What is HCG?
HCG is a pregnancy hormone produced by the female body to aid in the development of the child. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) injections are occasionally prescribed by doctors to address female infertility concerns and male hormone abnormalities such as hypogonadism.
The HCG diet initially gained widespread acceptance in the 1950s. They claimed that taking HCG might lessen sensations of hunger while also assisting with weight reduction by transferring fat from the thighs, stomach, and hips to other areas.
Proponents of popular diet products containing HCG say that they may reset the body’s metabolism and correct “abnormal eating patterns,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The HCG diet, according to the producers of these products, may result in a weight reduction of up to a pound each day for certain people. These assertions, on the other hand, are not supported by scientific data.
The HCG hormone, according to a commentary published in the International Journal of Obesity, has no proven impact on weight reduction, according to the authors of the editorial. Furthermore, it may be harmful to certain individuals when used in high doses or at particular times.
Some diets based on supplements promise to increase metabolism, but the HCG diet is based on the concept of modifying the body’s hormones in order to convert fat into fuel instead. A typical HCG diet plan is broken into three stages, which are as follows:
The loading phase is intended to prepare the body for the calorie restriction that will be implemented during the weight reduction phase, according to the theory. During this short two-day “primer,” clients prepared to begin the HCG diet consume exceptionally high-fat, high-calorie meals (up to 250 grams of fat per day) and are urged to consume as much fat and as many calories as they can tolerate without gaining weight. (As a point of perspective, this is 2,250 calories per day from fat alone.) The use of daily HCG hormone pills or injections begins at this period as well. It is thought that during this phase, the body “stocks” the regular fat cells that you want to preserve while also preparing the body to destroy “abnormal” fat.
Following that, followers continue to take their HCG pills while ingesting either 500 or 800 calories per day, divided between two meals, as directed by their physician. This phase of weight reduction may take anywhere from three to six weeks, depending on the individual’s weight loss objectives.
Once someone on this diet has lost the appropriate amount of pounds, they gradually quit treatment with the HCG hormone while gradually increasing their calorie intake to maintain their weight loss. Even though HCG diet guides do not indicate the number of calories you would ultimately need to consume in order to sustain weight reduction, some claim that 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day is a reasonable goal.
What you should be aware of
In order to follow the HCG diet plan, you need to consume either 500 or 800 calories each day, split across two meals. The order in which these meals are consumed is not crucial, although in general, calories are distributed rather evenly between lunch and supper.
A very low-calorie diet is defined as one that contains no more than 800 calories per day (or less) (VLCD). Unless under the supervision of a healthcare expert, it is not advisable to reduce one’s caloric intake to this level.
Caffeine or tea with stevia or saccharine may be had during breakfast, according to the diet’s recommendations for beverages. Because the HCG diet also allows for one tablespoon of milk each day, some individuals choose to mix it into their morning coffee instead of drinking it straight.
Although there are no special recipes required for the HCG diet, several internet sites provide recommendations for meal plans that adhere to the 500-calorie-per-day calorie restriction. People following the HCG diet should anticipate consuming around 250 calories at lunch and supper each day, with calories distributed between two meals each day.
Even while the 500-calorie form of the HCG diet is the most well-known, the other 800-calorie plan, which is commonly attributed to Dr. Richard Lipman, MD, is also widely used today. Dr. Lipman asserts that his approach maintains Dr. Simeons’ basic ideals of removing sugar and most other carbs, while also providing a greater choice of dietary alternatives for patients. Advocates of the HCG diet report that the 800-calorie version of the diet is more fulfilling, but that they have seen less drastic weight reduction.
According to current research, the HCG hormone does not function in the manner in which Dr. Simeons initially hypothesized. There has been no evidence to support the claim that it aids in weight reduction. In reality, research done on the program has shown that when compared to a placebo, HCG injections make no difference in terms of weight loss.
What food should you eat?
Protein that is low in fat
The HCG diet’s two daily meals are based on a 3.5-ounce amount of lean protein, which is divided into two portions. Chicken, egg whites, white fish, crab, lobster, scallops, extra-lean beef, and bison are among the foods that have been approved.
Only a few types of vegetables are permitted on the diet. One serving of spinach, chard, beet greens, cabbage, lettuce, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, onion, shallots, or radishes may be served with lean protein at lunch and supper to round out the meal, as can one serving of kale.
Fruits, like vegetables, are only authorized for use in HCG-compliant meals in a restricted number of cases. Berries, citrus fruits, and apples are examples of foods that may be had twice a day, once at lunch and once in the evening.
Herbs and spices
On the HCG diet, herbs and spices are the major ways of flavoring meals since they are often low in calories or contain none at all. Garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme are common seasonings included in HCG-compliant dishes for meats and vegetables, among other things.
Coffee, tea, and water
People who are on the diet are allowed to consume as much coffee, tea, and water as they like. While coffee and tea may only be sweetened with stevia or saccharine, one tablespoon of milk per day may be used to give richness to hot beverages as part of the diet’s restriction on sugar.
What foods should you stay away from
Aside from one tablespoon of milk per day, dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and any more milk are not permitted during the weight reduction phase of the HCG diet.
Foods with a lot of carbohydrates
The HCG diet restricts not just calorie intake, but also carbohydrate consumption. Grains, muffins, bread, spaghetti, and other high-carb items are not permitted at supper, with the exception of a single piece of Melba toast or a single breadstick (depending on the degree of
Fats and oils
The HCG diet does not allow for the consumption of fats or oils. Because of the drastic reduction in caloric intake imposed by the diet, there is no place for the nine calories per gram of fat that fats carry. In addition, salad dressings should be avoided whenever possible.
Beverages with added sugar and alcoholic beverages
In contrast to liquids such as soda, beer, and wine, the HCG diet avoids the empty calories that these beverages may provide. Drinks other than coffee, tea, and water are not allowed when following this diet plan.
Desserts and other sweets
The HCG diet does not allow for the consumption of sweets or desserts. High-calorie foods like cookies, sweets, and cakes might easily contain as many calories as a single HCG meal, hence they are removed from the diet completely.
Pros and cons
Faster weight loss
At least initially, starting the HCG diet will almost certainly result in significant weight reduction. However, as shown by the research, HCG hormone injections have no effect on the amount of weight that individuals lose.
Simple to follow
In terms of structure, the HCG diet is not difficult to adhere to. Its three stages and calorie objectives are quite exact, and the quantity of calories or units of hormone injections administered does not change from person to person throughout the program.
HCG supplements are illegal in the U.S.
It is only permissible to administer HCG injections and supplements in the United States if the patient is a woman who is experiencing infertility. Due to the FDA’s prohibition on all over-the-counter HCG products, it is unlawful to sell any HCG product that claims to be a weight reduction assistance.
The program Is costly
While cutting your calorie intake on the HCG diet may save you money on groceries, the hormone injections necessary to complete the plan are not inexpensive. The cost of an HCG injection kit, according to U.S. News & World Report, ranges from $225 to $400 for a supply that lasts between four and eight weeks
It has the potential to cause extreme hunger.
Abstaining from eating for extended periods of time results in severe hunger. It is possible to experience not just hunger but also unpleasant side effects such as headaches, brain fog, exhaustion, and dizziness when calorie deprivation is prolonged or when enduring extreme calorie restriction (such as a VLCD).
Is the HCG diet a safe and efficient way to lose weight?
In the opinion of experts, the HCG diet is neither safe nor successful. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that individuals avoid any over-the-counter (OTC) items that claim to contain HCG.
HCG has been approved by the FDA for use as a prescription drug for the treatment of reproductive concerns, but the agency advises against taking it to lose weight. The FDA has not authorized the sale of HCG in any form for over-the-counter use.
The use of HCG may result in a variety of possible negative effects, including the following:
- alterations in the state of mind
- an accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues
- Blood clots
- Men grow larger breasts
The HCG diet’s supporters often advise patients to drastically reduce their calorie intake to approximately 500 per day, which is another problematic element of the diet.
Although a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) may help individuals lose weight in the short term, it also puts them at risk for a number of potentially dangerous adverse effects, including:
malnutrition, a depressed state of mind, an irregular pulse, gallstones
Several studies, including one published in 2015, found that weight reduction was no higher in persons who followed a VLCD who took HCG than in those who followed a VLCD who took a placebo after following a VLCD.
The researchers came to the conclusion that HCG:
It is ineffective in helping weight reduction since it does not shift fat and does not reduce hunger.
The HCG diet consists of the following components:
People who follow the HCG diet generally consume roughly 500 calories per day, according to the plan’s guidelines. They may also get injections of HCG or take it orally as drops, pellets, or sprays. These items are marketed as “homeopathic” by their manufacturers.
This, on the other hand, is deceptive and possibly hazardous. Furthermore, ingesting 500 calories per day is very low energy consumption. It is possible that restricting calories to this level is damaging to the body. Aside from that, there is no evidence to show that the supplements are either safe or useful to take.
Is it legal to use HCG products?
It is against the law in the United States to sell over-the-counter (OTC) products that contain HCG. In addition to conventional HCG medications, homeopathic HCG products are prohibited.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission had already issued seven warning letters to firms that claimed to sell items containing the hormone. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as well as the Federal Trade Commission Act, had been broken by these corporations.
When a doctor prescribes the HCG hormone in injectable form, it is lawful to use it. A medication for female infertility and male hormone disorders has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Doctors may sometimes prescribe HCG for weight reduction goals that are not authorized by the FDA. There is no evidence to show that this is useful, and it has the potential to induce a number of negative side effects.
Benefits, hazards, and adverse effects are all discussed.
There is no evidence to support the use of HCG to aid in weight reduction, and ingesting the hormone may have negative side effects if taken regularly.
According to some studies, HCG has been associated with the following adverse effects:
- fatigue and lack of energy
- enlarged breasts in males, or gynecomastia
- a buildup of fluid in bodily tissues, or edema
- blood clots, or thromboembolism
In addition, taking HCG might impact the results of pregnancy tests, which are performed by detecting the presence of HCG in a person’s urine.
In the event of a medical emergency, professionals who are not aware of the patient’s HCG diet may pose an additional danger.
Severe calorie restriction may potentially have negative consequences, such as the following:
- Vitamin and mineral deficits are common.
- Gallstones are more likely to form, and muscle loss is more common.
- People with heart illness, renal disease, or diabetes who have an electrolyte imbalance or an irregular heartbeat are at greater risk of developing problems.
Low-calorie diets may be effective for weight reduction in the short term, but some evidence shows that they may have negative impacts on a person’s mental and physical health in the long run. A person is also more likely to regain the weight they have lost if they quit following a diet plan.
Patients experiencing negative effects as a result of following the HCG diet or using HCG supplements should consult with their doctor as soon as they are able.
When it comes to weight reduction, the HCG diet combines the use of hormone pills or injections with rigorous calorie restriction for maximum results. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this diet is either safe or beneficial in any way.
HCG is a prescription-only medication in the United States, and firms that promote HCG products for weight reduction are in violation of the law.
The HCG diet seems to cause early weight loss, however, this seems to be completely attributable to the high-calorie restriction imposed on participants rather than to any benefits of the hormone. The consumption of just 500 calories per day is not healthy nor sustainable, and it might result in major negative consequences.
Anyone interested in losing weight should consult with a doctor or nutritionist for guidance and information on how to do so. An experienced healthcare professional may assist a person in developing a lasting weight reduction strategy that is tailored to their specific requirements.
It is important to note, however, that these measures may not be appropriate for everyone, and that a person should consult with a medical practitioner before making substantial dietary or lifestyle changes.