Given the recent popularity of the Simeons hCG diet, it is likely that thousands of individuals have experienced changes in body composition and health as a result of following the 500 calorie diet. Much of the attention surrounding the Simeons hCG diet has focused on reports of the significant weight loss experienced by users of the 500 calorie per day diet. However, details as to the nature of that weight loss along with health changes that dieters may have experienced as a result of using the 500-calorie diet have received less attention.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with a woman who presented to one of Medshape’s clinic locations for a BodyComp 5000 reading. (The BodyComp 5000 is a state of the art, multiple frequency bio-impedance machine used by the Medshape staff to assess the percent body fat and lean mass levels of their patients before, during and after weight loss efforts.) The woman, Teri, had scheduled an appointment to have her body composition analyzed at Medshape because she felt that previous readings she had conducted at her gym and home scale were inaccurate.
When asked why she felt the body composition results given to her by her trainer at the gym and those from her bathroom scale were inaccurate, Teri reported that she had lost fifty pounds on her own but that both the results from the gym and home indicated that her body fat had increased and recommended additional body fat be lost.
Teri felt that if she lost the amount of body fat that was being recommended she would be at a dangerously low body weight and therefore the results must be inaccurate. Teri sought out the highly accurate results of the BodyComp 5000 offered by Medshape to help clear up this uncertainty.
Upon reviewing the results of the BodyComp 5000, not only did the results agree with those provided to Teri by her trainer and bathroom scale, they went further, much further. The BodyComp 5000 results indicated that 40% of Teri’s body weight currently consisted of body fat, an increase of 7% from the 33% body fat she had before she lost weight!
Teri didn’t accept the results easily, but having three different methods of evaluating body composition deliver the same message, (especially one as precise as the BodyComp 5000) made it hard for Teri to deny. After accepting that her percent body fat had increased despite her weight loss, Teri’s next question was how?
This began a discussion about what Teri had done to lose weight. Teri reported that she had utilized the Simeons hCG diet three separate times over the past two years. The Simeons hCG diet, is an ultra-low calorie diet developed in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s, that allows only 500 calories per day in a very regimented manner.
During our conversation Teri reported that during the three times she used the 500 calorie per day diet she had never administered hCG by subcutaneous injection. During her time on the Simeons hCG diet she took “hCG drops”, which she initially got from her friend who was a hairdresser and then from a local health food store.
Teri reported that she followed the Simeons diet “exactly and only used special shampoo, conditioner, lotion & cosmetics” that she got from her friend who was a hairdresser.
She stated that she lost the most weight the first time she used the 500-calorie Simeons hCG diet. Teri said she maintained her weight loss from the first attempt for about 4 months at which point her weight started to creep back up.
When she regained about half of the weight she had initially lost, Teri resumed the 500 calorie diet for a second time. Teri said that the weight loss was much slower the second and third times she attempted the Simeons diet and that it was harder to maintain the weight loss once she went off the 500 calorie per day diet.
In addition, Teri reported that she started to have trouble with fatigue and depressed mood along with brittle nails and thinning hair during her third time using the Simeons hCG diet.
When asked how long she was able to maintain the weight loss after her third time using the 500 Calorie HCG diet, Teri frowned and said “not long for most of it”. Teri said that immediately upon returning to a “normal” diet after her third time of using the Simeons hCG diet she began experiencing severe abdominal pain after eating. It was soon discovered that she had developed gallstones and a severe inflammation of the gallbladder known as cholecystitis. In fact, Teri said that she ended up having her gallbladder removed just 3 weeks ago.
Teri asked whether her weight loss had anything to do with the development of her cholecyctitis, and while that question can’t be answered with absolute certainty because many women who have never followed a diet develop gallstones, there are strong reasons to think that it might.
Increased rates of gallstone formation are known to occur in conditions where rapid weight loss that consists of a high percentage of lean mass (muscle, bone, skin thickness, etc) occurs. In fact, this relationship is so well known that it is standard practice for individuals undergoing gastric bypass surgery to have their gallbladders removed, due to the high incidence of stone formation associated with the post surgical weight loss.
When reviewing the body composition data from before her weight loss efforts and comparing it to the BodyComp 5000 results, it was clear that Teri had lost between 75-80% of her weight as lean mass. This was why that even though her body weight decreased the percentage of her body weight made of body fat increased.
It was explained that in order to reduce her body fat percentage, Teri must regain lean mass (muscle, bone, skin, etc) that she lost during her use of the Simeons hCG diet, then loose body fat, while retaining as much lean mass as possible. Teri’s response was, “ Great, so I basically have to undo everything I spent the past two years suffering to achieve, I wish I would have known this earlier & before I had surgery”.
Teri’s frustration is certainly understandable, there are many confusing messages about what is the best or fastest way to lose weight and in the end the truth of the matter is that weight loss is only part of the picture. How an individual loses weight is actually far more important, in most cases, than the amount of weight they lose or how fast they lose it.
Being armed with the information about where your body composition currently is and working with a team that can help you interpret the results and guide you on a path to help you reach your goals safely is essential for weight loss success. This is why Medshape has offered a complimentary BodyComp 5000 analysis for individuals who wish to learn more about losing weight and improving health.