Cycling vs Rounds – is it an Effective HCG Diet Strategy?
Over the years in the forums, there has been a steady contingent of those passing through that use the HCG protocol in a pattern that is called “cycling.” Cycling is an adaptation of the idea in the protocol that is it safe to take what the protocol describes as an “unforeseen interruption” of Phase 2. This allowed break must last at least 4 days, but cannot be t longer than 14 days without redoing the 2 loading days again. In the cycling variation, this is expanded as multiple interruptions with periods of Phase 2 sandwiched in between. Generally, those taking the interruptions transition off as if they were ending the round, and then eat P3 style for the duration of the interruption, re-entering Phase 2 afterward. The idea is to keep going with Phase 2, taking periodic two week interruptions until you get to your goal.
Some have interpreted that passage to allow for a series of two week breaks between 3-week periods of P2 until the goal weight is reached. The two week interruption is treated the same as Phase 3, following those dietary guidelines. The person then jumps right back into Phase 2 to continue on for a few more weeks. They may decide to do another 2 weeks of Phase 3 eating before re-entering Phase 2 yet another time, and so forth.
The problem with this is that the body is never given enough time to rest and reset in between those high stress periods of very low calorie P2 eating. The protocol was carefully designed to allow hormones to come into balance according to the body’s time table. To achieve that end, the shortest time between rounds is set at 6 weeks, and increases with each subsequent round.
What I and others have observed is that many of those that follow the cycling strategy do not ever get to their goal weight. They may lose well for a couple of segments, then they seem to regain and have to start over. They usually blame themselves for losing control. I don’t think this happens from lack of commitment or self-control. I think it happens because of the way the body works.
I’ve had the challenge of coaching several people through a maintenance strategy after very extended rounds (no breaks, just months of Phase 2) and long cycled rounds. I’m sad to say that none were successful in maintaining their hard won progress, even though they gave it a herculean effort. I do not fault them (or my coaching) in the least. I believe that there are powerful body forces at work that we cannot manipulate to our own ends no matter how clever our best plans may be.
I cannot say that no one has ever been successful with cycling. There have been a couple claims that it has worked, and I’m happy for their success. And of course, there is no data on what has happened outside those that report in the forums. I remember a cycler that eventually re-gained over 100 pounds, more than she had lost in the first place. That is heart breaking, and even more so that she blamed herself. ( I remember blaming myself every time some new diet I was trying didn’t work. It never occurred to me then that a faulty plan could be the reason.) The reason I’m writing this article about it is so that any one reading thinks long and hard about whether to risk the very large investment they are making in this protocol to try to get to the finish line faster than recommended, only to have to do it again later. Because in the end its not just about getting there. Its about staying there once you make your goal.
The cycling method shortcuts the waiting times that are called for between rounds. These allow the body to stabilize at a lower set point weight. By cutting that waiting time short, the regaining mechanisms are triggered, and the body sends out relentless strong cravings and hunger in a quest to stop what it perceives as starvation. That primordial response is a marvelous mechanism built into us that is meant to save us from starving–and only the extremely disciplined can overcome it with sheer determination, and even then, only for a time.
You can read more about the importance of the waiting times in this article: https://hcgdietinfo.com/how-long-do-you-wait-between-hcg-diet-rounds-why/