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Health Guide Review: 2,9

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HCG Diet Review

What is it?

The HCG Diet is a diet plan for people who want to lose weight without feeling hungry. It promises to help with weight loss by having you eat between 500 to 1200 calories a day, alongside a hormone made during pregnancy.

HCH stands for human chorionic gonadotropinm, and pregnant mothers make it to help babies grow. There are other unique aspects to this diet plan such as:

    • You get the hormone through different forms: You can either choose injections, pellets or drops. The drops are said to not taste like anything. It’s also claimed to be free of side effects. Often these drops have to be prescribed to you by a diet, but some websites sell a homeopathic version that has reduced amounts.     
    • HCG itself does not help with weight loss: The benefit to this hormone is that it’s made to help people keep from feeling effects from what’s known as the starvation mode. So you can continue eating 500 calories a day, without your body stalling and getting rid of muscle, instead of fat.

It’s also said to help you from feeling the same kind of hunger pains that you would feel, if you were to simply reduce calories alone.

    • Revamped diet: This plan has changed a lot from the original 1954 version, which required only 500 calories a day. This new plan is now formulated to introduce more calories, and a slightly slower weight loss benefit. Also, unlikely the old version, exercise is highly recommended.

Though the weight loss is slower, it’s meant to help those who can’t survive off strictly 500 calories. So there’s more flexibility, though you can still do the 500-calorie version.

    • Specific plans: Sellers of this diet plan provide multiple options depending on what your demands are. It’s meant to help you if you’re looking to lose weight quickly, or if you’re OK with gradual weight loss. You can plan your diet according to your specific demands.

You can lose upwards of 0.8 pounds a day according to the plan. Though it’s based off of what goals you have in mind.

This diet became more popular as people like Dr. Oz started talking about it. The HCG diet is one of the few plans out that promises weight loss alongside a natural hormone. However, does it actually help people lose weight, or is it another fad?

Foods Allowed by the Diet

 Very specific foods choices are allowed on this diet and no substitutions are allowed. Here’s a list of what you can eat while on the HCG Diet:

  • Vegetables: Asparagus, cucumber, fennel, radishes, celery, tomatoes, onions, all kinds of lettuce. 
      • Proteins: Lobster, crab, shrimp, extra lean beef (only 96% lean and excluding pot roast), and white fish. No salmon is allowed or any other non-white fish.
      • Fruits: Lemons, strawberries, blackberries blueberries, and apples only.
      • Bread: Melba toast, which is a specific brand that is usually sold in the UK only.
      • Sweeteners: Stevia only.
      • Drinks and gum: Water, herbal tea, and sugarless gum.
      • Condiments: Apple cider vinegar, mustard, natural herb or spices, Braggs liquid amino.

 Anything not featured in this list you have to avoid. Though the diet plan does not specify why they ban so many foods. There’s also 3 phases offered, and in each phase there’s slightly different food combinations allowed.

There’s also specific serving sizes allowed on this diet and it includes:

  • Drinking as much water as you’d like as well as zero calorie drinks.
  • Eating 3.5 ounces of lean meats and vegetables per meal, and one of each.
  • 1 piece of Melba Toast or 1 Grissini breadstick. It’s not mentioned why this specific brand is chosen.
  • There’s also a long list of specific serving sizes for fruits and vegetables. This includes 1 cup of broccoli, 3.5 oz of asparagus, one medium apple and other options. The serving size does depend on what phase of the diet you’re on.

The general plan can change depending on what your caloric limit is. However, you’re not allowed to eat any other foods outside of this plan. So it’s fairly restrictive as to what’s allowed, without explaining why exactly they added and avoided certain foods.

This lack of explanation might be why the FDA has not approved it, and why they’ve sent warning letters to companies who make false weight loss claims about the HCG Diet.

 How Does the Diet Work?

 The process is depending on your individual desires. You essentially get a significantly reduced calorie diet, which is known to help with weight loss.

Typically, when reducing calories this low it can be extremely hard to upkeep without feeling extreme hunger. The added solution to this is to have the hormone HCG drops.

One key thing to remember about these drops or injections is that  according to Shape:

“Almost none of the supplements contain actual hCG”

 “Most of the supplements are sold as “homeopathic”

 So this means that unless you get actual doctors prescription, you’re unlikely to actually get a real dose of the hormone needed.

Also, the same group mentions that:

“There are no clinical trials or rigorous strides that support the hCG diet plan”

 This is why the FDA will often send letters to companies to market this plan. They will often tell them to stop making false claims without any proof. There’s also more than one website currently which sells this plan in different forms.

The reason for all the negative reviews for this diet is because there’s n proof to suggest that their diet plan is effective or safe. Limiting calories this much can be harmful, as the body is not getting enough energy to support itself.

It can also lead to nutritional deficiencies, which have to supplement with more supplements. This further raises the cost of dieting with HCG.

Pros

  •  It’s clear on what foods are allowed versus what isn’t. You get a full listing and serving size amount of all acceptable foods.
  • There’s flexible diets that range from 500 to 1200 calories, so you can adjust depending on your own energy demands or wanted weight loss goals.
  • By reducing calories this much it’s possible to lose weight.
  • There are forums and online networks available to learn amore about this diet, and to get support from other dieters.
  • The diet has been modified for today’s environment where extra calories and more exercise would be considered a good thing. 

Cons

  • No clinical studies or any form of proof is provided to show that this diet is both safe and effective.
  • The FDA has sent warning letters to companies that try and market this product. The homeopathic approach has not been proven, and there’s no proof to suggest that all the claimed benefits about this plan are true.
  • Severely limiting calories like this can be harmful to some people, and it’s difficult to sustain this without feeling extreme side effects. This can include nutritional deficiencies and a malfunctioning body.
  • According to multiple websites, real HCG is actually only offered via prescription, and only in rare cases. Most websites claiming to offer this actually provide an alternative that doesn’t work as effectively.
  • The companies who market his brand admit there are many possible side effects such as headaches, hunger, lightheadedness, and mood swings. It’s unknown how long these symptoms last, but there are many users who clam the same thing.
  • It’s possible that much of these symptoms are caused by the extreme lack of calories.

 Better Alternatives to the Diet 

This diet plan can be extremely restrictive, and you won’t find any proof that it actually works. This is why Web MD mentions that:

“None of this is approved by the FDA for weight loss”

 Companies who market this diet plan and sell the droplets or injections will often make many claims but offer no proof.

It’s important before taking any supplement to make sure you actually know it’s safe and effective to use. Much better solutions are available that actually have proof to back up their weight loss benefits.

 Another issue that Web MD brings up is that:

“It’s impossible to meet all your nutritional needs on so few calories”

 “Doctors sometimes recommend very-low-calorie diet…. But these diets are always carefully supervised by a doctor”

 An issue with this type of diet is the possible returning of weight. Even one HCG website mentions:

“Can you gain the weight back? Yes”

 It’s really difficult to sustain such a caloric deficit while still remaining healthy. The diet plan does advise to take extra supplements, but this essentially means that you’re guaranteed to be deficient, and that extra vitamins and minerals would be needed to help sustain your body.

Therefore, it’s unknown what kind of a long-term impact this might have. Having to keep spending extra money on supplements can be a costly thing to deal with.

 Conclusion

 This diet will likely lead to weight loss, but the issue is whether or not it can be sustained. Any diet plan no matter what foods they introduce will help with weight loss when you’re limited to around 500 calories a day.

Both men and women need more, and that’s why on nutrition fact labels you’ll often see a 2,000-calorie standard. Any fewer calories and you’re likely to suffer from serious nutritional deficiencies. This can have negative impacts on your overall health.

There’s no proof to suggest this diet will be a safe or effective solution to weight loss. There’s better alternatives out which can help produce safe results.

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