Many people get upset when they measure their weight. Why? Probably because, one expects that she or he has dropped a few kilos after applying a strategy, but that is not always the case. Numerous weight loss programs are coming out daily in the market, and most of them fail to deliver excellent or visible results. Some people even end up gaining more weight.
Many weight loss strategies are circulating the internet, claiming that you can lose weight without even exerting too much effort. Just imagine reaching the last day of your diet plan, finding that you have lost a few kilos by eating less. You, your family and friends are amazed by your achievement. You didn’t even have to visit the gym or wake up early for a run. That sounds too good to be true, right?
If there was a diet plan that does not even require you to move, yet so effective, wouldn’t all people who want to lose weight know about this and try it? By now, you have probably heard about the HCG Diet.
The HCG Diet – Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
The HCG Diet involves taking small dosages of HCG (injections, pellets, or drops), a hormone women produce during pregnancy. It has been around for around 50 years and now it is gaining popularity for weight loss purposes. This diet follows a very low-calorie diet ranging from 500 to 1200 calories. The average reported weight loss is 0.5 to 0.8 pounds per day.
According to HCG Diet Info, today’s HCG diet includes exercise, a low-calorie diet with a list of more allowed foods and a strong focus on learning healthy habits to maintain weight. It naturally stimulates the body’s metabolism and results in a muscle-toned body that eliminates excess weight for about 1 pound per day. The site also claims that the whole purpose of the HCG diet is to help people become truly healthy and strong, not just thin. This purpose makes HCG diet sounds good and convincing.
Original HCG Diet Plan
The original HCG diet plan, “Pounds and Inches” by Dr. Simeons was first published in 1954. The protocol calls for a small dosage of the said hormone given through injections, following a 500-calorie food list. This protocol has developed based on modern technology, research, and the availability of new food options (1).
The most commonly followed procedures today are based on the original HCG Diet developed by Dr. Simeons, adding a few improvements to make the diet easier. These developments also benefit future weight maintenance and overall health. These modern adjustments include the use of HCG pellets or HCG drops rather than HCG injections. The food list is expanded, and exercise is also executed.
While on the HCG diet, you should only eat:
- High-protein foods – This includes chicken breast, lean and fat-free meat, shrimp, lobster and crabs.
- Fresh vegetables – Eat low-calorie vegetable with lunch and dinner.
You are not allowed to consume daily, sugar, alcohol and carbs. You are also encouraged to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. This also helps the body flush out unwanted toxins.
This is pretty much similar when compared to popular dieting. It is always recommended to reduce or avoid sugar consumption and eat high-protein foods to lose weight. However, HCG diet also has more restrictions.
You are not allowed to take solid foods before lunch. You get to consume just coffee or tea without sugar. One tablespoon of milk is also allowed but only once throughout your day.
For lunch, you can consume 100 grams of a protein source. Your options are chicken breast, fresh white fish, veal, beef, lobster, shrimp and crab. Make sure that you weigh them raw and pick only the leanest cuts of red meat.
In addition to your protein source, consume low-calorie vegetables. You can choose between spinach, green salad, tomatoes, chard, fennel, celery, red radishes, cucumbers, onions, cabbage and asparagus.
For carbohydrates, you can have a piece of Melba toast or one grissino breadstick. A handful of berries, orange or apple is allowed for dessert. You may also save the fruit as a snack for later.
For dinner, you will simply repeat the same procedure as you did for lunch. You can choose another source of protein and different vegetable.
How Can HCG Diet Work?
It is indeed possible to lose weight if you are only eating 500 calories per day, right? But won’t that make you have mood swings and cravings all the time?
According to Doctor Simeons, dieters following the protocol would have an enhanced mood while avoiding hunger pangs with the HCG treatment. The HCG uses the excess fat stored in problematic areas, allowing your body to feed on your very own body fat.
The HCG diet also allows the body to maintain its muscle mass while dieting. It helps testosterone levels to increase and allows muscle to build. Ideally, this treatment should last from 26 to 43 days. The dieter is supposed to go on a 3-day reduction diet before going back to a normal diet. This sounds really promising, but does it actually work?
What the FDA Thinks About It
HCG is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, it was only approved for treating infertility in women and men. Women can take HCG to stimulate ovulation if they have low hormone levels. Men can also take this treatment to increase their sperm counts if they have low levels of testosterone. The HCG diet is considered ineffective and homeopathic by the FDA (2).
Many scientists believe that weight loss occurs due to the restricted intake of calories and not HCG treatment. Also, the amount 500 to 1000 calories a day is far below the recommended caloric consumption. The FDA ran Dr. Simeon’s tests and had found that there was little evidence supporting its claims.
Because the FDA did not approve HCG for weight loss, there has been unclear information available about the HCG diet. Many internet and over-the-counter HCG products may not even contain the hormones.
Today, one must have a prescription from a doctor to get HCG injections. HCG for fertility purposes is considered legal. This is how the hormone or drug is being used in the medical industry. Many diet programs make different forms of HCG, such as non-prescription oral drops. However, these drops do not really contain the hormone. They contain other ingredients that mimic the HCG effect on the body’s metabolism process.
Just like the HCG injections, the HCG oral drops are also absorbed by the bloodstream. These drops do not contain the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, but ingredients that make similar metabolic effect. If you would take a look at the description of some HCG drop products, you may see that they are listed as FDA registered, but not FDA approved.
False and Misleading HCG Claims
Some deceiving tactics used by many HCG drop sellers include:
- No prescription required
- Natural weight loss
- HCG converts fat into nutrients without muscle loss
- You can lose 1 to 2 pounds per day
- Same results as in an HCG clinic
- Proven to increase energy levels
- Homeopathic HCG is safe and does not affect the body
Side Effects and Dangers of the HCG Diet
Serious diet restrictions come with many side effects from both the hormone and the diet. As mentioned before, the HCG drug treatment is approved for infertility. The side effects are similar to morning sickness experienced by pregnant women including nausea, headaches, cramps, queasiness and constipation (3).
Other side effects that dieters may experience include hair thinning, male breast enlargement, blood clots, and leg cramps. Restricted calorie diets may also cause the body to starve. While the diet claims that there is no effect on a dieter’s lean muscle mass, the protocol may result in heart failure.
Though the FDA mentioned that these products are not necessarily dangerous to health, some manufacturers come with misleading strategies, since there is no reliable evidence they are effective for losing weight. Experts and doctors warn dieters about the HCG diet and they all say the same thing, “stay away from it.”
Consuming only 500 calories a day, as the HCG diet follows, is not healthy. That is like eating just one meal a day and your body is being deprived of essential nutrients it needs to function properly. Extreme low-calorie diets can lead to severe muscle and bone loss, gallstones, electrolyte imbalances, and even death. The side effects of HCG diet are overwhelming to the point that dieters may end up feeling tired and irritated.
It is important to bear in mind that a proper diet, without starving yourself, is sufficient enough to achieve your desired weight. Perform a few exercises at least 30 minutes a day, drink plenty of water and stay active. Building good connections to people around you also boost happiness and energy levels, and that is way better than injecting hormones.
1. HCG Diet Info. What Is The HCG Diet Plan? Viewed at: https://hcgdietinfo.com/getting-started-with-the-hcg-diet-plan/
2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. HCG Diet Products Are Illegal. Viewed at: https://www.drugs.com/fda-consumer/hcg-diet-products-are-illegal-204.html
3. U.S. News. HCG Diet Dangers: Is Fast Weight Loss Worth the Risk? Viewed at: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2011/03/14/hcg-diet-dangers-is-fast-weight-loss-worth-the-risk?page=2
Emily has spent the last 8 years comparing, reviewing and analyzing ingredients in the supplements industry. She has worked extensively with dieticians, nutritionists and personal trainers to separate fact from fiction and help people achieve their fitness goals. In her free time she works and enjoys the outdoors with her husband and 2 children.