The Digestive Glitch that Blocks Weight Loss

May 28, 2013

More than 50% of us have a lack of this fat metabolizer.

It takes the right acid to create systemic alkalinity—the key to health, longevity, and weight loss.

Yes, you heard that right. I’m talking about HCl here, the only acid your body actually produces on its own that is not a byproduct of metabolic waste. It may sound counterintuitive, but although HCl is an acid, it’s the key to the proper alkaline/acid balance—which is seriously deficient in anyone beyond the age of 35. A lack of iodine, salt, B vitamins, potassium, and/or too much stress are common culprits of inadequate HCl production.

But, acid into alkaline—how could that be?

The right amount of HCl in the stomach triggers the pancreas to produce large amounts of alkalinizing bicarbonates that signal pancreatic enzymes, which can only activate in an alkaline medium. It is also absolutely necessary for the production of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which helps the gallbladder to release bile for fat emulsification. Without sufficient HCl, bile production can be hampered from doing its job because if there is not enough bile produced, fat cannot be broken down. It’s as simple as that.

If you have a roll of fat at your waist line, your liver has stopped processing fat and begun storing it. Only when you bring your liver back to full function—with the aid of HCl—will you lose this fat.

And what will you gain?

• Increased absorption of muscle building protein that increases metabolic rate by 25%.
• Complete assimilation of calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, B12, and folic acid, as well as fifteen minerals and eight essential acids.
• Relief of asthma (especially in children) and edema along with mucus congestion.
• Better oxidation of painful lactic acid in tissues.
• Increased kidney and liver function.
• Elimination of boils, abscess, rosacea, and rashes—which are unresponsive to other therapies.
• Heartburn relief.

Since we are in the midst of summer outings, don’t leave home without HCl. It is the most effective anti-bacterial agent I know of. Outside your body, it could literally burn a hole in a tablecloth or eat right through an iron nail. Within your stomach, it acts as a natural antibiotic—your first line of defense against toxic invaders, especially bacteria you are likely to encounter when traveling. It helps to neutralize pathogenic organisms, along with yeast and Helicobacter pylori—the bacteria associated with ulcers. It’s even been used to neutralize the venom of snake bites to prevent infection!

This information may seem new to you, but decades ago Dr. Hugh Tuckey and his wife spent thirty years conducting independent research on HCl, research which has tragically been forgotten. They discovered that a lack of HCl was the underlying cause of many digestive and immune-system ailments, along with bad breath and dark circles under the eyes.

Should you take HCl? Take the HCl challenge!

Before the next meal you eat, take a hydrochloric acid supplement that contains at least 500 to 550 milligrams of betaine hydrochloride and about 150 milligrams of pepsin. The brand I recommend is UNI KEY’s HCL+2. After you’ve taken your first HCl tablet, notice how you feel. If you’re producing enough stomach acid, taking this supplement will cause you to feel a bit of pain or warmth in your stomach. You can relax—your stomach acid is sufficient to digest the food you’re eating.

If you don’t notice any symptoms or any worsening of the symptoms you already have, increase your dose to two HCl tablets at the next meal. If you’re still symptom-free, or if the symptoms you’ve already experienced haven’t gotten any worse, continue upping your dose a tablet at a time. As soon as you feel a burning sensation or warmth, you know you’ve gone too far. Drop back to the previous dosage and continue taking the supplement as needed. You can work up to eight pills a day.

After four months, you might experiment with reducing your HCl dosage. If you get good results, continue to reduce your intake of HCl until you are no longer taking it. If your symptoms return, go back to your previous dosage.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

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  1. Team ALG

    HCL+2 is completely different than Nexium which is a drug. HCL is what your stomach naturally produces to digest protein. I don’t know why it would create a problem for you.

  2. Doreen

    I have been gaining weight around my tummy since I had my gallbladder out a year ago. I started taking garcinia Cambodia 625mg 60% HCA two a day will this help me and is two a day enough. I also drink apple cider vinegar in the morning in a glass of water .

    • Team ALG

      Doreen, you may wish to take 1-2 tablets of HCL+2 with each meal to help with the protein and fat digestion. The ACV water is also helpful.

  3. bob

    I have been taking tBetaine HCL (NOW) for a week and have gained 3 pounds, the antithesis of what I wanted to accomplish. I also suffer from hi distress including leaky intestine. I would so much appreciate your advice.
    Thank you
    R. Coppola

    • Team ALG

      Bob, taking UNI KEY HCL+2 has not been reported to cause weight gain. I’m not sure how the other brand is different. With your GI distress you may wish to take L glutamine to help heal your gut.

    • Bekka

      I, too, gain weight with hcl, which discourages me.

      • Team ALG

        Bekka, I don’t know if you are taking the UNI KEY HCL+2 or not. Other brands can have additives. Perhaps you are having a sensitivity reaction and holding water. There is no reason that HCL itself would cause weight gain.

  4. Traci Miles

    I went to the doctor yesterday and he told me to stop taking HCL, I’ve only been taking it for one week and it worked miracles with my GERD, I went off of them for one day and OMG my GERD was terrible again, why would a doctor tell me to stop taking HCL w/ Pepsin ?

    • Team ALG

      Traci, I’m so glad to hear you are having such good results taking the HCL+2. Many doctors are not informed about the benefits of taking this and do not understand that it may be helpful. There are some people who need to be careful with HCL including those who have ulcers.

  5. janny

    i have crohnes, colitis as well as difficulty loosing weight – bloating , gas and bad breath have bern ía way of life for years – so much so i have avoided socialising and outings just in case! i was listening to dr weiss on thyroid recently and heard about hcl and pepsin – the brand i have does ønot have bile in it – nevertheless i have noticed some very obvious imorovements – i take one a day before my evening meal !! xxx

    • Team ALG

      Janny, if you don’t notice enough improvement in your symptoms please do give the Bile Builder a try. It has the additional benefit of helping you to digest fat and of helping you produce quality bile.

  6. D

    Hi, thank you for your article. Much appreciated. Im taking Betaine HCL with Pepsin, shoudl I increase the dose as it have 325mg betaine hcl & 59mg pepsin. Its a Solgar brand. I did a colonic fluh and the therapist recommended that I take Betaine. Will this only destroy the pathogenic bacteria and not the good bacteria? So by the way, this is my 1st day on it & I really want to also loose some weight along the way 🙂

    • Team ALG

      D, yes you could double the amount of HCL you are taking for better protein digestion. The acidic environment created by the Betaine HCL will kill some of the good bacteria as well. Digesting your protein well will help with weight loss.

  7. Gita

    Hi! I’ve started betain HCL with pepsin a week ago. Dosage is 650 mg( brand is Doctors best) and it has worked wonders with my IBS symptoms. Please advise if I can use betadine hcl for my Son who is 11 and suffers from psoriasis.
    Many thanks !

    • Team ALG

      Gita, HCL is generally safe for someone age 11. Just start slowly with one pill at meal time.

  8. Jean

    I would like to be back to my lifetime weight of 110 lbs. Unfortunately, I have gained 40 lbs in the last 2 years. I have been taking Betaine with Pepsin when I eat protein but my weight stays the same. I want to take garcinia cambogia to get some weight loss…is it safe for me to take the garcinia cambogia 95 % if I am also taking Betaine with Pepsin and also Now Thyroid Energy and Digestive Enzymes after meals. I need to lose some weight for my son’s wedding….Please advise if I am on the right track..thanks

    • Team ALG

      I’d suggest continuing to take the Betaine with Pepsin or switch to HCL+2 which also gives you oxbile to help digest fat. Pick up a copy of the New Fat Flush PLan and start with phase 1. You will lose the weight you want to lose in a very healthy way.

  9. Ben

    I have been using HCL with pepsin for about 2.5 weeks, I have gotten all the way up to 8 pills per meal (with high protein) and I still don’t really feel anything. I digest stuff better in the end but I don’t really get a burning sensation at all. Should I just continue steady with 8 650mg capsules per meal?

    • Team ALG

      Yes Ben, if that is the amount that is helping your digestion then just keep taking that amount. Over time you should be able to cut back as your stomach starts producing more of it’s own HCL.

  10. Alexa

    I have had eczema and skin problems since I was little. I tried HCL thinking it could be a digestion problem, but I had heart burn so I stopped taking it. I’m pretty sure I have leaky gut- probably a result from heavy rounds of antibiotics throughout my life. Do you know of any supplements other than strong probiotics that could help me heal it? Thank you!

    • Team ALG

      Alexa, you could take GLA-90 to help your skin inflammation problems. You can even open the capsules and use it topically. For your gut you could try taking l glutamine.

  11. Michelle

    I have Barrett’s esophagus. I’m taking 40mg of omazperzole for this. I have vasculitis and have gained a lot of weight around my middle from prednisone, which I no longer take. Would this bee something I could benefit from?

    • Team ALG

      Michelle, with your condition and medication you should not take the HCL+2.

  12. Deanna

    Hi! Where can these products be bought?

  13. Julie

    Hi, I’m reading what the people ‘s problem. What can I take to lose some weight.. I was 110 for a very long time even lost some at one point. But now, it seems like every time someone in health fields weigh me I gained another 10 lbs. I’m 176 now and my clothes that I’ve worn for many years don’t fit me anymore. My doctor said that Prednisone, and Lyrica can cause weight gain.
    I have a lot of health issues like, right ventricular dysphasia, seizure or epilepsy, and some kind of dermatitis that the doctors can’t give it a name. They just call it contact dermatitis. As you can imagine, I take many medications every day.
    I want to know if I drink apple cider vinegar, it will help me lose weight. Even though I’m taking so many medications? What other suggestions can you give me to lose weight? I don’t want to spend more money to start buying larger size clothes. Plus, this heavy weight I’m carrying does not make me feel good. Specially, I have pains everywhere that makes harder to exercise. Often, I don’t have the strength and motivation to get up and move and do house work.
    I’d really appreciate it you can give me a suggestions on how to help myself. I’m battling these pains for about 4 years now. I’m tired of always being a patient.
    I know my family are also tired of seeing me like these. They will be happy if I get better.
    Thank You

  14. Chris

    I have been suffering from thick and I do mean thick mucus in the throat for about a year. When I first went to the Doctor, they prescribed Anti Biotics for a throat infection. Every two weeks I would go back and a new strain of AB would be given to me. At this point, GERD was not mentioned. Apart from severe stomach problems nothing was resolved by taking antibiotics.

    I read all I could and realised the symptoms I had may be GERD. I had acid reflux, but had never had the mucus before. I took Nexium, coupled with Mastik and D Limonene. This did initially help. As soon as I stopped taking the Mastik and DL the thick mucus came back. By this point I also had severe gas cramps, IBS symptoms, Asthma and shortness of breath and felt dreadful every day. I accidentally stumbled upon an article about Betaine HCI and Pepsin. I started taking 1 per meal. After the third day, I increased the dosage. The morning of the 3rd day I was talking to somebody and the blockage (mucus) rose up my throat and I had a hard swallow. By the night of the 4th day, my asthma/shortness of breath had faded, my IBS symptoms had gone, no longer gassy cramps, my stools were no longer abnormal, my energy had begun to increase. The only problem I have now is that I am hungry all day. I am also afraid to go back onto a normal diet. I had tried the Fodmap diet to try and get rid of the gas pain. Is feeling hungry all the time normal and how long should I remain on Betaine? This is the first time I have confidence the thick mucus has been conquered.

  15. Team ALG

    HCL+2 is needed by some people with all their meals until they start producing more of their own HCL. If that doesn’t happen then you can rely on taking this as supplementation to keep your protein digestion normal.


    My gallbladder was taken out 16years ago, I’ve been unable to loose weight, just 6 months ago I read about ox bile, I started taking a 500mg if ox bile with I super enzyme capsule, still not able to loose the weight. What else can I do? Thanks!!!

    • Team ALG

      Ola, try taking the Bile Builder. It is more helpful for liver health and digestion of fats than just taking ox bile and enzymes. You also want to follow an eating plan to lose weight, like the Smoothie Shakedown or the New Fat Flush Plan.

  17. Donna McClendon

    Ola, I had been taking PPI’s for a very long time (10 years); I was diagnosed with a very small hiatal hernia. Over the years, my weight has continued to rise no matter how much workout I do. After reading a few articles about the dangers of PPI’s, I weaned myself off of them. However, I started getting food backed up and burning in my throat. I thought this was too much acid so I started taking the PPI’s again. Anyway, a pharmacist told me to heal my stomach and when I was doing online research, I found your site.

    I would like to ask if you can clarify the process for using the HCL? At my larger meals I have been increasing the HCL (up to 5 so far). However, during the day, I usually eat small meals – should I reduce the amount of tablets for these meals? Also, if I do not feel anything when I get to 8 pills, should I continue taking this amount?

    I also have read about the ACV before meals and digestive bitters – how are these taken and will either of these interefere with the HCL?

    Any information you could provide will really help I am just a little confused and need to really start feeling better.

    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Team ALG here: You can try reducing the amount of HCL+2 at the smaller meals to 2-3 depending on what you are eating. You can take 8 pills if you wish but generally 5 pills would be sufficient. Neither ACV or digestive bitters will interfere with the HCL.

  18. Cynthia

    Can you take the bile builder with the HCL2 together at meal time? Should they be taken right before you start eating? I have fluid retention above my navel and am unable to lose weight. I have yellow bms with thick yellow staining- constantly for years now. I have a small bowel that no longer works properly and no doctor can figure it out. I have gained so much weight and am drained of energy always. I have started exercising again and eating less which is helping but not solving these issues- especially the weight gain.

    • Team ALG

      Cynthia, Yes you can take Bile Builder and HCL+2 together with your meal. Taking them as you start your meal or during your meal with help them mix with your food.

      • Cynthia

        Thank you so very much!

  19. GG

    How old does a child have to be to try HCL with pepsin? My 9 year old has been complaining of his food coming back up un his mouth or either throwing up a little. I think it’s reflux and the doctors will want to prescribe one of the heartburn meds if I bring him in.

    • Team ALG

      GG, At an average 9 year old weight your child could take 1/2 caplet of the HCL +2. You could crush it up and put it in applesauce.

  20. Michele

    I have had years of digestive issues. Nothing the doctors have done has helped, I am actually getting worse and recently had my gallbladder out which left me with little control of my bowels. I can’t get my food to move down, I”m having gas, lots of pain, painful stools, with lots of bile–and no direction at all from my doctors. I feel best not eating at all…but I”m starving all the time..and up to 300lbs. Now having really high blood sugar..
    Where do I start…
    I just purchased Betaine Hcl with Pepsin, digestive enzymes, how do I use these with the metformin and Synthroid…its confusing and scary.



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