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Is the HCG Diet Ketogenic?

Is the HCG Diet Ketogenic?
In a ketogenic state, your body relies primarily on its stores of body fat for energy, which is the goal of the HCG diet. Because of this, the HCG diet certainly is ketogenic as most of your energy on the diet comes from metabolized fat, with a small amount of basal nutrition coming from your diet.

Ketogenic diets and variations of them have been in use in medicine for almost 100 years, and the HCG diet is basically a derivative of the traditional ketogenic diet. The first ketogenic diet was used in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder at Mayo Clinic, and it has been used for several different medical purposes  including the treatment of epilepsy and of course for weight loss.

In ketosis your body relies on ketones for energy

Ketosis is basically the opposite of a carbohydrate rich diet. When your body is in ketosis, it relies on ketones produced from fat instead of the glucose that is broken down from food. Ketogenic diets are used for a wide range of different purposes as mentioned above. In most cases, ketogenic diets like the HCG diet result in improved blood pressure numbers, a lower risk of heart disease, and all of the other health benefits that come with losing fat and getting back to a healthy weight. Patients who are insulin resistant often regain insulin sensitivity

There are a few characteristics of a standard ketogenic diet, and the HCG diet has many of the same characteristics. One requirement for a diet to be ketogenic is that it has a sufficiently low amount of carbohydrates to trigger the body to switch to fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The HCG diet limits carbohydrate intake only to carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables, with a small amount of additional carbohydrates from the allowable Melba toast or grissini breadstick.

Because of the low carbohydrate intake, the diet will put most people in at least a mild ketogenic state. Ketosis is not all or nothing, meaning that there are different levels of ketosis. If you limit your carbohydrate intake as required on the HCG diet, you can expect that you'll stay in a ketogenic state for most of Phase 2, which is why you lose the most weight during this phase.

Phase 2 of the HCG diet is ketogenic

During Phase 2, you are restricted to 500 calories per day, with a minor amount of those calories coming from carbohydrates. Although a traditional ketogenic diet involves consuming high fat, moderate protein, and very low levels of carbohydrates, the HCG diet has very low fat, adequate protein and adequate carbohydrates. Although the HCG diet is low in fat, the limited fat consumption does not affect ketosis. Portion sizes are carefully controlled on the diet, and regardless of what fruits or vegetables that you decide to eat (of the ones that are allowed on the diet), you can expect that your body will go into ketosis and that you'll start losing fat quickly during Phase 2.

The HCG hormone also speeds up ketosis, as it is essential the key that unlocks the body's fat stores for metabolism. Without the hormone, many patients experience slower weight loss or stalled weight loss. The injections make the diet safer and more effective, and really speed up the rate of weight. Most people lose a significant amount of weight within just a week on the HCG diet due to how effective it is as putting the body into ketosis. If you've tried other ketogenic diets you know that they can be difficult at times, while a lot of patients on the HCG diet find that it is significantly easier, often due to the effect of the hormone.

One thing to remember is that you may have a few side effects as a result of the ketosis during the start of the HCG diet. As your body switches into a fat burning mode, it is common to have a few cold or mild flu-like symptoms. Some of the side effects can include headache, dizziness, fatigue and nausea, and the effects are usually mild and vary from one person to another. Most people hardly notice as their body switches to ketosis, and you may end up feeling only slightly under the weather. In other cases the effect is more noticeable, but the symptoms start to decrease after the first week.

It is important for you to drink plenty of water when you are on the HCG diet in order to flush excess ketone bodies

The fewer carbs you eat on the HCG diet the more weight you will lose as your body goes into a more efficient ketogenic state. If you follow the requirements of the HCG diet as they are, you should have no problem with losing weight quickly. If you cheat or add more carbohydrates to the diet, you can expect a slower rate of weight loss as well as stalls. The key is to follow the protocol exactly as it is stated and you will lose weight. It can be a bit of a shock to your body if you are used to eating carbohydrates, but it will quickly adjust and switch into a fat burning state as long as you are patient and avoid cheating.

Once you've achieved your ideal weight you have to continue to avoid carbs

Once you've reached your ideal weight you will need to continue to avoid excess carbohydrate into to maintain it. You don't have to continue to keep your body in a ketogenic state, but by avoiding grains and sugar and high carbohydrate meals you will be much more likely to maintain your current weight without much extra effort. You'll also be able to avoid having to repeat the diet. It's also a good idea to continue to eat some of the allowable foods on the HCG diet even after the diet is over, as they are low in calories and carbohydrates. You should mostly stick to the diet during Phase 3 and monitor your weight carefully on a daily basis, even after the diet is completely over. Avoiding the foods that cause weight gain will make it much easier for you to lose weight in the future because you'll know which specific carbohydrate rich foods trigger weight gain.

Be sure to drink a lot of water

On the HCG diet or any ketogenic diet the most important thing to do is to drink plenty of water to flush the toxins and ketone bodies out as much as possible. It's essential that you increase your water intake as much as possible, both as an appetite suppressant and to flush out the toxins that your body will be producing in ketosis. When you burn fat, you release any fat soluble chemicals that may have been stored. The HCG diet recommends that you drink a half gallon to a gallon of water per day at minimum, based on how often you are thirsty, but you should drink a little more water than you normally would to ensure that you are hydrated. Talk to your doctor if you plan on drinking more than a gallon of water per day, but it's an important habit that you need to get into when you are on a ketogenic diet.

The HCG diet is one of the safest and best ketogenic diets

Although you can probably find hundreds of different ketogenic diets online, the HCG diet has had much more research on it than most, and it is very safe. To learn more about the benefits of the HCG diet, click here.

About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

5 min read