The use of HCG hormones for weight loss caught hold when Dr. Oz began discussing this diet method on his television program. HCG hormones are naturally produced during the body during pregnancy. The hormone concentrations gradually increase as the pregnancy progresses before starting to taper off toward the end of the gestation period. The hormones assist with cellular changes in pregnancy, which are similar to the adjustments made by fat cells during weight loss. The hormones also initiate cell death to eliminate fat cells rather than just shrinking them.
With the HCG diet, it is necessary to ingest the hormones orally or receive an injection once a week until reaching the given goal weight. The hormones are used in conjunction with a severe calorie restriction to accelerate the weight loss process. The use of hormones is thought to reduce or prevent muscle loss and encourage fat loss. Unfortunately, the FDA has not yet approved this method and even recently started pulling the injections off the shelf. Manufacturers are replacing the actual hormones with amino acids with the same claimed effect to continue to assist people interested in following this diet.
Perhaps the most important components of the HCG diet is following the ultra low calorie meal plan. Depending on starting weight, participants must adhere to strict 500 to 800 calorie a day allotments to succeed. At this level, participants cannot ingest enough protein to keep the muscles from withering away. Of course, this is where the HCG hormones play a role in protecting those lean mass tissues. The diet doesn’t encourage adherence to a specific food list, though it is important to consume lean meats and vegetables to gain the most nutrients with every bite.
Many people following this diet are encouraged to take supplements, including a well-rounded multi-vitamin, on a daily basis to keep vitamin and nutrient levels stable. The supplements are often consumed in pill form, though injections are available for those severely deficient in a specific vitamin, such as iron. If doctors find deficiencies, most will recommend switching to a different diet plan. In most cases, participants can get by with the simple use of an over the counter multi-vitamin.
With such a high calorie deficit, many people start to see results immediately. For every 3500 calories cut out of consumption, or burned during exercise, people should see a pound of weight loss. Therefore, people switching to HCG diet from a normal 2000-calorie diet can expect to see at least two pounds of loss per week without factoring in exercise. Since people following this diet consume such a low calorie amount, many see their strength and endurance levels drop significantly for the duration of the dieting period. Protein drinks can strategically boost performance temporarily, which could also stave off muscle loss. With such a low calorie level, it’s wise to only use this diet on a short term basis of a month or less to shave off a few pounds.