Scott Rollins, M.D.INTEGRATE YOUR HEALTHGrand Junction Free Press Health & Wellness Columnist

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December 27, 2012
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ROLLINS: HCG for weight loss

If you want to "kick start" your New Year's weight loss efforts, then consider getting a boost with the HCG diet. Although it has been around for about 50 years the diet is getting more attention than ever and for good reason. Losing up to a pound per day for 20 days is evidence enough that it works. HCG is "human chorionic gonadotropin," a hormone that women produce in pregnancy, which amongst other things helps to mobilize fat stores to ensure sufficient energy for mom and baby. The HCG diet involves taking a daily dose of the HCG hormone while eating a limited calorie diet.In my experience, the HCG diet is a good starting point for long-term healthy nutrition as it eliminates all sugar and junk food, allows for lean proteins, veggies and fruits, while helping us to see that our current portion sizes are way out of control.Another thing I like about the HCG diet is that it gets people away from so much dairy and gluten, which are common food allergens. These are further reasons most people feel highly energized throughout the program - usually way better than they did before they started.One of the first questions people ask is "will I get hungry?" on the diet. No, since the HCG increases the body's ability to access energy stored in stubborn fat reserves, patients on the HCG diet will break down enough fat for needed energy. As a result they don't feel hungry.A second question is how overweight does one need to be in order to consider the HCG diet? There is no certain weight to qualify... We have had several patients lose over 100 pounds, while most lose 20-40 pounds, and some have needed help losing the last stubborn 10 pounds.Another big concern is whether the weight will stay off. After a 20-day cycle of the HCG diet, there follows a critical three-week stabilization period of eating higher calories combined with low sugar and low fat. This teaches the body to burn fat readily, and after that, so long as reasonably healthy patterns are maintained, there is no rapid rebound weight gain.What about safety of HCG? Women make as much as 1 million units of HCG daily while pregnant. HCG is used in conventional medicine to induce ovulation in girls and promote puberty in boys with delayed puberty, in doses of about 10,000 units daily. The HCG diet uses doses of 125 units per day and I've neither witnessed nor heard of any complications with HCG.But wouldn't any restricted calorie diet cause weight gain? Yes and no... Without HCG, people on restricted calorie diets get very hungry, feel poorly and lose muscle along with fat. We don't observe that with HCG so it clearly makes a difference.I first came across the HCG diet over 10 years ago. As there is not much published literature on the diet I was initially reluctant to implement it into clinical practice. Over the years I met other doctors, both allopathic and naturopathic, that prescribe the HCG diet in their practices with great success, which encouraged me to proceed. Now, after 4 years of prescribing HCG with hundreds of patients, I continue to be impressed by the success of HCG for weight loss.

The HCG may be the "catalyst" that people need to get the weight off but it is critical to address all the underlying reasons that people have excess weight to begin with.In order to maintain healthy weight we need to take a holistic approach that addresses both the body and the mind. A medical weight-loss program should consider social, psychological, hormone, digestive and immune systems. Hormonal imbalances or deficiencies, such as low thyroid, high cortisol, estrogen dominance or low sex hormones after menopause, all contribute to impaired metabolism and abnormal fat storage. Low testosterone leads directly to less muscle building and more fat storage. Undiagnosed or under-treated hormone imbalances are present to some degree in about half of the patients we treat!Digestive health is truly a foundation of good overall health. Many people who struggle with weight have impaired gut function due to a lack of the beneficial bacteria that do so much to promote health, including production of important metabolic B vitamins, activation of thyroid hormone, metabolism of excess estrogens, and more."Leaky gut" may be allowing toxins and undigested food particles through the gut wall which causes the immune system to be constantly agitated leading to chronic elevations of inflammatory chemicals, the stress hormone cortisol, blood sugar and insulin - all of which leads to weight gain, especially around the middle.Delayed food allergies are another major cause of impaired digestive health and weight gain. As with "leaky gut" a food allergy can stoke the immune system for years leading to the same cortisol-insulin resistance issues. Unlike the "immediate" allergies involving histamine (e.g. hives, hay fever) the "delayed" allergies take 12-72 hours to get going thus making it hard to correlate a food with an allergic reaction. Patients are therefore unaware that certain foods they are eating everyday are causing weight gain.

A new patient consulted with me to "get to the root of the problem instead of adding another medication". He had tried numerous weight loss diets without success. He weighed 260 pounds and was on eight medications for arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. After the first week on HCG he had already lost 10 pounds and stated: "I've not felt this good in years." After two rounds of HCG he was 50 pounds lighter and off all medications except one blood pressure pill. His low back pain is gone. His diabetes is gone. Correcting his hormone deficiencies, restoring gut health, eliminating food allergens, and adopting good health habits with diet and exercise were an important part of his overall metabolic health. A year later he has not only maintained the weight loss, but also actually dropped more weight on his own.Under the right conditions, the HCG diet will lead to weight loss and give people a better chance of maintaining ideal weight. A great weight-loss program involves a medical doctor, registered nurses, medical assistants, health coaches and more. In-depth medical evaluation, nutrition and exercise education, and psychological support all combine to ensure success.Of course, maintaining a healthy weight involves great nutrition, regular exercise, healthy sleep and management of stress. The HCG diet isn't a magic cure... but it is a dynamite catalyst toward long-term healthy nutrition and weight management.Scott Rollins, M.D., is board certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado ( and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics ( Call 970-245-6911 for appointments or more information.

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The Post Independent Updated Dec 27, 2012 01:00PM Published Dec 27, 2012 12:58PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.