Frequently Asked Questions about the HCG Diet
What is the difference between the injections, the drops and the homeopathic HCG? First, the homeopathic HCG isn’t HCG and the FDA has outlawed it. The sublingual HCG drops or lozenges are altered by your digestion as are all hormones taken orally. This changes their composition. Additionally, one really doesn’t know what dosage he or she is actually absorbing and it is very important to be able to adjust the dosage, within a prescribed range, for each individual during the program. My experience is quite biased because the only patients I have seen who have used the oral form of HCG or the homeopathic drops have not been successful in either losing the weight or keeping it off. Hence, they have sought out the original program. The injections work every time and dosages can be very finely managed.
I hate needles, how can I possibly do this?
This is a very common concern yet in these many years, I have yet to have a
patient who hasn’t been able to do it with ease. The needles are tiny and only enter the peripheral fat. I use the same ones that diabetics use to inject themselves with insulin numerous times a day. I teach each person individually in the office how to inject him or herself and every patient says the same thing: “that’s all?” It is simple and painless because the needle is so tiny and the volume of medication is miniscule. Even if you are needle phobic, it is easy to do.
Do you do this differently than is advertised on many websites that I have seen? I do this exactly as the inventor of the diet prescribed. While it is great that the Internet has helped to popularize this diet, it is equally sad to see it being gradually changed so as to be quite different than the original program. This is what happened (without the Internet) back in the 1960’s and 70’s. Several so-called scientists set out to either prove or disprove the claims originally made by Dr. Simeon. Six or seven different studies were done to see if they could replicate his findings. Not surprisingly, the studies used different foods; different fixed dosages of HCG (as opposed to a tailored sliding scale) and a higher daily caloric intake then were originally prescribed. Some of the studies actually used twice the amount of calories. Needless to say, his findings weren’t replicated. This is what is happening again. These so-called clever updated improvements have not been studied and will probably ultimately help to debunk this truly important medical diet. For the most part, they are a clever marketing ploy with no substantiated science behind them.
Is the diet safe? In my experience, it has been very safe. Following close to 160 people and over 400 total programs, only a few medical issues have arisen. Two patients developed gall bladder problems because they went off the diet too quickly. Both had a history of gall bladder problems and paid for not adhering to the principles of the program. Gall bladder problems can be exacerbated with any diet, especially when too much fat is added too quickly.
I had to stop the diet only once in a patient who had diabetes and kidney insufficiency of unknown origin. I followed her kidney function very carefully and stopped the program after 9 days (much to her chagrin because it was the first time she had been able to lose any weight) because I didn’t like what her lab tests were showing.
If you have a history of breast cancer or prostate cancer, it may be inadvisable to do this program because it may stimulate the release of small amounts of hormones (depending on your age) that could encourage cancer growth. This could conceivably be true if there is a history of thyroid cancer as well. I have to date not seen any cancer growth of any kind as a result of using the HCG and I have been very careful to be on the lookout for this conceivable problem. There is nothing in the medical literature that associates the use of HCG as a cause of cancer, but I tend to be cautious about this.
How can I know if the diet is right for me? I advise potential patients to read the original book (which can be accessed by a link on my website) and look over some of my other written material. This way you can get a sense of what the diet actually is and whether you are interested in trying it. If you are, I do a thorough medical evaluation before moving forward. On the one hand, I like to address any imbalances I might find before starting the program, yet have also found over the years that the program itself frequently helps issues that may need correcting, be they digestive, hormonal or even emotional. Every patient I have worked with has successfully lost weight even if he or she was unable to beforehand despite extreme restrictive dieting and hours of daily exercise. The biological mechanism triggered by the program always works.
How long can I stay on the diet?
The diet was originally designed to last either 26 or 40 days depending on the degree of obesity and amount of desired weight loss. All patients who do the shorter program are successful and have a very excellent chance of maintaining their weight loss. I originally guided several patients through the 40-day program, and while they all lost a very significant amount of weight (over thirty pounds), they were also more likely to experience rebound weight gain. I observed this enough times that I now offer the full extended program only very rarely. Most people feel ready to transition to the next phase of the program after 26 days anyway. As a compromise, because so many people are eager to lose more weight once they see the fat melting off their bodies, I sometimes allow patients to extend the program by up to a week. This has been done numerous times with great success because I have individualized the length of the program. While it seems rather universal for people losing weight to think that more is better, I have found that there are many dimensions to weight loss. Your body has to acclimate physiologically to all the changes, your self-esteem improves, your sexuality may come more to the forefront, other people start to view you differently, your wardrobe needs an overhaul and your self-confidence grows. While these changes are positive, sometimes they can be a little overpowering. People can become overwhelmed by too much rapid change. Therefore, I have found it is best to encourage weight loss in moderate sized increments that gives one time to integrate all the changes that take place before true readiness to lose more weight sets in. My patients who have been most successful in the long term have learned to appreciate this gradual approach.
Can I exercise while on the program? The short answer is yes. However, one mustn’t exercise while on the program with the idea that it will assist with the weight loss. The program will do that all by itself. It is frequently difficult for people to appreciate that because most weight loss programs involve moderate to vigorous exercise. On the HCG program, you can exercise for enjoyment and pleasure, but not to ‘make sure you are doing everything you can to lose the weight’. There is a delicate balance between the HCG, the 500 calorie diet and how your body then naturally goes about dissolving your excess fat. If you exercise too vigorously, you can actually throw that balance off. One eventually learns while on the program to trust the biological process that is initiated. All one has to do is simply do the program correctly and allow the program to do its job on you as opposed to the other way around. The program is simple, but people are not! Eventually though, everyone learns. So yes, exercise is allowed but it is by no means necessary.
I am scared to eat only 500 calories. Is that even safe? It turns out to be very safe when the body is under the influence of a small amount of HCG at the same time. In many ways, this is at the heart of the diets’ uniqueness. When caloric intake is low, the HCG actually hits receptors in fat tissue that releases a hormone (leptin) that decreases appetite and at the same time, by hitting certain receptors in the hypothalamus, initiates a cascade of biological reactions that enables the body to quickly dissolve unwanted fat stores in order to utilize it for energy. As long as there is excess fat, the 500 calories plus the HCG takes care of your caloric and metabolic needs and hence one isn’t hungry. One generally also has a good amount of energy. The 500-calorie diet only becomes unsafe when all the fat stores are depleted. Then one becomes tired, drawn and feels week. This is one of the reasons why this diet should be done under appropriate medical supervision. There is the danger that you could run into some trouble because you don’t know what you don’t know and one’s eagerness to lose weight can actually backfire. This is also true if you have medical problems such as diabetes or hypertension and are on medications which will need adjustment during the program. You must remember that this is a medical diet. For safe and optimal results, it should be done with experienced medical supervision.
Can I just order the HCG over the Internet? Well you can, but God knows what you’ll actually be getting. HCG is an FDA approved medication that has been utilized as a fertility drug for over sixty years in medicine. It can only be acquired from a legitimate pharmacy with a prescription from a licensed medical doctor. One must be very careful of ordering HCG products over the Internet when you don’t know the source. Unfortunately, unscrupulous vendors want nothing more then to prey on your vulnerability for a quick easy solution to your weight problems. One patient of mine decided to try doing the program on her own and ordered what she thought was HCG, without a prescription, over the Internet. She developed a rapidly growing thyroid tumor by injecting herself with what she thought was HCG imported from Russia. She ended up needing surgery and half of her thyroid removed. Thankfully, the growth was benign. In my opinion, it is just too risky to order and take this extraordinarily powerful hormone indiscriminately.