I imagine diet books began appearing worldwide shortly after the Gutenberg Bible hit the shelves. And ever since, physicians, nutritionists, alchemists, personal trainers, and others have attempted to convince us that their diet is the one that will change everything.
All diets fail for the same reason, an assertion I base on my experience both as a practicing physician and as an overweight practicing physician. You obediently start a program and lose weight. You’re ecstatic. You continue enthusiastically and lose still more weight and soon you’re a proselytizer, a weight-loss born-again, buying copies of the sacred text for your chunky friends. Then one morning you simply cannot stand another mouthful of whatever food the book extols.
(Decades after the Scarsdale diet, I still can’t stomach ground round or cottage cheese and, frankly, was almost happy when the cardiologist author was shot by his mistress.)
And therein your doom. Within six months, your weight is generally back where you started. Statistically, your chances of permanent weight loss after dieting are less than 5%.
But this changes with the HCG weight-loss program
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman, whose purpose is to protect the developing fertilized egg. A typical pregnancy test looks for the presence of HCG in blood or urine, and once it was synthesized in the lab it was found to be helpful in boosting fertility. High doses are a routine part of treatment at fertility centers for women and even some men. In those with pituitary deficiencies, HCG increases sperm production.
British endocrinologist Albert T.W. Simeons, MD, first reported that extremely small amounts of HCG, when combined with a very restrictive 500-calorie diet, forced the body to flush out abnormal fat accumulations. It’s important to appreciate what Simeons meant by abnormal fat: pot bellies, mega-buttocks, thunder thighs, and triple chins. Physiologists call this “adipose tissue,” in contrast to the healthy structural fat that cushions and protects organs.
Every one of you with abnormal fat understands that no matter how diligent your diet and exercise efforts, this fat remains. With HCG and calorie restriction, the areas of abnormal fat are “tapped,” the HCG releasing 1,500 to 4,000 calories daily into the bloodstream, where they’re promptly burned as fuel. This incredible mobilization of fat stores is why when using HCG you can tolerate an otherwise intolerable 500-calorie-per-day eating program. And yes, by limiting fat loss to these adipose storehouses, HCG actually re-sculpts your body. You don’t develop the unfortunate Shar Pei rolls of loose skin that later require extensive (and expensive) plastic surgery to tighten up.
Dr Simeons operated a weight-loss clinic in Rome until his death in 1970, turning away more than a few potential patients because their perceptions of being overweight didn’t align with the adiposity of abnormal fat storage. He focused on body fat percentage rather than actual poundage.
HCG story shape-shifts
Sadly, after Simeons’ death HCG took a wrong turn. An HCG diet was publicized by Kevin Trudeau, the self-styled and utterly untrained popular nutritional guru and infomercial salesman (and also a convicted felon in trouble with both the FDA and FTC). Trudeau marketed and promoted different forms of ineffective, non-prescription HCG only to be banned by the FDA as consumer fraud.
By the late 1990s, HCG diets had been relegated to the ever-expanding Museum of Failed Weight Loss Treatments.
But then Mark Mandel, a Doctor of Pharmacology, resurrected the original Simeons protocol from the 1950s and, working with a variety of physicians, began seeing some pretty spectacular results. Now, after some 40,000 users nationwide, I’ll share the basics of his plan:
- You eat a nominal amount (500 calories) while using HCG, lose weight, and aren’t hungry because compensatory calories are being released from adipose tissue.
- You lose abnormal fat rather than necessary subcutaneous, organ-cushioning fat.
- The weight generally stays off if you’re honest about following the 1500-calorie low-carb diet that follows. If weight starts returning, you start another HCG cycle.
- What’s most exciting is that your health risks plummet. With weight loss, down come cholesterol, blood pressure, and predispositions to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.
HCG can be administered by injection, nasal spray, or sublingual (under the tongue) lozenge. We use the lozenge. It’s available by prescription only from a compounding pharmacy like Mark Drugs, but because it’s not FDA-approved for weight loss it isn’t covered by health insurance. I personally think it’s reasonably priced (just over $115 per 40-day course), though I’ve learned that some medical centers are charging considerably more.
WholeHealth Chicago’s HCG program follows the Simeons-Mandel protocol
There are three phases:
- First, detoxification. If you’re a WholeHealth Chicago patient, schedule with one of our nutritionists, Marla Feingold or Seanna Tully. Otherwise you’ll need a short appointment with either me or my associate Casey Kelley, MD, to review your health history, after which we’ll refer you to our nutritionist for detox. Conventional physicians know detoxification only in terms of drug or alcohol rehab. In integrative medicine, detoxing means clearing accumulated environmental and dietary toxins, stored deep in adipose tissue. If you suddenly started flushing out this tissue, the toxins would be released into your system during your initial weeks of HCG, which would likely make you feel quite uncomfortable, sort of like you’d been poisoned.
- Second, once detoxed you start a 40-day HCG cycle. For the first few days there’s a fat-loading period where we encourage you to store up on healthy fats to stave off hunger. For the remainder of the diet, you’ll learn how to put together a 500-calorie eating day and actually enjoy it. The food is mainly lean protein with a few vegetable and fruit servings. There are virtually no fats, starches, or sugars allowed during this cycle, to the extent you’ll be switching to oil-free moisturizers, cosmetics, and sunscreens.
- Third, you slowly reintroduce fats first, then starches and sugars, maintaining at about 1,500 calories a day. If you’re happy with your new weight, fine. We’ll teach you how to keep it off. If you need to lose more, you’ll start another HCG/low-calorie cycle with adjustments made based on your activity level.
Let me add that although HCG is not FDA-approved for weight loss (and since it’s in the public domain probably never will be because Big Pharma can’t profit from it), this form of weight loss is not considered alternative medicine. I recently had a conversation with an eminent orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint replacement surgery. He mentioned he simply doesn’t perform surgery on obese patients because the failure rate is so high. I asked what he did to help these patients lose weight.
“I outsource them to Northwestern. They’re using HCG and the results are pretty astonishing.”
David Edelberg, MD