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The following information is for educational purposes only. Due to new FDA Compounding Guidelines and Telehealth Certifications,
Nu Image Medical no longer offers the HCG Weight Loss Program. GOOD NEWS! We have developed something better and easier: WAYT-less!

Ketosis and the HCG diet

Ketosis and the HCG diet


The HCG diet is a ketogenic diet, meaning that it brings the body into a state where it burns fat in order to supply its energy needs. Ketones are used by the muscles, the brain and other parts of the body as energy, and they are derived from fat when fat is metabolized. When carbohydrate levels are low, the body must break down fat stores to provide sufficient energy. Carbohydrates are converted the most easily into energy by the body, and when we eat excess carbohydrates they are stored as fat. When dietary carbohydrate levels are low, such as with the HCG diet or low carb diets like the Atkins diet, fat is metabolized for energy. When the body is in ketosis it is constantly burning fat for energy and any diet with a net consumption of less than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day is considered to be ketogenic.

The HCG diet usually results in a metabolic state of ketosis

The HCG diet has about 60 to 80 grams of carbohydrates per day on average, and as a result it causes the body to enter into a state of ketosis. Ketosis will begin during the first week of the HCG diet, and you can test for ketosis by using urine strips that can be purchased at a local pharmacy. The strips test for ketones in the urine, but testing for ketosis is not necessary as a part of the diet. The strips also show the quantity of ketones in the urine, but the level of ketones in the urine are not considered to be a good indicator of the level of ketosis, so this can mostly be ignored unless otherwise advised by a medical professional.

Ketosis is not harmful for the body

Some people think that ketosis is somehow dangerous or bad for the body because of some misconceptions about ketogenic diets. The truth is that ketogenic diets have been used for several decades without major medical problems, and there is plenty of anthropological and clinical evidence that low carbohydrate and high protein high fat diets are effective at reducing disease predisposition. For example, the Inuit people have consumed a diet high in protein and fat for several generations, and for long periods of time each year they do not eat any carbohydrates at all. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay are all rare conditions among the Inuit people as a result of their diet. This evidence shows that the Inuit diet is well designed for the human body.

The HCG diet is a bit different because it has low levels of carbohydrates, very low levels of fat, and moderate protein consumption, however the HCG diet is a ketogenic diet like the Inuit diet. The HCG diet has more carbohydrates than most other ketogenic diets, but the total number of carbohydrates are still low enough to cause the body to enter into ketosis. Although many people experience hunger during the first week of the diet, the HCG hormone works with the body to create a state of ketosis, unlock fat for metabolism and maintain that state throughout the duration of the diet. HCG also ensures that the body supplies its energy needs adequately.

In spite of low dietary carbohydrates hunger is limited on the HCG diet

Even though the HCG diet limits both carbohydrates and calories to a great extent, hunger is dramatically reduced compared to other diets. The main reason why hunger is limited is because of the effect of the HCG hormone, and the body's consistent state of ketosis. The hormone has a few days to go into effect, because on the HCG diet you gorge on high fat foods for the first two to three days. This gorging allows the body to start to respond to the hormone, and by the time the VLCD has started the body is in the most optimal state to enter its fat burning or ketogenic state.

The gorging or loading phase is necessary for hunger to be reduced on the diet, and the first seven days of the diet are generally the hardest. After the first seven days the body has stabilized into its ketogenic state. Although symptoms of the HCG diet are usually very mild and minimal, there are some symptoms that may arise as the body transitions to a ketogenic state such as fatigue, cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, thirst, and some other symptoms. These symptoms will usually wear off within a few days or less if they occur at all.

Ketosis symptoms are much milder on the HCG diet

However, on the HCG diet ketosis symptoms are milder than other diets for a few reasons. The body has a higher level of carbohydrate intake than other diets, which makes the ketogenic state milder and less difficult to tolerate. Also, the loading phase makes the drop to the low calorie level much easier. Other diets will restrict carbohydrates so much that there is a rough transition to the low calorie level, however the HCG diet does not have reduce carbohydrates as extensively as other diets. The HCG hormone also makes ketosis more efficient and burns up to 2,000 calories per day, which makes the diet much more tolerable and less symptomatic than other diets. The HCG diet can even be used by people who have active lifestyles or jobs where they have to move around often.

Ketogenic diets like the HCG diet are shown to be safe and effective at reducing body fat, and the HCG diet is one of the most tolerable and effective ketogenic diets. With the HCG diet you don't need to know too much about how ketosis works or worry about your dietary choices or limiting carbohydrates, as the proper portion sizes, food choices and calorie limits have been carefully selected for the diet for optimal fat metabolism.

The ketogenic fat burning metabolic state that occurs on the HCG diet can result in rapid fat loss up to 40 pounds or more over a six week period of time, and it is one of the fastest and most effective ways to lose weight safely. For more information on how to get started with the HCG diet at Nu Image Medical, click here.

About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

7 min read