What is hCG?
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced in increasing amounts when a female becomes pregnant. This natural production of hCG ensures that the growing fetus will receive adequate nutrition necessary for development. Women of breeding age consistently have low levels of hCG in their system. After conception, these levels approximately double every few days for the first several weeks of pregnancy to aid progesterone production. This is the hormone that at-home pregnancy tests detect. HCG also plays a role in controlling metabolic functions and regulation of body fat. The FDA-approved prescribed use of the hCG drug is to treat women with infertility and other medical conditions.
The History of hCG and Weight Management
HCG became a dietary solution in the 1950s, when obesity researcher, Dr. Albert T.W. Simeons of the Salvatore Mundi International Hospital in Rome began published his research, Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity, describing the efficacy of hCG as a weight loss supplement when coupled with a very low calorie diet.
According to Dr. Simeons, the effectiveness of hCG as a diet supplement is its role in “resetting” the hypothalamus and changing how the body burns fat. In his research he wrote that there are three types of fat in the body: structural fat, the fat that fills gaps to create protection around organs and bones; reserve fat, used by the body as a sort of nutritional income, as well as for fuel for muscles and body temperature regulation; and “abnormal” fat, which should be available for nutritional reserves, but is actually trapped.
Dr. Simeon’s research showed evidence that hCG unlocks the body’s ability to burn trapped fat. Dieters may supplement hCG with a 500-calorie diet and feel no hunger pains because their body is living off the calories from the trapped fat.
The Benefits of hCG
Today, there remains little scientific evidence to support hCG for weight loss, Dr. Simeons used hCG safely to treat obesity in his patients for more than 20 years. Most people will lose half a pound to two pounds a day on hCG without hunger and will lose body fat. HCG, combined with a medically-supervised program helps modify your relationship with food. It establishes the habit of avoiding processed food, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats and sugar. Food cravings disappear and you learn to healthier eating habits during the maintenance phase of the program. You may lose 20 to 30 pounds in 30 to 40 days while following a medically-supervised hCG program. Psychologically, the rapid weight loss is highly motivating.
HCG and Weight Management
HCG can be a very effective tool for achieving healthy weight-management when administered as part of a medically-supervised weight management plan. Patients who are overweight or obese may qualify as a candidate for the hCG program. Special safety considerations must also be taken into account when determining eligibility for the program, such as patients with medical conditions, like gout, gallbladder disease, unstable diabetes and fibroids.
For hCG to be beneficial and result in effective weight management long term, you should remain under the care and supervision of a dedicated physician. HCG programs are not intended to be a “quick fix” weight loss program or a crash diet that you fall back on for special events. The program is designed to help you lose weight to achieve a healthier lifestyle and reduce risk of disease.
During the initial phase of a medically-supervised hCG program, your caloric intake is severely restricted – no more than 500 to 1000 calories per day. Exercise is also restricted while on hCG. This phase will last approximately 21 to 40 days and then you should work with your physician to transition back to a normal, healthy eating and exercising routine.
It is imperative to follow healthy eating strategies for maintenance of the weight lost while supplementing hCG, or you will gain the weight back. Following a low carbohydrate diet, Mediterranean diet, or a special diet determined by lab testing and analysis should be discussed at length to ensure continued success. Physical activity will also become crucial to maintaining your weight loss and improving and sustaining lean muscle mass.
The FDA and hCG
In December 2011, the FDA and FTC combined efforts to halt the sale and advertisement of “homeopathic” hCG weight loss products. “Homeopathic” hCG is defined as over-the-counter products claiming to contain hCG or compounds of hCG and promote weight loss.
The FDA does, however, acknowledge that many prescription drugs, including hCG, may have off-label uses and be prescribed as such by a board-certified physician. The FDA and a 1995 study have confirmed that supplementing hCG does not result in weight loss. Many experts suggest that it is the extreme calorie restriction that induces expedited weight loss. Shirley Blakely, a nutritionist at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said in a statement regarding hCG that there are dangers associated with the highly restrictive diet required by hCG diet programs, which is why supervision of a healthcare professional is essential. These types of diet programs are often helpful in the treatment of morbid obesity to reduce the risk of diseases associated with excessive pounds, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Medical supervision is essential to ensuring proper nutrition during the very low calorie phase of the program, as well as the transition back to normal, healthy eating patterns.