The HCG diet is the latest craze in the billion dollar diet industry. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone produced during pregnancy. As a prescription medication, HCG’s main use is to treat fertility issues. Physiologically, it’s function is to send signals to the hypothalmus to mobilize fat stores for energy to help fuel the growing fetus.
The HCG diet claim is that daily HCG injections will help you lose 1-3 pounds per day. The HCG-diet combines the daily injections with a very low-calorie diet (500-800 calories per day). The danger is that 500 calories a day is extremely limiting. It is not even enough calories to support normal brain function, let alone movement. The body winds up compensating by using stores of glycogen, protein (muscle and some fat) which lowers your resting metabolism.
What some people don’t realize is that the HCG diet has been around since the 1970’s, introduced by a British physician. It became the foundation of his weight loss program. This should be red flag number one. If this wonder drug worked in the 1970’s why has obesity been on such a steady rise since the 70’s? Or is this is just a case of something old is new again?
The science evidence--there is none supporting HCG injections as a weight loss strategy. Clinical trials published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that HCG alone is ineffective as a weight loss aid And the big surprise is that the injections have not been approved by the FDA for use as a weight lost treatment. The HCG hormone, which is extracted from the urine of pregnant women, is approved for treatment of women’s fertility problems. The effective weight lose with this method is from the severe caloric restriction and it is only temporary. The protocol is so extreme, eliminating practically everything, that it is impossible to adhere to on a long term basis.
Dangers—There are so few foods to eat on this diet that it is almost impossible to get all the nutrients you need each day. Reported side effects have included headaches, mood swings, depression, blood clots, confusion, and dizziness. Some women have also developed a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS); symptoms of this include pelvic pain, swelling of the hands and legs, stomach pain and bloating, weight gain, shortness of breath, or urinating less than normal. If you have experienced any of these symptoms on HCG, contact your health care provider.
Weight loss and weight maintenance are hard work and don’t come in an expensive potion, pill, or injection. It happens through a combination of behavior change, dietary change and exercise.