Can I Eat Normally While on HCG & Still Lose Weight?

A young woman is eating salad.
Image Credit: Choreograph/iStock/Getty Images

An HCG diet is a specialized plan based on the premise that a placenta-produced hormone can diminish feelings of hunger and fatigue brought upon by adhering to a very-low-calorie diet. The theory was established in the 1950s by an endocrinologist who was in India treating teens with a glandular condition that caused obesity. The hormone, it is believed, may redistribute and burn fat, but requires a diet that has anorexic characteristics, according to The New York Times.

Video of the Day

Original HCG Diet

The original HCG diet, conceived by British endocrinologist A.T.W. Simeons, allows you to take in between 500 and 550 calories a day. Your meals consist of sugarless coffee or tea for breakfast – 1 tbsp. of milk is permissible. For lunch or dinner you can choose from a limited list of very lean meats with all fat trimmed off prior to cooking, a vegetable, slice of bread and fruit. While it's OK to have lunch and dinner, it's difficult keeping a full meal at around 250 calories. The purpose of the HCG hormone, however, is to ease feelings of hunger.


Very-Low-Calorie Diet

The HCG diet qualifies as a very-low-calorie diet, which is designed to produce rapid weight loss. The HCG component of the diet is simply to curtail the effects of such an extraordinarily restrictive food plan. If what you normally eat is more than 800 calories, the top limit of a very-low-calorie diet, you will not achieve the dramatic weight loss the diet was designed to produce.


The HCG diet does have risks. The Food and Drug Administration, which does not regulate HCG as a dietary tool, reports that one man on an HCG diet had a pulmonary embolism. One doctor in New York, according to The New York Times, won't even counsel patients on the diet unless they have an EKG proving that their heart is healthy enough to endure the near starvation-like regimen. It's also known to cause cramps, headaches, hair loss, constipation, and breast tenderness and enlargement in men and women. Further, 500 calories a day can lead to malnutrition, which has a host of potentially dangerous side effects and symptoms.


Normal Eating Habits

According to the National Institutes of Health, the least amount of calories a women should eat per day is 1,200 and the lowest amount for men is 1,500. Eating less than this should only be done under medical supervision. The average amount of calories necessary for moderately active adults, according to the American Heart Association, is between 1,800 and 2,200. By controlling your calorie intake, eating healthy foods that are low in fat and sugar, and exercising regularly, most people can still maintain a healthy weight or even drop excess pounds.