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canstockphoto11976688Generally speaking, I am a believer that healthy weight balance comes from eating right and exercising right.  I am not a fan of crash diets or crazy weight loss plans.  I will say though, that the HCG diet has proven itself to me to be safe and effective – even though it might look crazy at first glance!  I am often asked about the HCT diet … is it safe? does it work?  I do believe the answer is yes.  I have put many patients through the plan now and I would estimate that 70% of people have great results, 25% have okay results, and 5% or less have disappointing results.

I first heard about the HCG diet from a friend of mine who worked in the natural health/ supplement industry.  She told me all the ins and outs of it and was getting ready to start it, and frankly, I thought she’d gone  a little nuts.  It sounded really extreme and over the top.

At the same time, I had a few extra pounds I wanted to get off, so I decided I would try it and see for myself.  I had great results and have done it once more since then after having Valentina to help get the extra post-pregnancy pounds off.  Since then I’ve put a good number of patients through it.

What does the HCG diet entail?

The HCG protocol can either be a 23 or 40 day protocol, depending on desired weight loss.  Each day, a tiny dose of the HCG hormone is given – either by injection or via homeopathic sublingual drops.  A calorie-restricted diet is followed, that provides 2 servings of protein, 2 servings of vegetables and 3 fruits per day.  There is a list of which proteins, veggies and fruits are allowed.  I ate a lot of chicken and shrimp, lots of green apples, and a good variety of veggies including asparagus, onion, tomato, cabbage, and cucumber.

The calorie intake is 500 cals per day.  Before you start thinking about how crazy that sounds, keep this in mind.  The purpose of the HCG is to turn our the body’s fat-burning mechanisms – therefore you burn your own body fat for energy.  You have energy, it is just coming from your own stores rather than the food you’re eating.  This is what makes HCG effective.  Part of the protocol is that you do not take in any external sources of fats or oils, including body lotions, creams etc as that would mess up the mechanism of action.  The HCG works to reset the hypothalamus, helping to kick start the metabolism which will help maintain a healthy weight in the future.

What results are expected?

Average weight loss on the 23-day protocol is 15-18 pounds; on the 40-day protocol one can expect approximately 25 pounds.  As I said, I have seen about 70% reach these numbers; 25% of people lose 5-10 pounds on the 17 day program, and very few do not seem to respond to the program and lose less than 5 pounds.  This is definitely the minority though.

Both times I have done the protocol, I have felt great – lots of energy, sleeping well and other than being bored, no negative consequences.  I don’t run when on HCG, but I still walk, do pilates, yoga, or any other gentle form of exercise.  I use it as time to let my body rest and recover a bit too, since I run every day during the week normally.

For 3 weeks after the 23 or 40 days, one avoids all sugars and starches, but can eat as many calories as you want and can incorporate fats and oils into your diet too.  This part is painless, and honestly, I don’t really eat many starches anyway and encourage others to do the same.

The HCG diet has had a resurgence in popularity after its initial introduction in the 60’s.  It doesn’t replace eating well and exercising regularly, but for those who are doing all the right things anyway and just don’t seem to be able to kick the extra pounds, it can be a great solution.  I always tell people that if they start eating pizza and ice cream, they will likely regain weight.  But with a sensible diet moving forward, I have seen weight loss be pretty easy to maintain.  I also like that it gets people off gluten, dairy and sugar for a few weeks, and that alone helps them to feel better.  (The original protocol allowed bread sticks and/ or Melba toast, but I decided to trade them for an additional piece of fruit as I felt it was important to get people off gluten).

I would never condone a 500 calorie diet under any other circumstances – it would slow the metabolism, there would be rebound weight gain (and I know for me I’d be so grumpy I’d have no friends left!) and would break down lean muscle.  It wouldn’t be healthy.  The HCG is what shifts the dynamic and prevents all these negative consequences.  People tend to have good energy, rebound weight gain is minimal, and it sets people up for healthy eating choices and habits long term.

Having first been a complete skeptic, I am now a fan of the HCG protocol.  I have seen it help many people get back to a healthy weight, reset their dietary habits and feel confident once again in the way they look.