The HCG Diet Craze - If / How It Works
That's right, yet another diet fad/craze is going around. With so many of these "miracle" diets coming and going, it's hard to know which one to pick, if any of them are safe, and what really works. Here's the scoop on the HCG Diet Plan.
Jumping right to the top question in your mind; Does it work? Yes. If the plan is followed strictly the way it was meant to be followed, it does indeed work. Quite well I might add.
How long is this plan? There are two options. You can do the main portion of the plan for 21 days or 42 days. After either there is a 3 week "Maintenance Plan".
How much weight loss is expected? Obviously it depends on how whether you choose the 21 day plan or the 42 day plan. On average, most people lose .5-1.5 lbs per day after the first 3 or 4 days (during the first 3-4 days it tends to be a bit higher). Of the people I personally know who have done the 42-day plan and stuck to it strictly, the lowest documented loss was 18 lbs and the highest was 40 lbs.
Is it safe? Absolutely. It is recommended that you visit your doctor before starting any new diet and/or exercise plan, and this is no exception. Some doctors will even provide you with the HCG or refer you to one who can! I've yet to find anyone whose doctor advised against the plan, and many have encouraged it. I even have a friend who is diabetic, and her doctor helped her adjust the plan so that she would be able to safely adhere to it.
How does it work? HCG is a hormone naturally produced by pregnant women (and in considerably smaller amounts by menstruating women). It helps your body learn to use stored fats for energy (helping feed the unborn child). With no pregnancy present, that energy goes directly to you, giving you the ability to take in less calories without burning off muscle.
Is it just for women? Absolutely not! Men actually tend to have better results than women.
What is the plan? For your 21 or 42 days you will stick to a 500 calorie a day diet while taking 3 doses of 10-15 drops of HCG daily. The diet is fairly strict, but by no means impossible (in fact I didn't find it very hard at all to stick to). You're allowed chicken, fish, lean beef, certain vegetables, certain fruits, and Melba Toast (purchased at any grocery store). Each day you are allowed 2 servings each of meat, vegetables, fruits, and the Melba Toast snacks. No sugar, no starch - for both the main plan and the maintenance phase. Because you are taking in so few calories, it is highly recommended that you DO NOT work out. Light to moderate walking is ok if you have the need for some form of exercise.
What about side effects? For the first few days to a week, some people experience mild headaches. Some people also experience some hunger (which is to be expected when you drop down to 500 calories). To help with both, it is recommended that you take a daily B-12 or B-Complex vitamin. Increasing the dose of HCG from 10 drops 3 times per day to 15 drops 3 times per day can also be effective.
Where can I get the HCG? You can find it online from a variety of retailers in the liquid form. Doctors provide it in a shot form which is taken on a much less frequent schedule.
As far as the exact list of foods allowed, the exact form of HCG to look for (ingredients on the label), and further detailed information (the doctor who invented the plan wrote a book on it, for example) I'll direct you to your search engine. There is a multitude of information out there, and I just wanted to put my two cents in on the plan to give you a basic outline to have an idea of whether this plan is right for you.
As a personal experiment, I stuck to the plan for 2 weeks and then stopped. I wanted to see for myself how well it worked, what would happen when I stopped, and if I'd gain the weight back. I lost 14 lbs in that 2 weeks. I'll admit I'm not the healthiest eater in the world, so I was expecting it to all come rushing back quite quickly. On the contrary, I find that my appetite is still about half what it was before I started the diet. I've been off the plan for 1 1/2 months now and have actually lost an additional 5 lbs (yes, even with my bad pizza and potato chip habits). I'm starting again next week, and I really can't wait to see the results!
I would love to hear about your success with this plan, so please, come back and leave comments if you try (or have already tried) this plan - it would be great for other readers to see testimonials to help them make the decision as well!
Best of luck to you!!