Troubleshooting for the HCG Dieter
by Dr. Sheri Emma, MD
The use of HCG during dieting has become a commonplace diet as its popularity spreads and grows each year. It has also been a subject of so much controversy and confusion, people just don’t know where to begin when things don’t seem to be going right. In addition, Simeons’ Protocol added much to this confusion with the concept of weighing oneself daily. So when the scale doesn’t cooperate, then the dieter assumes they are doing something wrong and that requires an action.
Dr. Emma’s HCG Program is so unique, that it doesn’t even encourage weighing one self. That is because a scale is simply weighing a combination of all things the body is made of: including fat, muscle, bone, organs, water, food, etc. The most common reason for the scale to stall during weight loss has to NOTHING to do with weight loss from fat. The most common reason the scale stalls during weight loss is from retaining water. During rapid weight loss, the body often loses its ability to perfectly balance water in and out, and therefore will go through periods of retaining water, sometimes for days. Water is very heavy. Imagine getting on the scale and then someone hands you a jug of water to hold in your hands. You won’t like the weight on the scale much, but it has nothing to do with fat! In fact, fat doesn’t weigh that much compared to muscle, water, and all the other things your body is made of! The key here is to remember that you want to be lean, muscular, and not fat! Also remember that someone who is lean and muscular will weigh sometimes 15-20 pounds more than someone who is thin and fatty (doesn’t have much muscle). Our goal in the end is NOT A LIGHTER WEIGHT AS MUCH AS A THINNER BODY!! So the best way to track progress (if you don’t have a high-tech body composition scale), is to measure the waist once a week, and watch the fit of your clothing. USE SIZES OF CLOTHING AS YOUR GUIDE, so when you drop a size, that’s a great landmark! And remember, if you are eating fewer calories than your body needs in a day, there is NO WAY you are not burning fat every single day! You have to be burning fat when you are on a low calorie diet! Where else would the calories be coming from??
So the nature of “body loss” during use of HCG isn’t well measured in terms of “weight”. So “weight loss” as a term is not a precise term. What is really lost is almost pure fat, which doesn’t weigh much, so “fat loss” is a better term. And fat loss is best measured with a scale that does body fat percentage (bioimpedance scales), calipers (used for leaner athletic builds), water submersion (not utilized much anymore), bod pod analysis (available at some colleges and universities), and DEXA scanning (available at some physicians offices and medical imaging (Xray) centers). Or the simplest method can be a tape measure. Although a tape measure won’t tell you if you are losing muscle, it can be your assurance that something is happening when the scale doesn’t move. That is almost a sure sign of losing pure fat because if the scale doesn’t move, but you are shrinking, you are likely retaining the heavy muscle and losing the lighter fat portion.
This concept is a bit outside of our usual comfort zone because most diets will result in a loss of fat and muscle together, which causes the scale to drop a certain impressive number of pounds. This overall concept of “weight loss” has been used as a guage of success on diets for decades. However, we know better now that not all weight is bad, and it is certainly better to go by appearance, physique, and clothing size. If you are dosed correctly on HCG, you SHOULD NOT LOSE A POUND PER DAY!! Each pound of fat holds 3500 calories. It is rare that any person can burn 3500 calories in a single day. In the first week of dieting, you lose a lot of “weight” because your body is eliminating water. You cleanse yourself of inflammation from poor quality foods in the first week. After the first week, though, most people should not be losing a pound a day or they are likely losing muscle too.
To help when you feel stuck, here is a troubleshooting algorithm:
STEP 1: DETERMINE IF YOU ARE BEING COMPLIANT ON THE DIET. There are two types of non-compliance. Intentional and unintentional. You may be aware that you have not been compliant with the diet. In that case, you need to start tracking your daily intake more closely and use your diary to detect when and why you derail off of your plan. Work on different methods to correct your behavior such as, getting out of the house if there is too much food around, or starting a new book, or drinking more water, etc.
You may also think you are compliant if you are “eating all the right foods”. However, if you aren’t MEASURING AND WEIGHING, and recording everything to total your intake, then you are likely exceeding your calorie limits.
Unintentional noncompliance is if you’ve misunderstood a portion of your diet plan, or have mistakenly been adding something that you did not realize has markedly thrown off their calorie intake (such as avocado for 250 calories). In this case, if you think you are doing everything right, go back and reread your instructional material, or consult with a health care professional that is trained in Dr. Emma’s HCG counseling.
STEP 2: COMPLETELY COMPLIANT ON THE DIET…”So why isn’t my scale moving???”
The NUMBER 1 REASON your scale won’t move when you have been compliant with your diet is because you are retaining water. There can be dozens of reasons why you are retaining water, and in most cases it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t need fixing and will correct on its own. Here are a few examples below, including the few cases in which you WILL need to do something to help correct the issue:
- (Menstruating females): Are you due for your menstrual cycle? (Even if you have an IUD or an ablation or irregular periods, hormonal cycling still occurs and this can be responsible for up to 5 pounds of water retention in extreme cases)
- Are you constipated? This will cause increased weight from the matter in the intestines but also from increasing quantities of water being drawn into the intestinal tract to facilitate a BM. Take something you would usually take such as a mild stool softener or a mild laxative, as needed.
- Are you ill? Patients who are ill, fighting infection, on antibiotics, or dealing with an injury are often dealing with some bodily inflammation and water retention.
- Did you exercise? Intense exercise will contribute to muscle inflammation and hence water retention.
- In times of extreme heat, with excess sweating, people will retain water.
- Did you have alcohol? If yes, encourage copious amounts of water to flush the system and alleviate water retention.
- Are you drinking too much water? If patients overconsume water (which can be dangerous in excessive amounts) their kidneys may not be able to filter rapidly enough and they will then have a net gain of up to several pounds of water. The best way to know is if you are constantly urinating (every 30 minutes or so). In this case, cut back to 64 ounces (typical 8 glasses) per day for a day or so until you begin to urinate normally.
- Are you drinking too little water? Like a camel, humans will retain water reflexively if not consuming enough water to hydrate and flush byproducts. Most dieters need at least 80-100 ounces per day, or half your weight in ounces of water.
- No known reason. Sometimes you may not be able to find a reason why you are retaining water, or “stalling”. People often think they should take a diuretic. I always say no. If a person has normal functioning kidneys, they will correct their water balance all on their own.
MORE ABOUT “STALLING”: This is the time period I often refer to as “the staircase”. Usually beginning around week 3, a person won’t lose for a couple of days, and then the scale will drop. Then they don’t lose for a couple of days, and then the scale will drop. It is of no consequence, and you can be reassured that it is simply a water balance issue, and has nothing to do with the body fat, so you can continue on your journey without frustration. Continue to measure your waist weekly to show the fat loss. Of course, a scale with body fat percentage is of added value.
Lastly, don’t forget that exercising will often contribute to building muscle more easily, and of course muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are lifting weights (which is OK!) and thus building muscle while losing fat, the scale may not move at all. I had a patient once that was the same weight for 2 weeks but dropped 3 pant sizes during that time. He was using the elliptical intensely 5 days per week, and he was thrilled with his new chiseled physique. So of course, exercise is ok. It’s the scale that is not ok because it discourages many for no logical reason. It’s not about “weight” loss, but rather it’s about “fat” loss. Only HCG will produce a situation this unique. So continue on your journey for a healthier you, and remember to consult with your physician prior to starting any diet regimen. The information in this article is not to be used as medical advice and any medical question should be directed to your medical provider. This is simply an informational article and guide. For more information, or to find a provider near you that has been trained in Dr. Emma’s Protocol and Principles: visit www.DrEmma.com