Benefits of the HCG Diet:
More than one-third of Americans are considered obese. Obese is defined as having a body mass index or BMI of over 30%. This obesity statistic does not take into account the millions of Americans who may not be considered obese but are overweight. This problem with obesity accounts for many medical conditions and increased healthcare costs. It is not surprising that diets and weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry. There are many products and diets to choose from, but for extreme weight loss, the HCG plan offers one of the best options for a number of reasons.
• Less invasive than surgery- Bariatric surgery has gained popularity for those who have over 100 pounds to lose. Once the operation is performed weight loss is rapid, but it is a long process qualifying for the procedure which includes psychiatric evaluations and insurance approval or other financing options. Like any surgical procedure, bariatric surgery also comes with many possible risks and complications. In addition to recovery time, the surgery risks include bleeding, blood clots, lung and respiratory problems, infection, and in rare cases death. After surgery complications such as malnutrition, hypoglycemia, gall stones, and bowel obstructions are still concerns. Additionally, bariatric surgery prevents or complicates routine medical tests and procedures such as colonoscopies. The HCG program does not involve any kind of surgery and can be safely abandoned if adverse side-effects become a problem.
• Rapid weight loss- Those who have significant amounts of weight to lose will be impressed with the results using the HCG hormone and suggested the diet plan. The first part of the diet involving low-calorie intake and the HCG results in substantial weight loss including water weight, but after the initial pounds are lost you can still expect to lose up to a half a pound per day.
• Lean muscle and tissue retained- On the HCG diet, you can expect to lose fat and not lean muscle. This loss of fat is because of the hormone and the dietary suggestions. Losing fat rather than lean muscle and tissue helps to avoid saggy skin and bring the desired body type results.
• More nutritious than other diets- Though a significant portion of the HCG program involves a very low-calorie diet, the calories are well balanced and nutritious. Many commercial liquid diets include way too much sugar aggravating conditions such as diabetes and hypoglycemia. Protein drinks and bars may cause stomach aches and other digestive problems. Starvation and diets limited to one or two foods are not nutritiously balanced and adversely alter metabolism.
Conditions alleviated or prevented by weight-loss:
Obesity and even ten extra pounds can cause or contribute to many health problems. Controlling inflammation is key to dealing with most illnesses. The diet suggested in the HCG program alone helps to reduce inflammation thereby controlling and reducing pain. Weight maintenance is of particular importance in the following conditions:
• Diabetes- The HCG hormone and diet has been shown to help all types of diabetes. It is particularly useful for those with Type 2 diabetes who are not yet insulin dependent or those who are pre-diabetic. This result is due to the hormonal changes and the restricted diet.
• Cancer- Sugar and refined flour have been shown to encourage cancer. The dietary changes of the HCG program may help cancer patients, but it is important to remember that the presence of HCG in a person who is not pregnant may be a sign of cancer.
• Arthritis and Chronic Pain- Extra pounds put extra stress on joints and organs causing more pain and discomfort. Reducing inflammation through diet is also essential in dealing with arthritis and other causes of chronic pain.
• Heart conditions- The HCG program is not recommended for those with heart disease or who are at high risk for a stroke. One of the possible side-effects of the hormone is bleeding and blood clots. Additionally, there is a concern regarding the low caloric intake and the loss of electrolytes.
• Depression- Being obese or significantly overweight in and of itself can take a psychological toll, but sugar, preservatives, and other chemicals in a poor diet also contribute to depression and moodiness. There is speculation as well that the HCG improves mood.
Phases of the HCG program:
Before beginning the HCG program, it is important to consult with a doctor about your weight loss goals and other health concerns. The HCG may be prescribed as a pill, drops, or an injection. The oral methods are considerably less expensive and do not necessarily require a prescription like the HCG injections. Regardless of the form of HCG, you select your doctor should recommend HCG according to your weight, health concerns and advise you on your diet including must-have foods and foods to avoid.
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Though the dosage of HCG and suggested caloric intake and selection of food may vary from patient, there are defined stages of the HCG diet plan that every patient should follow:
• Phase 1- The first phase of the HCG diet plan is also referred to as the “Loading” phase. It is called the loading phase because before starting HCG dosing it also calls for a high fat and high-calorie diet. This stage of the diet typically lasts two to three days. During this phase, the fat and lipids are loosened adjusting the body’s metabolism for the phases that follow. Even though the calorie count of the first stage is relatively high, many people experience notable weight-loss during the “Loading” phase. The food included in the first phase include fruit, vegetables, healthy fats and even healthy fats. Saturated fats and refined sugars and flours are excluded.
• Phase 2- The “Core” phase is the most intense part of the HCG program. This second portion is the stage of the program where the caloric intake is dropped to 500 to 700 per day, less than half of the calories typically recommended. Though the daily calorie allowance is low, the food suggested offer nutrition and metabolic advantages. Additionally, the dosing of HCG begins usually either in the form of injections or pill form. Phase two of the diet lasts up to 40 days depending on the weight loss needed. For the first five to ten days of the second phase, the weight loss is substantial. Weight loss averages approximately a half a pound a day for the remainder of “Core” phase.
• Phase 3- The third phase of the HCG diet plan is known as the “Taper” phase. In the Taper phase you discontinue the HCG hormone, but continue the low-calorie intake of 500-700 per day. Again, a diet of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats is essential. Due to the hormonal complications, it is imperative not to include milk or other dairy products in your diet. This phase should last no longer than three days.
• Phase 4- Phase four is all about maintenance. During maintenance, you will not take the HCG hormone and consume from 1200 to 1500 calories a day. It is important to continue to eat a sensible, healthy diet and participate in a reasonable exercise program which includes cardio, weight-bearing, and stretching exercises.
The HCG program may be repeated, but it is important to let your body rest for a minimum of 23 days before beginning with the first phase again.
Suggested Menu for the HCG program:
• Core or Low-Calorie Phase:
o Breakfast- Fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries
o Lunch- 100 grams of healthy protein such as fish, poultry, or lean beef, a serving of whole grains, a serving of raw or steamed vegetables and a serving of fruit
o Dinner- repeat the lunch menu varying the protein and fruit and vegetable choices
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Keeping the daily calories to under 700 is important. Instead of using fats and oils for flavoring consider herb blends. Stevia is also a nutritious and safe sugar substitute. Filling and refreshing drinks and slushies can be created with fresh or frozen fruit, ice, water and Stevia. Herbal teas and lemon water can also add flavor and interest to your diet without the calories and may even aid in weight loss.
• Maintenance Phase:
As you continue to lose weight on the maintenance phase, you can add healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts, but it is important not to add dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice-cream. Once you have reached your ideal weight, you may choose to indulge occasionally in previously forbidden foods, but remember to be moderate and exercise accordingly.
It is very important to drink plenty of water every day; two liters is recommended. You will also want to drink a generous amount of water with electrolytes, especially of you have dehydration concerns. Do not, however, drink sugary sports drinks.
HCG and Alcoholic Beverages:
It is advisable to forgo alcoholic beverages while on the HCG program, especially the Core or second phase of the program. There have been those, however, who have still experienced positive results by indulging in a glass of dry wine or a shot of vodka or tequila up to three times a week. On the days they treat themselves to a libation, they substitute for the lunch or dinner fruit serving. Alcohol beverages typically have a high carb and sugar content, so definitely stay away from sweet or dessert wines, beer, and don’t even think about a pina colada or mojito.
If you find yourself at a Happy Hour after work, remember to supplement your Chardonnay with lemon water and hands off the peanuts and house chips!
Adverse Side-effects and Warnings:
Hormones are very powerful, and human chorionic gonadotropin is no exception. A hormone able to result in significant positive results should also be monitored for harmful side-effects. Anyone on prescribed medications should be sure to check with their physician or pharmacist for contraindications or other concerns.
If recommended dosing is followed HCG is relatively safe. There are common side-effects that may occur. Be sure to note any of the following symptoms and if they become severe or alter your quality of life report them to your doctor:
• Swelling feet or legs
• Breast development in men
• Pain at the injection site
Besides posing threats to your physical and mental health obesity or even being overweight can lower your quality of life. The extra pounds give you less energy and make you less productive in your professional life and less likely to participate in and enjoy recreational or social activities.
Looking our best is often the motivation for losing unwanted pounds, but feeling our best and protecting our health should be an even bigger priority. If you have 10 pounds or 100 pounds or more to lose, share your concerns with your doctor and see if the HCG program is right for you. You owe it to yourself to lead the highest quality of life possible.
Many have achieved success on the HCG program. There are numerous websites with blogs and forums offering support and information lending validity to the legitimacy of the program. The information and comradery are very helpful to those struggling to lose unwanted pounds. However, it cannot be stressed enough before embarking on any weight loss reduction program or diet check with a doctor and see what program will be the healthiest and most productive for you.