Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The 500 Calorie Diet and HCG - What you need to know

There are hundreds of diets out there promising fast, easy results. Some of these diets are based on point systems while others focus on eating alot of one certain food that will help facilitate weight loss. Recently, we have been seeing more and more diets based on severe calorie restriction. These diets can have serious risks.

Very low calorie diets (VLCD), diets where the individual consumes under 800 calories a day, have been used to jump start weight loss for individuals with a high Body Mass Index (BMI). The Weight Control Info Network, part of the National Institute of Health, suggests that only those who are obese, with a BMI of 30 or more should consider using these diets (candidates need to also have a high body fat percentage), and then only under medical supervision. The goal of these diets is to help individuals lose weight rapidly while also adding physical activity and nutrition guidance. These programs typically last from 4-16 weeks with an average weight loss of 3-5 pounds a week.

The 500 calorie diet is a popular VLCD that is being promoted for its ability to help individuals drop weight fast without exercise. The human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone is being added to these diets as a proposed way to capitalize on the calorie deficiency. HCG is a hormone that supports the normal development of an egg in the woman’s ovary. It is often used as a fertility treatment for those who are trying to conceive.

Some companies claim that severely restricting caloric intake along with taking the HCG hormone tricks the body into thinking it is pregnant. Because it is not getting enough calories through food, it begins to feed off the body’s fat for nutrients and fuel. Others claim that the HCG makes the dieter feel fuller therefore helping them stay on the 500 calorie diet. According the the Mayo Clinic, there have been no studies that prove these claims. Facts and Comparisons states that HCG has no known effect on fat mobilization, appetite or sense of hunger, or body fat distribution.

VLCD can cause the individual to feel a loss of energy and be fatigued. Other less serious side effects include constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. Some people experience serious side effects such as gallstones when they drop weight quickly. Adding HCG injections to the restricted diet can cause a number of side effects including blood clots, headache, depression, irritability, swelling, and pain at the injection site. These diets are not suitable for children or teens and can also have an effect on pre-existing medical conditions.

For athletes, HCG is banned by all organizations under the peptide hormone and analogue class. This hormone will cause a positive drug test. The use of this hormone for weight loss is NOT recommended by the REC.

For anyone considering either diet option, there are a number of negatives to consider. First of all, rapid weight loss, such as 1-2 pounds a day, is not recommended. A more healthy and realistic goal is 1-2 pounds per week. In the long run, slow weight loss is more sustainable than is rapid weight loss. Also, research shows that those who limit their caloric intake to 400-800 calories a day gain back the weight they lost within six months. Severe dietary restriction is difficult to follow in the long term.

Diets such as these require constant monitoring as the reduction of calories makes the sources of the calories even more essential. The foods ingested must contain the needed vitamins and minerals along with a good ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Just randomly cutting calories can deprive the body of needed nutrients and fuels, especially for those who are also physically active.

Restriction can also affect metabolism in a negative way, putting the body into starvation mode and causing it to slow down its metabolism. This may also cause the body to eat away at the protein in lean muscle tissue to fuel its daily processes.

Before considering VLCD, consult your physician. There are plenty of other more sustainable and less risky ways to gain control over your weight. Next week, we will suggest strategies to help lose weight without severely cutting calories or using weight loss supplements.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I am interested to read next weeks. The difficult part is knowing which calories to intake without putting in to much fat. I am happy with my weight but I want to tone up a bit but I am afraid to put in to much calories and gain fat!