The HCG Diet
Posted: December 22, 2012
The HCG diet has gained popularity in recent years much like the Acai berry it was mentioned on the Dr. Oz show, and like the Acai berry it was taken out of context and made out to be the next big thing for weight loss. HCG which stands for human chorionic gonadotropin is a diet consisting of daily injections or supplements of HCG while eating approximately 500 calories each day.
Exactly why the HCG diet is experiencing a resurgence now is uncertain, but the publicity has sparked a response from the FDA. In January 2011, the agency warned that homeopathic HCG is deceptive and unlawful when sold for weight-loss purposes. Though the FDA said such products aren’t necessarily unsafe, their sale is misleading; since there’s no good evidence they’re helpful for weight loss. What’s more, all HCG products, including injections prescribed by a doctor, must carry a warning stating there’s no proof they speed up weight loss, redistribute fat, or numb the hunger and discomfort typical of a low-calorie diet.
In 1995, researchers analyzed 14 clinical trials on the HCG diet. Only two concluded HCG was any more effective than a placebo at helping people lose weight. And nearly 10 years earlier, a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated hCG has “no value” as a means of managing obesity, and that the diet has been “thoroughly discredited and thus rejected by the majority of the medical community.”
There’s no question that 500 calories a day is equal to malnutrition—dieters should never dip below 1,200, experts say and dietary guidelines recommend more than three times the amount of calories the diet prescribes for women ages 19 to 30. Moreover, extremely low-calorie diets can cause severe bone and muscle loss, electrolyte imbalances, gallstones, and even death. “I’ve heard a lot of people say the side effects of this diet are overwhelming,” says registered dietitian Keri Gans, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “And they could start as soon as one day in—you’ll start feeling irritated and tired.”
While the HCG diet sounds good, when people talk of the weight loss but it appears that any weight loss has nothing to do with the HCG, but more to do with the dangerously low calorie intake. Almost anyone on a 500 calorie a day diet would lose weight, so this is just another in a long line of phony weight loss claims.