The HCG diet has proven to be a highly effective weight loss meal plan for people who are having trouble losing weight and a drug for addressing fertility concerns in both men and women. Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is referred to as the pregnancy hormone since the placenta produces it while a woman is pregnant.
However, the HCG diet plan has little to do with pregnancy. HCG pills or hormone injections combined with an incredibly low-calorie diet make up this controversial weight loss program.
I have taken the liberty to research and spent countless days reading about this meal plan, so you don’t have to. In the sections below, I’ll look at what the HCG diet comprises, how well it works, its dangers and risks, and what you can and can’t eat while on the plan.
What is the HCG Diet?
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In 1954, a British doctor named Albert Simeons originally suggested using HCG as a weight-loss aid. The HCG diet is deficient in calories and fat and works together with HCG therapy. Because it is a restrictive diet, you must watch your food intake and limit the number of calories you consume daily.
Most HCG dieters stick to a 500-calorie daily limit and only consume foods that are allowed on the diet. The USDA recommends 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day for a healthy adult woman, while adult men need between 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day. The HCG diet only provides less than 25% of that.
Losing weight with HCG demands commitment and dedication to your weight loss goals due to the restrictive nature of the diet. The diet, a short-term eating strategy with three phases, aims to assist people in losing significant amounts of weight in three to six weeks.
Many HCG supporters assert that the diet can cause weight loss of up to two pounds per day. Compared to other diets like the Mediterranean diet, where one only loses two pounds for a whole week, that’s a lot.
Is The HCG Diet Safe?
While the HCG diet works as a weight loss plan, it is worth noting that the FDA has not approved the diet. Hence, it would be best if you were extra careful when using the diet plan. The fact that most HCG products found in most stores are highly diluted is another cause for concern.
The HCG diets also have several side effects, including headaches, nausea, malaise, and depression resulting from deficient calorie intake. Although an effective weight loss aid, the HCG diet is not worth the risk.
Phases of HCG Diet
A typical HCG diet plan is divided into the following three phases:
- Loading phase: Begin HCG treatment while consuming many high-fat, high-calorie foods for two days.
- Weight loss phase: Keep taking HCG, consume 500 or 800 calories daily, and split over two meals for three to six weeks.
- Maintenance phase: Stop taking HCG. Increase your food intake gradually, but abstain from sugar and starch for three weeks.
What to Eat in the HCG Diet
- Lean Protein: Chicken, egg whites, white fish, crab, lobster, scallops, extra-lean beef, and bison.
- Herbs and spices: To season meats and vegetables, use garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, rosemary, or thyme.
- Coffee, Tea, and Water: The diet only permits one tablespoon of milk per day to give richness to hot beverages, and only stevia or saccharin may be used to sweeten coffee or tea.
- Approved vegetables: Spinach, chard, beet greens, lettuce, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, shallots, or radishes.
- Approved fruits: Berries, citrus fruits, and apples are considered good fruits and may be had once for lunch and once for dinner.
What To Avoid on the HCG Diet
- Dairy: Yogurt, ice cream, cheese, or any additional milk.
- Alcohol and sugary drinks: Soda, beer, wine, and other sugary beverages.
- Sweets and desserts: Since high-calorie foods like cookies, candies, and cakes might easily have the same calories as one HCG meal, they are entirely excluded from the diet.
- High-carb foods: Grains, muffins, bread, pasta, and other high-carb foods are not allowed.
- Oils and fats: The HCG diet includes no oils or fats. The diet severely restricts calories; thus, there is no place for fats.
Pros of HCG Diet
The HCG diet may cause you to lose weight quickly, at least initially. But as the evidence demonstrates, HCG hormone injections do not affect how much weight people lose.
Regarding structure, the HCG diet is not challenging to adhere to. The three phases and calorie targets are pretty specific, and each person receives the same amount of calories or hormonal injections.
Cons of HCG Diet
- HCG Supplements Are Illegal
HCG injections and supplements are only legally given in the United States to treat female infertility. The FDA has outlawed all over-the-counter HCG products. Therefore any HCG product marketed as a weight-loss help is prohibited.
While cutting calories while following the HCG diet may result in cost savings on food, the necessary hormonal injections are by no means inexpensive. A four- to eight-week supply of an HCG injection kit can cost anywhere between $225 and $400.
- Likelihood of Severe Hunger and Other Side Effects
Short-term abstinence from food causes extreme hunger. However, prolonged calorie restriction and severe calorie restriction, such as a very low-calorie diet (VLCD), may cause unpleasant side effects such as headaches, brain fog, exhaustion, and dizziness, in addition to hunger.
Many theories try to explain how HCG works to make you lose weight. However, numerous studies over the years have found that the HCG diet plan’s ability to cause weight loss is solely due to its highly low-calorie consumption, not the hormones.
Always consult your doctor or dietician before trying out this weight loss plan, especially if you have underlying health issues, or stick with healthier weight loss meal plans like the Keto diet.
Abdullahi Malumfashi is a healthcare/lifestyle writer with over six years of experience. He has written for Northpad, a lifestyle blog he helped reach over 3.5k monthly views. He has also freelanced for many other blogs and written for several news dailies in Nigeria. Currently, he is the lead writer for WeightLossPlansOnline.Com, a leading health and lifestyle blog in North America with tens of thousands of impressions monthly. Abdullahi’s interests include health, fitness, and nutrition as a trained microbiologist by profession. When he is not working, he is busy reading, watching documentaries, and enjoying the warm comfort of his bed.