Christina Aguilera has been sporting a hot new body lately — and has put it down to the HCG Protocol, a diet that restricts calorie intake to 500 calories per day. We’ve got the lowdown on the diet from nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara from Changing Habits, who shares how the diet works, the changes that will occur in your body and the long term effects you can expect to see.
RESCU: What exactly is the HCG Protocol?
Cyndi O’Meara: It is a protocol with four different stages, throughout which there is an elimination and reintroduction of food. It is through the introductory phase that people learn which foods inflame their body and those that give it health. It is not so much a diet but more an education protocol that teaches you what is good for your body. It is based on a 1970s book called Pounds and Inches. It also helps the body to become matched once again to its evolutionary needs.
RESCU: Can you tell us about the phases involved?
Cyndi O’Meara: There are four phases:
Phase 1: 2 days – eat as much as you can focusing on good quality fats – this gets the fat reserves up in the body. Also start taking HCG hormone drops.
Phase 2: 21 – 43 days – eat meat, fish, chicken, greens and 5 different types of fruit limited to around 500 calories. This is mimicking the winter of the hunter gatherer diet that pushes the body into survival and indicates to use the stored fat in the body. The HCG support drops help the body move into this quickly.
Phase 3: 2 days – transition from phase 2 to 3 only difference is you stop taking homeopathic HCG so that the body prepares to receive food again.
Phase 4: 21 days reintroduction of foods, beginning with fats and more foods as in phase 2, then slowly foods are introduced.
RESCU: The 500-calorie-a-day part sounds quite extreme and is sure to be a little controversial. How does the HCG protocol ensure your body does not enter starvation mode in this time?
Cyndi O’Meara: The protocol begins with a high intensity fat consumption phase which increases the quick energy reserve fat available; then the restriction of food begins in the second phase (especially all fats and most carbohydrates). In the first few days of the second phase you rely on the reserve fat, when that runs out around 2 to 3 days later, the body, with the help of the hCG (signals the hypothalamus to use fat stores for survival – evolutionary mechanism) accesses around 2500 calories (300gms) of fat stores to supplement the 500 calories you consume. There are many hormones in the fat stores, as well as fat soluble vitamins and saturated fat to help with the energy needs of the body. Remember the idea is to activate the evolutionary survival mechanism of the body to take the summer stored fat when food is in excess over times when food is scarce.
RESCU: What do the HCG drops contain and how are they taken?
Cyndi O’Meara: The formula is non-steroidal but remains closed and of private dominion. However dissected molecular components are used and as well as several vibrational remedy techniques in a sequential combination to establish the link with appropriate messaging frequencies. It is a complex process and the methodology will not be revealed nor the harmonics in the homaccord. Other ingredients include; l-carnitine, ornithine and arginine.
RESCU: Can the drops be of any assistance if you do not change your diet, or do they have to be used in conjunction with the protocol?
Cyndi O’Meara: No they will be of no help. It is the drops and specific protocol that allow the body to create an evolutionary survival mechanism. hCG when taken without the diet confuses the body’s mechanisms and is not advised. The idea of the protocol is not about a quick fix, it is about permanent change. People are where they are because of the choices they have made in their diet. To take the drops and eat a junk food diet defeats the purpose. When you do this protocol I ask at the beginning for you to commit to permanent change. If you are not willing to do this then don’t do the protocol as it won’t last. Anyone who goes on a 6 week diet then goes back to their old ways and expects to keep the weight off is delusional.
RESCU: Does the protocol include an exercise regime?
Cyndi O’Meara: No, we specifically ask for all heavy exercise programs to cease, if you’re not prepared to stop -don’t do the protocol, choose to do the Hunter Gatherer Protocol instead. It is a time of rest for the body. During the protocol the body is healing, repairing and rebuilding, it does not need stress of excessive exercise. Gentle walks and some gentle yoga is all that we advise. Sleep is very important on this protocol, it will force you to sleep more then you have ever slept due to the healing and repair.
RESCU: How much weight can people on the protocol expect to lose and is it suitable for those with a lot of weight to lose?
Cyndi O’Meara: The protocol can be done several times; there are strict guidelines on how this can be done depending on the amount of weight to be lost. We have one member preparing for her 5th protocol in just over 12 months. She has lost 40kg and still has some to go. We have a younger member who lost 45 kg in 4 protocols. Everyone is different. On average in phase 2 you lose 300gms a day which aquatints to around 2500 calories of fat cell content.
RESCU: Weight loss aside, what benefits have people who have followed the protocol experienced?
Cyndi O’Meara: Then benefits are enormous; less joint pain, lower blood pressure, thyroid readings improve, cholesterol readings improve, less anxiety, more upbeat in life, more clear in thoughts, skin integrity and quality improves, taste buds change, less headaches, change in menstrual cycles, more energy, more flexibility, tolerance of heat and cold improves, sweating changes. Remembering that this can happen in a 3 week period, but permanent change means that these issues don’t come back and continue to improve. After all we are feeding the body evolutionary foods and not a bunch of chemicals in packaged foods.
RESCU: We noticed the program specifies you cannot use cosmetics containing oil on your skin – why is this?
Cyndi O’Meara: The skin absorbs most things you put on it, fat included. At no time do we want fat in the blood vessels that may indicate to the body that there is an abundance of food around – remember we are creating a state of scarcity so that the body creates it’s only survival mechanism, adding fat to the skin will stop this process. We recommend jojoba oil as it is a wax and its molecular structure is too large to pass into the blood vessels.
RESCU: Is there anyone who you would not recommend the HCG protocol to?
Cyndi O’Meara: I do not recommend the protocol to people who are not prepared to commit to permanent change, nor to pregnant women (they have their own abundance of hCG) and breast feeding mums, this is because fat also holds toxicity and passing this toxicity onto the baby via the breast milk is not advisable. If you are an athlete and not prepared to give up your routine then it is a definite no, due to the fact that the body is trying to repair and heal and exercise is too much stress for the body during this time.