Q: “Can you expose the hCG diet thing with the fury of a thousand suns? Don’t associate my name with the question por favor :P” – Name Not Associated
A: Usually reader questions come in a “What do you think of this?” format, where I will give a little background on the subject, then make fun of it, then tell you to make up your own mind cause I find that when people ask questions about diets or workout strategies they just want you to tell them it’s a great idea and get irritated when you tell them it’s a waste of time/money/is ineffective, etc.
This one told me what to do, so it makes my life a little easier.
Here’s a little background on the hCG diet in case you are unfamiliar with it:
The hCG diet uses daily injections or oral drops of a pregnancy hormone, in conjunction with a starvational level 500 calorie a day diet to drop weight. It typically lasts for 3 weeks and should be monitored by a health professional.
HCG stands for the hormone Human Choriogonadotropin, which is produced by women in the early stages of pregnancy. During pregnancy, this hormone signals the hypothalamus in the brain to start moving nutrients and fat to the placenta to feed your new bundle of joy, but when used as a weight loss program, it is the fat mobilization ability of the hormone that is said to facilitate weight loss. And, yes, men use this diet, too.
While the FDA has approved hCG shots for fertility purposes, there is no evidence the hCG diet can promote weight loss, and most results can be attributed to the measly amount of food you will be eating- not the shots themselves. It will, however, kill you. Maybe. Side effects include blood clots, depression, headaches and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in women. All of these symptoms were cited as common, and deadly, on hCG.
The diet portion is as follows: For the first two days of the injections or drops you are allowed to eat as much as you want of whatever you want. Well, if this isn’t the path to a balanced, healthy relationship with food, I don’t know what is. Then, following the third injection or shot, you must stick to 500 calories a day until 72 hours after the last dose. Sugars, sweet fruits, processed foods and heavy starches are strictly forboden.
Let’s go with common sense first: If you have the self control to starve yourself on 500 calories a day, do you really need to be pumping yourself full of a pregnancy hormone? Less is not better when it comes to calories. How about you just scale back on the calories a bit, to say 1,200-1,600 where you can get enough vitamins to survive and your metabolism won’t shut down on you because it thinks you are stuck in a cave with no food for the forseeable future and wants to keep you alive by holding onto as much stored fat as possible. Sounds a little more effective and a little less like torture, no?
But this is a diet. So who cares about common sense? As long as I am LOSING WEIGHT! Before you start getting the syringe ready, let’s pretend you actually care about your health more than your pant size.
Not only are you slashing calories to the point where your metabolism will basically fall asleep, you are introducing hormones into your body that aren’t supposed to be there. Hormones regulate the way your body functions, and you want to roll the dice with your metabolism, the one thing that can make weight loss easier or harder for you, and also controls your energy levels. You want to shoot a hormone into your body, one that women are only exposed to a few times in their lives, if that, and one that a man should never, ever have in their system in nature, in the hopes it will speed up your metabolism. (You know what guarantees a faster metabolism? Strength training. Just a little FYI.) I personally know what can happen when your hormones get out of whack, and it isn’t pretty.
I have hyperthyroidism, which means my thyroid runs high. Your thyroid controls your energy levels and the speed at which some of your body processes perform. Most people hear this and think “Screw you, lucky bitch” because I have a “fast” metabolism, but in actuality, the symptoms suck and if I could wish it gone, I would. Symptoms include surges of adernaline that I mistook for panic attacks and were what sent me to the doctor in the first place, shakey hands, energy spikes and crashes, red spots on the abdomen, and can effect certain digestive functions. One hormone change can change everything. Hormones will effect the way your body processes everything, including fat, calories and your weight. Don’t experiment with your hormones, they might not go back to normal.
Bottom line: The side effects of this hormone are dangerous, and there is no scientific evidence that hCG itself will help you lose weight at all beyond the crazy low calorie diet you will be on. Slash calories if you want, but to keep your metabolism running, stick to around 1,400-1,600 and skip the hormones to avoid any dangers.