Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Commonly used as a treatment for infertility, British endocrinologist Albert Simmons popularized its use as a weight loss aid after conducting research involving HCG and a calorie-restricted diet in the 1950’s. Scientific research conducted since this time does not support its use for this purpose.
The research involving HCG as a diet aid involved injections of the hormones — only available by prescription. You can find homeopathic sublingual drops of HCG as well as HCG creams. Using these unregulated drops and creams could pose a number of dangers, however. You have no way of knowing how much of the substance they contain and whether or not they contain other ingredients. Physician Robert True, writing for his website TrueMD.com, who offers guidance on the HCG diet, explains that creams offer an easy way to get the hormone and might have better absorption than injections.
Proponents of the diet, such as True, claim that HCG can help burn fat, redistribute fat away from the hips, thighs and buttocks and reduce hunger. The American Society of Bariatric Physicians explains on its website that a review of studies conducted on the diet have shown that HCG does not possess any of these properties and that the diet alone appears to account for the weight loss.
Along with the HCG cream, you must follow a very specific diet. Breakfast consists of coffee or tea and a tablespoon of milk. Lunch and dinner are exactly the same — 3.5 ounces of meat or fish, a breadstick a serving of one type of vegetable and a piece of fruit. The plan lists acceptable items you can choose from for each of these categories as well as possible substitutions when necessary.
The original plan called for using the injections and the diet for eight weeks. You only use the injections however, six days a week during this time. Other variations of the plan might differ from this original plan.
Reasons for Weight Loss
The ASBP and other medical professionals explain that the HCG probably has nothing to do with the weight loss and other factors account for it. The HCG protocol includes an extremely limited diet of about 500 calories daily—most adults need about 1,800 to 2,000 for day to day living. Any diet this low in calories will trigger weight loss, regardless of adjuncts like HCG or other supplements. This diet also puts your body in a state of ketosis — a condition where it begins to use fat for energy in the absence of adequate glucose. This process naturally suppresses the appetite explains Dr. Craig Primack, speaking to the Seattle Times about the diet.
A prolonged state of ketosis poses many risks. It increases the acidity of your blood, which can harm your internal organs. This process also increases the likelihood of gallstones and kidney stones. The most immediate side effects include fatigue and bad breath. As for the HCG cream, possible side effects include headache, fatigue, acne, excess hair growth, hyperovulation, prostate problems and breast enlargement in men.