HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy. HCG is typically used as a prescription to help treat fertility issues in women. An endocrinologist, Albert T. W. Simeons, created the HCG Diet in the 1950s. He combined low-dose HCG injections with an extremely low calorie diet (500 calories or less per day) for 8 weeks. The diet consists of only 2 meals per day, and calls for only meager portions of protein (not exceeding 50 grams).
Due to the fact the his results were never proven or reproduced, he and any other physicians advertising the HCG Diet were required to include the following disclaimer:
These weight reduction treatments include the injection of HCG, a drug which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective in the treatment of obesity or weight control. There is no substantial evidence that HCG 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-restrictive diets. (1976 FDA-mandated disclaimer for HCG diet advertisements)
Yes, The FDA cautioned the public against using HCG as a form of weight loss forty years ago. And in 1995 the American Society of Bariatric Physicians released this statement of advisement against the HCG Diet:
There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity. The meta-analysis found insufficient evidence supporting the claims that HCG is effective in altering fat-distribution, hunger reduction or in inducing a feeling of well-being. The authors stated “…the use of HCG should be regarded as an inappropriate therapy for weight reduction…” In the authors opinion, “Pharmacists and physicians should be alert on the use of HCG for Simeons therapy. The results of this meta-analysis support a firm standpoint against this improper indication. Restraints on physicians practicing this therapy can be based on our findings.” (American Society of Bariatric Physicians’ commentary on Lijesen et. al)
Of all the many studies done on the use of HCG for weight loss, no results show proof that the hormone has any effect on an individual’s weight loss. The extreme weight loss, likely, results from the very low calorie intake; consuming less than 800 calories per day is, obviously, not a safe or maintainable diet.
Will patients who follow the HCG diet plan lose weight? Yes, but at a great cost to your overall health. The weight loss that results will be from your muscle mass, as well as your fat. Eating so few calories for an extended period of time can lead to serious health complications, due to malnutrition. Restricting calories to the degree prescribed by the HCG Diet could lead to chronic problems such as: fatigue, depression, gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat, blood clots and an imbalance of electrolytes.
Overall, the HCG Diet is dangerous and its claims of success are lies. The diet plan, and its weight loss results, are not healthy or maintainable. Despite what some weight loss clinics may advertise, it is not FDA approved. It is not recommended by the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA). In fact, on November 15, 2016 the OMA introduced a policy to the American Medical Association (AMA) to establish a position that will ensure better care for obesity patients in the United States. The policy would state that the use of HCG for weight loss is inappropriate. The AMA House of Delegates voted to approve the statement as official AMA policy.
For healthy, maintainable weight loss, it is important to seek help from a physician who is board certified by the Obesity Medicine Association who promotes a slow and steady weight loss program that fouces strictly on fat loss and maintaining muscle mass. A board certified physician can customize a health plan for each patient’s individual needs.
Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. “Has the HCG diet been shown to be safe and effective?” 14 November 2014.
US News. Wellness. “HCG Diet Dangers: Is Fast Weight Loss Worth the Risk?” 14 March 2011.
Wikipedia. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. 3 August 2016.
Obesity Medicine Association. "Use of HCG for Weight Loss Inappropriate." 15 November 2016. http://obesitymedicine.org/.