The United States has one of the highest rates of obesity of any of the large trading economies according to the OECD. Two out of three Americans are considered overweight or obese. The challenge of weight loss becomes even greater as we age. As a 66-year old male, who has struggled with my weight for decades, I am well aware of the challenges. Over the years, I have tried almost every type of diet program—Atkins, Fit for Life, Nutrisystem and more. Like for most, while I would lose weight, it found its way back again.
With aging come other changes that may affect weight loss. After six months of doing monthly three-day organic cleanses from Chef V®, I decided to try their 21-day Challenge. This includes two 3-day cleanses along with an organic low-calorie diet surrounding them. After successfully completing the program, I discovered that I had lost very little weight. As I result, during my annual physical, I asked my doctor to add thyroid and testosterone tests to my blood panel. I thought there must be a metabolic component to my lack of weight loss. While the thyroid results were normal, my T-score was off the bottom of the charts—94, when the range is 100 to 1000 and normal is in the 500 to 600 range.
Another specialist told me that to lose my “beer belly” would require a very high-protein diet and taking supplements like CLA and Creatine. In researching bio-identical hormone replacement treatments, I discovered Neem Medical Spa in Somerville, Massachusetts. While reviewing their website (neemmedicalspa.com), I saw that they offered a weight loss program with HCG.
Having not heard of this program, I did a little research. The HCG and low-calorie diet protocol was developed by Dr. Albert T. W. Simeons in Italy in the 1950s (a book describing the program called Pounds and Inches is available on iTunes). Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced only during pregnancy that draws up to 2,500 calories per day from unwanted fat to ensure that the fetus is nourished. Combining a daily self-injection of HCG with a strict 500-calories per-day diet, focusing on salad and protein can result in the loss of one to two pounds per day. The diet consists of coffee or tea for breakfast, 300 grams of a lean protein (e.g., chicken, fish, veal) for lunch and dinner combined with green salad. Only lemon is permitted as the salad dressing. Morning and afternoon snacks are comprised of one slice of melba toast and a small apple. At least 64 ounces of water are a must on a daily basis as well. During the first two days of the diet, the patient is required to “gorge-out” on their favorite high fat foods (e.g., pasta, pizza, ice cream, and other sweets) to build up a store of fat.
The thought of a 500-calorie per day diet was frightening. Many practitioners have warned that this type of low calorie diet will result in the loss of the wrong type of fat and a significant reduction in lean muscle mass. But one of my colleagues showed me his before and after pictures and I was hooked. The protocol as implemented and supervised by Dr. Rosy Sandhu of Neem Medical Spa involves weekly B12 injections to boost the metabolism, weekly body composition measurements to ensure fat loss rather than water loss or loss of muscle mass, and daily emails that provide motivational statements, descriptions of what to expect for the day, and a selection of recipes that meet the diet’s standards.
I signed up, started, and this is what I learned:
- It is not hard to give yourself an injection with a very small “insulin” syringe into your abdomen each day.
- During the full 40-day period, I was never hungry or had cravings as I had regularly with other diets. In fact, there were days where I was full and could not eat the full 300 grams of protein.
- By implementing a very standard program (I would cook enough chicken or veal for several days based on the 300-gram measurement), I quickly became aware of portion control—something that never really happened with other diets.
- Even going out for business lunches or dinners, I was able to easily request the restaurant to supply the food in the size and cooked the way that I needed.
- Religiously using everydayhealth.com to record everything that I ate helped me learn a lot about my habits and prepared me for the end of the diet.
- The diet does not permit heavy exercise programs that would build muscle mass and restricts exercise to 20-minutes a day of walking (or in my case many days, treading water in a pool).
- Following the 43-days of the 500-calorie diet (the HCG stays in your system for three days after the final injection), it was easy to maintain an increased intake of 1,000 to 1,200 calories, still restricting the consumption of starches and sugars (although I did add my glass of Chardonnay).
- Now almost 8-weeks later, with a fair amount of cheating, I am still eating healthier and have basically maintained my weight.
So much for the description of the process, what were the results?
- My starting weight was 283.6 pounds with a BMI of 41.9. The ending weight was 249.4 pounds with a BMI of 36.8.
- My fat mass when I started was 137.4 pounds and 104.0 pounds upon completion.
- My fat percentage was reduced from 50.4% to 41.7%.
- Eight weeks following the diet, my weight was 251.2 pounds.
- Lost 4 inches in waist size of pants from 44” to 40”.
- Shirt size drop from 3XL to 2XL and XL with some.
The HCG and VLCD protocol also had a number of other benefits.
- My A1c level at the start was 7.2 and upon completion was 6.5.
- My LDL/HDL ratio at the start was 2.1 and upon completion was 2.2.
- My cholesterol (mass/volume) at the start was 213 and upon completion 208.
- My total testosterone and free testosterone at start were 1.8 ng/ml and 2.43 ng/dl, respectively (low) and upon completion were 6.36 ng/dl and 62.3 pg/ml (normal). HCG is reported to reduce estrogen and increase testosterone.
|Measurement||Pre||Post||8 weeks Post|
|Fat Mass (pounds)||126.4||104.0||104.2|
|Free Fat Mass (pounds)||157.2||145.4||147.0|
|Total Body Water (pounds)||115.0||106.4||107.6|
After the overall process, my endocrinologist was surprised by my weight loss and asked how it had happened. She pointed out that there had been no proof that HCG was related to weight loss or to improvements in testosterone—a 500-calorie per day diet would cause this type of loss. However, I pointed out that I had no loss in muscle mass (in fact a small gain) and had no cravings and was energetic throughout the whole process—something that would not have happened with a VLCD alone. I was so impressed that I plan to do another 40-day HCG and VLCD soon.
For more information on the HCG diet process, view the attached interview with Dr. Rosy Sandhu of Neem Medical Spa.