Atkins, The Zone, South Beach … this new diet demands more than watching what you eat… but before you decide to do it, find out!
The idea of losing 30 pounds (almost 15 kg) in 30 days is tempting enough to arouse curiosity about a diet, but if along with weight loss it also promises to redistribute body fat, so that your waist, abdomen, and thighs look like you’ve had liposuction, resisting putting it to the test is practically impossible. And that’s what thousands of women are doing now: saying “yes” to the HCG diet, and judging by the success stories circulating on internet forums and the increasing number of spas and medical centers that are offering it among their services, it seems that the trend will continue to gain fans for a while.
The plan includes two key elements: daily injections or drops of a hormone (HCG) and a diet of only 500 calories a day. Although with such a caloric restriction you’ll think you’re going to starve, its promoters say you won’t even find out. Is that really possible? How can anyone have energy consuming the equivalent of a turkey and cheese sandwich all day?
A HORMONE SLIMMING
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the cells that form the placenta. It is detected in the blood about 11 days after conception, and in the urine between 12 and 14 days after conception. In fact, this is the hormone that serves as the basis for pregnancy tests in the pharmacy.
|Its function is key for the fetus to get the nutrients it needs. HCG signals the hypothalamus to mobilize and carry to the fetus the body’s fat reserves, which in the particular case of women are usually found in the thighs, abdomen, and hips. In this way, if the mother does not consume the nutrients the baby needs to grow in those first decisive months of gestation, her fat reserves will provide for her.
As HCG acts on the hypothalamus during pregnancy and mobilizes the fat deposits that more work has cost us to lose, the promoters of the diet claim that injecting small amounts of the hormone, or supply it in the form of drops, can cause the same effect on the metabolism of women who are not pregnant. And also in men, because the male hypothalamus responds to the hormone in the same way. Once HCG is active in the system (usually on the third day after you start administering it), your appetite is reduced, because your own free reserves of fat supply your body with the energy it needs, so you can keep up with just 500.
How long you’ll be on the diet depends on how much weight you want to lose. Each treatment cycle usually lasts a minimum of 26 days, with 23 of them requiring a daily dose of HCG. It can extend up to 43 days at most (with 40 of them receiving HCG), because after that time a kind of immunity to the hormone usually develops. As HCG takes three days to take effect, during the first 72 hours you will be able to eat all you want, but after receiving the last dose, you will need to continue with 500 calories a day for another three days (your body will still be flooded with hormone, so it won’t cost you any work) to eliminate any trace of HCG from the body before returning to the normal diet. If you want to lose more weight after that, you will need to have another treatment cycle for a few weeks. No more than four cycles separated by breaks are recommended.
DEFENDERS AND DETRACTORS
Actually, the idea of using HCG to lose weight is not new. Emerged in the 50’s, when Dr. Albert T. Simeons, of british origin, found its effect on the metabolism of the fats. It gained great strength in the 1970s, but a series of negative studies reduced its use to almost zero. After the FDA approved its use as a treatment for infertility, some doctors again begin to prescribe injections as an instrument dietary, and with the current new versions of the hormone in the form of drops, sprays, pills, and even creams, the process has been simplified and the euphoria has become to unravel.
For those who have lost the weight that no other plan allowed them to lose, HCG is the cure for obesity. Linda Prinster author of the HCG Weight Loss Cure Guide, is one of their defenders. After having had eight children and unsuccessfully tested how much diet he found, he checked the HCG results. She was so satisfied that she even founded Pounds and Inches Away, a program to help those who want to lose weight with this plan. On its website it says: “with all the knowledge I gained after countless hours of research on HCG protocol, I did two diet cycles and lost 30 pounds (almost 15 kg). For the first time in my life I was able to keep the weight lost.”
HCG diet gives an instant effect through a combination of 500 kcal diet and the introduction of the hormone hCG. It is a hormone produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman, used in the treatment of infertility and menstrual irregularities. It is also used by men, mainly bodybuilders to increase testosterone levels in the body. A few years ago, used primarily injections with this hormone, is now available in the form of tablets and drops.
|In the medical community opinions are divided and while some argue that it is a safe program if performed under strict medical supervision, others warn about the dangers that HCG can have in the short and long term. “This diet is appalling. Leads the regimes irresponsible to new heights”, djo Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center, Yale University.
For its part, the FDA has issued a statement in which he stresses that it has not approved the use of HCG for any other purpose other than for the treatment of infertility, and that using the drops, sprays and pills as homeopathic remedies for weight loss is fraudulent and illegal.
COMPLICATIONS OF THE “A” TO “Z»
The list of possible side effects is long and includes from discomfort light, such as agitation, headaches, constipation, and breast tenderness (in other words, you can feel yourself as if you were really pregnant), to life-threatening problems such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (ovarian sobreestimulados by the hormone may swell and release fluid into the abdomen, which in turn can lead to the formation of blood clots and kidney failure).
The United States National Institute of Diabetes and kidney and Digestive Diseases has warned that the HCG diet may precipitate the formation of gallstones. And the Medical Center of the University of Maryland has been alerted about the possibility of the HCG to cause thyrotoxicosis (serious elevation of the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood).
Severe caloric restriction is also worrying. According to the National Institutes of Health in the United States, the lowest recommended caloric intake per day is 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 for men. When calories are restricted to only 500, there is a risk of not providing the body with enough essential amino acids, so the body can try to look for them in critical places, such as the heart.
|Another alarming danger: the possibility that HCG, which can now be bought freely on many online sites, is infected with prion protein, responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also called mad cow disease. While some websites are reliable and alert to the need to always consult a doctor, others offer very little information for your safety.
No doubt, 40 days of injections or drops can make the dream of losing weight effortlessly come true, but in the end, the risks may outweigh the benefits. No matter how many new diets become fashionable, choosing healthy foods and exercising regularly remains the most sensible and safe way to eliminate extra kilos and maintain the ideal weight.