Originated by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, the hCG diet protocol—around since the 1950s—mandates injections of the hCG hormone, or human chorionic gonadotropin, and an extreme low-calorie food plan. It was popularized by Simeons’ book, “Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity,” , and an article in the medical publication Lancet on the subject. The diet, predicated on 40 years of obesity research, is used successfully to this day, with the injections geared toward alleviating the gnawing hunger pangs, headaches, fatigue and sarcopenia—or loss of muscle tone—that can accompany extreme reduced-calorie diets.
As an intrinsic part of the plan, Simeons advises strict adherence to portion control and specific foods. An absence of fatty foods—including fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna, though he favors eating fish in general—and sugar are also key components in the weight loss plan, adding up to a total count of 500 calories a day.
In addition to food choices and hCG diet injections, Dr. Simeons discourages dieters from engaging in heavy fitness regimens. In fact he limits exercise to walking. This is due to a period of low energy that may be experienced during the diet, which can be used up to 45 days, resulting from the reduced calorie intake. Under these circumstances, exercising at strenuous levels can prove inordinately challenging, if not impossible. What’s more, a full-out workout program burns calories, and on 500 calories a day, the body needs to use them wisely and not deplete them quickly.
That said, later incarnations of the diet put forth by health practitioners have included exercise while on the plan, claiming working out can preserve more muscle than not working out (though again hCG injections are geared toward preventing muscle loss in a large sense). Also, because exercise releases endorphins, a feeling of well-being can help you through what may feel like challenging weeks on the weight loss plan.
If electing to exercise, one expert recommends increasing the 500-calorie count to 600 or even 750. This can be achieved in the form of egg whites or whey protein powder, or just adding a few more ounces to the protein identified on the daily diet plan. And while you may be able to engage in the same forms of fitness, the intensity may need to be dialed back—even to less than half. When the body has limited sugar and no fat (from food) for fuel, it is going to process exercise differently.
Finally, a good measure of how your body is withstanding exercise on the hCG diet protocol is simply how you feel. If you are exhausted, weak (both of these can indicate a drop in blood sugar levels), experiencing continuous hunger pangs, which should have abated in the first week, or food cravings, reconsidering what you are doing is a good bet. You may need to dial it back even more, or limit yourself to some light cardio like a brisk walk, a few slow and easy laps in the pool, restorative (as opposed to power) yoga and the like. All forms of exercise result in some kind of benefit, and you will not forfeit the results of years of working out hard if you alter your routine to accommodate your changing body for a few weeks.