2010 was the year the rest of the world found out about the brazilian superfood, Acai Berry. Actually, it started in 2009 when Oprah Winfrey did a show on the health benefits of the little berry from the Amazon. Her friend, Dr Oz kicked the ball farther down the road when he listed it as the top superfood. Then, Rachel Ray did a show on how it helped her diet. Thats when celebrities got on the bandwagon, and throughout 2010 the rest of the public was deluged with ads and emails for Acai Berry. Acai Berry is still going strong today, and the pills and juices have gone mainstream and can even be found in grocery stores, vitamins shops, and drugstores throughout the US. But the Acai Berry is most beneficial for healthy, controlled weight loss. Claims of 30 pounds lost in 30 days from taking Acai Berry with no other changes to diet are somewhat exagerrated.

For people who need super fast weight loss, the HCG diet is the answer. Taking HCG helps people stay on a strict diet plan that really does result in super fast weight loss of 20-30 pounds per month.

I recently spoke to two weight-loss success stories, who claimed to have gone on this special diet, which uses HCG pregnancy hormone injections to stop hunger, and re-direct the body’s daily fuel needs to take from excess fat which is stored. HCG stands for, “Human Chorionic Gonadotropin”. This is a hormone which is created in everyone’s body and mass-produces in pregnant women, as it assists with increasing the fat stored in the baby so that the baby can develop healthily.

Is this for real?
That’s what I said at first, but when I began to do some more research, it became evident that everybody I spoke to, having tried the diet, was not only a weight-loss success story, but they had also kept the weight off.

Unlike Acai Berry Diet, which really is just healthy eating and taking the supplements, the HCG diet comes with a VERY aggressive diet plan – 500 calories a day! It is tough, but people are doing it and having outstanding results! The key is the effect on your hunger mechanism that the HCG hormones induce. It really didn’t make sense to me that a hormone produced in quantity by pregnant women would help someone feel LESS hungry, since everyone knows pregnant women are always hungry and usually GAIN a lot of weight. Then someone explained the evolutionary reasoning behind the effect:

For tens of thousand of years, humans didn’t always have the easy life we have today – in fact, getting enough to eat was often a huge luxury. So, during pregnancy, women can divert a large percentage of their caloric intake to the growing fetus which is much more vulnerable. It is thought that the hormone HCG produced by women during pregnancy triggers a response in the body that allows it to scavenge the bodies energy stores (fat) if less food is available for the mother (since baby needs it more). This mechanism allows people – yes, even men – to function normally on such a restricted calorie diet.

Well, that makes sense! The hormones which are taken each day, tricks the brain into thinking that the person is in fact pregnant. Mother Nature dictates that the amount of food a mother takes in is not dependent on how much the fetus grows. If the mother under-eats, the fetus will still develop and grow at a normal rate once the mother is not malnourished for weeks on end. This happens naturally, as the nutrients and fat can come from the mother’s body rather than from the food she may or may not take in each day. The principle is the same with the diet, whereby the person reduces their caloric intake to as little as 500 calories per day, similar to that of a fast, and the rest of the energy needs are met from the fat which is stored in the body. HCG triggers the body to draw from excess fat stores to fuel daily energy needs, as if the body were feeding a fetus.

Real vs False Hunger
The result is that the person experiences no loss of energy or vitality, the weight drops off very rapidly, and the distinction between real hunger and craving food is made very clear. If your body is getting all that it needs from its stores, it is not calling for calories, and therefore you are not experiencing hunger as you had before. Your only experience of hunger is that which exists in your mind. The smell of food, may entice you to want to eat, but the feeling of hunger is not actually there. And so, those successful participants who stuck with the meagre daily 500-calorie regime that accompanies the injections, had to disconnect real hunger from false hunger. This is an exercise of mind power, and can really benefit people in the long run to manage their cravings and curb unhealthy eating patterns. They all claim to have begun to really see how food has a psychological fix and a very strong effect on their behavioural eating patterns.

Water
Despite the daily 4 litres of water that are required of the participants, the feelings of hunger were described as not as strong as the thoughts of food. Water is the thing that cleanses a person’s body on many different levels. It cleanses the palate, the organs, kidneys, and the mind. Being clean on the inside provides a different experience of thinking, much like what the Buddhists believe. I compare this process of distinguishing “craveness” from hunger, to a spiritual practice. Just like a meditation, it takes one’s last shred of self-control to fight off those urges to want to taste and enjoy food in the palate. Step away from the saliva! Focus, focus, focus.

Results
Up to 14 pounds of weight has been lost in as little as 2 1/2 weeks, others claim even more drastic weight loss results. One thing that is for sure is that it teaches you to eat properly, it teaches restrictions and trains you how to eat within a framework of lean, small and healthy proportions. You realise that all the excess food that you were eating previously was unnecessary. By eating along the lines of this diet, you will have a good path laid out for you to experience a healthier, slimmer you.

After the diet
Everyone knows that the flipside of “fast” is “fat”, SO how you go about re-introducing food into your life after hormones? This is now the tricky part. After three or four full weeks of nothing to eat, you need to be ready to decide to call it quits and begin a new relationship with food, if you want to go forward with your new bod.

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