Inside the hCG diet: How it made a big difference for Geoffrey and Corinne
hCG: A few facts
A few facts on hCG from Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Centre director Kyjuan Brown:
How many clients lose weight with this diet?
Ninety-five percent of our patients lose more than 10lbs.
Who is the ideal candidate?
Any healthy person who wants to lose weight is the ideal candidate.
Who should not try it?
Patients with end stage medical diseases, patients who have had cancers or bleeding disorders or blood clotting disorders should not try it.
Are there any negative side effects?
The only negative side effect is constipation
Is Northshore the only place in Bermuda offering this?
We are the only centre offering this in Bermuda.
How much does it cost?
The patient’s co-pay is $500 to $600 and insurance covers the rest.
If Geoffrey Butler Durrant is looking a little radiant these days, it might be the pregnancy hormones.
The 70-year-old lost 50lbs by taking shots of hCG, the hormone women make when they are pregnant.
It’s an extreme diet that’s made headlines in the US, largely because of the dramatic weight loss associated with it — up to a pound a day.
“I had such a beautiful physique of almost 285lbs,” said Mr Durrant. “I was tired of the way I was feeling. I had no energy. I tried diets before but nothing seemed to work. To be honest, I don’t like exercise very much.”
The shots didn’t only help him lose weight. He’s also been able to come off medications for blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, since he started the programme a year ago.
“I will always have diabetes,” he said, “but I am controlling it myself now.”
Mr Durrant did the programme through Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Centre in Devonshire. About 500 people have tried the diet since the Devonshire clinic began offering it three years ago.
The human chorionic gonadotropin hormone causes fat stored in the body to be released into the blood stream. In an actual pregnancy this fat would be used by the mother and developing baby. In someone who isn’t pregnant, it can cause weight loss.
Corinne Frith weighed 213lbs when she started the programme. So far she’s lost about 27lbs; she’d like to lose another 40.
“I did feel nervous about taking a pregnancy hormone,” the 50-year-old said, “but to tell you the truth I never felt better. I had more energy and I felt more positive.”
People doing the programme must inject themselves with hCG for several weeks. This alone, might make some people squeamish.
“At first, I did have flashbacks to primary school where the school nurse would come in and give you a needle,” Mr Durrant said. “But I managed.”
Ms Frith agreed.
“I am not a needle person,” she said. “The first injection was done with my eyes closed. You get used to it after awhile.”
The programme is divided into phases. Calories are initially restricted to between 500 and 800 a day for 40 days, and exercise is restricted to a walk for enjoyment.
“There is a meal plan,” Ms Frith said. “You eat six small meals a day. Surprisingly, I really didn’t feel hungry. You don’t overeat, but you eat more fat than is normal.”
The calorie restrictions are relaxed to 1,500 in the second phase of the programme.
“Neither phase involves any particular exercise,” said Mr Durrant.
For Ms Frith and Mr Durrant, the best part of it all was getting the compliments.
“People come up to me and remark on it,” said Mr Durrant. “They say ‘looking good’. That is a really nice feeling to hear that.”
Ms Frith said she always felt a little self-conscious about her weight, but is now walking with her head held high.
“I feel better about the way I look,” she said. “I can look in the mirror again. I didn’t like doing that before. It is about how you feel in your clothes and how you feel about yourself. If any programme makes you feel more confident, it makes a big difference.”
Northshore monitors its clients regularly. Director Kyjuan Brown regularly warns that the programme isn’t a long-term solution.
“The majority of our patients are keeping the weight off,” said Dr Brown.
“Our teaching and training is about lifestyle and how to eat to maintain your weight. [That] can lead to long-term results. If a patient wants to go back and re-eat the world, then they will regain their weight. To make the programme sustainable and more life changing we include, at no additional charge, a nutritionist and life coach.”
People have used hCG injections for weight loss since the 1950s. They were brought back into the limelight by celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz through his popular television show, The Dr Oz Show.
Proponents cite the rapid weight loss without any impact on muscle or bone mass.
The programme is not without controversy. A 1995 report by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed no relationship between hCG and weight loss. Some argue that the rapid weight loss is due to the extreme calorie restrictions. Mr Durrant said his weight loss was definitely noticeable.
“My trousers were loose,” he said. “My shirts were suddenly hanging off me. At first I didn’t know whether to go and buy more clothes or wait. You can spend $500 on clothes in Bermuda and not feel as though you bought anything.”
A year after the programme he is finished with the injections. He now eats what he wants to eat — in moderation.
“I know that if I eat too much one day, the next day I will eat lightly and maybe just have coffee and a grapefruit for breakfast and an apple for lunch.”