An HCG diet is a protocol based on findings by A.T.W. Simeons, a British endocrinologist. In the 1950s, while in India working with obese young men, Simeons combined human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced in placenta, with a very low calorie diet. Together, they seemed to promote rapid, dramatic weight loss. HCG diets are very specific about what you can and cannot eat. Talk to your doctor before trying a new diet.
While on the calorie-restriction phase of an HCG diet, you’re encouraged to consume only about 500 calories. The original diet suggested having tea or coffee for breakfast, and a 3.5-ounce serving of lean meat with all visible fat trimmed off, one type of vegetable, a breadstick or a slice of toast and a serving of fruit for dinner and lunch. No variations to the diet are permissible and any foods not on the list are forbidden. Altering the diet in any way was believed to interfere with weight loss. The purpose of HCG during this time was to eliminate appetite. According to Simeons’ manuscript, “Pounds and Inches,” attempting this diet without the accompanying HGG will sabotage your success.
HCG is a main hormonal marker in pregnancy. It is produced in the placenta and excreted through urine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved of HCG for the treatment of infertility in women and for hormonal conditions in males. Doctors are permitted to prescribe HCG off label for weight loss. HCG drops, which is a homeopathic supplement, contains contains few or no actual hormone molecules. Unlike prescription HCG, which has a variety of health risks , homeopathic HCG has no known side effects or contraindications because it lacks any active ingredients.
Changing the Diet
Changing the diet could prevent you from losing weight. Additionally, dieters must be sure they are following menu suggestions based on their country of residence. For example, in Simeon's manuscript, he explains that American beef has twice the calorie value as beef in Italy. Beef in the U.S. is also marbled with fat, which is impossible to remove. On an American HCG diet, beef would be forbidden while in Italy it would be permitted. Other similar examples include cottage cheese. You can substitute cottage cheese for meat only when consuming a product made with skim milk.
Before starting an HCG diet, you should discuss the side effects and possible risks with a physician. While homeopathic HCG is not dangerous, consuming only 500 calories a day, considered near total starvation by Stephen Barrett, MD, a North Carolina-based Psychiatrist, can be. In the original HCG diet, Simeons used a prescription strength medication. HCG drops are available over the counter at health food stores. When comparing prescription HCG to supplemental drops, Pieter Cohen, MD, an assistant professor of medicine from Harvard Medical School, believes that with no active ingredient, and any benefits result from the placebo effect.
- HCG Diet Info: “Pounds & Inches” by A.T.W. Simeons
- USAToday.com: HCG Weight Loss Products are Fraudulent, FDA Says
- Diet Scam Watch: HCG Worthless As Weight Loss Aid; Stephen Barrett, MD; May 2010
- New York Times: Diet Plan With Hormone Has Fans and Skeptics; March 2011
- U.S. News Health: HCG Diet Dangers: Is Fast Weight Loss Worth the Risk? March 2011