The HCG or or human chorionic gonadotropin diet has emerged again as a popular way to drop extra pounds. The diet calls for severe calorie restriction along with injections or supplements of the HCG hormone.
Many health experts argue people may lose weight for the short term by going on the HCG diet because of the calorie restriction; however, most dieters will eventually gain back the pounds they lose once they go off the diet. In addition, there are safety concerns about HCG; the effects are not certain, and it has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for weight loss.
According to the MayoClinic, as a prescription medication, HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy and mainly used for fertility issues. The HCG diet is based on the premise that the hormone suppresses the appetite and prevents dieters from feeling weak and lightheaded while restricting food intake to fewer than 800 calories a day, which is much lower that the recommended amount of calories people need every day for adequate nutritional needs.
The diet also promises that people will lose pounds quickly along with several inches around their stomach and hips. As with any fad diet, dieters should be cautious about all the hype surrounding the treatment.
Research Findings and the HCG Diet
There are no scientific peer reviewed studies that show HCG is effective for weight loss. According to Pamela Peeke in the WebMD article “Diet Scam 101: The HCG Con,” “In 1995, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a summary of research showing no hCG related weight loss association. The American Society of Bariatric Physicians does not recommend hCG for weight loss as noted in a December 2009 position paper.”
According to Elena Conis in the Los Angeles Times article,”Nutrition Lab; hCG Shots? Don’t Bother; A Diet’s ‘Success’ Comes From Allowing Only 500 Calories a Day, Studies Show, Not Hormone Injections,” when researchers began to “rigorously compare the diet’s key ingredient–hCG injections–to a placebo, or dummy injection, they failed to produce evidence that the hormone was anything special.”
HCG Side Effects
HCG side effects include blood clots, depression and headaches, breast tenderness and enlargement, says Anemona Hartocollis in the New York Times article “Diet with Hormone has Fans and Skeptics.” Many professionals who help people lose weight with HCG state dieters need extra medical tests that are usually expensive.
HCG Diet Review
The author, Kevin Trudeau who helped propel the popularity of the HCG diet in his bestselling book The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About has a tenuous and suspicious background. According to Kathleen M. Zelmen WebMD in the article, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” Trudeau has no nutritional or medical credentials. The author also is known as a “controversial and very successful businessman who has made a career from hawking natural ‘cures’ via infomercials and books. He preys on the fears of consumers, giving them someone to blame for their overweight or obese conditions.”
In his book, Trudeau claims the cure for losing weight has been kept a secret by the American Medical Association, the Federal Drug Administration and other worldwide organizations to keep Americans “fat” so companies can make huge profits from drugs and surgeries for obese and overweight people.
Zelmen goes on to state that Trudeau has had a number of altercations with the law, including a larceny conviction. The Federal Trade Commission has restricted Trudeau’s right to use infomercials because these infomercials have mislead consumers in the past. In October 2007, the Federal Trade Commission charged the book’s marketers with misrepresenting its contents in infomercials when they claimed that the HCG diet could easily be done at home and ultimately allows dieters to eat whatever they want.
Keep in mind that diets that promise quick, specious miraculous fixes are usually fad diets. The best way to lose weight is to talk with a doctor first and then make permanent diet and lifestyle changes that are effective and safe for health.
Conis, Elena. “Nutrition Lab; hCG Shots? Don’t Bother; A Diet’s ‘Success’ Comes From Allowing Only 500 Calories a Day, Studies Show, Not Hormone Injections.” Los Angeles Times. November 2, 2009.
Hartocollis, Anemona. “Diet with Hormone has Fans and Skeptics.” New York Times. March 8, 2011. pg. A.1.
“HCG Diet: Is it Safe and Effective?” MayoClinc.