Five Truths About the hCG Diet as Controversy Evolves

hCG Diet
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The hCG diet is a combination of extreme calorie restriction and receiving doses of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) - a natural hormone produced by the placenta for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. While the FDA has banned liquid drop hCG diet products that claim to cause weight loss, the injectable form of hCG (used for treating infertility) is legal. As a result, many people wishing to lose weight seek physicians specializing in weight loss who are willing to administer the injectable form of hCG.

In a recent TV episode of a popular health show, physicians both pro and con toward prescribing hCG for patients wanting to try the hCG diet made their cases supporting their opinions on the hCG diet. However, what was not addressed was the hundreds of online comments and testimonies of people who have tried or are currently trying the hCG diet and what they have discovered.

HCG Diet for Weight Loss Debated on The Dr. Oz Show

The following is a list of five truths about the hCG diet gleaned from both research, professional opinion and people who have tried the hCG diet:

Truth #1—The hCG diet results in quick weight loss of up to 1 pound per day

This is really a no-brainer. Just by restricting your calorie intake alone to the hCG diet-recommended 500 calories per day will result in quick weight loss. Multiple research studies from credible institutions have shown that injectable hCG does not contribute to burning of fat from specific regions of the body, nor does it appear to suppress hanger pangs. Therefore, aside from a possible placebo effect, the hCG hormone is not necessary for weight loss.

Truth #2—The majority of physicians do not support the hCG diet

There are two primary reasons why the majority of physicians do not support a patient’s desire to try to lose weight through the hCG diet. The first reason is because studies have shown that the majority of dieters who lose weight by extreme fasting will gain back the lost weight plus some extra. The second reason is that it is an unhealthy practice and can cause serious illness and damage to the body due to a resulting lack of nutrients.

People who have tried the diet do recognize that rapid weight loss is typically followed by weight gain; however, they also point out that this is because dieters do not change their eating habits that led to their initial weight gain. On the nutrition side of the argument, users of the hCG diet report feeling healthier when they admitted to taking vitamin and protein supplements with their 500 calorie per day diet in comparison to people who did not report taking vitamin supplements with their diet.

Truth #3—There are side effects from the hCG diet

Health authorities warn that nutritional starvation from a diet that limits caloric intake to the hCG-recommended 500 calories per day puts a person at an increased risk for side effects including gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalance and heart arrhythmias. Furthermore, that the hCG hormone in itself can result in irregular periods and vaginal bleeding, ovarian cysts, blood clots, breast tenderness, headaches and a possible increased long-term risk of breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. In men, hCG can cause breast enlargement, breast tenderness, blood clots, decreased sperm production and infertility.

Online comments from people who tried the hCG diet have reported instances of both prolonged vaginal bleeding and loss of normal menses, vomiting, headaches, weakness, and numerous complaints of significant hair loss.

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Truth #4—Very low calorie diets are considered safe

Published research studies investigating the safety and efficacy of very low-calorie diets have shown that calorie restricting diets are generally safe, but were typically tested at calorie counts of 800 calories per day and for only short periods of time—not the hCG-recommended 500 calories per day for as long as it takes to lose as many pounds as you want. Furthermore, the same studies recommend that being on a very low calorie diet requires close monitoring by a physician and should not be attempted alone.

In general, women need 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day and men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight. A safer weight loss tactic recommended by health authorities is to calculate how many calories you consume per day to maintain your weight at a particular value and then reduce the amount consumed by 500 calories per day for a total of 3,500 calories per week, which results in a pound of fat lost per week.

Truth #5—Not all reported hCG research is credible

The FDA points out that a big part of health fraud is the use of creative marketing techniques to convince potential consumers that a particular product is just the thing they need to buy to achieve good health, weight loss, a cure for a particular disease, etc. Unfortunately, even MDs will forego good science for marketing by referring to poorly executed “pilot studies” or “medical trials” that appear to give scientific support for their product.

In one example as demonstrated on a recent episode of a popular health show, pro-hCG diet physicians reported that in their “pilot study,” individuals on the hCG-diet on average lost 11 pounds of fat and 2 pounds of muscle in comparison to a placebo control group that lost an average 10 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle while on the same calorie diet--but without the hCG hormone injection. The message being that the hCG hormone significantly limits the amount of muscle lost during a 500 calorie per day diet.

However, as one physician who is against the hCG diet pointed out, the pilot study had too few participants to be statistically significant and the findings were skewed because the participants in the two groups differed significantly in their levels of obesity.

To a non-scientist, such findings appear convincing and differences in opinion may appear like so much hand-waving among professionals. But the truth is, there is a lot of bad research performed by people with conflicts of interest toward the results. And this is why seeking information from credible, peer-reviewed journals and taking the word of the FDA is far more important than the word of a guy in a lab coat or scrubs with a slick message and an appealing product that sounds too good to be true.

In summary of the hCG diet

The truth is that the hCG diet can result in fast and significant weight loss in a short period of time, but it is not a healthy or in most cases a permanent fix for losing weight and fighting obesity. Testimonies on the internet are convincing of the diet’s effectiveness for rapid weight loss, but a careful search of the testimonies also reveals that the hCG diet can cause serious health problems. Before trying the hCG diet or any other diet it is highly recommended that you discuss this with your physician first.

References:
“Very Low-Calorie Diets: A Review” JAMA 1993; 270: 967-974; National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity, Richard L. Atkinson et al.

“Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction: a double-blind study” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 29: Sept. 1976, pp. 940-948; Mark R. Stein et al.

FDA message on Health Fraud Scams

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Comments

This is a fair report regarding the controversy of HCG, however it did not seem to be just about the controversy but pointed more towards a traditional medical midset about the HCG protocol in that most physicians are uncomfortable with the protocol "because there is no proof positive evidence" to support it. However, you dont get to that proof positive evidence without trying and tweeking the experiment. I am a believer in this protocol. I am also a nurse witha Master's degree in Nursing. While this does not make me some kind of expert, but my experience with the protocol is valid. I have been on the sublingual HCG tablets now for 3 weeks I have lost by my scale at home 13.8 pounds! That a big deal. Sure, I do believe the VLCD has a major effect but without the tablets I would feel weak and terribly hungry, believe me I have tried it without the tablets. SO as a user I can testify that It does prevent hunger pains, this plus the visual evidence of weight loss convinces me not to fall into temptation until I meet goal. Goal is 150 pounds (started at 174.6 lbs). So from a users perspective, the weight loss without illness is evident. As far as all the side effects, name one manufactured FDA approved medication that does not have side effects both minor and major? This is all a scare tactic. Everyone reacts differently to different medications. When we all take medications we are all hoping that we are not that 1 or 2% of the population that has the major or life threatening side effect that all medications warn about. This is no different. I am 47 years old and have no intention on living the rest of my life fighting metobolic sydrome or any other obese related injuries to my body. I'm not particularily concerned about what this may do to my period. I wont be having babies and will be glad to get rid of it. Women who want children and are of a younger age should discuss with physician. As far as the concern about weight return, this happens with every type of physician approved diet as well. Everybody knows that you can eeat the same and expect different results. You have to change what you eat. during this process I made up my mind that a resetting of the environment was what I needed and that I would also reset my mind toward healthy eating. I continued to research FOOD in general, you would not believe what i found out about what the FDA approves!!! and calls it food. Take GMO's for instance? Most of whats in the stores is made from genetically modifoed organisms(GMO) or seeds! Most of what is passed off as food is NOT even REAL food just made to look and smell like food approved by the FDA!! We all have an addition problem and its with sugar and GMO's manufactured by the food industry to make money. They do not care about the effects that its all causing on the people, OBESITY being the biggets impact. I wont be a victum. i will move toward a plant based diet which research does show is more beneficial. Which brings me to my last point. The willingness to change from the inside out, to be healthy. To eat to live not live to eat. We as Americans have fallen into the trap of industry because of our gluttony and love affair with food particularily with dainties: sweet stuff. This HCG protocol works, its short term and I have experienced no side effects. The biggest benefit besides weight loss is WATER intake becomes the best thing you could ever restore to your body. I hope that others who are on the fence consider what i have said. As the old saying goes, nothing fails but a try. Your current state of health can't be worse than what this protocol offers which is a resetting of the environment; a fresh start mind and body.
I could not agree more or have said it better myself! I am 63 years old and discovered this diet in 2012. I downloaded Dr Simeone's manuscript and followed it to a T each time losing 15 to 20 pounds in a 26 day round plus 3 weeks of maintenance. I usually have to do it once a year to maintain my desired weight. I have a habit of falling into bad eating habits ergo weight gain. I like the diet because there have been no bad side effects for me, only good. Every time I do a round I promise myself to go easy on the carbs but they happen to be a REAL weakness! I am just SO happy to have found this diet because BUT for this diet I would be overweight and very depressed. I have done only sublingual drops which have been very effective in suppressing hunger. That is the main reason why this diet is so great! It is mind over matter! If you cheat, you don't lose....it's just that simple. The reward is getting on the scale almost daily one pound lighter. I have ordered injections for my next round just too see if there is any difference....can't wait to get them! I look at this diet as a catharsis for my body once a year. If you are contemplating this diet and are worried about the idea of only 500 calories per day PLEASE realize that the HCG promtes fat breakdown, the by-products of which are continually circulating in the blood....a source of calories for the body to consume. Dr Simeone's states that these by-products contain vitamins and minerals. So, it is not just the VLCD sustaining the body! The only down side for me is the repetition of food on a day-to-day basis. I don't like fish of any kind. My protein intake is from eggs, non-fat cottage chees and chicken. The only thing I have improvised on is the addition of coconut oil, a very small amount. It promotes fat breakdown. In summation I LIVE THIS DIET! It' s the best thing that's come along since sliced bread!
FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT SUPPORT USE OF HCG, YOU ARE PERMANENTLY RISKING ILL HEALTH IF YOU USE THIS PRODUCT. I WAS ON THE HCG DROPS FOR 2 CYCLES (60 DAYS) AND LOST 60 POUNDS. IMMEDIATELY AFTER I FINISHED THE LAST CYCLE, I HAD A STROKE WHILE RIDING MY BIKE AND HAD NOT BEEN ON MEDICATION PRIOR TO THE STROKE. I ENDED UP BEING HOSPITALIZED FOR 2 MONTHS AND ALMOST LOST MY LIFE. MY NEIGHBOR FOUND ME UNCONSCIOUS IN MY GARAGE WITH MY BIKE LAYING ON TOP OF ME. I CONSEQUENTLY LOST MY JOB DUE TO LENGTH OF HOSPITALIZATION AND THEN LOST MY HOME DUE TO DELAY IN DISABILITY PAYMENTS. I WAS ON TUBE FEEDINGS IN THE HOSPITAL BUT WHEN I STARTED EATING NORMAL FOOD AGAIN, THE WEIGHT RETURNED AND THEN SOME. MY HEALTH HAS BEEN HORRIBLE SINCE MY STROKE, BUT PLEASE BELIEVE ME THIS HCG PRODUCT IS NOT WORTH THE RISK! I EXERCISED EVERY DAY FOR AN HOUR SO I CHANGED MY HABITS AND DISCONTINUED SUGAR IN MY DIET SO THAT IS NOT THE CAUSE OF THE WEIGHT REGAIN. MY FAMILY DOCTOR TOLD ME THAT 100% OF HER PATIENTS WHO WERE ON HCG REGAINED ALL THEIR LOST WEIGHT AND SOME EXTRA. IT MIGHT SEEM EXCITING TOLOSE 1 LB PER DAY BUT IF IT ISN'T SUSTAINABLE, IT WRECKS YOUR SELF-ESTEEM TO LOSE & THEN REGAIN! PLEASE, I BEG ANYONE READING THIS TO NOT RISK YOUR HEALTH USING HCG. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES TO WEIGHT LOSS - HOW LOG DID IT TAKE TO GAIN THE WEIGHT?
Thank you for all your info. I wished I would have read it and better and done more research. I have noticed my hair being thin and my breasts are mushy. I am 54 and lost 15 pounds about two years ago and am noticing some body changes. My arms and legs seem to be mushy too. I am about to start working out with weights to firm up. I have kept weight off. I am just disappointed in myself for wanting a quick fix and not thinking of the results of that. Again, thank you for all the helpful info. I will tell the next person not to do this....... Sarah
I really appreciate the input from from the above ladies. I am scheduled for my initial visit and start of the HCG/VLCD next week. I'm a PA who's been disabled by RA & LBP for several yrs and as a result have put on wt, especially over the past year. I've read what I can about this diet protocol and considering all factors, I believe it offers me the most hope of getting back to a healthier me. In addition, I'm hoping to have decreased joint pain/swelling while on HCG, and afterwards, d/t wt loss. From my personal perspective, at 56, I must get this wt off and I need help as I cannot exercise like I used to b/c it seems to frequently lead to increased joint swelling & pain; hence, I need a booster to help w/the fat loss. I also need to reset my hypothalamus' hunger set point badly. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Thank you:)
I lost 60 pounds doing three rounds. It is the only diet that has worked for me. I recently had a heart attack caused by blocked vessels and have three stents. I really do not believe the diet was the cause...heart attacks run in my family and I think if I had been heavier, it would have been worse. Getting some weight off my knees has helped, and I will start cardiac rehab ASAP. I am fighting to keep the weight off!!! I did do this diet under a Dr's care, and did the injections with B12 and several supplements.
I AGREE with all points made by the commenters to this article. Especially the point made that every drug offered in allopathic medicine has a side effect. Because surely it does. People need to wake up and know that when people make claims that a drug or diet is or is not "Physician approved" or "FDA approved" that perhaps they need to investigate the substance of that statement in itself a bit more, because as commenter #1 has mentioned, that very same FDA approves drugs all the time, let them be prescribed to the general population for a period of time (usually 10 years) then you start to see the "Call law office so and so ads..because of this side effect...etc). WAKE UP PEOPLE. The FDA and Physicians are not fail proof and both are in the business to make MONEY. It's called capitalism. You better wise up and learn to make decisions on your own and for your own health. I would much rather take a gamble on HCG and lose this 100 pounds I have to lose, than to not and take insulin injections, antihypertensives, ACE-inhibitors, etc...for diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease. I almost wonder If articles like this are designed as a scheme by pharma companies soley with the intent to keep people fat and sick. Afterall if the people get fit, business goes slow for big pharma and doctors. Chew on that for a little while, as you vest all of your trust in the FDA...
HCG is a great diet. It really does work; however, my last round that I started in July only lasted about a week before I wound up with two DVT blood clots in my leg and major medical bills. I'm glad I had insurance at the time. I'm now on blood thinners until next month and I'm now at rish for clots for the rest of my life. I'm only 45. If I get one more, I'm on blood thinners for life. Anyone wanting to do this diet should be aware of the side effects. I was smoking when I did this round. That may not have helped with the clots. Having said that, I'm sad I can't do the diet again because it does work so well. I've always been a runner and plan to keep my weight in check with healthy eating and running. I've quit smoking and look forward to continuing to eat some of the healthy foods that I learned to love on the HCG diet. Facebook has a HCG group that has recipes, et cetera, and it is really helpful. Happy dieting.
I wonder if the writer has actually tried the HCG diet using the injectable. I am only on my first week and the hunger suppression is far from placebo. I can't imagine anyone actually doing this and not feeling it. If you have the actual HCG hormone (easily confirmed with a pregnancy test) then effects are night and day unmistakeable. I've never been able to eat less than 2500 calories without some effort. With these injections I am happy on a 250 calorie lunch and dinner. I wish my mind were so powerful but trust me, all the will power I've ever been able to muster in dieting isn't even in the same ballpark as coasting through the day on 150 ius of HCG, thanks
I have been on thus diet one week. Does it work, yes...but at what cost?! My blood pressure I,mediate you went from a low healthy range to 167/107!!!! I've had chest pain every day and now have to go into the ER to be checked for blood clots and get IV fluids. I am severely dhydrated and I drink 100-125 ounces of water a day! And my breast are truly painful. Yes, you drop inches and weight fast,but is it worth permanent damage to your body, or death. I'm 45. And these side effects are truly scary. And I did believe this effects your heart. I will update you after my ER visit.