With the summer months approaching and longer sun filled days enticing us all to enjoy the beach, our desire to get our bodies fit for swimsuits is very real.
There is a clinical tool available to facilitate a more robust start or restart in the losing of inches. Consider this option not only for swimsuit season, but as one begins to implement a long-term strategy of lifestyle modification and ultimately, transformation. The option is the use of HCG.
HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, which is a hormone that women produce in significantly high levels during pregnancy (500,000 to 1,000,000 units / day). It is generally believed that its purpose is to ensure that regardless of whether the mother eats or not, the unborn baby will get its nutrition via a facilitated and more direct breakdown of fat, hence creating a constant source of calories.
HCG in small amounts (100 to 300 units / day) has been used in both genders since the mid 1950s to aid in weight loss. Thousands of persons swear by the results that they have achieved. However it has been very controversial, as the original Italian physician who first promoted it for weight loss also tied it to an extremely low calorie diet of 500 calories / day.
The scientific community has done studies that showed that the amount of weight lost with a 500 calorie plan was similar between groups of people taking HCG and those not taking HCG, hence a large majority have concluded that HCG is no better than a placebo. Further clinical evidence advices against such restricted 500-calorie diets due to potential starvation mode elicited in the body, in addition to concerns of safety.
On the other hand there is now clinical evidence that it is not just the amount of weight loss that needs to be compared; but also the source of weight loss that is important. Specifically it is the desire to lose the “ FAT” weight and not the “MUSCLE “ weight, and if someone is put on a very low calorie diet, the problem is that the person will lose too much muscle, (lean body mass) which is in direct proportion to that person’s metabolic rate. In addition, recent studies have clearly concluded that improving and increasing lean body mass directly decreases insulin resistance, which is the culprit in obesity. HCG treated patients have shown that the amount of muscle loss is half the amount as those following a similar diet but without HCG.
The story that we hear and see often is that a person on an HCG protocol will noticeably see inches shrink on the areas of their body where the fat accumulates the most. It is especially helpful in persons with the “pear shaped” body where the weight is accumulated in the hips and thighs. With many diets, the “pear shaped” body type will many times find their upper body, especially their face, begin to look “too thin” despite the fact that their lower half still has significant excess. The volume of a pound of fat is significantly larger than the volume of a pound of muscle, and hence, as more fat is released, the more volume or inches one’s body shrinks.
HCG is a regulator of hormones, which is of great value in patients with excess weight, as their condition is an expression of an imbalance in their hormonal state. Specifically, HCG regulates many hormones including thyroid and the sex hormones, most notably testosterone. It is used clinically in males to help increase their own production of testosterone, and it is also used in females seeking treatment for infertility. The improvement in the testosterone levels of those on HCG most likely is the reason why muscle weight loss is minimized as the testosterone turns on an anabolic state in the body whereby it promotes muscle development.
In our practice we use mainly the injectable type of HCG. There has been controversy regarding the use of oral forms as recent studies have shown there are no detectable levels of HCG except when the injectable type is used. The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has been warning consumers that the
Homeopathic HCG products typically marketed as weight loss aids, and sold via the Internet and stores, usually in the form of drops and pellets, are illegal and unproven.
As in any nutritional plan that helps shed of the excess weight, keeping it off is the real story. In our practice, we see a large amount of patients that had done what they thought was HCG in the past and obtained good results, but were not maintainable and they regained their weight plus more. Of course this story resonates with all nutritional plans as most people doing diets only focus on “you can eat this and not that “ for a certain period of time. Afterwards they resume their usual and customary habits, which lead them to gain weight initially and will continue to do so always.
However with those patients doing a very low calorie diet on their own and taking what they thought was HCG, it would make sense that they would initially lose the weight dramatically as 500 calories is drastic. The problem is their weight was lost not only in fat, but also in larger amounts of muscle, which subsequently lowered their metabolism and predisposed them to insulin resistance. That in turn, primed them for quick and unhealthy regain, even though their caloric intake was still low.
In my experience, when HCG is used with close medical management of a very low calorie nutritional plan, it can facilitate a great start. It is used in cycles of four or six weeks; and in between cycles, the nutritional plan is adjusted. Some people do a cycle to get a good start and develop the confidence to be on their journey to a healthy weight. Others use a cycle once they reach a plateau in their weight loss journey, and many see the benefits of helping reshape their body by facilitating the loss of inches in the stubborn areas of their body.
A healthy lifestyle transformation is the goal of any nutritional plan that helps release excess weight, and is ultimately the true measure of success. A successful plan should not only focus on the amount of pounds lost, but more importantly on its inherent ability to help transition into a healthier and maintainable weight. This requires the understanding that it is not a quick fix but a long-term commitment where education, guidance and support are paramount.
Although there are many tools to help aid in our journey to a healthier thinner self, the tool that is the most important is your mind and the thoughts that are elicited every single day. Hence despite great opportunities to help in the rebalancing of our hormones, and improvement in insulin resistance, in my humble opinion, the real goal is the ability to maintain that healthier weight, not a quick fix. That goal can only be achieved if you give yourself the love and commitment to change your lifestyle and recognize that all is possible. You just need to visualize, believe and work at seeing it actualize.
César A. Lara, M.D. is a Board Certified family physician and a leading expert in the field of medicine, the treatment of obesity, and weight loss management. For more than 20 years, it has been Dr. Lara’s passion to become a positive force in America’s ever-growing obesity crisis…one patient at a time. Dr. Lara’s dream of helping men and women overcome diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and other chronic conditions related to obesity was realized with the emergence of the César A. Lara, MD; Center for Weight Management as a premier weight loss center in Tampa Bay. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, Dr. Lara is known for his strong personal faith and his generous contributions to the Tampa Bay community. Dr. Lara regularly appears on television as a medical contributor to Brighthouse Network’s Bay News 9 en Español and WTSP-TV Studio 10. He frequently participates in corporate health fairs promoting an active lifestyle and healthy weight loss options. He is the founder of St. Michael’s Free Clinic and Weight Away Tampa Bay, charitable organizations that provide free medical treatment to those who cannot afford it.