January 1, 2015.
I just concluded 30 days of the most rigidly intense dieting I’ve ever done (or maybe just the only dieting I’ve ever successfully done).
It was a lot of fun. It was extremely hard at times. I learned a lot. Now I’m sharing all of the data.
Preface: This is not so much a recap post as a “progress so far” check in. I’m not stopping. I’m just beginning. Also, I’m not trying to prove anything. I have zero interest in discussing the science of dieting/nutrition or the veracity of the course I followed. I’m just posting data and my personal experience. So this is a preemptive ‘chill out’ to all the Paleo people and Vegans.
Enter Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
Here-in referred to as HCG (wikipedia).
The basic premise I was given: Take HCG 2x per day (I have no idea what dose). Spend the first 2 days eating as much as you can of fatty, sugary foods (loading). On day 3, begin an ultra strict 500 calorie per day protocol (continue taking HCG 2x daily).
In the 500 calories allotted each day consume as little fat as possible, preferably none. My meals consisted of 2x daily either a protein shake (only protein + water) worth 250 calories or a chicken breast (cooked without fat) and some steamed vegetable. Drink copious amounts of water every day.
The advertised outcome is to lose 1lb of fat per day. The cycle can last anywhere from 23-40 days (meaning 23-40 lbs of fat loss expected). You won’t be hungry while on it.
The science? Presumably the HCG causes your body to burn it’s excess fat stores for all of your fueling needs (which is about 1lb per day in most males). The 500 calories of mostly protein consumed is to ensure that your muscles don’t breakdown.
People that are skeptical of this protocol: Pretty much the entire medical community. And previously me.
Further research needed.
My Experience + Data
Dates: November 30, 2014 – December 29, 2014
Weigh-In + Ketosis Data.
|Day||Weight (morning after piss)||Ketosis level|
-I noticed a 1 to 1 correlation between violating the protocol (which I did on days 16, 19, 20, 25) and a sudden stop in weight loss. The real pain from this was that the day after violating I would be hungry most of the day. This lasted for 2 full days after the violation usually.
All of the violations were eating 700-800 calories in a day instead of 500. Or having 1 thing cooked in fat by mistake that put me over. Not binging on a whole pizza.
-I consumed zero starches and sugars the entire month. The only carbs I had came from portobello mushrooms, spinach, or asparagus. Everything else was pure protein.
-The first week was pure misery. Days 4-8 were particularly bad. I was having a bad emotional reaction to my yummies being taken away. I lashed out at the people helping me with the diet. I hated life. Bad headaches. Discomfort. Misery.
-Starting week 2 on day 8, things started to settle. I’d gotten used to eating the 2 meal per day, and I was down 8 pounds. This was amazing because my weight at the end of the loading day was 322.8 lbs. Exactly 7 days later it was 306.4. Weird to see the scale change that much. And reflecting on day 9 I realized that the struggle of the previous week makes sense given the fluctuation on the scale. I knew some of it had to be actual fat being lost. This success gave me momentum and inspiration to continue, despite still not believing that HCG worked at all at this point. The vicious attacks from my friends when I said I was going to quit also helped.
-The second week was decidedly easy. There were 3 or 4 prolonged cravings throughout the week; where for a few hours I was wanting the old foods I used to enjoy. These were purely emotional in my opinion. Separation anxiety from my former addiction.
-By the end of the second week I was under 300 lbs (299.8 on Day 14). I was completely shocked. Even though I still didn’t believe HCG worked at all, it had gotten me down to a weight that I hadn’t seen in a few years (under 300). It was very emotional seeing the scale that day. I shared the result on Facebook and a lot of my friends said really nice things, that made me feel like continuing.
My skin was also improving and clearing up really rapidly. Everything felt softer and smoother. Some persistent skin irritations that I’d had on my fattest bits had cleared up completely. Some stretch marks became much less visible. I was sleeping better. Putting on socks was no longer the worst part of my day. I had energy again. Things felt really good. This made continuing relatively easy.
-On Day 16 I hit my first screw up. I stayed out all night playing poker at the Venetian and drank copious amounts of coffee and espresso. I didn’t violate on calories but I did on a proper nights sleep. The next day I woke up at the same wait and was bummed. I suspect inflammation from having stayed awake so long was the culprit of the lack of weight loss. So I just stuck to the diet, drank extra water and took it easy on day 17.
-On day 18 I was down another .6 lbs. On day 19 an additional .8. Things were back on track.
-On day 20 things went horribly awry. Here were my notes, ” Sleep schedule has been off (woke up at 12:30am today). It could be that 12:30am wasn’t long enough for all of my overnight weight to drop off and this is still somewhat representative of my daytime weight yesterday. Either way, it’s causing some dismay and doubt and I’m going to do an “apple day” with offensive amounts of water being consumed today.” I didn’t actually do the apple day. I just had two protein shakes.
-Day 21: I was super bummed, but as I said. Violations seemed to reverberate for a few days into the future, not just the next day.
-Day 22. Down a pound, but still higher than I was on 18-19 which is a bit of a bummer. I consider quitting. My friend talks me out of it.
-Day 23: I had planned to quit, in spite of what my friend said, but then 3 pounds had vanished in a day and I was feeling great again. I decide to continue for the final week.
-Day 24 I had my first food related violation. I ordered some food that was cooked in fat and enjoyed eating every bite of it (on accident, at first). No regrets. Except consuming fat for the first time in almost a month caused some very strange bowel reactions almost immediately.
-Day 25-27: No Christmas dinner. No candies. No Christmas cookie. I had a few too many calories on Christmas eve. But I’d planned on quitting because of my last violation and then didn’t. I spent Christmas Day mostly alone. I didn’t want to go anywhere and see people enjoying food. I was pouty. But I’d decided to grind out the last couple of days, just to feel a sense of accomplishment for completing the full regimen (and using up my supply of HCG).
Day 28-29: I did an exceptionally high amount of physical activity on these days compared to what I had been doing. I suspect that resulted in some inflammation, which seemed to stall the scale temporarily a few times throughout the protocol.
On day 30, the weight had vanished and I was at 290. Finished strong. Pretty effin stoked.
My standard meal was chicken and portobello mushrooms all month. With either hot sauce or mustard. (supplied by the great folks at Greens & Proteins on Eastern Ave in Las Vegas and occasionally the one on Flamingo when I was in that part of town)
If not G&P, I’d have a protein shake. I like Optimum Nutrition – 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Protein Vanilla – 2 lbs. because it doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners.
That reminds me…
I also didn’t consume any artificial sweeteners for the majority of this past month (except the very small amount in the protein powder I was using before I found the above product). Even though they are technically allowed on the diet. For the first 2 weeks I consumed none. And then I had a diet coke with Splenda at a friends house. Shortly thereafter my stomach was noticeably upset. This led me to think, “Oh my. Maybe all those doctors and researchers that say artificial sweeteners are very bad for you were onto something.” So I’ll probably continue to not consume artificial sweeteners. Although, I plan on testing this further with isolated consumption of Sucralose to see if the effects are consistent for me.
Does HCG Work?
It really seemed to for me. I was actually, seriously, not hungry for the majority of the time after the first few days (once I was in ketosis). The days I followed the protocol exactly I had plenty of energy, a clear mind, clear skin, and no real sense of loss regarding the food. Had I continued being hungry in week 2 I would have quit.
The “not hungry” bit is what seems to matter to me. It seemed to indicate to my brain that the HCG was working as advertised, and the scale was backing it up. I had criticized my friends about the protocol before by saying, “OF COURSE you WILL lose weight if you only eat 500 calories per day dummy! It’s called starvation dieting.” I didn’t sense any starvation while on HCG.
After the few days of getting into ketosis and used to the diet any hunger I felt throughout the day was either right around the time I was supposed to eat a meal for the protocol or easily recognized as an emotional craving for food.
I was a very serious emotional eater before HCG. So that was the most difficult part. It felt like part of my life was missing. One of my tools for survival (coping negative emotions via food) was no longer at my disposal. It was scary.
As a result I spent the time thinking a lot about food and my relationship with it. The good & the bad. What I might like to do in the future. By the 3rd week my cravings had pretty much dissipated. On the 25th day i was planning to break the protocol, was at a restaurant with plenty of options to do so, and none of them seemed appetizing enough for me to justify breaking. So I didn’t. I think that was the moment I overcame emotional eating.
I really had to confront the feelings that came up during the past month, I didn’t have any mechanism to cope besides looking them right in the face. Having gone through it I feel like my relationship to food has changed, very much for the better.
I had zero expectation of completing the 30 days when I started. I did not honestly believe I was capable of it. I’m glad I was wrong.
My neck size has gone from a 20, to an 18 in 30 days. My actual waist went from 58″ to 54″. Everything else (except my penis) shrunk also.
The cycle off for HCG is 3 days of continuing the 500 calorie diet (until the HCG is out of my system) followed by 3 weeks of eating no sugars or starches and ensuring that you don’t gain more than 2 lbs from your ending weight. No carbs basically. But I get to eat a nice fatty piece of beef Friday, so that’ll be fun.
My plan is to lose another 106.8 lbs this year. This isn’t a new years resolution (it happens to be January 1, 2015 right now). It’s just what I’m going to do. That’s 8.9 lbs per month.
Plan A is to not do HCG again. Despite how easy it was, it did really suck. So my first option is to follow the Slow Carb Diet and continue with the other healthy lifestyle options I’ve added this month (walking a lot). I’ll be checking my weight at the end of each month.
If I get severely off track I’ll do another cycle of HCG (without deviating next time at all). I might do it again anyways, just to collect more data. And because every 30 days on HCG gives me 3 other months to just maintain weight this year. Which is a nice thought.
Another consideration. I went from as bad as a diet can be (high carb/high fat, lots of processed foods) to the rigidly clean HCG diet (no gluten, no sugar, almost no carbs, deep ketosis). One extreme to the other. I’m curious if going from a healthy diet (slow carb) onto HCG will have any effect.
That hypothesis would be that my success on HCG was aided by the extreme change from such a poor diet, by cutting out ALL bad foods abruptly for an entire month. I don’t know if that’s true. I definitely think that played a part in the fringe benefits of better skin though.
If going from a healthy diet onto HCG produces similar results next time that would be, in my mind, improved support for it’s efficacy. If results are slower, I’m not sure what that would mean :).
I’m feeling very confident, comfortable, and stable. I just had the best year of my life.
Would I Recommend HCG To Other People?
No way Jose!
How come? Because I’m not in the business of recommending diets to anyone. I’m still very fat and I wouldn’t like the irony of the whole thing. My individual subjective experience provides anecdotal evidence at best.
Also, if HCG does work. I don’t really understand how. So I couldn’t possibly predict any side effects that one might have or how to deal with them.
I also don’t know how to get HCG. I got it from a friend that has a knack for sourcing hard to get things and happens to be an advocate of HCG. But he/she won’t get it for you, he/she doesn’t even know you. And he/she did it for me as a huge favor because they are an awesome friend. That source doesn’t scale to other people.
So recommending it would lead to people asking me questions that I just don’t think I could answer very well.
It’s also such a strict and rigid protocol that I have to imagine the adherence rate over a larger sample size would be extremely low. I really only stuck to it because my entire social group was pushing me really hard to stick to it. Without that support I wouldn’t have made it through day 3.
All that being said. You probably don’t care if I’d recommend it or not. So if you were going to do it anyways, this is the direction I’d point you in.
#1. Read these: Fully.
–Pounds and Inches (the original HCG protocol by Dr. A.T.W Simeons)
–This ebook. Which has some modern updates and additional research. I just checked out the accompanying site for the first time (the ebook was sent to me by a friend). It looks like an OK, if horribly designed, resource.
#2. Figure out how to get HCG.
WARNING: Most of what you find online, or in health food stores, or supplement stores is “homeopathic HCG”. Another term for this is water. Don’t buy it, it doesn’t work. You can’t buy real HCG over the counter in the United States. When you do find it, make sure the quantity of HCG is listed in International Units. I think I had 12,000 IU sublingual tabs which I broke in half and took one in the morning and one at night, as my overseer had instructed me to do.
A. Option #1: Your doctor. Doctors can prescribe HCG. The theory is that most doctors in the U.S won’t prescribe it for fat loss.
Say to them, “Look. I’m doing this with or without your help. If you won’t prescribe it to me, I’ll order it from some shady online pharmacy in India and take whatever they happen to send me.” If they follow the, “First, Do No Harm” ethics, they should oblige. Then you can do the whole thing under a doctors supervision, which is probably smart.
If your traditional MD isn’t up for it, you might try visiting a doctor that advertises themselves as “alternative or natural medicine practitioners.” Integrative physicians probably wouldn’t go for it as Dr. Weil is opposed to HCG for fat loss.
B. Order it from a non-U.S online pharmacy (India is usually a good source). I have no recommendations for one as I’ve never done it, but I know plenty of friends that have. I’m not clear on the legality of it, but I doubt anyone will go to prison for importing a month’s supply of HCG. It can come in a lot of forms, the pellets (I think is what they’re called) worked really well for me. The other option is injections.
Option B will absolutely work (and probably be cheaper) but it’ll take some work on your part to research and find a good option. Non-US online pharmacies are an ever shifting landscape. They are basically like The Pirate Bay but for the pharmaceutical industry. I also hear that a lot of them are fake, so actually do your research if you go this route. I’d talk to a doctor first though if I hadn’t just had them fall into my lap.
Actually I wouldn’t, because I never would have done it if I hadn’t had it forced down my semi-willing throat :).
#3. Do it. Don’t violate the protocol at all (it’s not worth it, trust me). Finish it. Weigh a lot less. Be glad that you’ve been too ashamed to throw away those old pants that are way too small for you, they’ll fit again.
The only caveat in my non-recommendation. Really don’t do it if you only have 25 or less pounds of excess fat to lose. Just grab the 4 Hour Body and follow the slow carb diet as it describes, it’ll get you there. If you have 30+ lbs to lose, then HCG might be a good option.
My results on HCG were awesome. It doesn’t prove anything. I wanted to share the data because sharing data makes the world a better place. Lots of my friends have had similar results (some with 100+ lbs lost). There seems to be something to this whole HCG thing.
Use this information at your own risk and liability. Don’t break the law. Don’t die. Consult your doctor, not some random guy on the internet. Particularly not one that knows almost nothing about health, fat loss, the endocrine system, dieting, etc (which describes me aptly).
It’s just biohacking. Better living through chemistry. Trying things out and letting the data speak for itself. While taking appropriate measures to limit risk.
The claims I read from medical professionals opposed to HCG was basically that it is banal and doesn’t actually do anything. Not that it causes you to have seizures and explode. Banality is an OK risk versus the advertised upside, so I proceeded.
In the end… It didn’t suck.
Happy New Year!