Thursday, October 27, 2011

The hCG Diet... Caveat emptor!

Let the buyer beware is the English translation of the popular Latin phrase caveat emptor. This is a universal warning for all people who are looking to purchase a good or service. This warning is especially helpful when looking to purchase a product that is associated with weight loss. There are literally hundreds of different products and diets to choose from, everyone claiming that theirs is the best or is based on cutting edge science. One of these diets, which has made a recent resurgence, is the hCG diet. I first became aware of the hCG diet back in early 2010 while attending a seminar. The presenter explained to us how hCG helps with burning fat, increasing the sense of well being and suppressing appetite. He told us how people were losing 10, 20, 30 pounds is a matter of just a few weeks. This of course piqued my interest and I wanted to know more. Everything presented was always a bit vague but just tantalizing enough to leave you wanting more. Of course at the end of his sales pitch, I mean seminar, he wanted you to be a distributor of his hCG product. Being the skeptic I am, especially when it comes to things like this, I decided to research this miracle weight loss product a bit more before committing to anything.

My research into the subject of the hCG diet found that a Dr. Albert T. Simeons first popularized this diet in the 1950’s after publishing a paper titled “Pounds and Inches: A new Approach to Obesity. I won’t go into full detail about his research, but the main points that need to be emphasized are that Dr. Simeons was using what would now be considered pharmaceutical grade hCG that can only be obtained by prescription. The other point of emphasis is that his diet only allowed for a caloric intake of 500 calories per day. This diet was fairly popular even into the mid 1970’s but started to fall out of favor because the research was showing that the hCG had no real effect as was claimed by Dr. Simeons.

Jump to the present, 2011, and now you see a different twist to the hCG diet. Now it is the homeopathic hCG diet. Just a few drops of homeopathic hCG under the tongue and watch the pounds melt away as you live on a 500 calorie diet for 21-40 day depending on how much weight you want to loose. Oh and don’t forget you wont even become hungry on this 500 calorie a day diet because the hCG will suppress your appetite.

So let us ignore for the moment what the research says about taking pharmaceutical grade prescription only hCG and assume pharmaceutical grade hCG works. So, if we assume this, can’t we also assume that homeopathic hCG will a have a similar effect? It’s certainly what the manufacturers of homeopathic hCG want you to think. The only problem is, the amount of hCG that is in your homeopathic formula is next to zero or zero. Homeopathic preparations are so diluted that by the time they are packaged and ready for purchased they contain only trace amounts of hCG or no hCG at all. It is important that the consumer understand this point when purchasing homeopathic hCG. All homeopathic preparations are diluted, some more than others, but all are diluted to the point where the active ingredient is virtually gone. According to homeopathic theory, this diluting process called potentization allows the substance to leave a biochemical imprint on the water molecules so that the medicinal effect remains intact, even in the substance’s virtual absence. For me that is a leap of faith I am unwilling to make. But let us assume the diluting process of homeopathy works and some how the chemical imprint of hCG takes place on the water it is diluted in and even though there is virtually no hCG in the water it some how works just like hCG. Even if this is true, we know from the studies that undiluted hCG that is pharmaceutical grade by prescription only does not work like Dr. Simeons claimed. A study done in 1977 summons this all up quite nicely when it stated, “Injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) have been claimed to aid in weight reduction by reducing hunger, and affecting mood as well as aiding in localized (spot) reduction. We have tested these claims in a double-blind randomized trial using injections of hCG or placebo. Weight loss was identical between the two groups, and there was no evidence for differential effects on hunger, mood or localized body measurements. Placebo injections, therefore, appear to be as effective as HCG in the treatment of obesity.”

So what is the magic in the hCG diet? Why are so many people loosing so much weight on this diet? The answer, as I’m sure you have already come to, is the caloric restriction. Only consuming a diet of 500 calories for even a short period of time is going to cause just about anyone to loose weight. It’s not the hCG! Eat less, maybe not just 500 calories, and exercise more seems to be an over used phrase when it comes to weight loss, but for the majority of us it holds true. So save your money and spend it on something other than hCG and remember “let the buyer beware!”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

All This Counting Makes MY Head Hurt!

The title of this Blog may be what your thinking but trust me it will all be worth it. Other than the obvious reason to counting calories, another benefit of this 2 week journey into calorie counting is to help make you aware of what a reasonable portion size is. Once you have a good feel for this and understand which foods are calorie dense (lots of calories in a small portion) and which ones aren’t, you will feel more comfortable picking out food at the grocery and eating out without the aid of a book or computer program. Before following this program I was ignorant for the most part about what a reasonable portion size for a particular food was. Now I play the guessing game with Nancy when we buy or order food. Yeah I know what your thinking, this guy needs to get a life. While this is probably true, I have gotten pretty good at guessing the calories in a portion of food. So if we forget to bring our phones with us, that have the calorie content of different foods on it, we can be pretty confident that we know what foods to get and how much we should be eating without looking it up. It’s all about being aware of what you are doing. Understanding what is good for you, what isn’t, what is calorie dense and what isn’t. We need to educate ourselves about what we are putting into our bodies. When we do this we gain the understanding that will help us be in control of our bodies general well being.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Doing the Math

In my last blog I talked about keeping a food diary for 2 weeks, tracking each day what you eat and calculating the number of calories you consume for each day. While doing this no changes in your diet should take place. Just eat like you normally would. The purpose of the first 2 weeks is to have a baseline number of calories you consume. What you will do is add up every days calories for the 14 days (2 weeks) you recorded in your food diary. You will then take that number and divide it by 14. This will give you the average number of calories you consumed daily over the 2 week period and this will become the baseline number in which you will work from. You will then take that number and subtract 300-500 calories.

For example lets say a fictional character named Susan Storm was looking to loose some weight because her spandex work suit was starting to feel just a little to tight. So she decides to keep a 2 week food diary in order for her to get started on her weight loss program. At the end of the 2 weeks of her record keeping she looks at what she has written down and precedes to add up all the calories from each day she recorded. After adding it all up she comes up with a total number of 35,000 calories. So over 14 days (2 weeks) she consumed 35,000 calories. She then would just take that number (35,000) and divide it by 14. Doing this would give her a number of 2,500. So this means her average daily calorie intake over the 2 week period was 2,500 calories. The 2,500 daily calorie average now becomes her baseline number in which she will use to calculate her new daily calorie intake. She would simply subtract 500 calories from the 2,500. So her new daily calorie intake should be no more than 2,000 calories a day.

So in short form: 2 week total calories divided by 14 minus 500 = new daily calories

After you have calculated your new daily calorie intake you will use this number as your take off point for your journey to a slimmer waist line. Whatever your new daily calorie intake number is, you must keep track of your calories just like you did for the first two weeks. You should try not to exceed this number. After 2 weeks at this new daily calorie intake you should loose at least 1-3 pounds. I know what some of you are thinking, 1-3 pounds, are you kidding me! What about those programs that say loose 10 -15 pounds in a week. The motto that I like to use in regards to weight loss is "slow and steady wins the race." Ok now if you haven't lost 1-3 pounds or lets say you only lost 1 pound and your looking to speed things up a bit, well then subtract 300-500 calories off of your new daily calorie intake to come up with a new number. You can do this until you get to around 1,200 calories. If you are looking to go below 1,200 calories I would recommend that you find a health care professional to work with you.

I'll end this lengthy blog and let you digest what I have written. This blog contains zero calories so its ok. My next blog I'll talk about why you should keep a food diary other than the obvious reason of counting calories. Until next time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1, 2, 3... Count em Up!

OK here we go. The first step in counting your calories is deciding how you are going to record what you are eating. You can do it the old fashion way and use pen and paper or if you have a cell phone that allows it, you can record your calories on it. The important part of recording what you eat is making sure that you are consistent with recording it. The best way to do this is to have your food diary with you when you plan on eating. If this isn’t practical or you just forget, make sure you record what you ate as soon as possible. Try not to wait until the next day to record what you have eaten. Do it sooner than later. Make this a habit!

After you have recorded your day’s worth of eating, the next step is to calculate the number of calories you have consumed for that day. If you are using the pen and paper method to record your diary you will have to look the calories up yourself. This can be done by either purchasing a book at the local bookstore that list several different foods with their calorie content or you if you have internet access you can search for the calorie content online. A nice website to use as an online resource is We use this as our recording method. The website has several different features you can utilize, but starting out you can just use the database they have to track your calories. Once you have written down the calories for each food item you have eaten for a particular day, add them up and see what your daily calorie intake is. You will keep track of your daily calorie intake by using a food diary for at least 2 weeks. During this 2 week time frame you will continue to eat as you normally would. No changes should be made with your eating habits at this point! Just track the calories.

Another cool way of tracking your calories is either using your cell phone or an Apple iTouch. Nancy and I both have android based cell phones that we can use to look up and track what we are eating. If your phone has access to different applications I would encourage you to see if you can purchase a food diary application. If you don’t have a cell phone that supports this type of program another alternative is carrying an iTouch around with you to track your calorie intake. The application I would recommend for the iTouch is Tap & Track-Calorie, Weight & Exercise Tracker. What is nice with this application is you are able to use it without having internet access, that and having an iTouch is pretty cool. Guys this is a great way of talking the wife into letting you get a cool electronic gadget.

The take home message for this blog is, track your calories daily for 2 weeks using a food diary while eating like you normally would.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dear Diary

Where does one start in order to lose the extra weight they have accumulated over the years. The best place to start, is to realize that losing this weight is about a life style change. In my first post I talked about it being a habit. This takes time and one needs to be patient. You must daily make a conscious effort to practice these habits until they become a seamless part of your life.

The first habit is to keep a food diary. A food diary consists of you writing down what you eat on a daily basis. This will give you a visual reference of what you are eating and how much you are eating. Most importantly the food diary will help you become aware of how many calories you are consuming. Nancy and I have decided to become more aware of the amount of calories we are consuming by tracking what we eat in a food diary. Let me say our eyes were open. Some of the things that we assumed to be low in calories and semi-healthy were shockingly the opposite. Some things we knew were high in calories, were not just high in calories, they were ridiculously high in calories! A fiesta lime chicken dinner at Applebee's 1,285 calories and 47g of fat.... Yikes! Throw in a regular coke or two and your hovering around 1,500 calories in just one meal. Holy saddle bags Batman! The food diary helps educate you about what you are eating. You go from ignorance to awareness. Seeing is believing and for most people who try this, it is certainly an eye opener.

My next post I will go into more detail about how to keep the food diary, until then start looking at the labels of your favorite foods and see how many calories you are consuming.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"The Secret"

I figured I would start with the topic most people really want to know about and then work back from this concept. So what is the secret to weight loss? In theory it is a very simple concept. It is something that we know down deep is right. We hear about it, we read about it, we talk to our friends and family about it. However, just like me trying to give up drinking mountain dew, it is much easier said than done. So what is this secret? In order to lose weight one must have a calorie deficit. Simple in theory, difficult in application.

The easiest way to obtain this calorie deficit is eating less. If you want, you can mix it up a little and consume less calories and increase your amount of exercise. This combination is what I feel works best and I will talk more about it later. Or if you don't like that, you can try eating the same and increasing your exercise. I wouldn't recommend this last approach though. Exercise is an inefficient way to loose weight without calorie restrictions.

OK, I can hear everyone saying wait a minute I've tried this and it has never worked for me. Certainly there are exceptions to this and we will discuss those in a later blog, but for the majority of people who are reading this blog, this calorie deficit concept will work for you. Here is an example of what I am talking about. I love watching the TV show Survivor. After watching all 20 seasons, some seasons more than once, I have never seen anybody who has made it to the final 10 or so leave the show weighing more than what they did the first day of the show. In fact all of them leave the show weighing less than they did at the start. Why is this? The 3 main reasons are decreased calorie intake, exercise in the form of keeping the camp running and challenges and the last reason is dehydration. The first two concepts are what we want to implement. Never do we want to implement the last. Let me make it clear that dehydration is not part of what I am recommending. A dehydrated state can be very dangerous. In fact to be optimally healthy, one needs to be properly hydrated. The contestants of Survivor don't loose weight because the producers make them follow the Atkin's diet or the South Beach Diet. They loose the weight mainly due to calorie restriction and daily exercise. With all that said, go out and grab a DVD of Survivor. Watch the first episode of any season and then watch the last episode of that season. Look at the changes that take place over the 39 days the contestants are on the show.

Now that the "Secret" is revealed, in my next blog I will share with you my ideas of what I think works in regard to weight loss in more detail. I will give you a step by step plan to follow and talk about some resources you can use to help you along the way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Diet, weight loss, weight management, wellness... What is it?

I thought I would start blogging about different health related issues I have a special interest in and those issues I see in my office. By no means are my comments meant to be considered infallible. They are just one health care professionals thoughts and opinions. I hope they help to provide some food for critical thought as it relates to health.

A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to a weight loss program at a seminar I attended, a few months before this I was approached to do a multi-level marketing weight loss program and over the last year I have noticed there has been a trend in the chiropractic profession to market weight loss programs. You throw in all the other programs and products from other professions, companies etc. and it makes for a rather confusing environment for just about anyone. As I stepped back to reflect on all of this, I asked myself what is a good weight loss program. Certainly there is no iron clad answer to this question. There are endless programs, books and opinions. Most, if followed will result in some sort of weight loss. Does just losing weight equate to a program as being effective? The answer to to this question is.... it depends. If your goal is to lose weight, then the program that allows you to do this, is a good program. For me, weight loss should be looked at as a byproduct of a good overall wellness program. A program of wellness is gradually making life style changes that promote and enhance ones general health and well being. As you implement these changes they become a part of your daily life, they become habit. By no means is this an easy process. Breaking habits that we have engaged in for years or even a lifetime can be difficult to drop. A personal example of this is the battle I engage in with the evil dark lord mountain dew! No matter how many times I swear I'll never drink this sweet elixir of high fructose goodness, I find myself with a can of it in my hand. So please don't think I'm sitting in my ivory tower looking down. I struggle as much as the next person, especially as I get older. I'll expand my discussion on this wellness and weight loss stuff in my next blog.