The revolutionary hCG diet created by leading endocrinologist Dr. A.W. Simeons in 1954 remains a highly effective weight loss protocol. Even 50 years later, the original diet is still popular, but modern diet variations that are also successful have emerged. Many people who are considering trying the traditional or modern plans are concerned with possible hCG diet side effects. The diet is highly successful when followed accordingly but you should always research potential problems that you might encounter.
Understanding the hCG Diet and How it Works
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a natural hormone used by the body during pregnancy. Dr. A.W. Simeons found that the hormone was produced by pregnant women to pull fat reserves from their bodies to fuel the fetus’s growth in utero. He noticed that when the hormone was provided to dieters who were placed on a strict 500-calorie per day diet they did not suffer excessive hunger, they lost weight, and kept the pounds off even after the hCG was ceased. In essence, their metabolism was reset while dieting.
Possible hCG Side Effects That May Happen
Dieters often report experiencing headaches or fatigue during the beginning of the diet. In many cases, the side effects occur because the dieter is not receiving enough water throughout the day. Prior to the hCG diet, they would consume sugary drinks, coffee, or other caffeinated drinks as a ‘pick-me-up’. However, once they start the diet they no longer drink such beverages so the body goes through a period of adjustment and withdrawals. Normally, the headaches and bouts of fatigue go away within a few days of starting the diet.
Pregnancy Test Shows Positive While Taking hCG
Common hCG diet drops side effects in women include experiencing a positive pregnancy test result. Usually, the result is only a faint positive, but it is often enough to be misleading. Ideally, any time a woman starts the hCG diet she should first make sure she is not pregnant and then use some form of birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy during the diet phase.
Injection Side Effects
Injections of hCG may cause pain at the injection site. In some individuals, there might be a slight bruising of the skin if the needle is injected at an odd angle or with too much force.
Ideally, you should switch sides each day to allow the area to heal during a 24 hour period.
hCG Diet Drops Side Effects
Most users report no significant side effects from using hCG in drop form. In fact, drops are the most widely used type of hCG for weight loss. They are easy to use, all natural, and widely available for purchase.
The Most Common Side Effects of the hCG Diet
Although hCG drops and injections cause very few side effects, the parameters and strict protocol of the diet itself can make problems for users. Typically, dieters are accustomed to eating high-calorie foods in substantial quantities so dramatically altering their eating habits causes changes in their systems which can be misconstrued as possible side effects.
Here a few physical changes that dieters often notice:
- Constipation: You will be eating far fewer calories than your body is accustomed to utilizing on a daily basis. This means that your bowel movements will be significantly decreased and you might think you are constipated when, in reality, your body just does not need to have frequent bowel movements due to the limited amount of food you are eating each day. It is not unusual for hCG dieters to only experience bowel movements every three or four days. During your diet, you should be drinking lots of water to help maintain soft and smooth bowel movements and prevent bouts of constipation.
- Cravings: When dieting, you will be eating a lot fewer calories than you are used to. The modern Western diet is normally very high in carbs. Your body has become accustomed to the high carbs so suddenly cutting those high doses out of your diet takes time for your body to adjust to the change. The low carb hCG diet might cause dizziness as your body craves the carb high that it has always used to function. Ordinarily, the cravings will abate after the first week.
- Headaches: The most common hCG diet side effect is a headache. If you start to suffer from a headache while on the hCG diet you can take over-the-counter pain medication to relieve the discomfort. Drinking a lot of water also helps alleviate problems. Ideally, you should consume up to two quarts of water per day. If your headache persists or lasts longer than ten days, you should seek medical advice because a headache might have nothing to do with the hCG diet and have some other underlying cause.
- Dizziness: During the first week of the diet, it is not uncommon for you to experience dizziness in varying degrees. Usually, the dizziness is very mild and goes away after the first week. It might be the most prominent during the mid-afternoon hours when your body tends to crave a carb high. The dizziness should always be mild, and you should never fall or pass out. If the dizziness is intense, then you should contact your medical care provider to discuss possible causes of vertigo. In many cases, it might have nothing to do with the diet and have some other undiagnosed reason.
- Leg Cramps: Leg cramps are a rare side effect that happens because of low potassium levels. If you start to experience leg cramps while undergoing the hCG diet, then you might want to take a potassium supplement to relieve the discomfort. A multivitamin is also beneficial. Just make sure that if you decide to take a multivitamin that you check to see if it contains potassium. If after ingesting a potassium supplement you still suffer from cramping then you might want to consult with your physician to determine the cause.
- Rash: While you are on the hCG diet your body will start to burn fat as fuel. The fat consumption can be very rapid. When the fat cells are consumed by the body, sometimes naturally stored toxins are released along with the fat. Built up toxins that are being shed during fat loss can cause a skin rash. If you develop a skin rash, then you should start drinking an excessive amount of water to help flush out the toxins, so they stop causing the outbreak on your skin. If after drinking water for a few days the rash persists or worsens then you must seek medical advice because the skin condition could have absolutely nothing to do with the hCG diet and might be caused from an allergy or some other disease.
- Hair Loss: Some dieters on the hCG diet have reported hair loss. This is a rare side effect and always only temporary. Thinning hair often occurs three months after the diet was first started. It can be caused by insufficient protein intake or a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Sometimes taking a daily multivitamin helps stop the hair loss. Hair loss does not mean that your hair falls out in clumps or is extreme.
Remember, that hCG diet side effects are very rare. Only a small percentage of dieters ever experience any type of a side effect. Most actually report feeling better, more energized, and in a positive mood as they experience dramatic weight loss and keep it off.
The hCG Diet Transition Time Period
Like any diet, when you first decide to use hCG drops or injections your body will go through a transition stage where your body starts to adjust to its new metabolic process. During such an adjustment phase you may experience one or more side effects, such as headaches, as your body tailors its reactions towards new changes. Understanding that your body’s entire system and metabolism are readjusting should make you understand your physical response to the diet.
Your body will expect to receive the same fuels that it once did before you started to diet. It takes your body time to adjust to the loss of its usual food choices that it has commonly used as fuel. Remember, your entire metabolic system is undergoing a dramatic transformation while you shed unwanted pounds. Such a metamorphosis of the physical form has a dramatic effect on how you feel on a day-to-day basis. It is not uncommon for you to feel abnormal or different during the first part of the hCG diet but then, as time passes, and you start to drop the pounds your body will adjust to the changes, and you will typically start to feel energized and happy with your results.
Changes in How You Feel on the hCG Diet
While dieting, your body is going to start to work hard to obtain fuel from your fat reserves. Garnering energy from fat reserves is different than from regular food consumption. Your body will go through an adjustment period where you might feel a bit different or abnormal. This period can last for a week or two. Drinking ten glasses of water per day will help your body transition, and you will start to feel better.
Herbal Teas and Supplements
If you have headaches or dizziness, then you might want to consume a herbal tea that contains chamomile to relax naturally. Some dieters also opt to take L-glutamine to reduce problems or other side effects. Also, Dr. Simeons original hCG diet protocol has dieters abstain from supplements, the newer version of the diet allows some supplements which help with possible side effects.
Possible Long-Term Side Effects of hCG Diet
Long-term side effects of the hCG diet are rare. Some concern has been expressed that with a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) causes gallstones to develop and possible heart problems such as arrhythmias and palpitations. However, such conditions do not immediately occur, so a direct link has not been achieved.
Gallstones: Being overweight or obese are known to be a direct cause of gallstones. It is hypothesized that during weight loss the liver releases excessive amounts of cholesterol into the bile. The gallbladder then fails to empty correctly. These things may lead to the formation of gallstones or the person just had gallstones as a direct result of obesity and not the VLCD diet.
Cardiovascular Health: Obesity and heart disease have a direct link. Cholesterol levels and high blood pressure all lead to cardiovascular disease. A study undertaken by the Department of Medicine at the Helsinki University Hospital in Finland found that obese women who underwent a VLCD diet lost weight and improved their cardiovascular health as a direct result of losing weight.
The Benefit of the hCG Diet far Outweigh the Side Effects
Nothing in life is without possible risks, but the minimal hCG side effects experienced by some individuals are typically considered worth the risk to lose weight. Obesity is a known cause of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and stroke. In a joint study undertaken by the Center for Cardiovascular Research and Alternative Medicine at the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences in Laramie, Wyoming and the Department of Physiology at the Fourth Military Medical University in Xi’an, China researchers found that a calorie restricted diet increased lifespan. Their research showed that it delayed the onset of age-related diseases, improved stress resistance, and improved cardiovascular health.
The low-calorie diet has become a viable diet option for many individuals to lose weight. The hCG diet side effects are rare and, the ones reported, tend to be very mild. Overall, the side effects are typically nothing more than an inconvenience when compared to the numerous health benefits of long-term, permanent weight loss. Many people opt to undergo a second round of hCG dieting to continue losing weight until they gain the results they desire. Once the pounds have been shed, people feel fantastic and tend to live much healthier lives.