Recently, I've had an influx of clients come to me devastated because of the additional weight they gained after their experience with the hCG diet. They were under the belief that the hCG diet was the cure-all diet that promised to melt away their unwanted fat forever.

In our society, men and women alike have a quick-fix, instant gratification, "I want it now" mentality. And, they want it with as little effort as possible. In addition to hCG, people resort to liposuction without realizing that liposuction increases inflammation, and doubles your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The doctor never tells them that within eight weeks of liposuction, the fat redistributes to other areas of the body between the viscera tissue.

Allow me to enlighten you - your weight gain did not happen overnight. Success with anything, including weight loss, does not happen without effort, sacrifice, the right mindset or commitment.

Not only is the hCG diet unhealthy, it is one of the most unsafe methods to losing weight. HCG stands for human chorionic gonadoropin, which is produced in the placenta during pregnancy and can be extracted from the urine of pregnant women. The hCG diet is a combination of daily injections and a starvation diet that entices mainly women that they can lose weight without feeling hungry. Sure, you'll lose weight while on the hCG diet. However, it will not be permanent unless you factor in your emotional/behavioral habits, and make the appropriate lifestyle changes and dietary modifications once you stop the hCG.

In 1995, 24 studies concluded that there is no scientific evidence that hCG causes weight loss, redistributes fat, reduces hunger or creates a feeling of well-being.

Problems with the hCG diet include:

• Disruptive to hormones (specifically the thyroid).

• Damaging to metabolism.

• Extremely catabolic (muscle wasting).

• Only one vegetable is allowed with lunch and one with dinner.

• All weight is regained, plus some extra once you're off the "diet."

• It's expensive.

• Unbalanced body chemistry.

• Deficient in nutrients.

• It's actually a starvation diet.

• Water amount recommended on the diet is not sufficient for an adult

• Does not teach lifestyle.

• There are a few reports of adverse effects from the hCG injections, including headaches, restlessness, blood clots, dizziness and depression.

There is one good feature about the hCG diet: The dieter is not allowed to eat much junk food, refined sugar or wheat (which is healthy advice that would help anyone lose weight).

How to achieve long-term weight loss

Here is the no-nonsense, safest and most effective approach to long-term weight loss: You must address your emotional/behavioral habits, balance hormones, correct gut dysfunction, and make the appropriate lifestyle changes and significant dietary modifications. Permanent weight loss is so much more than exercising your brains out and starving yourself.

To change your behavior, you must first have the desire. You need to change your heart, make up your mind, be determined, disciplined, take responsibility for your actions and choices and, lastly, be patient and follow through! Start with your value system and value the effort of hard work. Be decisive with your goals. Write your goal down. It's the journey, not the end result, that promises a leaner body, a healthier you and the ultimate lifestyle.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens is a nutritionist, fitness expert and weight loss coach with more than 20 years of experience. Reach her at

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