Q: “I’m overweight and considering HCG – is it safe and does it really work?”
Answered by Dr. Eric Nager, Board Certified Physician & Specialist in Integrative Medicine
If you want to lose weight, an HCG diet program can be a great way to jumpstart your weight loss journey. It involves a very low-calorie diet, combined with injections of HCG, a naturally occurring hormone that has been used to assist with weight loss for decades. HCG helps by allowing men and women to lose weight rapidly, without hunger pains, weakness, irritability or muscle loss.
HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is a hormone that women produce when they become pregnant. (It is what makes pregnancy tests come up positive.) While pregnant, HCG encourages the woman’s body to use up its fat stores, so mother and baby get all the nutrients and energy they need for optimal fetal growth. The weight-loss qualities of HCG were discovered in 1954 by a British physician, Dr. Albert T. Simeons. After years of research, Dr. Simeons discovered that the addition of HGC to a low-calorie diet helps to improve compliance, reduce hunger and promote fat loss.
Most HCG programs consist of three or four phases, that are limited to 3-8 weeks. The first is generally called the “loading” phase, in which you will “load up” on high-fat foods for 2 days – think fried foods, desserts, breads, and starches – and begin your HCG injections. The goal is to eat as much as you can to build up and max out your fat stores. While this sounds contradictory to your weight loss goals, it’s an extremely beneficial step to ensure fat loss throughout the entire program.
In the next phase, you drop to eating just 500 calories a day. These calories should only come from fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins (meats). During this time, your body should go through dramatic changes, your body rids itself of toxins and the pounds melt away. Not only will you lose weight, but you’ll also lose your junk food cravings and break any harmful food-related habits. It is extremely important to strictly adhere to program-approved foods and your doses of HCG.
While not everyone’s weight loss is the same, HCG dieters can expect to lose between one-half and one pound per day. Many people find that the rapid weight loss to be highly motivating, for it can be exciting to watch your body transform as your fat melts away.
When you’ve finished your HCG cycle, you will still have HCG in your body. Therefore, you need to remain on a restricted diet for another 3 days, gradually increasing your calorie intake. Then you enter the final phase, which simply consists of keeping the weight off by maintaining healthy eating habits.
Weight loss can be a physical and emotional process that can be very difficult to achieve and maintain, especially when doing it alone. Therefore, working with qualified weight loss professionals is extremely important. Many people who try the HCG diet find working with a licensed dietician or nutritionist very helpful. Learning how to eat in a healthy, balanced, nutritious manner will significantly increase your chances of maintaining your weight results.
There is a wide range of wellness treatment options to consider for weight loss, including Micronutrient Supplements, Bioidentical Hormones, Nutrition Counseling, and Fitness Training. I recommend you start with a comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment with an Integrative Medicine Specialist to gain a baseline understanding of vital information about your overall condition. All your major body processes will be assessed – including your medical history and blood work – to identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to your weight struggles. Then you can design a treatment plan that works for your body chemistry to improve your health, appearance and overall wellness.
About Dr. Eric Nager
Dr. Eric Nager is a Board-Certified Physician specializing in Integrative Medicine and Director of Wellness at Belcara Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Nager uses his extensive knowledge of the body as a foundation for identifying and treating disease processes. He focuses on preventing chronic diseases through the integration of functional and traditional medicine, education and lifestyle changes to help patients enjoy healthier, happier, more vibrant lives. Learn more about Dr. Nager and Belcara Health at belcarahealth.com or call 410.296.0414.