I get lots of questions about “this diet and that diet”. recently I was asked about something I was not very familiar with, so I did some research and came up with this…..What Is The HCG Diet?
By: Wendy Russo Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach
This diet was fairly popular in the 1950’s until it became clear that there was insufficient evidence to support using HCG for fat loss. As with most fad diets, the HCG Diet has resurfaced and makes some pretty outlandish claims. Many of the products declare that the diet will “reset your metabolism”, change “abnormal eating patterns” and result with a “loss of 1-2 pounds per day.”
HCG is a hormone produced in women by the placenta during pregnancy. HCG is sold as a prescription drug approved by the Food & Drug Administration for various medical conditions including the treatment of female infertility (but not weight-loss). The diet requires a daily injection of this hormone along with a scary obligation to eat a very low calorie diet of ONLY 500 CALORIES A DAY!
Why Do People Lose So Fast?
In short, people are actually losing twenty pounds and more per month because they are starving themselves! If you stop eating, you will likely drop weight quickly no matter what you are injecting into your body.
It’s insane really… it will cost you hundreds of dollars a month and the real secret to this diet is… starvation. You don’t have to pay for that… you can starve yourself free of charge. (Which I don’t recommend, unless you want to do serious, long-term damage to your metabolism.) Basically after a few months when everything starts shutting down, you may look great but you will have to start eating again. Little by little (or very quickly) all that weight reappears!
The HCG label actually states, there “is no substantial evidence that it increases weight-loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”
Is It Safe?
No matter your size, that level of calorie restriction is severe and does not lack consequences. These include, but are not limited to, gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat, vitamin & mineral deficiency and electrolyte imbalance. This means that the HCG diet is not only unhealthy, it’s hazardous.
Keep in mind that following this diet will give you an increased risk of headaches, blood clots, restlessness and depression. In addition, the HCG can give you pregnancy-like symptoms, such as water retention, breast tenderness and swelling. And finally, HCG can also cause a condition called OHSS, or ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome, which is potentially life-threatening.
In addition to the calorie restriction being unsafe, the HCG hormone is actually illegal for over the counter sale for any reason. In fact, it’s not approved for weight-loss even as a prescription. The FDA is warning any consumer currently using HCG for fat-loss to stop taking it and to stop following the dieting instructions immediately. I recommend this too!
My suggestion? Stick to what we know works—eating natural, wholesome foods, healthy supplements and exercise—and don’t be fooled, misled or tempted by fad starvation diets and short-term, DANGEROUS fixes that require you to inject hormones in your body!