Trish: I’m here today with Doctor Caroline Taylor-Walker, and she’s from the Medical Skin Clinic, which is based in Torquay, VIC. Have I said that right?

Dr Caroline: Yes. That’s great. Yes, Torquay.

Trish: We’re going to have a chat today about something that I’m really interested in myself, which is the HCG Diet, which stands for Human Growth … What does it stand for, again?

Dr Caroline: I call it ‘HCG’. It’s Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, full name, there we go. It’s a mouthful.

Trish: Great. Basically it’s a fairly rapid weight loss programme. Tell us about it, Caroline. I’m really excited to hear about it today.

Dr Caroline: Yeah, sure. It’s actually a diet that’s been around for a number of years. I think it was first brought out in about the 1950s by an English doctor actually. His name was Doctor Simians. He more or less developed the diet from research he found on the HCG over many years, and from the 1950s the diet has been researched and just tailored to what it is today.

The way it works is it uses the hormone HCG. HCG is a hormone that the body does produce naturally, it’s something that both men and women do have in small amounts, and it’s exactly the same hormone that women have when they become pregnant. When you become pregnant, if you get a pregnancy test done by the doctor, or the urine test, that test is actually looking for an increase in that hormone HCG. It’s something that’s quite natural to us.

The way the diet works is by using the ability of the hormone HCG, and the ability that it has in regards to using fat for energy. It’s a fat-loss diet. The way that works is in regards to losing both centimetres and kilos. It’s basically the HCG has this ability to release fat from our storage, and release fat back from its storage in places such as the hips and tummies, into our bloodstream. Then once it’s in our bloodstream the body can then use that energy from the fat to live on. It’s the only way really that we can get rid of the stored fat, and we just use that as energy really.

Then because we’ve then got the energy in our blood system, we then don’t feel as hungry because the blood then tells the brain that we’ve got food in our system. The diet helps reduce our appetite, and so reduce the fat that’s stored on our body.

Trish: One of the things that really appealed to me because I’ve been on many many diets in my life, I know that a lot of times people actually lose muscle. This diet is specifically so you will lose fat, not muscle.

Dr Caroline: Yeah, definitely. It only targets fat, so it only actually works in people who have a lot of fat. The more fat that you’ve got on you, you actually find the more fat loss that is achieved during the diet. People with lower fat on their body lose less fat, but it can even be used in people who have small pockets of fat, who just struggle to get rid of that last little pocket, and we then use it for kind of toning and contouring the body.

Trish: It’s like a bit of a fat-shredding kind of diet, where it kind of just focuses on losing the fat.

Dr Caroline: Yeah, and nothing else. Yes.

Trish: I know that there’s a couple different options with it, like there’s different time frames. What are they?

Dr Caroline: There’s two different options in regards to how the diet works, or how long you’re on the diet for. You can either be on the diet for three weeks, or you can choose to be on the diet for six weeks. Generally we recommend for men and women if they’re looking to lose up to seven kilos that they do the three-week diet, and if they’re looking to lose more than seven kilos that they actually do the six-week diet. That’s the recommendations. To be honest, in practise, I 99% of the time only use the three-week diet. That’s something that I’ve just taken on from my own personal experience over the years of doing it. I just find the three-week diet people do lose that six to seven kilos without any problems, and they’re very comfortable during the diet. Whereas I find if then we want to do the six weeks their weight does start plateauing, they don’t tend to lose as much, they come a little bit kind of bored of the diet and can start cheating a little bit easier.

I usually recommend that if you’ve got more than seven kilos that we do a three-week, that you have a bit of a break, and then you repeat another three-week later down the line. I feel people cope with that a lot better.

Trish: You can actually do your three weeks, have a little bit of a break, and then go back on it again.

Dr Caroline: Yes, certainly. That break can be anything from a few weeks to a number of months. The only thing that you cannot do is use the HCG for longer than six weeks. If you use it for longer than six weeks you can become a bit immune to it, and it stops working. You do have to have a break after six weeks of continuous use.

Trish: All right. With the HCG, I know that on the market I’ve seen homeopathic drops, and I’ve seen injections. I’ve actually done both, so I know which one works and which one doesn’t, but what’s your opinion with regards to that? You can by some homeopathic drops, and then you can get the HCG from a doctor, which is the actual hormone that you inject into yourself.

Dr Caroline: Yeah, sure. There are a couple of different things you can find. As you mentioned, there’s homeopathic drops. There’s then, I think, you can get it as sublingual, so something you put under the tongue. You can get it as a nasal spray, and you can get it as injections. They all exist, and they all promise the same thing, but the reasons why doctors only use the injections is just because we’ve got the research to back them up. All our research has been done on injections, and the companies who have been doing it a lot longer and actually produce the medications they themselves have found as well that they only really get results that they can guarantee with the injections.

Trish: Say someone’s got fifty kilos to lose, or something like that. They could go on the six-week programme and have a break, or would they be better off to go on the three-week, have a break, and keep going until they lose what they want?

Dr Caroline: Definitely. It’s something that on paper what we would recommend is the six-week diet. The other side, in reality, I find people trying to stick to the diet for six weeks is quite difficult for that length of time. It’s not a difficult diet to keep to, but you do have to change your life a little bit, and you have to keep to a specific diet in regards to food that you eat during that six weeks as well. Most people don’t have a six-week period where they can stick to that food, not attend any social events, not have that glass of wine. It just becomes harder work.

I usually find that in regards to total weight loss, I just personally find that if they do three weeks, have a break, have three weeks, that the accumulation of weight loss over those two three weeks with a gap ends up being more than if they did six weeks in a row.

Trish: Right.

Dr Caroline: That’s just practical. If you read it in the book, or the research, it would say to do the six-week.

Trish: Yes. With the diet, what I found on it is the fact that like everybody I like to eat food, but what I found with being on the HCG is you actually aren’t hungry.

Dr Caroline: Yes. It really works. There’s two benefits from it I find people really like, or three actually. One is that the food you eat is told to you. Initially it sounds a bit confronting. You take the injections everyday for three weeks. The first two days of those are fat-loading, which are actually really important, and may be something that we talk about. Then you have nineteen days of eating the restricted diet. The diet is only five hundred calories, and it does consist of 100g of meat, a handful of one vegetable, an apple, and a breadstick that you can have twice a day. Initially to people that does sound a little bit frightening, but what you got to remember is the way the body feels hungry and gets its energy is from the food in the bloodstream.

You get food in your bloodstream with this diet from the food that you eat, but also the fat being released from your storage cells into the bloodstream as well. Often even if you’re not eating the body is tricked to think that it’s got food in its system because there’s that energy in the bloodstream coming from the fat stores. The fat then obviously stops you feeling hungry, which is great, and people quite like that because the food initially is a bit confrontational that it might be a bit restricted, but people know what they’re going to eat for the three weeks, and actually that can be quite nice. They know what to buy at the weekend, they know what their food is going to be every single day, and they haven’t got that battle in their head every evening over what they’re going to eat.

Then because they eat the food is quite simple people feel really good on it, they end up having a little bit of a detox, so actually by the end of the diet they have got rid of that sweet-tooth craving, and they don’t fancy the cakes, and they actually start looking at them and not wanting them anymore. They actually have that bit of a detox and feel better about what they’re eating.

Because the portions are so small, as well, it actually then surprises them how much food they ate before. They then kind of come in and go oh, my God, I cannot believe how much people eat but I can actually survive on the smaller portions, and that mentally gives them less of a worry later on about eating smaller amounts, knowing that it’s something that they can deal with.

Trish: It’s kind of perfect. I know that there’s supplements with it. Do you know the range of supplements that there are? Obviously if you’re only eating five hundred calories a day you need to supplement in some way.

Dr Caroline: Yeah, definitely. The diet comes in a kit, and the kit involves the supplements. Again, the supplements are being picked through the research that’s been happening over the last fifty-odd years, into what works best.

The supplements do a number of things. They provide the nutrition that you might not be getting from the diet because you’re obviously on a low-calorie and not very varied diet. They also have some probiotics and digestive enzymes, so they help with the actual digestion of the food and actually help improve the gut itself to try and feel better from any problems that might be occurring from the food you were eating before. They also detox you a little bit, so most people feel a lot better afterwards. The other thing they also have in them are some fat-metabolizing products as well, so they again help increase the body’s fat mobilisation and fat metabolism as well. That’s the thermogenics in there, and a number of things.

Trish: I know when I was looking for the diet I found it really hard to find a doctor to actually speak to that diet. I know that because there’s not that many doctors for it in Australia, can a consult be done over the phone, on Skype, or on Face Time?

Dr Caroline: Yeah, it’s really easy that way. I don’t necessarily have to touch the person to be able to do the diet. We just need a verbal consultation. I usually find it’s nicer to do that over Skype or Face Time rather than just over the phone, so I can get an idea. It’s nice to actually see the person physically. Yeah, definitely.

The way I normally do it is we have an initial consult. If the diet is decided to go ahead with then we usually order the diet in. The best thing to remember with that is it can take up to a week for the diet to come. Then normally what we recommend if you’re doing the supplements is you actually then have a week of the supplements without actually doing the diet. Then when you’re planning it you’ve got to have it in your head that there might be from the day you talk to me actually two weeks until you can actually start the diet for three weeks, per se. It’s just having a bit of a time scale in your head. Then what I normally do is keep in contact with people during the diet itself just to ensure if there’s any questions [inaudible 00:13:12] or any problems, any queries, that we can always discuss that.

I think most people if they’re trying to lose weight it’s nice to have somebody that they know they can talk to just to keep them on track. If they’re having a bad day they know that they’re going to have to report to me about that two days later, and I’ll give them a little bit of a talk about it.

Trish: Fantastic. You have the consult in the beginning. You start on your tablets, and then you start on your HCG. Then is there a follow-up at the end?

Dr Caroline: Yeah. Say if people came to the clinic, the way I like to do it here is they come and have the consult, when we get the kit arrive to the clinic, when it arrives to the clinic they come in here. They take the supplements with them, and take the supplements for a week. Also there’s a manual that comes with the kit. After that week they then come back to us, and we sit down with them and do their first injection with them.

Most people, 100% of the people that I’ve had, even if they’re a bit worried about needles or a bit needle-phobic, once we’ve done that first injection with them at the clinic they realise how tiny of an injection it is. It’s a really, really tiny insulin needle, and a really small amount that’s injected, not very uncomfortable, pain-free really. We do that first injection with them. We can offer, as well, if they don’t like doing the injections they can come in everyday and we can do the injections for them, but to be honest no one has ever taken us up on that.

Then normally what I do is see them weekly, so I see them after seven days, after fourteen days. Then at twenty one when they’ve completed the diet we’ll discuss there’s like a third phase, which is a maintenance phase after the diet where you basically eat the same food but you just increase it back to normal caloric intake. You can start exercising then. One of the other benefits of the diet, we don’t want you exercising during the three weeks.

Trish: Can you, though, if you want to? If you want to exercise can you?

Dr Caroline: We recommend not to, and it’s basically because the whole idea of the diet is to keep you in that fat-metabolizing zone. What we want the body to do is just be fat metabolising. If we exercise it can make the body want glucose and carbohydrates. If we increase our heart rate, the body will start producing glucose and putting that into the bloodstream, and using that as energy. That actually makes you then crave the carbohydrates again. Often after the exercise you can feel quite flat. You might then feel really hungry for a few days, and you’ve got to again get that body back into the fat-metabolizing zone using fat for energy rather than the sugar. Plus, you may find if you try to do the exercise it’s quite … Because you’re not eating that much, really.

You can do gentle exercise. If you stay in the fat burning kind of heart rate, which is just a slight increase in your heart rate, so simple, if you just went for walks and things like that, that’s fine.

Trish: That’s perfect. It’s the diet where you don’t have to exercise.

Dr Caroline: Sorry?

Trish: The diet that you don’t have to exercise.

Dr Caroline: It sounds amazing to me.

Trish: It’s a no-brainer.

Dr Caroline: Yeah.

Trish: That’s great. That’s been really helpful. Thank you so much for that.

Dr Caroline: Yeah, of course.

Trish: You listeners out there, if you’re keen to find out more about the diet, or if you’d like to actually go on it, you can contact Medical Skin Clinic direct, or you can drop us an email at help@plasticsurgeryhub.com.au, and we’ll put you in touch with Doctor Caroline. That’s easier than saying your surname.

Dr Caroline: Yeah.

Trish: Thank you so much for taking the time today.

Dr Caroline: No problem. It’s been a pleasure.

Trish: Thanks a lot. Bye.

Dr Caroline: Bye bye.

Trish

Trish is a plastic surgery blogger. She is passionate about wellbeing, health and beauty, and doesn’t mind a little bit of ‘help’ from the amazing cosmetic and beauty procedures that are available today. Trish spends her days talking to women and men who are looking for suggestions and advice on procedures that are available to them. Cutting through the sales pitch and hype, a down-to-earth response on general information is what you will get.

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