Watching the Carbs and Protein Ensures Success on the 800 Calorie HCG Diet
One of the main advantages of the 800 calorie HCG diet is the marked reduction in sugar and net carbs. Net carbs are the carbs in products that actually get absorbed and are calculated by taking the total carbs and subtracting the insoluble fiber, the sugar alcohols and any non absorb able sweeteners like Splenda. The net carbs are the amount of carbs that are actually absorbed into the blood stream that effect the blood sugar and subsequently the insulin levels.
High levels of sugars and net carbs cause outpouring of insulin from the pancreas in an attempt to lower the sugar. The sugar and carbs are converted into fat and deposited around the belly and inside the abdomen. People that have been on other low carb diets like Atkins or South Beach recognize how cutting back on the carbs reduces hunger and cravings leading to fast and easy weight loss. That’s the goal also in the HCG diet.
Everyone has a different threshold level for carbs or sensitivity to carbs. Atkins talked about “metabolic resistance”, some researchers in metabolism write about “sugar sensitivity” or “carbohydrate tolerance”.
We all have different reactions to carbs, the secret is to figure out what levels of carbs are best for you. Often this must be done by trial and error. However, there are some guidelines.
Carb Goals in the HCG Diet
The goal in the HCG diet, just like any other low carb die is to reduce the carbs to a minimum to achieve fast weight loss and reduce hunger and cravings. One of the most striking features of the HCG diet is the almost absence of hunger and cravings. This is due to the marked reduction in absorb able or net carbs and in sugars. Other signs of reduced carbs are increased energy and mental alertness. Diabetes benefits from the reduction in sugars and carbs as well. The problem is that everyone has a different threshold or tolerance for carbs.
For comparison, a standard diet has about 250 to 300 carbohydrates per day. Atkins starts people at 20 grams of daily carbohydrate, the Schwarzbein Principle uses 60 carbs per day, the Zone says 100 to 150, and Sugar Busters would probably be around 150 to 210 grams of carbs per day. In the 800 calorie HCG diet you are concerned with NET CARBS- which are the carbs that actually dissolve in the stomach and get absorbed into the blood stream and raise the blood sugar which provokes an insulin response. It can be calculated from any food label.
Reading Nutrition Labels Tells You the Best Choices
Reading nutrition labels give us the ability to make good food and beverage choices from the many that are available. This adds variety prevents both boredom keeps the diet well balanced and safe. The total calories in a the day should not exceed 800. In general the calories and the portions are the first issue I look at when I am deciding a food is good or bad. Remember, every number on the food label is based on a single portion. Often products have more than one portion in the container. Keeping the total calories to 800 per day or less is not difficult if you do not waste calories on unimportant items-like olive oil, salad dressings, butter, wrong fruits, or bad snacks.
Look for foods with 2 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fat or less. I call it the “2 + 2” rule for HCG products (see below). Protein should be has high as possible, but you need to watch the calories.
What to Look For on a Product Label in HCG Diet:
- Calories per portion and number of portions in the container.
- Sugar should be 2-3 grams or less and Net carbs less than 10 grams (there a few exceptions)
- Fat should be 2-3 grams or less, on a few products it might be slightly higher if protein is high and sugar is zero
The 2 + 2 rule is a good guide for selecting foods on the HCG diet. This rule means that you should pick foods with 2 grams of sugar or less and at the same time as 2 grams of fat or less. However, sometimes the food fits well in the plan and has slightly more than 2 grams of sugar or fat. In that case, follow the 2 +2 rule, if the total fat and sugar is less than 4, then the food is probably acceptable.
Net Carbs Calculation
Important for Food Products Which Have Carbs as the Major Ingredient, but Little or No Sugar (should be 10-14 grams or less).
After you have checked the sugar and the fat and made sure the calories are appropriate for that food, the next item to check for are the net carbs. This is important for products like crackers, bread, wraps and of course the “bad” carbs that are not on the HCG diet like rice, pasta, beans and potatoes where the net carbs are between 20 to 44 grams. Here is how you calculate net carbs when products are borderline like low carb wraps (all units are grams):
Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber – Sugar Alcohols – Splenda®
- Splenda® counts as 2 grams, but is not always on the label. Look for “sucrolose” in the ingredients list on the food label. Suspect Splenda® when you see “no sugar added”, “low sugar” or “no sugar” on the label.
Net Carbs should be less than 14 grams; preferably less than 10 grams. For the label above, 18g total carbs – 1g Fiber – 11g Sugar Alcohols = 6g Net Carbs.
Sugar Alcohols Are Not Sugar and Have a Place in the HCG Diet
Have you ever took a long hard look at the “Nutrition Facts” tag on sugar free candy, chewing gum or soft drinks, You will possibly notice that it has a good amount of Sugar Alcohol. Sugar alcohol is extremely different from just plain alcohol since sugar alcohols don’t contain any type of Ethanol, which is found in alcoholic beverages. The most common sugar alcohols are mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol, and hydrogenated starch hydrolsates (HCG).
Many of the food products on the market right now have sugar alcohols in them, even if they’re labeled sugar free. Sugar alcohols are a certain type of carbohydrate referred to as Polyols, which are ingredients found in sweeteners and bulking agents. They are naturally located in foods such as berries and other fruits. Sugar Alcohols provide about half to one-third fewer calories than regular sugar. This is because they are converted to glucose more slowly, doesn’t require any insulin to be metabolized and won’t make your blood sugar levels to suddenly spike. People who are diabetic love this feature of sugar alcohols.
There is a common misconception that all sugar alcohol-containing products are free foods. If you eat a lot of sugar alcohol products you need to determine the amount of carbohydrates contained within the product. A good number of these food products will possibly still have a large amount of carbohydrates (calories) which could prevent you from reaching your goal.
If a manufacturer uses the term sugar free or no added sugar, they have to list all the grams of sugar alcohols on the nutritional facts label beneath the total number of carbs. There will often be a different line beneath sugar titled sugar alcohol. The manufacturer will provide you with the specific name of a sugar alcohol in the ingredients section if only one form is used, for example, mannitol, xylitol or sorbitrol.
It is very necessary that you realize the key differences between artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. To start, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal® or NutraSweet®) and saccharin (Sweet & Low) contain 0 calories, where sugar alcohols have around 2.5 calories per gram on average. Second, artificial sweeteners don’t have any kind of carbohydrates so they don’t produce high blood sugar, whereas, depending on how much you consumed sugar alcohols can still have a little effect on blood sugar levels.
Always remember that while sugar alcohols have fewer calories than sugar, most of them aren’t as sweet, so more must be used to get the same sweetening effect.
Pros and Cons of Sugar Alcohols
- They taste a lot like sugar but with just a half to a third of the calories.
- Sugar alcohols are absorbed by the small intestine much slower and incompletely, which causes a slower and less rise in blood sugar levels and insulin. This is an added benefit for patients with diabetes. When you control your blood sugar level better you’ll improve your appetites, energy levels, and overall health.
- One of the most notable advantages of sugar alcohols over sugar is the fact that they don’t cause tooth decay. That is why many sugar free gums like Trident and Extra are made with sugar alcohols.
- They improve food texture, keeps food moist, and stops the browning process when foods are being cooked.
- The risk of gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea is the most common health risk when you eat too much sugar alcohols. This can happen for two reasons. First, because the sugar alcohols aren’t completely absorbed by the body, they will hold onto water inside the bowel which may produce some diarrhea. Second, when undigested carbohydrates reach the colon, the normal bacteria can give gas, and bloating. Sorbitol and Mannitol are the worst offenders in this department.
- If you consume too much sugar alcohols you run the risk of spiking your blood sugars, which defeats the purpose if using for better blood sugar control by diabetics.
- You will possibly start gaining a lot of weight when you consume an excessive amount of sugar alcohol. This is because they still contain a lot of calories and if you eat too much calories and don’t burn them off you’ll start to put on weight.
It is up to each person to decide whether they will eat more regular sugar, artificial sweeteners, or sugar alcohol. Depending on what you’re utilizing them for sugar alcohols do have a place in a person’s nutrition plan. If you are trying to lose weight, then sugar alcohol in place of regular sugar is an appropriate substitution. For diabetics, sugar alcohol is what you need in your diet to help control your blood glucose. If you do have health issues such as diabetes, it would help you a lot if you talked to your doctor about your options.
Sugars and the HCG Diet: Dangers Ahead
Carbohydrates are in every place we look, in almost every food items from fruits, to vegetable and included even in milk products and in almost all drinks to enhance tastes. Sugar is extremely high in calories and leads to rapid spikes in blood sugars, almost instant hunger and almost immediate weight gain. The Food and Drug Administration has issued all sorts of warnings about levels of sugar in foods.
What Are Levels of Sugar in Packaged Foods?
- Sugar Free: It views foods that are “sugar free” to have less than 0.5 grams of sugar per regular portion or serving.
- Reduced Sugar: The claim for “reduced” sugar is not defined or permitted.
- No Added Sugar: Foods that have “no added sugar” are simply defined as having no sugar added to the processing of the food. The original amount of sugar in the food depends upon what the producer started with.
Average Consumption of Sugar
Average American consumption is over 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, most of which comes from sweet beverages. The 2009 American Heart Association Guidelines for daily sugar intake for women are 6 teaspoons; for men, 9 teaspoons. of sugar per day 2010 USDA Guidelines: Limit added sugars to no more than 5 to 15 % of daily calories from sugar
Many individual foods provide large fractions of the USDA’s recommended sugar limit. For instance, a typical cup of flavored yogurt provides 70 percent of a day’s worth of added sugar, a cup of regular ice cream provides 60 percent, a 12-ounce Pepsi provides 103 percent, and a quarter-cup of pancake syrup provides 103 percent.
Richard Lipman MD is a endocrinologist and board certified internist who has treated more than 10,000 overweight patients in his Miami office with his new 800 calorie HCG diet for the past 10 years in Miami, Fl
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