The HcG Diet: fat or fiction?

Medicine 101

The recent revival of interest in the infamous HcG diet does peak one’s curiosity.

Considering that obesity is a significant risk factor for many diseases, if there is any credence in this diet method, it should be looked at. Not to mention the fact millions of Canadians actually prefer to be at their optimal weight.

Sure, some people want to lose weight for cosmetic reasons.  They are disappointed that some of their favourite outfits no longer fit. Maybe they just feel better about themselves when they are at an optimal weight, but it is just really hard to get there. Others find their motivation for weight loss due to purely medical reasons. Osteoarthritic knees simply hurt more when they have more weight to carry.

Whatever the reason; let that be motivation enough to lose weight. Next, the question is how?

Certainly there is a school of thought that dictates “Calories in should equal calories out” or else there are weight problems. I cannot say there is no truth to this. Indeed, starving oneself does usually lead to weight loss. Unfortunately, the anorexic approach is not so healthy.

Of course, if a mild restriction of calories was a successful strategy for everyone, there would be a lot of consistency in weight management. In reality, I do not find this the case for patients.

Metabolism relies on many hormones and nutrients. Glitches in how the body accesses energy and how it utilizes it can affect weight overall.

In the 1950s Dr. Simeons discovered a novel weight loss technique. He was treating boys with gynecomastia (male enlargement of breasts) and found weight loss as a side effect. He revisited the HcG injection therapy with a low calorie diet and got favourable outcomes. Since then, many patients, despite controversy, claim to get good weight loss on his program.

As Dr. Les Griffith explains, a low calorie diet that is less than the basal metabolic rate (BMR) will down shift one’s metabolism, thereby making a low calorie diet lead to fatigue and sometimes weight gain. He uses a modified HcG diet protocol.

He says that HcG binds to receptors that stimulate fat breakdown in fat cells when calories are lower than the BMR. HcG inhibits the lowering metabolic function and reduced energy production.

It is believed that the HcG hormone helps with satiety despite a low cal diet.

Though some may be concerned about not getting sufficient vitamins and nutrients from 500-750 cal/day diets, I think this concern can be mediated. Short term usage can prevent any serious nutrient deficiencies and nutrient rich supplementation is great prevention.

Dr. Simeons believed that the HcG hormone suppresses hunger, redistributes fat, spares normal fat causing abnormal fat to be lost, and is mood elevating.

While there could be a direct fat melting effect, the key probably lies in the tendency to conserve carbohydrates and favour fat combustion to make calorie restrictions more tolerable.

I am attracted to the modified HcG diet weight loss plan because with my modifications, the diet is convenient, easy to follow, affordable, and safe.

I prefer to target fat stores and inhibit fatty deposition.

I intend for people to participate in a weight loss program that keeps them healthy and helps them maintain good energy so that people can live their life to the fullest.

So far, my patients are getting results and loving it.


— Dr. Tara Macart owns Opti-Balance Naturopathic Medicine in Qualicum Beach with her husband Jonathan.



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