Did I Experience the Placebo Effect? My HCG Diet Story
A Bit About the HCG Diet Protocol
The HCG diet is a calorie restricted diet plan that was created in the 1950’s by a British physician named Albert T.W. Simeons. An endocrinologist, Simeons was treating boys that were suffering from delayed puberty and other hormonal issues.
During treatment with HCG, he noticed that the boys who were overweight experienced body composition changes by gaining muscle and losing fat. Dr. Simeons also went to India to study malnourished pregnant women in order to observe what effects calorie depletion would have on their children. Surprisingly Simeons discovered that many of these newborns were of normal size and weight.
Simeons theorized that it was HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), that was keeping the unborn children nourished even as their mothers consumed very few calories daily. He felt that HCG production, which occurs during pregnancy helped mobilize stored fat and kept the mother and unborn baby nourished as it grew. He tested his theory by recruiting study participants and subjecting them to a low-calorie diet and HCG injections.
The findings of his study motivated Simeons to begin treating obesity with his HCG diet protocol as well as write his manuscript, “Pounds and Inches”.
How I Came to Discover the HCG Diet
Around the age of 40 I made a career switch from management to internet marketing after teaching myself how to optimize websites for search engine visibility.
That led to an opportunity with a company in an unrelated industry doing exactly that. A friend learned of my new occupation and had me do similar work to his employer’s website. When his employer told my friend about search result improvement, he introduced to me to a man that was starting his own online business and needed someone to help him with the same thing.
The business involved selling HCG injections online.
Even though I was just freelancing with this new company as a side gig, I spent significant time researching the product in order to be able to write about it intelligently.
Not much later I was convinced to work directly with the company full time where I spent even more time researching and writing about HCG injections and the diet.
After moving on from this company and I grew older, I ballooned up to 240lb’s at a height of just 5’10” due to poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. At this weight I found it difficult to be active, I developed back issues and I couldn’t stand looking at myself in pictures. It was at that point that I decided to try HCG myself to see if I could see the same quick weight loss results that so many customers and personal friends were experiencing.
Before and after HCG injections
Before and After HCG Injections
I went on two rounds of HCG which consisted of a month on HCG, a month off of HCG and then a second round of HCG. The month off is part of the HCG diet protocol because according to the plan, patients developed a resistance to the positive effects of HCG rather quickly. The month off is supposed to allow you to minimize this resistance in between rounds.
The original diet calls for 500 calories per day broken up into two meals. In addition, there are certain foods that are allowed while taking HCG injections. I am not going to get into the specific foods on the list but essentially it is an extremely low fat and low carbohydrate diet.
Unlike other programs the HCG diet plan discourages exercise due to the calorie restriction and is supposed to facilitate body composition changes on its own.
While I did stick to the basic framework of the diet, I ate at least double the calories and I did do light exercise a few times a week. My calorie goal was 1200 calories a day instead of 500. The meals were all high in protein and very low in fat and simple carbohydrates. A 1200 calorie allowance allowed me to eat five 4oz chicken breasts per day and I would still have around 400 calories to spend on vegetables, a bit of non-sugary fruit or some whole grain carbohydrates.
My fitness routine was just a basic full body workout with dumbbells that I could do at home three times per week. I also made it a point to go for walks or ride a bike for 30 minutes once per week.
HCG diet before and after
Why I Think HCG Injections Worked for Me
At the end of three months, I shed a total of 40 pounds. Furthermore, I lost almost no muscle mass based on the caliper testing I did before and after my program. Some muscle loss is to be expected when trying to lose fat quickly. For example, bodybuilders experience muscle loss by the time they finish their competition cutting stage, the key is to minimize the loss while losing fat which I was able to accomplish.
The science behind why this worked for me is sound as well. HCG is used on men for various conditions related to testosterone deficiency. It is used in fertility treatments as well as alternative to synthetic testosterone in men with low testosterone. In fact, bodybuilders and athletes take HCG after a steroid cycle to regain the testosterone production they lost during their cycle.
Data shows that men with higher testosterone levels carry more muscle and less fat than men with lower levels of testosterone. Unfortunately, testosterone levels drop annually after a man turns 30.
Being older when I started HCG, I was able to rationalize my weight loss and muscle retention because of the ability of HCG to increase declining testosterone levels in men. The diet alone surely would have resulted in a similar weight loss but I am not sure that I would maintained most of my muscle mass if not for HCG.
How Does HCG Work for Women?
All of the research I did reading HCG studies in never resulted in me finding a study that explains why HCG might help women retain muscle while on a low-calorie diet or cause weight loss.
The closest I was able to come to any evidence regarding women was a study that Dr. Emma presented on the Dr. Oz show. As far as I know, that was one of the only studies that measured weight loss and body composition at the same time. Her conclusion was that her study group was able to retain 3 more pounds of muscle on average than those taking a placebo.
Are HCG Injections a Placebo or Do They Work?
While working for my former employer I learned that the majority of the customer base were women, many of whom would call in and rave about the HCG injections while placing a second order.
Still, I could not find many studies that measured fat loss or muscle retention during a low-calorie diet while on HCG. In fact, most of the information I can find relates to weight loss alone, men included.
I did find reliable scientific information when it comes HCG being used to treat men with low T as well as boys and men who have conditions that cause low T. But just like the studies on women, there were few studies relating to muscle retention or body composition while using HCG injections in conjunction with a low-calorie diet.
That said, I have been able to find studies on growth hormone releasing products creating a muscle sparing effect while restricting calories so I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that a testosterone releasing product would have a similar effect.
My personal conclusion is that because we know restricting calories causes weight loss and that HCG helps boost testosterone in men it is possible if not likely that an overweight man in his late 40’s like myself would benefit from increased hormone production while drastically reducing caloric intake.
Regarding women all I have to go on are the experiences of past customers, online reviews and testimonials in the media. Therefore, I cannot reasonably explain the weight loss aside from caloric intake nor can I confidently suggest that they retain muscle due to hormonal changes while on HCG.
In the end, I suggest you do some research and consult with a professional just like you would with any other weight loss program.