Home > Uncategorized > HCG Diet: A cure for binge eating?

HCG Diet: A cure for binge eating?

What is binge eating, and who is susceptible to it?

Binge eating is an almost compulsive desire to eat large quantities of food, perhaps over a period of hours, even though the binger might not feel hungry and may indeed feel full. The binger feels unable to control his urge to eat.

Some bingers have a physical disorder, such as an abnormally-functioning hypothalamus gland, which produces hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism. Other glands – the hormone-producing engines in our bodies – may be deficient, such as the pineal gland which produces the “sleep hormone”, melatonin. Melatonin regulates sleep and so influences eating cycles and tendencies.

Often, glandular disorders result from nutritional deficiencies, so it is no wonder that such bingers have a desire to eat. The problem is that most of them binge on foods which are nutrient-depleted, causing their cravings for food to persist, regardless of how much they eat. Dr Simeons* contended that overeating is the result of obesity (not the other way round) and that obesity results from a deficiency somewhere in the body.

Social or cultural pressures might lead some to resort to compulsive “comfort eating” – food acting as solace or reward, as is often the case with depression sufferers. Whatever the pressure might be, binge eating becomes an emotional elixir to help dispel anxiety, fear, loneliness, sadness – and even boredom.

What is HCG?

hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone that is produced by a woman’s reproductive system before ovulation and by the placenta itself, as the pregnancy progresses. It’s job is to stimulate the production of progesterone until the placenta takes over this function in the second month of pregnancy.

In the 1920s, researchers discovered that, uniquely, the blood and urine of pregnant women contained  hCG. Apart from regulating progesterone production, hCG causes the body to leach nutrients from the fat store in the body, where these nutrients are not present in the diet. It is nature’s way of ensuring that the absence of good food during pregnancy will not be detrimental to the developing foetus – because it will absorb what it needs from its mother’s reserves.

What is the HCG diet?

The hCG diet, originated by Dr Simeons, is a 500-calorie-per-day, high-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, supplemented with daily injections of hCG, the duration of which is usually 40 days. Since hCG’s effects only kick in after approximately three days, patients only begin their 500-calorie fast after three days of hCG injections.  The injections are no longer administered once body fat has been depleted or three days before the end of the 40-day programme, whichever occurs soonest.

How does HCG assist in weight loss?

When hCG is present in the body, the nutrients leached from the fat store comprise fats, glycogen and protein. This leaching occurs when the body detects that the food intake is not sufficiently nutritive in order to support normal brain function.

Fat is stored in “fat cells”, or adipose tissue, the corollary being that fat can’t be stored where there is no adipose tissue.

Therefore, according to the hCG theory, once the body has depleted its fat store and adipose tissue, the body is not predisposed to gaining weight as quickly as it did before the fat store was depleted. This, according to hCG proponents, is one of the benefits of the diet.

If binge eating is the result of inadequate nutrition and if there are sufficient nutrients in the binger’s fat store, and if the binger can withstand the 500-calorie-per-day regimen, then it is quite possible that hCG can satisfy the binger’s nutritional needs, so negating the craving for food.

That’s the theory, anyway.

* Dr A T W Simeons MD is the author of the original 1950s HCG diet manuscript, entitled “Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity”

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