By now you’ve probably heard about it: the HCG Diet, an extreme diet that involves injections of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). HCG is the hormone women make when they are pregnant. Previously, the HCG Diet was defined by a 500-calorie diet paired with daily injections of HCG.
This diet is associated with dramatic weight loss, up to a pound a day. But the problem, up until now, was that no doctor could explain how it worked, and critics claimed the caloric restrictions are responsible for the weight loss and not the HCG hormone. Critics of the diet have also maintained that the weight lost can’t be kept off. The HCG Diet has also had some odd rules. For example, it required the consumption of only one vegetable per meal, prohibited the use of oil, body lotions and hygiene products, and limited use of the HCG hormone to odd cycles of 23 and 46 days. The Diet also did not allow exercise. In addition, there had been no published guidelines on how to dose the HCG hormone; as a result, most providers of this diet are generally using random dosing of the prescription hormone. This was called the Simeons Protocol, and, in my opinion, it was wrong.
After years of research and treating thousands of patients, I am setting the record straight. The Simeons Protocol should no longer be in practice by any physician. My protocol is supported by numerous studies and clinical trials, the latest of which was presented to weight loss physicians at the October 2012 meeting of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and can be read at DrEmmasDiet.com. My dosing method is customized, with much higher doses than previously published, and I’ve created specific guidelines for patients based on age and gender. I offer diets ranging from 500-1500 calories, and the diet should be chosen based on the patient and their history. I also encourage the proper types of exercise.
So, the most pressing question is: Do HCG injections work for weight loss? My answer is yes, absolutely. The trickier question is: How does HCG work for weight loss?
Here is my explanation, based on my research. Remember, HCG does not make you lose weight – the diet makes you lose weight! However, the HCG injections change how you lose weight!
- By patient report, HCG reduces feelings of hunger. This allows them to eat very little comfortably. Why? It is believed the presence of HCG in the bloodstream takes the appetite away. In pregnant women, HCG often causes feelings of nausea in the early stages of pregnancy.
- HCG is a pro-hormone which helps the body make more hormones. Since hormone deficiency or imbalance is usually part of the reason for weight gain, whether it’s your thyroid, or menopause (or andropause), this hormone offers help.
- Only HCG injections have been shown to raise blood levels of HCG, so that is the only acceptable way of taking HCG at this time. Any other way of taking HCG, such as drops, pills, or sprays, are likely dissolved before ever reaching the blood, and they do not raise blood levels; this would be like taking nothing at all. An injection is the only proven method of taking HCG at this time. Injections should only be taken with a prescription from a doctor, and under medical supervision.
HCG injections keep you from losing muscle while you diet. By elevating hormone levels in the body, including testosterone, the HCG hormone creates an anabolic state (muscle-building) which counteracts the catabolic state (muscle-breakdown). There are hormone receptors on muscle fibers that respond to the increased hormone levels in patients taking the HCG hormone.
Why does that matter? During a fast, dramatic loss of pounds with crash dieting, there is a high amount of muscle that is lost. Because muscle is heavy, this loss looks good on the scale because the pounds are dropping quickly. When you lose muscle, it’s bad for your body, shape, and metabolism. The metabolism slows so much that dieter regain weight quickly, often regaining all the weight that was lost and then some. Additionally, it takes quite a bit of work to build back the muscle that has been lost.
My protocol, however, protects muscle from being lost. In fact, there is more of a pure fat loss, which causes a shrinking in inches and size of clothing. The great result is that one can become leaner, in a smaller clothing size, but with more muscle. This muscle allows for a stronger metabolism and helps people maintain their weight loss long after their diet is completed.