The hCG diet is a popular fad that boasts the claims that the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin helps rapid weight loss without muscle loss and without hunger pains on a restrictive 500-800 calorie per day diet.
If it sounds too good to be true, there’s a reason.
In fact, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) declared hCG products marketed for weight loss dangerous and deceitful.
What is Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)?
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced typically during pregnancy by the placenta to help a growing embryo, as well as signal to the body to stop menstruation. After the placenta begins producing hCG, it triggers the body to make more of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. HCG, in addition to these hormones, aids to thicken the uterine lining and promotes a healthy pregnancy.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is detected around 10 to 11 days after conception and is highest around 10 weeks (the end of the first trimester). Healthcare professionals measure hCG via urine analysis or blood tests to confirm pregnancy and track the health of the pregnancy. The rate at which Human Chorionic Gonadotropin levels increase in early pregnancy indicates how the pregnancy progresses. Low or declining hCG levels can signify issues with the pregnancy like a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
When there are elevated levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin without pregnancy, it can be a sign of cancer or may lead to cancer. Cancerous tumors such as hydatidiform mole, choriocarcinoma, and germ cell tumors found in placental, ovarian, and testicular cancer are correlated with high levels of hCG.
HCG Weight Loss – Can Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) Help Weight Loss?
It should be noted that studies conducted over the years have not found any evidence that supports the following claims about hCG and weight loss.
Advocates of the hCG weight loss program claim that you can experience rapid weight loss of up to 1-2 pounds per day along with the ‘promise’ that you won’t feel hungry during it.
Supporters say the program boosts your metabolism and reduces large amounts of fats. They also purport that hCG hormone injections prevent muscle loss that generally occurs when someone loses weight quickly. It’s said to accomplish this by elevating certain hormone levels (like testosterone) and counteracting muscle breakdown.
Source: Balance Hormone Center, How HCG Therapy Can Help You Lose Weight
Unfortunately, HCG is not a miracle weight loss drug. All of these claims are unfounded.
HCG Injections for Weight Loss
Aside from being an essential part of pregnancy and the marker used in at-home pregnancy tests, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is mainly used in fertility treatments.
An hCG injection is a medication made up of the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone that is injected either under the skin or into a muscle. Licensed medical professionals administer this medication to increase the chances of pregnancy when used in conjunction with IVF or IUI, help with the production of testosterone and sperm, and can be used to treat undescended testicles in male infants.
HCG medical weight loss treatments go all the way back to 1954 when Albert Simeons, a British doctor, used Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone injections as a weight loss tool.
Although Simeons’ methodology, known as the Simeons therapy, has had some popularity through the decades, it receives large criticism since there is no scientific proof that hCG causes weight loss.
Source: National Library of Medicine, The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis
Over-the-counter (OTC) hCG injections are illegal and can only be administered or prescribed by a licensed physician for off-label uses, meaning for purposes that aren’t approved.
When Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone is used outside of these proven treatments, it is dangerous and fraudulent. Injections from any person other than a licensed physician should not be trusted and any physician who administers hCG injections for weight loss is acting unethically. So, it turns out that Dr. Simeon’s hCG diet is neither safe or effective.
HCG Drops for Weight Loss or HCG Capsules for Weight Loss
HCG drops are serums sold in bottles with eyedroppers and are usually marketed as hCG diet drops whereas hCG capsules are pills. HCG capsules can also be found under hCG pellets, hCG sublingual tablets, or hCG vitamins. Promoters of these hCG products tote them as supplements to the hCG weight loss diet.
One promoter and seller of these supplements says hCG drops have testosterone in them, giving users a ‘boost of energy’ and making the outrageous claim of giving them ‘masculine traits’.
The hCG drops are placed under the tongue three times a day to ‘stave away hunger pangs’ while limiting caloric intake to around 500 calories a day.
Although they purport these drops or pills to have a whopping list of benefits such as, ‘burning away stubborn fat’, ‘boosting your metabolism’, and ‘no hunger cravings’, all these claims are untrue.
Like hCG injections for weight loss, hCG drops or hCG capsules for weight loss are ineffective.
Bear in mind, it’s not only that hCG products are ineffective for weight loss. Safety and health are no small things to consider when taking these supplements. Without the FDA’s approval, there is no regulation on what ingredients are put into hCG products. It is possible that there may be additives in them that are hazardous to a person’s health.
According to the FDA, any sellers of hCG drug products on websites or in retail stores are in violation of the ‘Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act by selling unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs that make unsubstantiated claims about weight loss’. Below is a list of popular manufacturers and distributors and their products that are in violation of these acts:
- HCG Diet Direct, LLC
- HCG Diet Homeopathic Drops
- HCG 1234 LLC (The hCG Drops LLC)
- Homeopathic HCG
- HCG Platinum LLC, RightWay Nutrition
- HCG Platinum
- HCG Platinum X-30
- HCG Platinum X-14
- Nutri Fusion Systems LLC
- HCG Fusion 30
- HCG Fusion 43
- www.resetthebody.com and www.theoriginalhcgdrops.com
- Homeopathic Original HCG
- Homeopathic HCG
- HCG Extra Weight Loss Homeopathic Drops
- Natural Medical Supply
- Alcohol Free hCG Weight Loss Formula
These are not the names of every hCG product on the market, so be aware that ANY over-the-counter (OTC) products marketed as containing hCG for weight loss are unsafe and fraudulent.
If you are currently taking OTC hCG drops, capsules, or supplements, the FDA urges you to stop using the product and discontinue the dieting instructions on its label.
Given that elevated levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin without pregnancy are a precursor to cancer and can encourage the growth of certain types of cancer, it’s understandable some research has linked hCG weight-loss product use to an increased risk of cancer.
Source: Mayo Clinic, Has the HCG diet been shown to be safe and effective?
The HCG Diet
The dangers of the hCG diet plan aren’t only present because of its unapproved and unsafe products. Another major risk of the hCG diet program is it includes eating only 500-800 calories per day. The basis of Dr. Simeon’s hCG diet is that hormone injections, in conjunction with a meal plan consisting of a low caloric intake, will help you lose weight. This is dangerous and not even effective.
The hCG diet protocol is broken down into phases.
HCG Diet Plan Phase 1
The first phase is known as the ‘loading’ phase in which one is supposed to have as many fatty and high-calorie foods as they can eat for one day. The recommended food to load up on is all the junk food that we are told to avoid when trying to lose weight and are proven to be unhealthy. The claim is you need fat stored for the later phases in order for the hCG hormone to release these storages of fat and keep hunger at bay in the next phase.
In reality, all the ‘loading’ phase most likely does is cause a person to be so full and in discomfort that when they move onto phase 2, they can survive the first day on only 500 calories.
HCG Diet Plan Phase 2 – or the HCG 500 Calorie Diet
This is the phase in the diet plan where ‘rapid weight loss’ is supposed to occur. This part restricts dieters to a mere 500 calories per day, aka a very low-calorie diet (VLCD), and can go for as long as 26 to 40 days.
Examples of hCG diet foods are lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits. These are all healthy, nutritious, and low-calorie foods, but the hCG diet protocol requires one to eat much less than the recommended serving size of these foods.
It’s no wonder participants – if they can manage it – experience a drastic change in weight. VLCD meal plans, which consist of around 800 calories per day, are notorious for causing extreme weight loss, and the hCG diet demands even fewer calories than a typical VLCD one to start.
HCG Diet Plan Phase 3
This is where the dieter transitions back to a normal caloric intake, but is still restricted to hCG diet-approved foods while slowly introducing healthy fats back into their meals to not shock their system. The transition lasts for three weeks.
The fourth phase of the diet is simply being off the diet with the idea that going forward, one will not overeat and eat healthier. Unfortunately, most who lose weight on this diet gain some or all of the pounds they lose back just as quickly as they lost it.
Source: HCG Diet Info, The 4 HCG Diet Phases (1, 2, 3, 4)
The Side-Effects and Dangers of the HCG Diet
The real reason why people who are on the hCG weight loss program may find success in shedding pounds on it is essentially due to it being a very low-calorie diet. Science has shown no evidence that the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone has any impact on weight loss whether hCG is in the form of injections, drops, capsules, or anything else.
The problem with very low-calorie diets, besides being unsustainable for any extended length of time, is they come with nasty side effects. Some of the risks are:
- Gallstone formation
- An imbalance of electrolytes that the body’s muscles and nerves need to function properly
- Irregular heartbeat
- Edema or Water Retention that causes swelling
- Extreme Hunger
- Fatigue (weakness and tiredness)
That does not even cover other common side effects such as:
- Muscle Loss
- Hair Loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low blood sugar
- Bad Breath
- Constipation or diarrhea
Muscle loss and hunger are side effects that the hCG diet fraudulently promises to prevent.
Source: Verywell Fit, What Are the Side Effects of the HCG Diet?
Summary: Does the HCG Diet Work?
The short answer is: no.
The fact of the matter is the hCG hormone for weight loss is a total hoax, another ‘lose weight quick’ scheme, and the hCG diet is unhealthy to the point of being dangerous to your health.
Much to our disappointment, there is no magic pill that will cause you to instantly shed pounds. The healthier parts of the hCG diet program, like healthy foods and portion control, are what have always been known to help you lose weight, but starving yourself is not a long-term solution or a safe one. If anything, studies show that continually eating fewer calories than your body requires can slow down your metabolism.
In order to lose weight in a healthy way, your body needs calories and nutrition to have the energy to build and sustain muscle growth. There is no substitute for long-term weight loss other than understanding nutrition, eating foods that support your health, and regular exercise.
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