HCG Experiment: Overview and Analysis

Kaffee: “I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!” — from A Few Good Men

Now that the participants have moved on to Stage Four, the overall design of the experiment can be revealed.

Stage One was designed to mimic how the Simeons Protocol is used in the real world. Which is to say, mostly ‘rogue,’ as his followers say. On the HCG forums I’ve visited, it’s clear that people do not often strictly follow Simeons’ protocol as written in Pounds and Inches in any way. For example, take Simeons’ own words about changing the HCG dose:

1: “If the daily dose of HCG is raised to 200 or more units daily its action often appears to be reversed, possibly because larger doses evoke diencephalic counter-regulations.”

2: “Of such a solution 0.25 cc. contain the 125 I.U. which is the standard dose for all cases and which should never be exceeded.”

Despite this clear warning, so-called ‘Simeons Experts’ on these forums still insist that “Hunger is dose dependent. If you’re hungry, you need to adjust the dose.” And an “adjustment” could mean taking less — or it could mean taking more. Given what we now know about HCG’s adipogenic nature (and what we still do not know about the long-term effects of a pregnancy hormone on the bodies of non-pregnant women and men), this is not only sad, it’s dangerous. It’s nothing less than non-doctors advising people they do not know and whose lab results they never see, to inject a possible overdose of a prescription drug. Yet they continue to blithely and incorrectly ‘counsel’ forum members as if everyone who takes HCG has the same metabolic problems or needs.

And that’s just the people who inject HCG, a smaller proportion of those who use homeopathic drops. The good news for them is that the amount of the drug is so small, new fat cell creation is also likely to be small. Otherwise, the drops do the same thing as the injections in terms of ‘fat liberation and loss of hunger’: nada.

When it comes to food consumption, it appears that few Simeons followers eat precisely as he described either. Since Simeons does not tell participants to measure or quantify the vegetables they eat, the protocol cannot be classified as a”500 calories” diet, but is actually 500+ calories. Even so, many people eat forbidden fat, different foods, more or less protein and certainly many more calories per day. Yet they too, some of them, lose weight without hunger. Many more struggle dreadfully with hunger and experience very slow or no weight loss, and quite a bit of lean muscle mass loss as well.

Simeons could have dunked his clients into a pool before starting his regime and after, to measure true fat vs. lean mass loss, but he chose not to and I’m not surprised. Given the insulin resistance of his clients and his insistence that they eat two fruits a day, there was likely quite an increase in unseen visceral fat, the most dangerous kind. You can be quite skinny, let alone thin, and have a lot of visceral fat surrounding your heart and other internal organs. He didn’t know about, nor measure for NAFLD (non-alcoholic liver disease) but given the high level of fructose consumed in relation to the low calories, my guess is that there would have been quite a bit of that, too.

The participants in our experiment have different levels and flavors of insulin resistance. Given the First Law of Losing (To the extent you are insulin resistant is the extent to which any given diet plan will work or not work for you, regardless of its rules), I expected that some participants would struggle with weight loss and hunger more than others. I predicted that HCG would do nothing whatsoever to change this, and I was correct on both counts. Those participants who were least insulin resistant would lose the most and have the least hunger. Those who were most insulin resistant would lose the least weight and have the most hunger. That turned out to be correct as well.

Hunger is defined not just by the deep desire to eat (which comes from Ghrelin: a hormone produced mainly by the cells that line the human stomach and by the pancreatic epsilon cells that stimulates hunger), but also by unwanted thoughts of food, and cravings.

Given the excessively low caloric consumption of every Simeons’ follower (always far less than the very low calories considered to be “starvation level” by the scientific community), it is not surprising that even the most insulin resistant among them do not usually suffer ravaging hunger 24/7 (the ones who do tend to drop out). This is because although lipolysis (fat burning) may be slowed or prevented by the high or even continual presence of insulin, ketosis is almost always present to some degree in the face of severe caloric restriction.

Ketosis is nature’s answer to starvation, because the brain must have some glucose to operate. If you’re not consuming glucose, the body must get it from somewhere. It will convert protein into glucose via gluconeogenesis, but if you’re eating insufficient protein for that  glucose comes mainly from one place, and that is from the body’s protein reservoir: muscle.

A brief description of ketosis is: Ketones are incompletely burned carbon fragments, called Ketoacids. Ketoacids are short: four carbons long, and thus can penetrate cells to feed them when there is no glucose present. Adipose fat cells accumulate fat as long fatty acids, usually difficult to break down because they’re so long. When the body must use its fat stores for energy fat cells begin to release the long fatty acids into the blood. To be used as fuel, particularly by the brain, the fatty acids go to the liver where they are literally cut into two carbon fragments (ketoacids) and converted to ATP. The ATP is utilized (burned) by many tissues, including the brain. The leftover incompletely burned fragments are called ketones, and they are what spill into the urine to be swept from the body.

The more ketone-adapted your body becomes, however, the fewer incompletely burned fragments you will have leftover to be eliminated in urine. Nor will you usually have “ketosis breath” since those fragments are in the form of acetone, which can manifest in your breath.

But most importantly of all, because ketosis is nature’s own appetite suppressant in starvation: the deeper in ketosis you are, the less hungry you are.

How does the nutrient composition of Simeons’ protocol affect ketosis? Because there is quite a bit of glucose in via the fruit. With sufficient glucose to feed the brain, ketosis even in starvation may not be needed.

How does being insulin resistant affect ketosis? To the extent that in IR, even limited amounts of ingested protein can and will be converted to glucose, ketosis even in starvation may only be lightly needed or not at all. And if this is the case — you will be hungry, because lipolysis does not occur (and remember, lipolysis opens the fat cells, allowing the fat to be burned for fuel and making your body believe you’ve consumed many more calories than you have) — and because ketosis will not heavily occur either.

Why haven’t all our participants had dark purple on their ketostix? To the extent they are insulin resistant and eat protein and fruit, ketosis even in starvation may only be lightly needed or not at all. Hence the ‘negative’ and ‘trace’ numbers from our most insulin resistant participants.

One question to be answered later: is long-term ketosis in terms of weight-loss a good thing, or a bad thing?

In sum: Stage One not only showed how participants actually “did” Simeons’ Protocol, but that it worked well or not according to their individual insulin resistances. Check.

Stage Two was designed to show that despite Simeons’ (untested and unproven) theory that in all cases where an HCG dose equals 125 I.U. the drug will “transition abnormal fat, and while in transition HCG will open the fat cells to liberate the fat, which will be burned as fuel as if the patient ate many more calories. Hence, even while eating a very low-calorie diet, there will be no hunger” — is false.

True fat liberation is dependent not on HCG, but on lipolysis, which can only take place in the absence of insulin. Increase insulin and to the extent you are insulin resistant you will decrease lipolysis, and hunger will follow. Weight loss may or may not ensue, given starvation level calories, depending upon your level of IR. The more insulin resistant you are, the more likely it is that you are “losing” muscle mass rather than fat. And what increases insulin production even faster than fruit, especially in the insulin resistant? Sugar.

So in Stage Two, participants were told to continue their HCG, to continue to eat 500 calories (which, in the case of those who ate a bit more, was still starvation level), yet to eat 250 of those calories in the form of low-fat or fat-free sugar. They could eat candy, cookies, ice-cream, doughnuts, pastries and regular sodas. If Simeons’ theory was incorrect and mine was correct, to the extent participants were insulin resistant would be the extent to which their blood glucose would rise (the glucose meters proved this), their weight loss would cease (or even increase), the color on the ketostix would lessen or disappear (deep ketosis happens only when there is insufficient glucose in the blood), and they would be hungry. Which is precisely what happened. HCG was powerless to prevent any of this, since HCG does nothing whatsoever to fat (and thus, hunger) unless you suffer from Froelich’s Syndrome.

Had Stage Two gone on for several weeks, all participants would have gained weight and suffered from terrible hunger (with no ketosis to abate it), but this experiment was only designed to prove various points, not make participants suffer. And the point that Simeons’ only works for many people not because of HCG, but because of the composition (very low carbohydrate) of the diet — change the composition and you change the results — was made. And it answered Simeons’ bewildered “I don’t know the answer” question as to why such a huge proportion of patients (30-40% — nearly half!) failed completely on this diet. Those patients must have been the most insulin resistant, and many of them may well have had PCOS and/or hyperinsulinimea, made worse by the the diet’s composition.

Any reader doubting this can easily try Stage Two for themselves after first getting a fasting glucose and fasting insulin test done, and obtaining a blood glucose meter.

This stage also explains why some HCG users state that they’ve tried, without success, to follow Atkins. Given all the fat they ate they didn’t really suffer from hunger, but many did not lose weight. Or lost very slowly for a while and then stopped. Atkins is relatively high in protein, which, in the case of the insulin resistant, turns to glucose just as surely as if they’d eaten sugar. Furthermore, this stage also explains why HCG users state that they’d tried other VLCD before without HCG and were so hungry they couldn’t stay with it. Most VLCD’s become very low-calorie by eliminating fat, yes … but also by allowing a lot of sugar in the form of shakes, bars, fat-free but sugar-filled foods, etc.

Simeons eliminates those foods, so to the extent that you are not insulin resistant, lipolysis and ketosis will take place, causing fat loss and thus lack of hunger.

However, to the extent that you are insulin resistant, of course you will be hungry if you eat sugar. High (and especially spiked) insulin levels mean that blood glucose, though also high at first (during the two Post-Prandial hours after a meal), will drop dramatically as the insulin wipes all the sugar from the blood stream and blood sugar drops. When that happens the brain immediately sends signals for the hormone ghrelin to be created, which sends you hunger signals, which satisfies the brain that more fuel intake is on the way.

Stage Three was simply designed to get even our most insulin resistant participants stabilized in terms of blood glucose readings and hunger.

Parts I, II, III and IV in this series clearly demonstrated, using Simeons’ own words, logic and science, that HCG is neither “necessary nor sufficient” to explain why many Simeons’ patients and current followers lost a lot of weight/fat without hunger. And the series has shown that the biological process of lipolysis — the one and only true “fat liberator” — is necessary to meet both Simeons’ conditions: loss of weight/fat  without hunger. But is lipolysis also sufficient to meet both conditions? Is lipolysis the only thing that is required to open adipose fat cells, release the fat, burn it for fuel, and allow rapid weight loss to occur on a VLCD without hunger?

Stage Four was designed to show us whether or not this is true.

Here’s something about insulin resistance that hasn’t been mentioned so far: the consumption of saturated fat, especially when eaten with whatever carbohydrates are consumed, helps reduce insulin spikes (the most dangerous kind of high insulin, because if over 140 it begins to damage organs), helps to make insulin more efficient in dealing with ingested carbohydrates, helps to lower blood glucose, and helps to alleviate hunger. That’s a pretty powerful tool in an IR and overweight person’s arsenal.

How does fat work to accomplish so much? Let’s say you’re in a cold cabin in the woods that has a fireplace. You fill it with an enormous mass of crumpled newspapers and sure enough when you light the match the entire mass is set ablaze. The problem is it’s all light and no heat, and it’s gone in minutes. Trying to light a thick log on fire is a lot harder, but once you get it going it will burn for hours, giving off a little light but a lot of heat.

Carbohydrates are the newspapers: depending on their composition, the body converts them to glucose fast or faster and consumes them just as quickly. It really is like giving candy to a baby. Fats are harder to convert to fuel. It takes longer and it consumes many more calories to get it to the point where it can be burned.

But that fat does more; when you eat sufficient amounts of it with your carbohydrates, it actually slows down the rate of carb conversion to glucose. Which slows down the rate of insulin production. Which prevents spikes and stabilizes your blood sugar system, so that each meal takes a lot longer to be digested — which keeps you from receiving ghrelin signals — which keeps you from being hungry between meals. Which has the added benefit of allowing you to go longer between meals, which keeps insulin low, which promotes longer lipolysis, which burns more adipose fat. Nice.

And yet, in our insane fat-phobic society (around when Simeons’ was practicing), fat is the first thing that’s removed from diets. That’s nice too, if you define nice as crazy as a loon, and I’m sure I’ve just insulted loons.

Dr. Jan Kwasniewski from Poland, originator of the Optimal Diet, knew this. Atkins, who was very familiar with Kwasniewski’s work, also knew this and fed his cardiac patients a very high fat diet, though that part of it got unfortunately tempered in Atkins’ first book.

But Kwasniewski, whose goal was to create the healthiest diet a human can eat, also realized something Atkins did not (or discarded since at the time it was clinically unproven): excess protein is, like carbohydrates, also converted to glucose. If you are insulin resistant, this is a problem, and if you are fat, you are insulin resistant.

Thus, even though his excess protein theory (like his “not all carbs are the same; starch is better than sugar” theory) would not be proven correct for many decades after he created it, he came up with a formula to determine how much/how little animal protein a person truly needs to eat, based on mass. And in deciding how many carbohydrates should properly fit into this formula, he took into consideration not only mass, but over-fat/insulin resistance. And something more: ketosis.

Dr. K knew that someone eating fat to “satiety” would never be hungry, especially since all the patients in his clinics are fed 2000 calories a day, regardless of IR or diabetes. So ketosis certainly wouldn’t be necessary for abating hunger. No starvation there. However, his deep studies on obesity showed him that, like excess protein, deep ketosis put an enormous strain on the liver. And, as Robert Atkins discovered, when you eliminate carbs (glucose) and force the body via the liver (which manipulates all the metabolic functions, including thyroid hormones) to create it via gluconeogenesis — and you do this for an extended period — hypothyroidism in the form of thyroid hormone resistance commences.

Once Atkins began to see this pattern in his patients he sought advice from thyroid specialists but the advice he got was: ramp up carbohydrates. Which advice he took, in the form of his OWL steps, but which of course has often been ignored by his followers, who sometimes stay on Induction for months if not years. After all, if really low carbs are better than lots of carbs (little distinction is made between starch and sugar, or non-grain and grain carbs), then really low carbs must be the perfect way to eat!

What Dr. K stated and practiced: eat just enough carbs to stay out of heavy ketosis — has been echoed by every sane doctor and obesity researcher, from Wolfgang Lutz to John Yudkin to Barry Groves to Gary Taubes. Peter at Hyperlipid has a brief discussion on this too: http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2009/11/brief-discussion-of-ketosis.html

So, the ideal weight loss formula for the insulin resistant would be: lots of saturated fat and limited protein, with just enough carbohydrates to stay out of trouble.

But what about calories? The Optimal Diet is very high in calories, and while it will get you and keep you in tip-top health (for more reasons than can be gone into here), and is absolutely perfect for keeping whatever weight you have lost off for the rest of your life, many people have had trouble losing a lot of weight on it. Sure, those who come from failed Atkins attempts lose a lot at first just by cutting down the protein and adding much more fat than they’re used to eating (because protein is also satiating, so folks on Atkins tend to eat much more protein than on OD, and less fat). But loss tends to slow down dramatically or even stop. I lost a lot of weight on the OD, but never, ever more than by half a pound a week after the first month or so.

The Atkins diet is also high in calories, and has the added problem of excess protein for the insulin resistant since different flavors of IR (especially PCOS) are never taken into account. Which is why men on Atkins tend to lose quickly and steadily, no matter how much weight they need to lose.

As you know by now, I’m a firm believer that CICO is less a valid theory and more a lunatic’s fantasy. And VLCD’s, especially long-term, do nothing but bludgeon the body into submission in the short run while creating major health and metabolic problems in the long run. But by synthesizing Simeons’, Atkins and Kwasniewski theories, could a reduced calorie protocol be devised that, for the short-term — two to three weeks at most — metabolically mimic the way of eating that our ancient ancestors practiced and thus kick our insulin resistant metabolic behinds into gear again?

After all, those ancestors didn’t have three square meals a day delivered by Pizza Hut. They often went a week or longer without prey going by. And when it did they often had to hunt it to exhaustion for many more days, and then drag a mega-ton beast back to camp. There were many, many days when calories were very few. That’s when ketosis-lipolysis kicked in, to use any adipose reserves (put there by evolutions’ having hard-wired a sweet tooth into us for just that purpose) so that the brain could function at high levels without sacrificing the muscles that would be needed for the hunt.

Would such a diet (which would have protein amounts calculated for each participant’s mass) promote lipolysis? Would lipolysis then be shown to be “sufficient” to cause fat liberation, fat burn and therefore rapid weight/fat loss — without hunger, despite the lack of HCG and many calories? Given what we now know about the importance of dietary fat for teeth, bone, and cardiovascular maintenance, and even for the proper absorption of fat-soluble essential vitamins and minerals, such a diet would be far saner and healthier than Simeons’ — and when you add in the benefit of not having to inject an adipogenic hormone, such a diet would help to heal the metabolism, not continue to harm it.

And isn’t that the real point (or at least it should be) of changing how one eats? To become healthier, and not just to “lose weight?” You can lose a lot of weight in one day by cutting off your legs, but no one would think of doing that. Yet HCG followers do the equivalent by pounding their bodies into submission with a fat-free, starvation level diet that from what I can see tends to make their insulin resistance worse, no matter how many pounds they lose initially. The body needs fat. A lot of it. It’s what we evolved to eat.

In the short-term, a few weeks perhaps, the release of stored fat (assuming low levels of IR and no hyperinsulinimea) may provide some levels of required fat for the body, but despite Simeons’ unproven (and incorrect) theory that the nutrients originally stored away in adipose cells will come out un-oxidized and in usable shape, this is simply wishful thinking. More than a few weeks at a time (even if we disregard the long-term harm of HCG) of eating this way is unhealthy and will ultimately make the already broken metabolism worse.

This modified protocol however, as I envisioned it, would have to accomplish several things. It would have to promote lipolysis, and thus rapid weight and/or fat loss. Those two terms are not mutually inclusive, because as we’ve seen in the recent NY Times article on a major Liposuction study:

“Obesity researchers say they are not surprised that the women’s fat came back. The body, they say “defends” its fat. If you lose weight, even by dieting, it comes back. And, the study showed, if you suck out the fat with liposuction, even if it’s only a pound, as it was for subjects in the study, it still comes back.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/weekinreview/01kolata.html?ref=health

In other words, when you have a body that one might call “devoted” to maintaining fat because it is so essential to that body’s survival, and then force that body to give up even truly excess fat — it fights back. And the body/brain has many more tools to do that, than we have tools to fight it. Including never, ever permanently letting go of a single fat cell, not even by liposuction, except temporarily. You may empty the fat from those cells, and become quite slim. But the cell itself remains, just waiting to be filled again some day. Which one of the biggest problems with HCG: it promotes the creation of more fat cells, which will also then never be lost and which will sit there, waiting to be filled some day.

One of the first things the body does when lipolysis has taken place over the course of a few weeks, and you’ve lost a fair bit of fat (rather than lean muscle mass) — is to fill up those fat cells with water. Either by volume or by weight; it’s still a mystery as to why the body chooses which way each time. The reason the body does this is to provide a “place-holder” for the fat it hopes will soon return, once you’re rescued from that desert isle.

Sometimes the water is released in a few days, but sometimes the body holds on to it for a month or more. So you’ve lost fat through lipolysis but you get on the scale and you haven’t lost an ounce. In fact, when you are truly in ketosis-lipolysis, sometimes the only way to tell just how much fat you’ve lost is by tossing the scale and grabbing your trusty tape measure. If you’ve lost inches, especially around the middle — you’ve lost adipose fat.

So the modified protocol would have to promote rapid fat (and then weight) loss. It would have to be low-calorie to mimic the lack of food for a week or two, yet abate hunger via lipolysis. It should also help to lessen insulin resistance (unlike Simeons’ protocol as written) and increase insulin sensitivity as measured on a glucose meter. It would have to provide a protein ratio geared to an individual’s mass such that gluconeogenesis would be severely curtailed if not eliminated, also as measured on a glucose meter, and should provide sufficient calories/energy to make the person eating it able to work, play and sleep well. And it should provide just enough non-sugar carbohydrates to stay above deep ketosis.

But even that is not enough. The modified protocol should do all the above for two to three weeks, but after that, when on maintenance (the same formula with increased fat, carbohydrates and calories) — the weight loss must stabilize and remain off within a pound or two.

More: this modified protocol must be so predictable (if followed precisely as written, without going ‘rogue’) that after four to six weeks of stabilization, one can follow it for another few weeks and have the same level of weight/fat loss as before. And be able to do it (protocol/maintenance) over and over again until a healthy weight is reached.

Therefore, the following formula was created and a calorie count made up for each individual participant:

  • No HCG. At all.
  • 50 grams of saturated fat per day for everyone = 450 calories
  • 25 grams of non-sugar carbohydrates (no counting green leafy veggies, just like Simeons) per day for everyone = 100 calories
  • 52 to 64 grams of protein per day for each participant, depending on mass.
  • Calories therefore range from 750 to 798 calories per day.

Will blood glucose levels fall and/or stabilize? Will participants lose weight/fat even while eating fat? Will hunger be abated even better than it was for very insulin resistant participants on HCG? Will participants feel better eating this way than eating the original protocol? Will they be measurably healthier on their next lab tests?

And most especially, will Stage Four show that HCG and a 500-calorie-a-day diet is completely unnecessary for successful, hunger-free weight and fat loss even for the most insulin resistant?

Let’s find out.

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36 Responses to HCG Experiment: Overview and Analysis

  1. Angela Witham says:

    I can’t wait to find out!

  2. Corbow says:

    I’m looking forward to the results. I hope to see some sample days’ meals that reflect that ratio of saturated fat, non-sugar carbs, and protein, too.

  3. kermit says:

    Very interesting! So you’re saying that a person can do this ‘diet’ for 2-3 weeks, and not be committed to a set amount of time like in the ’23 days of hcg’ protocol. If you only wanted to lose 6 or 8 pounds, say, you could lose that in however many days, and then be done, and go to the optimal eating plan. Is this correct?

    • Kermit — I’m saying that no one should do the modified protocol for more than 2 to 3 weeks. The idea isn’t to bludgeon the body into starvation mode (which has terrible consequences down the road, like loss of muscles and drilling your metabolism into the ground), but to instead mimic the hunting/eating patterns of our ancestors, who often had to go a week or two without a lot of food.

      Furthermore, the less you have to lose, the shorter should be the duration, since despite what your scale says, eating this way will never let you go lower than a healthy weight. By this, however, I mean that you will be slim, with very little excess adipose fat — and that should be everyone’s goal, because that will mean they are truly healthy, and not just ‘thin’.

      So with far less excess adipose fat to lose — which means far less fat to come from the cells to be used for fuel — the last thing you want is for your brain to decide you are actually slowing. All it does then is slow your metabolism down so that fat is conserved and lean mass is sacrificed.

      If you have only 6 to 8 pounds to lose, do this protocol (once you have determined your actual protein needs based on mass — which I’ll be covering in Part V) for a week, while closely watching your glucose meter. If you don’t have one, get one; you’ll need it for this stage and maintenance. Then go on maintenance for two weeks at least (that is, for every week following the protocol, you must be on maintenance for at least two weeks).

      Allowing the body to stabilize over many weeks is crucial to keeping the weight off forever. It’s as important as the losing stage. This is for many reasons, including the one I wrote about in the Experiment Overview: the body does not like to lose fat. It zealously guards what is there, and the less you have to lose the more it defends against its loss. So your less full fat cells will fill with water for days or even weeks. By raising fat and calories a lot during maintenance, you assure your brain that loss of food was only temporary, and as you heal your metabolism correct “burn” signals to use all that food as fuel will get better and better. This will also raise your basal metabolic rate, and stop any further loss of lean mass.

      Once your body has resigned itself to less fat — since all seems to be well in your world, food-wise — you can go on to do another week. Etc.

      If you have an enormous amount of fat to lose, you can do two, or even three weeks, maximum — but for each week you do, you must do at least two weeks of maintenance, which means a lot more fat, a bit more carb — but no added protein. So two weeks of protocol means at least a month before the next round. Can you see the logic to this?

      One more point: the reason for the meter during protocol and maintenance is that you will be using it to completely understand, and then influence, your body’s “Burn or Store” decisions. And yes, you can do that. I will show everyone how in Part V. It’s called “Eating To The Meter” and it really works.

      • kermit says:

        Yes, I get what you’re saying. And while I say I may have 6-8 lbs to lose, that’s only a number, and truly, I think I have more visceral fat which I want to get rid of. I’m not married to the scale. I don’t drag it around for everyone to see my ‘number’ so to speak. But I want the guttage gone. I just don’t want to lose any more muscle.

        Thanks

  4. anita formichella says:

    thanks for this-

    I am going to try this – I know I am extremely insulin resistant with PCOS. I gain 3-6 lbs if I eat Ezekial bread- and have struggled to maintain my weight after HCG, even on an almost NO carb diet. So the protein to glucose is interesting. I am planning to try your eating plan as I have gained 7 lbs in 4 weeks not eating ANYTHING with sugar or starch- UGH

  5. Thank you for so much great information!

    I myself have had great success on HCG. I was able to maintain fairly easily IF I followed the diet as written. Unfortunately, do to many reasons, I completely went off the program and went back to my old habits for about 5 months and gained back 25lbs.

    I am currently on HCG again and recently came across your website. All of this makes so much sense. While HCG has worked for me in the past, the science just did not work for me. I attempted HCG few months ago and was miserable and starving to the point of wanting to eat my own arm! The weight loss was there, but I had to stop on day 12 due to out of control hunger. My previous rounds were never like that. Occasional periods of hunger, but that was about it. I am now attempting again. I am on day 8. The first 5 days were good and hunger was ok, but over the last 2 days it is coming more and more throughout the day.

    I am so interested in following the program you are describing it. It answers all of the questions about HCG that just did not make sense. I wish I could switch over to it now, before wasting the rest of my time on the HCG. How soon will you have the information for people to follow the program for themselves? What do yo suggest I do at this point?

    Thanks again for such valuable insight.

    • Jennifer, thanks for writing. It seems pretty clear from what you’ve said here (especially about the hunger), and on your blog, that you are likely very insulin resistant, and perhaps have hyperinsulinimea as well. By following the Simeons protocol as written, you are eating a lot of fruit (in maintenance as well), which because of the high fructose (raises insulin as well as glucose) can only make things worse. The reason for the hunger if this is true comes from a high level of insulin always in your blood, which quickly lowers your blood sugar, which makes you hungry again soon after eating. So you eat more fruit/fructose and start the cycle all over again.

      I also noticed that you say “Local honey is fine and agave nectar is fine” — and I wish that were true but it’s not. If you go to the “Welcome To My World” post and click on “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” video, you’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about the horrors high fructose corn syrup inflicts on the body. The problem is that while HFCS is 55% processed fructose — bad enough — agave nectar contains a whopping 77-90% processed fructose! I hope after watching the video you will remove that recommendation from your blog.

      In the meantime, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stop the hcg, and then after a week get the blood tests listed on this site and a glucose meter that you should use daily once you get the results that show you are, as I suspect, very IR. Without a full diagnosis of where your metabolism is broken, and at what level/s, it will be difficult to heal it, no matter what foods you do or do not eat, and no matter how much you exercise. Which, by the way, is also contributing to your hunger. By exercising so hard, yet providing almost none of the nutrients your body needs to heal and repair itself from the damage that exercise does: sufficient calories, red meat, lots of animal fat — you’re slowly grinding your metabolism into the dust; the opposite of your goal. Of course your body is hanging on and trying to store every morsel you eat! Worse: if the flavor of IR you have is PCOS, then all that exercise you do is simply creating lots of excess cortisol which is turning the excess protein you eat into glucose. Another vicious cycle. No one needs, nor should ever be drinking protein shakes unless they’re an Olympic Athlete just before a competition. Otherwise protein intake (obtained by eating real food, not powders) should be kept to your minimum requirement.

      The reason Lance Armstrong is so thin, for example, isn’t because he races a gazillion miles a day. It’s because he eats about 10,000 calories a day, which is sufficient to let him race and also sufficient to let his body burn what he eats to fuel the exercise. His body knows that it’s okay to burn rather than store that fuel because lots more will be arriving shortly. Gary Taubes says that Armstrong’s metabolism is so healthy that when he eats his brain sends “get up and move” signals — whereas if he, Taubes, ate the same meals his brain would send “go to bed and take a nap” signals. 🙂

      I’m glad you found the science I’ve set forth compelling. I hope it’s enough to get you to understand that one of the reasons you now regain weight so quickly is because the HCG you’ve taken has added new, additional fat cells to your adipose tissue that you will never again lose. You may shrink them, but they’re there, lying in waiting for when you stop starving yourself. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to either starve or be fat. I was so morbidly obese that I too have additional fat cells I’ll never lose … but by learning to eat safely and sanely (described in this blog), I can keep those cells skinny, and me slim.

      And you can do the same. 🙂

  6. Thank you for the fast response.

    Just to clarify the sections you referred to are for when I was in maintenance. And it was funny you talked about “The Bitter Truth” because I posted that very video on my blog awhile back. The honey and agave were something used once in awhile in maintenance, and I actually stopped using the agave once I found out about the HFCS. My weight was pretty stable following that regimen. The problems started when I added back the sugar, processed carbs, etc.
    I really want to solve my issues once and for all. If I go off of the HCG and start the process you mentioned with ordering blood tests etc, what does one do in the meantime? Is there no way to transition to the type of VLCD you are describing instead? I want to continue losing if possible. What should my eating/excercise be if I stop the HCG for now?

    • Jennifer, I know this is hard to hear but no … there’s no one thing you can do now that will be a magic bullet. Your metabolism didn’t break overnight and it won’t heal overnight — and there is no diet or protocol that can be designed for YOU until you first diagnose exactly what’s wrong for you. What I’ve tried to say in my many posts on the blog is that you can often go seriously astray by believing any of the diet books or protocols that insist it’s one size fits all.

      My advice is to stop the over-exercising (once a week is fine), stop taking the hcg, and immediately get a glucose meter and those tests and the results. It only takes about a week after you give blood to get the results, so we’re not talking a month or two. You should have everything, including the meter and strips within a couple of weeks and then you’ll be ready to get to work. And depending on the results of your tests, you may need some pharmacological help in addition to any diet protocol to work. While you’re waiting, start eating less protein (which should be animal protein with the fat; red meat especially), no fruit at all, lots of veggies with fat, and more fat. Animal/saturated type fat, not vegetable oils.

      Glad to hear about the agave! Is it possible for you to remove that recommendation from your blog?

      Please check back once your results are in!

  7. LisaAPB says:

    This might sounds silly, but is butter, cream, & cheese considered animal fats? I’ve noticed on several different blogs they recommend no dairy for the fats? Also, olive oil, avocado and coconut oil… even though they aren’t animal fats, aren’t they considered good fats?

    • Not a silly question at all. When we walk down a supermarket aisle it’s sometimes hard to remember the butter, cream and cheese came from a cow. 🙂 As for different blogs recommending no dairy for fat — without a shred of scientific evidence — I guess that’s in the same category (for me) of blogs recommending that you eat no meat.

      Olive and avocado oils are good, no question — but not as good as coconut oil, which as close to a purely saturated fat as you can get, aside from Palm oil, which is also wonderful. That’s why I’ve recommended eating coconut oil in those posts on the blog that discuss the best fats to eat for health. One warning though: coconut oil is a short-chain fatty acid and isn’t processed by the body in the same way as longer-chain fatty acids. It’s like a hit of pure energy (and butter is similar) — so don’t eat it just before bedtime or you’ll be up at 4 a.m. with thoughts of mopping the kitchen floor — LOL

  8. DrMommyN says:

    Wow- just was referred to your site today. So much to think about. I’m an information junkie, so this is fun for me!

    I’ve lost 65 pounds down to my goal weight of 129 in the last 10 months using HCG (first from my doctor in a gel, then mixed sublingually with internet purchase.) I reached goal in 3 rounds, but my already low thyroid plummeted, causing an insatiable hunger. I gained 22 pounds back eating very low carb (on P3). After my thyroid meds were increased, I did a fourth round, but added in minimal fats (9 grams per meal) to keep my gallbladder working as it gave me some trouble after my third round as well. I still lost as quickly with the fats (22 pounds in 23 days), or maybe BECAUSE of the fats, which I think it your point.

    I was really hoping for that magic “reset” of the hypothalamus, but now I am plagued by constant hunger, and even at goal weight and a size 4 have a lot of belly fat. My doc diagnosed me as hyperinsulinemic (without blood work, just based on where I carried my fat and ANS testing) when I was nearly 200 pounds, but has not mentioned it since losing the weight. I love being thinner, but am concerned about the high level of fat still on my body and the constant hunger and lack of satiety after meals.

    BTW- I am fructose intolerant so did the HCG diet without the apples, onions, and melba. Not sure why I am hungry. I use coconut oil and avocado every day, and to a lesser extent butter, olive oil, sour cream. I’m looking forward to reading more from your site. Fascinating stuff.

  9. I was reading one of your posts about fat in regards to how it would be just about impossible for fat to get thru the epidermis and act as a dietary fat. Is that whole theory nonsense? Should people on HCG be able to use lotions, cosmetics etc, or is there some other reason that it would create a stall? Also, do your test participants have to avoid cosmetics/lotions? And did they have to do the whole “follow the diet for 3 more days without HCG” before starting Stage 4? If I remember Simeons manuscript correctly, I believe it had something to do with making absolutely sure the HCG was out of the system before fats were reintroduced??

    • Yes, the whole theory of not using lotions or certain shampoos is nonsense, mostly done as a sense of ritual that always makes up a percentage of diets like this. Similar to the ‘load days’ in which you eat lots of carbs, gain water weight, stop eating the carbs on day three — and then miraculously lose a lot of weight the first week, which is also mostly water. Makes the paying customers feel good is all, otherwise useless.

      Our participants didn’t load, and certainly are free to use any lotion/cosmetics/shampoos they like. They also didn’t ‘follow the diet for 3 more days without HCG’ — also nonsense. Stage Four began with stopping HCG cold turkey and eating lots of fats that same day. And as you can see if you’ve been following our intrepid participants, they’ve already lost a lot of weight!

  10. Laura says:

    I have 2 more question for you…thanks for your patience!

    1) For the 25 non-sugar carbs, are you counting total carbs or ‘net carbs’ as Atkins used?
    2) Soybean oil (i.e. mayonnaise and Ranch dressing) – do you consider those okay to use since it’s not an animal fat? I’ve read some very negative things about soybean oil, but trying to find mayo and dressings (even an ‘olive oil and vinegar’ dressing I looked at yesterday had soybean oil in the ingredient list).
    Thanks!

    • Laura,

      1: We count total carbs, not ‘net’ carbs.
      2: Soybean oil is basically left-over industrial sludge and I urge you not to eat it. Either make your own mayo and ranch (takes literally about 5 minutes to make either, and I’m posting my fermented mayo recipe here for anyone who wants it. By fermenting the mayo with a bit of yogurt whey (what you get when you drain plain, full-fat yogurt in order to make ‘Greek Yogurt’), it will last a good month at least, assuming you have a cold fridge — as long as a small jar of crappy mayo would last. Most of the time I make my own yogurt, too, which is a snap. 🙂

      Homemade Fermented Mayo

      Unlike regular homemade mayo that only lasts a few days in the fridge, this mayonnaise is slightly fermented and will last for a month or so in the refrigerator. The choice of oil for mayo is crucial. If you don’t use soy or vegetable oils (PUFAs), what’s left?

      I use rice bran oil and/or a combo of rice bran and olive oil, either of which is perfect for mayo. Coconut Oil won’t work because as soon as it gets in the fridge it hardens, and all olive oil provides too much flavor in this case. Mayo should be a behind-the-scenes player, not up front and center.

      This can be made in minutes in a food processor that has a whipping attachment. Or in a blender. Or with a stick blender used in a long narrow container. Or with a standing or hand-held mixer — or even with a whisk, though that takes a bit longer. However you make it — once you’ve had it you will never go back to store-bought.

      TIP: Buy a plastic squeeze bottle that holds 16 ounces and pour your oil into it before making the mayo. It make adding the oil drop by drop — as must be done initially — a breeze. If it’s dishwasher safe, even better.

      ** ALL ingredients must be at room temperature!

      — 2 cups of good oil.
      — 2 egg yolks, preferably pastured
      — 1 tablespoon kosher salt; more to taste.
      — 1 teaspoon of dry mustard or Grey Poupon.
      — Pinch of cayenne or chipotle powder
      — 2 egg yolks, preferably pastured
      — 2 or more tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
      — 1 or more tablespoons of vinegar. I use a mix of plain, rice wine, coconut, and apple cider. Make a mix you enjoy, or use just one.
      — 1 drop of liquid sucralose.
      — 1 or 2 tablespoons of whey from yogurt.

      If you make your own yogurt, save the whey you drain from it when you make ‘yogurt cheese’. If not, buy a small cup of plain unflavored organic yogurt. Pour it into a fine sieve balanced over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning, the whey will be in the bowl and you’ll have delicious ‘yogurt cheese’ in the sieve.

      Directions:

      1: If making in a food processor with a whipping attachment, add both egg yolks, salt, mustard, pinch cayenne or chipotle powder, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
      2: Process until you see an emulsion form, about 10 or 15 seconds.
      3: With the processor running, squeeze in a few drops of oil, drop by drop. Drip in more oil until you see the emulsion ‘taking’ the oil. Then squeeze in the oil in a small stream, not too fast.
      3: After half the oil is in, stop the processor and add another tablespoon of lemon juice. With the processor running, add another half cup of oil, then taste for seasoning. Add salt and/or a bit more vinegar or lemon juice or both, plus the 1 drop of liquid sucralose.
      4: With processor running, add the remaining oil and the whey. Taste for seasoning and thickness of mayo. If it’s too thick, add more lemon juice or even water if you like. The entire process will take less than 10 minutes.
      5: Spoon into a very clean glass jar. Let the jar sit out at room temperature for at least 8 hours, or up to 12 hours. Do NOT put it in the fridge at this point, or the good bacteria in the whey cannot populate the jar.
      6: After 8 hours (or overnight) refrigerate.

  11. Laura says:

    Thanks! I’ll try the homemade!

  12. Yesterday was my first day off of HCG. I got my glucose monitor, and some keto strips.

    This morning I lost .6
    Keto: 60 Large
    FG: 60

    Since I am new to glucose monitoring could you maybe let me know what type of numbers we are shooting for when it comes to FG, 1hr pp, and 2hr pp? Or if you have already posted this somewhere could you please direct me to it? Also, I know you said you want just enough carbs to stay out of deep ketosis. Should I up the carbs a little until this happens?

    Even though I did not take HCG, it was still in my system. Can’t believe I ate all the fats and used my face and body lotions and still lost great 🙂

    • Jennifer,

      Good for you for getting off HCG and obtaining a glucose monitor. It will become a window into your metabolism to let you see what is going on, but later, will let you begin to manipulate and control it.

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to understand what your particular glucose numbers mean without also knowing your level of fasting insulin. If your fasting insulin level is also low, then low BG numbers are good. However, if your fasting insulin level is higher than 4 — those low numbers could reflect a degree of hyperinsulinimea, which is not good. If you search the site you’ll not only find more info about this, but a link to a site that has a wealth of information about the condition. But without knowing those numbers, there’s no way to say what “to shoot for”.

      The best thing you can do for yourself now is to get your doctor to do the tests listed on the site — all of them. Then you’ll have a full diagnosis of where your metabolism is broken, and to what degree. That’s the first step in fixing it. Please let us know how you do once you get the test results!

  13. Got the comment on my blog and have encouraged others to let you know what they think would be helpful. I also added direct links to each part of the HCG diet analysis so that is much easier to find the information they are looking for. I am looking forward to the new thread you mentioned, and will post that as well as soon as it is available. Thanks for the info 🙂

  14. Nicole says:

    Ok got the list! I do have a question though. I have PCOS and I’ve been on metformin for 15 or so years (I discovered it when I was diagnosed for infertility and was the first person in my area to be put on it for this use after much persistence on my part). Is that why I am such a good responder to the hcg diet?

    • Nicole,

      The answer is: maybe, or maybe not. It depends on what changes your body has truly undergone with such a brutally low-calorie, very low-fat diet over time. Did you have leptin and fasting insulin and fasting glucose tests before starting HCG as a baseline you can compare with test results now? Did you get dunked in a pool to have your adipose fat and lean muscle mass measured so you can compare to now? Have you become more or less insulin sensitive since starting HCG? How much has metformin played a part in all the above?

      Also, did you follow the Simeons Protocol precisely? Did you eat those two fruits a day? If so, you may have lowered your blood sugars but increased your insulin — a lot — which is not a good thing.

      Without knowing exactly how healthy you really are (internally, as per current metabolic test results) there isn’t any way to answer your very good question definitively, though I will say that in general, metformin helps PCOS folk (like me) make their insulin work much more efficiently.

  15. One question regarding blood tests. I was reading and found some information that said if you have been following a low carb diet under 150g of carbs per day, that you need to go 3 days above the 150g carbs before getting blood work for it to reflect the correct numbers. Do you have any opinion on that? It has now been a week since I came off the HCG, but I have still been very low carb and definitely under the 150g per day. Just wondering if I need to consider that before going to get my blood work??

    • Jen, the test that requires a low-carber to eat high carbs for a few days before taking it is called a Glucose Load Test (GLT), and it is not on my list. The only time I suggest that people take that test, is if they take the fasting insulin and fasting glucose first and the results show high fasting insulin (greater than 4; hyperinsulinemic) — and — such a ‘normal’ fasting glucose that the doctor (which would be most of them) then says: “Nothing to worry about, your glucose level is fine.”

      At that point, the patient is actually on their way to diabetes and needs a meter and lots of test strips, which if they have insurance can be provided for free with a doctor’s prescription. But the Doc will only write that script if he or she sees a ‘number’ that says ‘diabetic’ — and that number can usually be provided by the GLT, which most hyperinsulinemics will fail spectacularly. That’s because despite the high insulin levels in the blood, the insulin will still be insufficient to handle the glucose load of the test.

      Bottom line: feel free to get the tests listed on the Metabolic Blood Tests page whenever you like. 🙂

  16. Nicole says:

    The endo won’t do the leptin part of the blood test. He claims its useless and often not accurate and insurance won’t cover so he wouldn’t order. Ugg.

    • Not surprising, Nicole. Doctors often refuse to order necessary blood tests, because they don’t have enough understanding of hormones or the metabolism to know why the tests are important. Or even how to interpret them properly. That’s why I’ve listed the tests you can order on your own at: https://sugarfreegoodies.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/metabolic-blood-tests-without-prescription — and you can just get the leptin test if you like. It’s less than $75.

      Since you didn’t say otherwise, I’m going to assume that he did order all the other tests, including Free T3, Free T4 and Reverse T3, as well as Fasting Insulin, so that’s good.

  17. Nicole says:

    I think so I had them all listed and I got the head pat treatment, what a jerk! He sent order directly to the lab so I will get list from them.

  18. Sharon says:

    “Stage Three was simply designed to get even our most insulin resistant participants stabilized in terms of blood glucose readings and hunger.”

    I couldn’t find the details of Stage Three. What was the instructions for this stage?

    As for Stage Four, I didn’t see in the instructions that breakfast was not allowed, but all the participants in the experiment seem to not eat it, other than a coffee with or without cream. Is this part of the instructions for Stage Four, or is breakfast allowed if you are really hungry?

    What is the computation to figure out how many grams of protein you should have for your mass, and is the mass lean body weight, or total body weight?

    • Hi, Sharon, thanks for writing. The instructions for Stage Three was to basically return to Stage Two for a few days, to let the horrendous effects of the sugar ebb before going on to Stage Four. Participants were told to continue taking HCG for a few more days, and to follow Simeons’ 500-calorie protocol precisely.

      As for Stage Four, I did mention in my comments/blog that just as Simeons did not allow breakfast on the protocol, neither would we. This gives lipolysis a chance to start and last much longer, since the minute you eat a meal insulin rises and stops the process in its tracks. As for being hungry, aside from the first day (assuming you’re coming from a Standard American Diet — SAD — or a from a diet like Simeons that will make your insulin resistance worse), you shouldn’t be hungry first thing in the morning, since lipolysis usually occurs at night. That’s because there’s such a long time between dinner and your first meal of the day that even if you are very IR, your insulin should be able to subside long enough to let lipolysis begin. And once lipolysis takes place fat is liberated from adipose cells and is burned for fuel, as if you’d eaten hundreds more calories.

      This is precisely the process that Simeons’ describes in P&I — but he attributes it to HCG, and now of course we know that he was really describing another hormonal process altogether, and one that does not require any injections or drops of any kind. As you’ve seen, all our participants but one lost a lot of weight and inches (fat) quickly, without hunger, and while eating 50% more calories than Simeons believed would allow any weight loss at all. In this, as in so many things, he was simply incorrect.

      The “computation” is based not just on mass, but on one’s hormonal resistance/s as diagnosed by the metabolic blood tests I’ve outlined on another article — and thus it is different for each individual. Even the foods allowed each participant, while generic to some degree, are also based on their insulin, leptin and/or thyroid hormone resistances.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  19. andre says:

    Great read, despite not truly understanding everything, the actual effects of the HCG body on me were visible and real.

    I did the HCG when I was 23, not because I needed to lose weight, but I had a few pounds that were impossible to rid of from my stomach area, all to reveal my hard worked six-pack. I lost a lot of weight during the 10 days, and went down to a waist I didn’t have since I was a teenager–I followed the protocol to a tee.

    Unfortunately, years later (I’m 26 now), I have increased fat deposits in my pelvis area, I’m insulin resistant and I often feel like I have some hypothyroidism acting up, despite pretty normal blood work. I still go to the gym regularly, but feel like it’s twice as hard to see results as it once was, in part because of age too. I really want to regain the previous state for my body in one way or another.

    • Andre, I’m glad you’ve found the blog helpful. I would also encourage you to get the “Leptin Panel” tests on the Metabolic Blood Tests page (either from your doctor, or through the link there to use on your own) — because this is a pattern that has become sadly apparent from the blood test results readers have sent me.

      Almost every single person who took hgc in the past either has hyperinsulinemia, or thyroid hormone hypothyroidism, or both. This is terribly frightening. So when you say you have “pretty normal blood work” I’m betting your doc hasn’t actually ordered the right tests needed to correctly diagnose your particular metabolic fat accumulation disorder. The six tests in the Leptin Panel, combined with an A1c, will give you that diagnosis and you can then move on to fix the problem/s. If you have any further questions about this, please let me know!

  20. Jennifer says:

    I am 4 hours away from actually purchasing the hCG diet, but because of these blogs I may choose not too. This has been the most convincing anti-hCG as SugarFree is clearly an educated woman who doesn’t use big words she doesn’t understand. Many of these diet sites, even clinics, spout off words like ketosis not even realizing that is a state many diabetics find dangerous.

    Please email me *concise* info about the diet dangers (something I can show to impatient friends who will not read the blog) and why your plan is better.

    • Jennifer, thank you for the kind words.

      Unfortunately, if I were able to say what I’ve already said in a more concise way, I would have gone back and said it like that. 🙂

      If your friends want convincing, they will need to read the blog and decide for themselves. As for why my Protocol is better — that’s easy. Just skim through the threads of our experiment participants and you (and your friends) will quickly see how quickly they’ve lost not just lots of pounds, but inches. Especially around their middles. And you will see the evidence right there about how much their metabolisms have healed (the main goal of the Protocol), and how they have become less insulin resistant and more insulin sensitive, as evidenced by their ever-better daily blood glucose levels.

      If you read from the beginning of the experiment you’ll also see the irrefutable evidence that hcg does nothing whatsoever. Although by week two or three the participants kept injecting hcg, once they removed 250 NON-insulinemic calories and replaced them with 250 sugar calories, hcg stopped ‘working’ and the participants were ravenous and quickly gained weight, despite eating only 500 calories a day. Proof positive that it’s what you eat (which should be non-insulinemic so that lipolysis — the REAL “active factor” in weight/fat loss — can take place) and not the hcg that causes lack of hunger and adipose fat loss.

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