particular side effect alone would scare me off! Five children is plenty thank you!)
  • Blood clots
  • Abnormal enlargement of breasts in men
  • Acne
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in mood (which can range from mild to severe)
  • Irritation in the area you inject the hCG
  • Excessive fluid retention in  body tissues, resulting in swelling (edema)
  • Hair loss
  • Prostate hypertrophy (enlarging)

Obviously, my opinion on the hCG diet is, ” RUN AWAY!!” I have done research of my own, I have talked  with several medical  doctors as well as  professors of human anatomy and physiology about the hCG hormone, it’s role in the body and possible side effects -both short and long term- that could manifest as a result of this diet. I have clients who have done the hCG diet before coming to me. They all have the same things to say. They were hungry, depressed, fatigued and ornery. One of them said to me, “Laura, I can’t do that again. I’ll do anything you tell me to but I can’t do that again. I was miserable all the time. Yeah, I lost some weight, but I gained it all back plus extra. It was hell.” Everyone I have spoken with, and I happen to agree, feels that the hCG diet is scary, scary, scary. Losing weight is tough, physically, mentally and emotionally. People are so desperate  to find a  magic pill, a silver bullet or some other form of  cure all,  that they will try every new craze and fad that comes along, hoping it is going to be “the one”. The one to what? Shrink belly fat in just three weeks? Double muscle mass  overnight? I’m here to tell ya folks, there is no such thing.  Remember fen-phen? Everybody and their cousin took those pills. And true, there were lots of people who  lost weight….and ended up with heart problems. Is that a  fair trade? To me it sounds more like  signing your soul over to the devil. Sure, you get something you wanted, but how do you enjoy it knowing what it cost you?

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