How does losing up to a pound a day before summer sound? It could be a reality with help from the folks at Evolve Medical Associates. This medical spa located on Fairview Road offers your typical Botox, CoolSculpting and other cosmetic services but it’s set apart by offering comprehensive nutrition and wellness plans tailored to your body’s exact needs — right down to your genetic makeup.
Since we’re coming up on swimsuit season, lots of Evolve clients (and Scoop readers!) are focusing on slimming down. We sat down with our new clients Dr. Sarah Yousuff and Dietitian Aaron Chacon to talk about a revolutionary diet plan involving Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) injections. But don’t get squeamish about the pricks until you hear the payoff: Aaron said it’s common for clients on the HCG Diet to lose between eight and 10 percent of their body fat in 26 days. Here’s what you need to know:
How does it work?
The HCG diet isn’t new. A British endocrinologist discovered in the 1950s that pregnant women on a calorie-deprived diet still had healthy babies. He figured out HCG was re-programming the hypothalamus gland (the part of the brain that deals with hormones) to tell the body to utilize fat instead of protein (muscle) to protect the developing fetus. He soon discovered men and non-pregnant women given regularly timed small doses of HCG combined with a very low-calorie diet would have the same effect.
In short, HCG tells your brain to release your stubborn stored body fat, and that release is triggered by a very low-calorie diet. You can only eat 500 calories a day while you’re on the HCG diet plan, but since the hormone will tell your body to release between 1,500 and 4,000 calories of stored fat as energy, you won’t be excessively hungry, tired or irritable. Your body also won’t be starving itself like in other very low calorie diets because it’s fed in part by those stored calories.
The 26-day program has three phases:
Phase 1: Detox (optional but highly recommended)
Aaron says keeping your liver healthy is a vital (yet often overlooked) piece of the weight-loss puzzle since your liver is where fat is metabolized. The detox phase will keep your liver working like a well-oiled machine that can keep up with the demand of processing the crazy amount of fat that will be metabolized while on HCG. Aaron says the week-long detox kit includes a powder that can be made into a shake, a liver-specific multivitamin-type supplement and a pill form of group of plant-based nutrients called phytochemicals. While you’re detoxing, Aaron suggests eating similarly to the way you’ll be eating while on the HCG diet, but don’t stress about calories just yet. He suggests emphasizing lean proteins: chicken breast, egg whites, any fish that is white; lots of vegetables (specifically green in color); healthy fats: avocado, coconut and olive oils, almonds, etc. Aaron says the detox phase is also a great time to learn to distinguish between proteins, fats and carbs.
Phase 2: Injections and very low-calorie diet
It starts with a bad news/good news scenario. The bad news is you’ll have to start injecting yourself with HCG once a day if you’re doing the 26-day program (or six times a week if you’re on the 43-day program). Don’t worry, Aaron says an Evolve Medical nurse will teach you how to do it and supervise you as you administer the first injection. Then comes the good news: you get to “fat load” for two days, focusing on healthy fats like steaks, wild-caught salmon, whole eggs, avocado, mixed nuts and butters, coconut and macadamia nut oils and the like. Aaron will help you plan those two days to make sure you’re loading up with the right kinds of fats. Starting on Day 3 and lasting until Day 23, you’ll continue the injections and begin your 500-calorie diet. These aren’t just 500 calories of whatever you want to eat, though. Evolve staff will provide a very, very specific list of permitted foods, and no substitutions are allowed. For example, you may have only one fruit per meal (only apples, oranges, strawberries and grapefruits are allowed) and can’t repeat it during the same day.
Phase 3: Maintenance
On Day 24 you’ll stop your injections but continue the very low-calorie diet for 72 more hours while the HCG clears your system. At this point, you’ll be able to increase to 1,500 calories per day (starting with mostly protein for the first couple of weeks), but still should avoid sugars and starches. You’ll need to weigh yourself every morning to make sure your weight is within two pounds of your weight on the last day of injections. Any heavier and you’ll need to call or email Aaron right away to make sure he can help you get back on track quickly. Evolve Medical staff will be available for support for the next six weeks as you work to maintain your weight.
- Q: Wouldn’t I lose the same amount of weight eating a very low-calorie diet without HCG?
A: You can lose weight that way, but because your body stores fat during times of deprivation, you’d most likely lose muscle before fat.
- Q: Can I use an IUD or oral contraceptives while on the HCG Diet?
A: The doctors at Evolve recommend using natural family planning or condoms instead of oral contraceptives because they might cause weight gain in some patients. You can’t start the HCG diet if you have an IUD.
- Q: What’s the long-term success rate?
A: It’s important to remember that the HCG diet is the beginning of a lifestyle change. Evolve’s experts have found that many patients who start the HCG diet lose their junk food cravings and tend to make permanent positive changes in their eating habits. It can be tough to change ingrained eating habits, but the HCG diet is a jump-start and Evolve’s staff will also be there to support you along the way.
- Q: Will HCG injections make me more fertile?
A: The very low dose used for weight loss won’t cause you to be more fertile. BUT! Too much body fat can keep some women from pregnancy success. For those women, losing weight can increase their chances of getting pregnant, with fertility increasing with every five pounds they lose. Basically the HCG diet could indirectly make you more fertile (since you’ll be losing weight), so you should take the necessary precautions.
- Q: Are there side effects?
A: Side effects are rare but could include menstrual irregularities and breast tenderness.
Want more info? Visit Evolvemetoday.com.
Evolve Medical Associates is a wellness, med spa and cosmetic dermatology center located at 5821 Fairview Road in South Park, near Barclay Downs Drive. You can find them on Facebook HERE . Drs. Sudy and Youssuf offer a wide range of cosmetic, body contouring, vein, laser and wellness procedures, in addition to their “HCG Diet Done Right” program.