Human Chorionic Gonaotropin or HCG as it is abbreviated is a hormone that is naturally occurring in humans primarily during pregnancy. It acts directly on the part of the brain responsible for all automatic animal functions, i.e. sleep, breathing, and various aspects of metabolism. This tiny region is called the hypothalamus. One of HCG’s many actions on the hypothalamus is the mobilization of the mother’s fat stores to nourish the developing fetus.
In order to understand how HCG works as a weight loss adjunct one must first understand the nature of obesity itself. The body actually has three different reserves of fat. The first type of fat is structural fat. This is the fat that is stored around the organs and acts as an insulator, and protective “padding”. The second type of fat is the reserve fat. This is the normal healthy fat that the body readily uses as fuel. The third type of fat is the kind that is associated with obesity. This fat is stored when the body experiences a large caloric surplus. The problem with this type of fat is that it is not made readily available as a fuel source. So herein lays the downward spiral of obesity. This fat that gets accumulated around the hip, stomach etc, that people most want to get rid of, is the fat that the body is the least willing to let go. When a person goes on a crash diet their bodies are more likely to burn off fat from the first two sources, and even their lean mass before the third source is tapped in to.
HCG treatment involves taking the hormone twice daily in either oral liquid form, or once daily injections. Many undergo this treatment under the supervision of a physician or naturopath, and have their body fat percentage measured periodically to monitor progress. The treatment can be done on the patients own as well, but supervision is recommended. During the treatment which last between 23 and 40 days, patients are placed on a very restricted diet. This is to create a caloric deficit necessary for the excess fat to be utilized. This diet is only about 500 calories and consists largely of protein, fruits and veggies, with no refined sugars or starches. No carbs and very little fat are needed because the body is being run off the stored fat.
The theory behind HCG treatment is that it stimulates the hypothalamus to unlock this obesity fat, and therefore allows it to be used as a fuel source. The diet is geared primarily towards maintaining lean mass. One of the benefits to this treatment is that since the patients are being “fed” by their own fat reserves they do not feel an excessive amount of hunger, and feel satiated off those 500 calories, and are still able to maintain their lean mass, which is essential for keeping the weight off. Even with such a reduced calorie diet surprisingly very little supplementation is recommended. Vitamin C and Calcium with vitamin D are the only ones recommended. The calcium and vitamin D are recommended primarily for people with unhealthy teeth.
After treatment, a patient is allowed to increase their caloric intake and eat whatever they want with the exception of refined sugars and starches for a period of 3 more weeks, this should allow their weight to stabilize. After which point they can add carbs and sugars back in on a limited basis, returning to a basically normal diet without regaining weight.
There are some risks of side effects to HCG. The most dangerous side effect is potential life threatening condition called ovarian hyperstmulation. Symptoms of this include sever pain in the pelvic region, nausea, vomiting, and swelling of the feet and legs. If these symptoms occur, the patient is advised to stop treatment and get medical assistance. This condition is extremely rare however. Other possible side effects include local swelling of the injection sight, and some people report headaches in the first couple days of treatment, this is possibly due to the release of toxins stored in the fat tissue that is now being burned.
The FDA has criticized this treatment because the results in weight loss in some studies have not been significantly different than placebo treatment, or simple calorie reduction. But, what the FDA has not taken into account in these studies is the difference between fat loss and weight loss. Like I stated earlier when people are on an HCG treatment they are loosing fat weight and are able to maintain their lean mass. At the X Gym we tell people that the scale does not tells the entire story. The FDA has not been so quick to catch up on this.
At the X Gym we are not very keen on the usage of “weight loss treatments” or even supplements for that matter, with the exception of protein. We also feel that the best way to loose fat off of your body is through proper nutrition, strength training, cardio and rest. But after reading about HCG and how it actually works, and observing someone who has undergone the treatment, I must say that this stuff does appear at least to work. The training that one receives at the X Gym especially the nutrition guidance will make them much more successful with HCG treatment, especially when it comes to maintaining the fat loss post treatment.
Understand that I am not writing an endorsement for HCG. But this treatment for obesity makes a lot of sense to me. And obviously if someone where to consider it, I would encourage them to proceed with caution, and do their own research on the matter.