How This Helps

The HCG diet (much easier to say than human chorionic gonadotropin diet) has been around for ages, but due to extreme measures you need to take to follow this diet plan, there are not many people who stick with it till the end. What is HCG? The human chorionic gonadotropin is the primary hormone that is present at high levels during the start of pregnancy. HCG is the hormone that is used by all the home pregnancy tests as a marker for determining a positive pregnancy. So what's the big deal about the HCG diet? Is HCG weight loss is a real thing or not? Let's dig in.

What is HCG Diet?

The HCG diet is a type of extreme dieting aimed to achieve a fast weight loss of up to 1 to 2 pounds (or 0.5 to 1 kg) each day. HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone that is produced by the body in the early stages of pregnancy in women. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called the HCG diet as being illegal, highly dangerous, and even fraudulent.[1]

As mentioned above, HCG is the hormone that is used in most home pregnancy tests to determine pregnancy. Treatments for many types of fertility issues in both men and women also use HCG.[2,3] However, high levels of HCG in the bloodstream can also be a sign of many types of cancer, including testicular, ovarian, and placental cancer.[4]

The use of the HCG hormone for losing weight was first proposed by a British doctor Albert Simeons in 1954. His original diet idea consisted of two major components:

● Administering the HCG hormone injections through injections

● Following an ultra-low calorie diet of only 500 calories per day. 

Even today, the diet is based on the same concepts. You can also purchase HCG products in various forms, including sprays, pellets, and oral drops. It is possible to buy these online and even in some retail stores. 

See: Signs of diabetes in women

Does HCG diet help you lose weight?

Does HCG diet work for weight loss?

Supporters of the HCG diet firmly believe that it helps boost the body's metabolism, thus helping you lose vast amounts of fat, and all this without even feeling hungry. 

There are many theories present that try to explain how the HCG diet help you lose weight. 

However, there have been multiple studies that successfully show that the weight loss achieved through the HCG diet is only due to the dramatically low intake of calories alone, and it has nothing to do with the HCG hormone.5 

Many of these studies even compared the effects of the HCG injections administered in this diet to the placebo injections given to people who are on a calorie-restricted diet and found absolutely no difference between the results of the two. [6]

Additionally, these studies also concluded that the HCG hormone did not bring about any significant reduction in the hunger levels of the participants. [7]

 

See: Keto diet benefits for weight loss, diabetes & PCOS

HCG Diet Plan

How does the HCG Diet Work?

The HCG diet is designed to be a very low-fat and very low-calorie diet and divided into three stages. These are:

●    Stage 1: Loading phase - you start taking HCG at this stage, and you will eat plenty of high-calorie and high-fat foods for two days of this stage. 

●    Stage 2: Weight Loss Phase - during this stage, you will continue taking the HCG hormone, but you will only eat 500 calories per day for 3 to 6 weeks. 

●    Stage 3: Maintenance Phase - you will stop taking HCG at this stage and gradually increase your food intake, but avoid taking starch and sugar for three weeks.

 

People seeking minimal weight loss can spend up to three weeks on stage 2, and those who want to attain significant weight loss should follow the diet for six weeks and even repeat all the steps of the diet cycle several times. 

During the weight-loss stage, you are only allowed to eat two meals a day. It is advised that it should be limited to lunch and dinner while skipping breakfast. 

HCG meal plans recommend that each meal you have should contain at least one portion of lean protein, one vegetable, and one piece of fruit and bread. 

There is also a list of approved foods you can select from in their specified amounts. 

Oils, butter, and sugar have to be avoided, but you can continue to have water. It is recommended that you drink lots of beverages, including water, tea, and coffee.

See: Healthy Diet Plan for Weight Loss of Over 30 Pounds

HCG Diet side effects

Is the HCG Diet Safe?

The HCG diet is not approved as a safe weight loss dieting plan by the FDA. On the contrary, many medical experts and government agencies have questioned the safety of the HCG products people use during the diet. Not only are these HCG ingredients being used unregulated, but more often than not, you will not even be aware of what the ingredients are in the HCG products. 

 

There are several side effects associated with the HCG diet, including:

● Fatigue

● Depression

● Headaches


These side effects are caused primarily due to the near starvation-levels calorie intake required by this diet. It is almost guaranteed that you can end up feeling miserable when the calorie intake is restricted to just 500 calories a day. There was a case of a 64-year old lady following the HCG diet ended up having blood clots develop in her lungs and legs. The HCG diet was determined to be the cause of the blood clots.[8]

See: How to lose visceral fat vs subcutaneous fat

Summary

Does the HCG diet really work?

The HCG diet is believed to help you lose weight only because of the dramatic reduction in calorie intake that it advocates. Limiting your consumption to only 500 calories per day for weeks at a time is an extreme and highly dangerous method of weight loss, and no doctor will recommend this HCG diet plan for weight loss. 

There have been many studies that have successfully found that taking the HCG hormone has no impact on weight loss, and neither does it reduce your appetite. 

If you really want to shed some weight and, more importantly, keep it off, then there are many other practical and safe methods of dieting that are known to be much more sensible than the HCG diet. Contact a health expert and do it the right and safe way.

See: Ayurvedic Diet

References

1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019). HCG Diet Products Are Illegal. [online] Available at: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/hcg-diet-products-are-illegal [Accessed 30 Dec. 2019].

2. Nepomnaschy, P.A., Weinberg, C.R., Wilcox, A.J. and Baird, D.D., 2007. Urinary hCG patterns during the week following implantation. Human reproduction, 23(2), pp.271-277.

3. Dehghani-Firouzabai, R., Aflatoonian, A., Davar, R. and Farid-Mojtahedi, M., 2014. A comparison of pregnancy rate before and after the administration of HCG in intrauterine insemination. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 289(2), pp.429-432.

4. Stenman, U.H., Alfthan, H. and Hotakainen, K., 2004. Human chorionic gonadotropin in cancer. Clinical biochemistry, 37(7), pp.549-561.

5. Bosch, B., Venter, I., Stewart, R.I. and Bertram, S.R., 1990. Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

6. Stein, M.R., Julis, R.E., Peck, C.C., Hinshaw, W., Sawicki, J.E. and Deller Jr, J.J., 1976. Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction: a double-blind study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 29(9), pp.940-948.

7. Greenway, F.L. and 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), p.461.

8. Goodbar, N.H., Foushee, J.A., Eagerton, D.H., Haynes, K.B. and Johnson, A.A., 2013. Effect of the human chorionic gonadotropin diet on patient outcomes. Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 47(5), pp.e23-e23.


See: Signs of diabetes in men

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