HCG diet is a very popular weight loss protocol for a couple of years.
It was first introduced by Dr. Simeons who wrote the original “Pounds and Inches” weight loss protocol about 60 years ago.
However, subsequent studies negated the claims of Dr.Simeons on HCG for weight loss. His data failed to be replicated in later studies, and the public interest in this weight loss protocol was very minimal for a few decades.
This diet leaped back into massive popularity when telemarketer and convicted felon Kevin Trudeau started promoting the diet again in 2007; he argued that TRUTH on this weight loss system had been deliberately suppressed by FDA and The American Medical Association.
Over the last decade, few weight-loss experts have reinvented the ‘improved and advanced’ HCG fat diminishing protocol with different program structures. But the questions on its effectiveness and safety remain a debatable issue.
Many consider it an extreme diet that promises up to 1-2 pounds of weight loss per day.
The Food and Drug Administration does not approve of the claims of HCG proponents and manufacturers; warns people to avoid over-the-counter weight loss supplements that contain HCG.
This article aims to present to you a critical review of the science behind the HCG diet with all its pros and cons.
What Is HCG?
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced in the human placenta that maintains the corpus luteum during pregnancy.
HCG is used as a prescription medicine mostly to treat fertility issues. This hormone is used as a marker in home pregnancy tests as well.
HCG hormone supports the normal development of an egg in a woman’s ovary and stimulates the release of the egg during ovulation.
HCG is also used as a prescription medicine for treating ovulation issues in women, fertility problems in men and women, and disorders in the development of male testicles.
Human chorionic gonadotropin is also used as a tumor marker; elevated blood levels of HCG are one of the symptoms of a few types of cancer, including placental, ovarian, and testicular cancer.
HCG For Weight Loss
In 1954, Dr. Albert Simeons first introduced the HCG weight loss system.
The details of HCG for weight loss were first revealed in his book “Pounds and Inches,” which contains the original HCG diet protocol. In this book, he claimed that human chorionic gonadotropin has the ability to increase fat burning and reduce cravings for food.
This weight loss program consists of two main components: ‘HCG Injection and HCG Diet Plan’.
The HCG diet entails upwards of 60 days of low-calorie intake and HCG intake.
Over the years, several variants of HCG weight loss protocols and products were invented by other bariatric doctors and researchers.
Today, this weight loss system is available in various forms such as injection, oral drops, pellets, and sprays.
HCG Diet Plan
It is an extreme diet plan which allows only just 500 to 700 calories a day on average for 8 weeks while taking HCG.
HCH is taken through injection or by taking a “homeopathic” product, such as oral drops, pellets, or sprays.
HCG Diet Food List
Under the HCG Diet Plan, lunch and dinner are the same menus: one protein, one vegetable, one fruit, and one starch. For each meal, you select one type of food from each category.
The suggested protein food sources are chicken breast, lean beef, lobster, crab, fresh white fish, shrimp, or veal.
HCG diet food list suggests vegetables such as beet greens, spinach, green salad, chard, chicory, tomatoes, celery, red radishes, asparagus, onions, cucumbers, or cabbage.
Only a few choices on fruits are included in the HCG Diet Plan; they are strawberries (a handful), small-medium-sized orange, one apple, or 1/2 of a grapefruit.
The starch or carbs diet under HCG weight loss is one low-fat breadstick, one Melba toast, or two Melba rounds.
HCG Diet Plan in 3 Phases
Loading phase: Start taking HCG and eat plenty of high-fat, high-calorie foods for 3 days.
Weight loss phase: Restrict the food intake to only 500 calories per day and keep taking daily the prescribed dosage of HCG for 3 to 8 weeks.
Maintenance phase: From this phase, the supplement is not taken anymore. Gradually increase calorie intake but strictly avoid starch and sugar for 3 weeks. A healthy diet plan and lifestyle to be followed thereafter to prevent future weight gain.
Note: The course duration of the treatment depends on the obesity conditions of the person. Those who have to lose a lot of weight need to follow a complete 8 weeks program and even repeat the cycles of treatment if still more to be lost.
In the case of the individuals who need to lose only a few pounds of weight, 2 to 3 weeks of HCG treatment is sufficient.
Forms of HCG Shots
Today, HCG products are sold in various forms. They are available in some pharmacies and through countless websites.
Here are the various forms of HCG products:
Proponents of the HCG weight loss program claim that injection of human chorionic gonadotropin speeds metabolism, breaks down the body’s stored fat, and suppresses appetite.
The recommended dosages of HCG injection are at 150iu daily for the first week, then increase it to 175iu daily for the 2nd week, then increase it to 200iu daily for the remainder of the diet protocol.
Usually, daily one injection for 8 consecutive weeks is recommended for the best weight loss results.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropic drops or simply HCG drops are a synthetic variant of the HCG hormone that is produced during pregnancy.
Homeopathic HCG drops are prescribed to be taken 2 to 6 times per day. Each time one drop of HCG is held under the tongue for one or two minutes; preferably no drinks or foods are taken 15 minutes before and after each session.
HCG Pellets are small dots placed under the tongue when following the HCG diet. It is more of a ‘solid form’ alternative to the drops. It is a less popular option and not as effective as the injection and drops.
The HCG spray and drops are quite similar in content. A dose of spray shot to be given each time under the tongue; spray to be used 2 to 6 times a day for 8 weeks.
Effects Of HCG On Body
HCG is naturally produced in women during pregnancy; this protein-based hormone marks the pregnancy status of a woman.
This hormone is mostly produced in the first three months of the pregnancy and after this period, the blood levels of this hormone decrease.
Does HCG Weight Loss Protocol Work?
HCG is one of the oldest weight loss solutions that have been in use for the last 60 years.
The inventors of this hormone-based diet make big claims about its effectiveness in enhancing metabolism, increased fat burning, and suppression of appetite.
However, many of the past studies on this supplement do not perfectly agree with those claims.
According to a study that appeared in The South African Medical Journal, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
Another double-blind study in 1979, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “HCG does not appear to enhance the effectiveness of a rigidly imposed regimen for weight reduction.”
Greenway F.L’s study reports that between the placebo and HCG groups, “There was no evidence for differential effects on hunger, mood or localized body measurements. Placebo injections, therefore, appear to be as effective as HCG in the treatment of obesity.”
Several other research on HCG effects on weight loss also has concluded that weight loss achieved by the HCG diet is due to the ultra-low-calorie diet alone and has absolutely nothing to do with the HCG hormone.
Most studies have reported identical weight loss results among HCG injections with placebo injection groups.
It was also noted that contrary to the claims, the human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone did not have any significant effect on suppressing the appetite.
Does HCG Increase Muscle Mass?
One of the prominent claims of HCG supporters is its effectiveness in weight loss resulting from fat loss without affecting muscle mass.
They also claim that HCG drops help in enhancing the function of other hormones, and this helps in boosting metabolism and better growth of muscles.
Usually, all extreme calorie-restricted weight loss programs drastically reduce muscle mass along with body fat.
None of the scientific studies on HCG diets have proven its ability to promote muscle gr0wth or its ability to maintain muscle mass.
It is absolutely false that HCG injection can increase muscle growth.
If you are on a 500 calorie-restricted diet, certainly you will require eating plenty of high-protein foods and weight-lifting exercises to maintain muscle mass.
Finding genuine HCG products in the market is hard. The actual product is not affordable for many as it is very expensive.
What is being popularly sold online and over-the-counter today are homeopathic HCG synthetic variants of the actual hormone. There is NO human chorionic gonadotropin in it.
The actual HCG injection is specially formulated for fertility treatment. This is a prescription drug that cannot be sold online or over-the-counter.
Homeopathic HCG products do not help to raise the blood levels of the hormone. Most of these HCG products such as drops, pellets, and spray sold online are just scams. The weight loss results some people might experience with those kits are because of the extreme calorie-restricted diet they have to follow along with the treatment.
Besides, none of the scientific studies have reported any scope for weight loss with this hormone-based treatment.
Companies that sell over-the-counter HCG weight-loss products are actually selling ‘false promises’ to unsuspecting customers. It is even illegal to sell a product that is already banned by the FDA.
Possible Side Effects Of HCG
The FDA has come down heavily on the false promises of the HCG proponents. It is not an FDA-approved weight loss product.
In fact, it is strictly a prescription drug meant for fertility treatments as per the recommendations of the FDA.
The safety and guarantee of the product are highly unreliable. The ingredients used in it are unregulated and unknown.
There are a few side effects reported by HCG diet users, such as:
- Thinning of hair
- Leg cramps
- Fluid buildup (edema)
- Gynecomastia (in boys and men)
There are also reported cases of blood clots forming and blocking blood vessels in a few individuals who underwent the treatment.
HCG alone cannot be responsible for some of the adverse effects of this treatment. The side effects such as fatigue, depression, irritability, etc. are because of the starvation-level calorie intake.
Should You Try HCG Diet?
Losing weight with an HCG diet plan is possible.
However, the actual weight loss results happen because of the extremely low-calorie diet and not because of the HCG intake.
If you consistently follow any diet that is low in calories, you are sure to experience substantial weight loss results within a few weeks.
Contrary to all claims, HCG intake neither helps in weight loss not it suppresses appetite.
You can lose weight just by following the low-calorie diet plan that is included in the HCG diet plan. But just ignore all forms of HCG intake which is ineffective and expensive.