hCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and this is a substance found in the urine of pregnant women mainly during the first trimester. hCG’s function is to release fat stored in a woman’s buttocks, thighs, hips and abdomen to provide the fetus with the nutrients, calories and other substances it needs at a time when a woman may not be aware she is pregnant and may thus not be eating correctly. When hCG is injected into a woman who is not pregnant – or a man – it still causes the release of excess stored fat but this fat is now metabolized and burnt up, thus causing weight loss.
Origins Of The hCG Diet
While conducting research on adolescent male sexuality during the 1950s, British endocrinologist Dr. ATW Simeons noticed that boys who were being treated with hCG (which hastens the onset of puberty in boys with pituitary gland disorders) also lost weight, ate less and did not complain of feeling hungry. Simeons immediately saw the potential of hCG being used as a substance to promote weight loss and focused his energies on developing a diet regimen based on the consumption of hCG and a reduced calorie diet.
Briefly in fashion, Simeons’ hCG diet then disappeared for almost 60 years, although it did reappear several times in slightly altered formats. It has, however, recently made a comeback and may soon be in fashion again.
The hCG Regimen
The results of Dr. Simeons’ research indicated that the best overall treatment method was to administer daily injections of hCG over four cycles each separated by 6 weeks. Cycles could range from as few as 26 days to as many as 40 and injections are given on all days in the cycle except for the last 3 as it took 3 days for the hCG to work its way out of your system. It also took 3 days before the effects of the hCG treatment were observed but it was also found that patients could build up an immunity to hCG, which prompted the 6 week gap between cycles. Treatments can be stopped mid-cycle but only if the patient loses over 35lbs in one cycle or has lost all unwanted weight.
hCG works on the fat reserves stored within certain parts of the body and releases these reserves which, in a person who is not pregnant, don’t have anything else to do except to be used up as energy. As most of the body’s energy requirements are now being supplied by the fat already stored in the body, the patient does not need to consume as many calories as before and consequently does not have much of an appetite. The diet plan developed by Dr. Simeons suggested that patients eat meals containing only up to 500 calories per day but these meals were phased in 3 days after the hCG injections started so as to give the substance time to build up sufficient reserves to become effective.
The types of food that the patients are allowed to eat while following the diet are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, fats and starches. The treatment may also include taking further appetite suppressants.
Dangerous Side Effects Of The hCG Diet
Given hCG’s origin, it is not surprising that the treatments can increase the chances of female patients’ falling pregnant. The substance can also mimic the symptoms of pregnancy and while feeling bloated and tender may be normal for women, it must be rather disconcerting for men. Male patients may also start to develop female sexual traits including gynecomastia (the growth of female breasts) and one potentially fatal side effect for women is OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome).
Side effects that were observed in both sexes included headaches, restlessness and feelings of depression. There was also an increased tendency to develop blood clots, mood swings and an increased sex drive.
The hCG Diet Today
The use of hCG as a dietary supplement has not yet been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration, although it was approved as a fertility drug. Physicians do, however, prescribe hCG for weight loss and it appears that it can even be obtained online. hCG treatment is also fairly expensive and is not covered by any of the medical plans. Further tests done on the efficacy of hCG during the 1960s and later also seemed to indicate that hCG was not as effective as it was first thought to be. There is also no guarantee that the weight loss will be sustained, although there is the understanding that completion of the diet plan will educate patients in correct eating habits and good nutrition.
The hCG Diet thus seems to lend itself to wealthy people who are not afraid of trying the latest dietary fad in their endless efforts to loose weight.