The HCG diet is a program that promotes rapid weight loss through the consumption of HCG -- a pregnancy hormone that treats infertility -- via injection or oral drops. The diet follows a strict protocol that includes limiting your calorie intake -- to about 500 calories a day -- as well as your exercise regimen. Because of the diet's extreme restrictions, workouts are advised to be very limited.
HCG details and FDA Warning
The HCG diet’s key component, human chorionic gonadotropin, causes the body to feel full and is marketed as a fat-blasting hormone. Homeopathic HCG products in the form of oral drops, sprays and pellets are available over the counter, via companies and weight loss clinics, which prescribe the hormone as injections typically inserted into the thigh area. However, such programs and products are not FDA approved. While the FDA approves HCG as a fertility treatment, it is not supported as a weight loss solution. The FDA advises consumers to steer clear of HCG-based programs as they promote potentially unhealthy dieting practices and are not proven to accelerate weight loss. According to the FDA, extremely restrictive, low-calorie diets can result in conditions including nerve and muscle malfunction due to electrolyte imbalance, gallstone formation and irregular heartbeat.
Exercise and HCG
Strenuous exercise can defeat the purpose of the HCG diet, which is to burn fat. The body is not able to support strenuous exercise with the low-calorie intake it is experiencing. This can cause the body to shift to starvation mode and slow down the metabolic process, which stalls weight loss. In addition, intense workouts cause increased hunger, which also defeats the purpose of the diet’s low-calorie regimen.
While on the HCG diet, individuals are discouraged from intense workout regimens such as running, kickboxing and cycling. They should refrain from working out altogether or choose light- to moderate-intensity workouts. Permitted exercises include walking, stretching and low-impact strength training such as yoga or Pilates. If choosing to exercise while on the HCG diet, it’s also important to limit your workout time. Exercise sessions should not exceed 20 minutes in length.
Return to Exercise
Exercise restrictions are only required while on the HCG diet. After the diet is completed and weight loss is achieved, it is important to support your weight loss with an effective workout routine.
Based in Los Angeles, Angela Melero has been a writer since 2008, contributing to various publications. She serves as an assistant editor for a beauty publication and enjoys writing about health, fitness and beauty trends. Melero received her bachelor's degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge.