The Use of HCG Without a Strict Diet

close-up of a woman cutting vegetables on a cutting board
A semi-starvation diet accounts for the hCG diet's success. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Human chorionic gonadotrophin, or hCG, hormone injections first came into use as a weight loss aid back in the 1950s. However, the British physician who devised the hCG weight loss plan designed it to be used in conjunction with a very low calorie diet. Nutritionists and medical experts indicates that the use of hCG without a strict diet won't give you the results you want.

HCG Diet History

More than a half-century ago, British physician Albert T. Simeons claimed that dieters who received hCG injections could exist on a diet consisting of only 500 calories a day, says Dr. Stephen Barrett of the National Council Against Health Fraud. Simeons also claimed that this hormone, which comes from the urine of pregnant women, acts as an appetite suppressant and melts away stubborn body fat around the hips, waist and thighs. However, there's no clinical evidence to suggest that hCG does any of these things, Barrett says.

How It Works

HCG hormone injections are offered by weight loss clinics, which also monitor the dieter's progress. A May 2010 news report on Salt Lake City's Channel 4 describes one such weight loss program offered by an area clinic. Four days before receiving hCG injections, patients eat all they want from a variety of foods, including meat, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats. Then, they begin receiving hCG injections, after which their daily intake drops to 500 calories. All-organic foods are consumed for the remainder of the diet, which lasts 45 days.

Caloric Intake

It's the strict, semi-starvation diet that accounts for weight loss in dieters who receive hCG injections or take hCG supplements, says Mayo Clinic nutritionist Jennifer K. Nelson–not the effects of the hormone itself. The hCG diet cuts your calories drastically to between 500 and 800 a day in what Barrett describes as a "semi-starvation diet." This is between 1/4 to 1/2 of the calories that are normally recommended, Nelson points out, and with so few calories consumed, rapid weight loss is practically guaranteed.

End Results

If you follow the hCG regimen, complete with a strict diet that's extremely low in calories, short-term weight loss is the end but not the final result. Nelson indicates that you'll probably regain the weight you lost on the hCG diet after you complete it. A healthier way to lose weight permanently is to acquire better eating habits and add physical activity into your lifestyle.

HCG Precautions

The strict, low-calorie diet that's a part of the hCG weight loss plan makes is hard to get the nutrition you need, Nelson says. Barrett adds that eating a 500-calorie diet causes protein loss in your vital organs. The hormone hCG itself has negative side effects, including headache, irritability, tiredness and breast development in men. Weighing in on the diet is the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, which issued a position statement in 2009 indicating, "Physicians employing either the hCG or the diet recommended by Simeons may expose themselves to criticism from other physicians, from insurers or from government bodies."

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