HCG Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

The basic concepts of the HCG Diet were first made popular by A. T. W. Simeons MD in 1971 through his book entitled Pounds & Inches A New Approach to Obesity, but was only available at expensive spas and weight loss clinics.
hcg diet Pounds and Inches
However, since 2009 there’s been a massive surge in the popularity of the HCG Diet as it is now readily available for people to try at home.

HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone

This hormone is excreted in the urine of pregnant women and is the marker of pregnancy as the fetus is producing and releasing the hormone as well as the placenta.

The HCG diet would be classified as a Fad Diet as there isn’t much evidence that HCG works in promoting weight loss in healthy adults, but only has been proven effective in boys with Fröhlich’s syndrome.

In fact, researching the history of HCG, shows that in the 60’s and 70’s some doctors were paid up to $100,000 a year to sit in a room and write prescriptions for HCG once a week for the weight loss clinics without ever seeing any of the patients.

In a recent double blind study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was determined that using HCG was ineffective in promoting weight loss.

HCG Diet Basics

The core of the HCG diet consists of following the following steps.

  1. Extreme Calorie restriction of around 500 Calories a day.
  2. Foods that are rich in lean protein.
  3. A daily injection of 125mg of the HCG hormone.

The diet proponents claim that the body will begin to burn fat reserves as the HCG prevents the body from breaking down muscle for energy.

The diet claims that weight loss of “26 pounds in 26 days” with up to 3100 fat calories being used for energy per day is possible.

Recommended Foods

Lean protein (fish, turkey, chicken, beef), celery, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, onions,  strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, apples, and tea.

Exercise

Exercise isn’t recommended on the HCG diet, in fact, it is discouraged.

Program Costs

HCG-diet

There are many HCG diets springing up everywhere as this fad continues to gain popularity.

Expect to pay around $140 per month for the HCG drops and additional costs for recipe guides, books, and meal plans.

Costs could be significantly higher for those that go to clinics for their injections and consultations.

Pounds & Inches A New Approach to Obesity is available online for $8.95.

 Many of the HCG drops for sale online are “homeopathic” and do contain real HCG.

Click here to try an online version of the HCG Diet.

See Also: HCG Recipes: Over 200 gourmet recipes that support those following the HCG Diet Plan.

Pros

  • Dramatic, fast weight loss is possible.
  • Some of been successful on this plan.

Cons

  • Weight loss is most likely due to calorie restriction, not HCG.
  • Side effects include headaches, risk of blood clots,  restlessness, and depression.
  • Exercise is not promoted as part of overall health.
  • Calorie restriction is way below what is deemed safe by the majority of the medical profession.
  • Side effects of the long term use of HCG are not understood.
  • Some cancers could not be caught early as HCG injections will hide tumor markers.
  • Lifestyle changes aren’t stressed, but falls under the quick fix mentality.
  • HCG is not approved by the FDA

Weight Loss Due to Extreme Calorie Deficit

While many dieters are lured in by the HCG Diet’s claims of fast weight loss without exercise, dieters are warned to steer clear from the HCG diet as it is not a healthy way to lose weight and the use of HCG drops could potentially lead to other health problems down the road.

The 100’s of testimonials being promoted across the internet are no doubt from people who experienced weight loss, but did so because of the extreme Calorie restriction and the high protein diet which promotes ketosis.

    References:

  • Sanches, M., Pigott, T., Swann, A. C., & Soares, J. C. (2014). First manic episode associated with use of human chorionic gonadotropin for obesity: a case report. Bipolar disorders, 16(2), 204-207. link
  • Asher, W. L., & Harper, H. W. (1973). Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger, and feeling of well-being. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 26(2), 211-218. link
  • Greenway, F. L., & Bray, G. A. (1977). Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity: a critical assessment of the Simeons method. Western Journal of Medicine, 127(6), 461. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: December 24, 2014. Disclaimer
  • Amanda

    First of all, you have not studied this diet at all! The low calorie (500) is part of phase 2 which only lasts for a short period of time. During that time, it is recommended that you do not exercise if you did not REGULARLY excercise. Nobody ever said that the HCG causes the weight loss. They tell you from the beginning that it is the low calorie intake. The HCG prevents you from feeling hungry and getting headaches. I’ve been on diets where I’ve eaten more food than the 500 calories and gotten whoppers of a headache. In phase 3, you can pretty much eat whatever you want but within your daily calorie intake for maintaining your weight (calculated by BMR). This part of the diet must be 21 days. The 4th phase is called life phase. This phase is where you add any foods you want while staying withing your calorie intake. You have to weigh yourself everyday while on the diet. I know people who have lost hundreds of pounds! I think this is much healthier that a gastric bypass! GET your facts straight before you critize something you are not familiar with. BTW, I am on my second round and I’ve lost 35 pounds total. Some people do not lose pounds daily. It all depends on their body type.

  • diana

    Cudos to Amanda!!!! I agree with her. I haven’t tried the diet but have been very interesting and like the concept. Yes it is strict but it also needs to be mentioned that they give nutrition classes and teach you how to eat “from now on” it’s not a couple week diet and then back to pizza and burgers!!!!
    You do have to change your lifestyle but once the setpoint is restored at a lower point and the habitual craving cycle has been disrupted it is much easier to start over than restricting yourself and dealing with the sugar cravings!

    To my background. I’m 5’6″-7″, weigh currently 145 (usually 150) according to scale. Ppl guess me 130-135, I carry weight well and have a lot muscle mass, however I do have appetite control problems and have a very hard time to lose weight unless it comes off in big chunks then I can usually keep it off…

  • Sally

    I am currently on the HGC diet and have lost 22 pounds in 4 weeks. I have more energy at the end of the day than when I was eating all the time. My knee pain has drastically reduced. I’m able to keep up with my two toddlers. This diet is simple, and it works. I could not have survived a plan that would have given me the same results over 6 months or longer. I will only be on the hormones two more weeks, and then I will switch over to the Paleo diet. I won’t be going back to fast food, candy, sweets whenever I please because I know see and feel the detremental effects they have on the body…much worse than taking HGC. Too bad you didn’t mention that in your article. Oh…by the way, my doctor recommends walking a few miles a day. I do, weather permitting, with my kiddos in the jogging stroller.

  • roger

    hcg does not make u burn fat. the reason you burn fat is because you are on a very low carb diet and after a couple of days you will go into ketosis. this would happen without the hcg drops Ketosis is when your body burns fat because you dont have enough carbs for energy so your body goes for your fat stores. google ketosis it is the same way the atkins diet works.

  • adam

    In his book Dr. simeons states that during the diet the patient is on the verge of protein deficiency. Im no expert but that is obviously not good, also why would you want to starve your brain by not eating carbs, glucose is the only thing your nervous system uses for energy, he also admits in his book that the patient is at a risk of dropping into a hypoglycemic state after the treatment which could be very bad. He says that patients complain of weakness during treatment saying it takes more effort to do things like lift weights, he says this is because the muscles get longer because they dont have fat in them lol obviously if you are not eating enought calories in carbs your body cant replace the glycogen in your muscles making them steadily weaker, thats a basic concept, why did he not include that in his explanation? purposely malnourishing yourself to lose weight is dangerous, period.

  • miguel

    ladies, i hate to burst your bubble but yall need to study human anatomy please!!!!!!!u can take in 500 cals all u want THE WAY TO LOOSE WEIGHT IS TO TAKE IN LESS CALS THAN U PUT OUT GET IT?? if u take in 500 cals a day and put OUT 400 or less than 500 gess what… yup u still gain WEIGHT. the gaining of that weight comes from yor body storing more energy than it is releasing, which in turn that STORED energy- u got it baby- turns to fat!!!PS arent steroids like, illegal or somthing? of course its not tha same; thats y its band from sports. PSS anything that promotes non-activity…comon people, lets really just deal w/common sence. Lets eat a rice cake, take a needle and go to bed- very healthy lifestyle. Lets not attribute our overweight to laziness omg; nor a lack of activity or even movement. Wake up, get active,take a walk, watch what u eat, move a little after you eat dont jus sit around payin for crap that u can google and waiting for it to werk 4 u…must i say stop bein lazy..ty good luck to all

  • miguel

    sally wake up…u were obviosly overeating. that normally makes people tired…and ur lighter, ur knees are going to hurt if u put too much pressure on the joints (pressure- weight)now u have less pressure FROM LESS BODY WEIGHT NOT FROM HCG. im done w/ commenting u u obviously have no common sence

  • miguel

    Lets do math here people 1 pro wich is arguable, 8 sideeffects…wut do u really think about that?

  • Athena

    Ok, I’m just going to post my results. My first round, I lost 19 pounds in 24 days, I had a major cheat that set me back 3 pounds so I probably could have lost more if it weren’t for the cheat. I was off for about 2 months, only gained back 5 pounds and I was not dieting when I finished HCG, so i think that’s pretty good.

    This is my second round. the first 3 days I was a little hungry but nothing unbearable. I’ve lost 8 pounds five days of dieting and I’m still going strong and my hunger is gone. Also, I don’t really like fish or chicken, so I replaced that with a protein shake, and my losses are still great.

    The only negative side effect I’ve experienced is a prolonged period (a week, mine is usually only 4 days). My best advice, if you’re a woman, wait to start RIGHT after your period and stop right before your next one is due.

  • Colorado

    The HCG plan where you intake 500 calories per day is only for a short period of time. The benefit to this plan as well is the ability to detox from sugar. Every other plan out there allows you to keep ingesting sugar. For sugar addicts like myself – that is diet suicide. I went to weight watchers, and was successful only because I went to the gym 5-6 days out of the week. If someone has an injury, or other committments, it is now always feasible to go to the gym that often. Weight watchers says, hey – if you want chocolate cake, have one of these little 1 point beauties – which contain what????? sugar. That is like handing an alcoholic a shot and saying, it’s ok, it is just a little bit – have the self control to not drink any more! Puh-lease! HCG works. This is the first plan that I have been able to maintain my losses and has also aided me in detoxing from sugar. Say what you will, but it works!

  • Sheila

    So it’s not approved by the FDA. Phen fen was, and look at the number of people who died from that. This program has been around for 40+ years, so I would think any long term effects from hCG use would have shown up by now. Do they know the long term effects from the bariatric surgeries they are doing now?

    And for the naysayers who think anyone could survive on 500 calories a day and lose weight. Well sure you would lose weight. You would be burning muscle and feeling weak, and when you upped your calories to 1500 in phase 3, you would gain it all back. That doesn’t happen with hCG.

    I’m down almost 60 lbs after 2 rounds, and have had more energy, and have learned how I am going to have to eat from now on to stay healthy and keep the weight off. How many keep the weight off after gastric bypass or Medifast? I’ll stick with hCG thanks!

  • Sheila

    Oh yeah. And do some research. Not every overweight person sits around, eating all day and not exercising. I probably ate about 1200 calories a day and worked 2 jobs where I was on my feet all day, and still couldn’t lose.

  • Denise

    Some people are so ignorant!! If this diet is so dangerous and really doesn’t work, why do so many good, respected doctors recommend it to patients? It’s because it works safely and effectively when other avenues don’t! That’s why!! It sounds too good to be true, but it’s for real and so is the loss of fat that thousands of people have experienced. Get off your uninformed bandstands and maybe make a dent in the health epidemic facing our country by losing fat for good with this diet!!