Are you a creative-type, or would you rather just color inside the lines? When it comes to weight loss and diets, how much latitude does one have to deviate from a specific diet plan while still producing the same results? And, what really constitutes deviating? Is it routinely substituting food that is more palatable or attainable for you, an occasional ice cream sundae cheat, or an all-out weekend cheatfest?
hCG Diet for Weight Loss
For Becky Duncan, a retired Atlanta attorney with admittedly “very linear, letter of the law-type thinking,” giving herself totally to a diet meant that she’d not be faced with choices or temptations that may result in stalled weight loss. With 25 pounds to lose, Duncan readily embraced the hCG diet—a stringent, structured 500-calorie-a-day protocol accompanied by injections of the hormone hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, which is geared to eliminate the hunger pangs, light-headedness and other byproducts of a highly restricted diet.
With foods containing fats (yes, that goes for salmon— a mainstay of most diets!) so restricted that even most cosmetics and lotions are taboo, deviating from the hCG diet plan even momentarily can sabotage it. Though conversely, on the initial loading phase of the hCG diet, by edict the dieter must spend a couple of days gorging on any and all manner of fat, for example cheeseburgers; fried chicken; pizza; French fries; and ice cream. Want more? You can have it, and Duncan did, albeit briefly. But during Phase II, the heart of the protocol which lasts 21 to 40 days, adding or subtracting food (users are strongly directed to consume exactly the 500 calories), or substituting anything that wasn’t on the plan, would have altered its effectiveness. “There was no margin for error on this diet,” Duncan said, “and by that token it was preferable and easier for me to stay with it.”
That said, many experts believe that extreme low calorie and/or deprivation-type diets only exacerbate cravings, and for that reason, tailoring a diet is not only acceptable but recommended. According to a WebMD story featuring David Grotto, RD, LD, and author of “101 Foods That Can Save Your Life,” taking some controlled time off from a diet (an hour to indulge in a favorite dessert; a day to sample what you’ve been missing, within reason) will keep the dieter motivated, focused and more likely to go all the way to the finish line.
And while the occasional cheat is one thing, the other end of the spectrum is choosing a diet with enough latitude to allow for daily substitutions to keep you interested and satiated enough to remain on it long-term, if that’s the objective.
The Standard Diet Plan
For St. Augustine, Florida-based pharmaceutical salesman Ed Luongo, flexibility and variety were imperative in reaching his goal of a 30-pound weight loss. On the road much of the week, Luongo ate in restaurants at night and/or grabbed yogurt, salads, sandwiches and more from fast food places and even convenience stores during the day, depending on his schedule (he vigilantly stayed away from fatty fries, cheeseburgers and the like, however). Being able to take a standard diet plan with a prescribed calorie count, carve out some time (long-term planning was key here) to figure out what he could safely substitute if he couldn’t find, for example, a spinach salad with salmon for lunch, and adjusting his meals accordingly allowed him to take off the weight without jumping through what he calls “giant diet hoops.”
“It’s all about what works for you,” Luongo said. “For me, selling on the road, structure works well for my professional goals but not for my weight loss goals.”
Said Duncan, “I reached my weight loss goals without having to spend a lot of time planning, figuring things out, wondering how much I was or wasn’t on target because of my food choices and if they would set me back. That extra time, effort and energy went into a spin class.”
hCG Diet Sources: