As diet fads come and go, certain ones inspire controversy along with relative success. A latest diet to hit the public is called the HCG diet for use of injections of the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone to promote weight loss. In addition, this diet is extremely restrictive in calorie consumption, as low as 500 calories per day.
How does the HCG diet work?
HCG is a hormone that is secreted by pregnant women to ensure their fetus gets all the nutrients it needs to develop properly. Some physicians theorize that once HCG is secreted, fat stores within the body open up to support a pregnancy. By injecting HCG into the body, these fat stores become easier to lose. As the diet is extremely restrictive, the added HCG encourages the body to live off its fat stores, which makes the lack of calories far easier to handle for the patient.
Is the HCG diet administered by a doctor, and is it legal?
One of the main concerns with the advent and popularity of the HCG diet are the many new product lines that claim to be part of the HCG diet or contain HCG hormones. Often, these products contain appetite suppressants, but little to no HCG hormone.
The only way to be absolutely certain that the correct amounts of HCG are being administered is to have the procedure done by a medical professional. As the diet requires daily shots of HCG, this is often not a reasonable solution. Therefore, some quality HCG products are available through a weight-loss professional. This diet should always be monitored by a physician. Currently, HCG is only approved by the FDA as a fertility drug, and not as a weight loss tool.
How is the diet structured?
The HCG diet has four distinct phases.
The first phase of the HCG diet is the Loading Phase. During this first part of the diet, patients eat particularly high fat food for 3 days. This is supposed to open up pathways to use the metabolism to fight fat. After this first 3 days, the HCG is injected or taken daily, along with a diet of 500 calories. The food eaten is a combination of lean protein and vegetables, with no sugar, extra fat, or carbohydrates.
The second phase is called the Final HCG Days. During this phase of the diet, patients continue with HCG injections or pills, and the 500 calorie diet daily. This phase lasts 4 weeks.
The Transition Phase comes next, during which patients stop the HCG injections and pills. In addition, they slowly add calories to their diet. By the end of the third week, patients should be eating between 1500 and 1800 calories per day. This caloric level is based on the metabolism of the individual.
The final phase of the HCG diet is Maintenance. In this phase, patients are permitted to eat low levels of carbohydrates. This phase lasts 6 weeks or more, until the final weight goal is achieved.