The Health Risks of the HCG Diet

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.
There is a reinvented diet being promoted called the HCG diet and there are some health risks with this diet you need to be aware of.

There is a reinvented diet being promoted called the HCG diet and there are some health risks with this diet you should be aware of.

What hCG Is

HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by pregnant women. It can sometimes be found in men at very low levels. HCG is not approved by the FDA for weight loss, but is approved for other health problems including fertility treatments for women.

What the HCG Diet Is

The HCG diet is not new; it has been around since the 1950s. Just like diet pills, people think this it is completely safe. The HCG diet is being touted as a healthy way to lose a lot of weight, have more energy and especially lose inches, all in about 3 to 6 weeks.

Since HCG is supposed to help pregnant woman keep up their energy and support the growth of a healthy baby even when the mother cannot eat because of morning sickness, the thought is that HCG helps the pregnant women utilize fat and turn it into healthy food for the baby, it will do the same for any of us.

The promoters of the HCG diet claim that the diet will suppress your appetite, burn the stored bad fat like belly fat and redistribute the fat. The claim is, you will lose the fat and not lose muscle on such a low calorie diet, all because of the HCG injections.

The 500 calories per day comes from a very strict diet that you have to adhere to. The theory is that the HCG will get the rest of your 2,000 or so needed daily calories from your bad fat.

The History Behind the HCG Diet

The first doctor to study and prescribe HCG for weight loss was a British doctor, Dr. A.T.W. Simeons. He believed that small injections of HCG with a low-calorie diet high in protein would stimulate lipolytic functions of the body. Lipolytic function is the function of breaking down fats to use for energy.

In 1976, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered the Simeon Management Corporation, Simeon Weight Clinics Foundation, Bariatrics Management Corporation, C.M. Norcal, Inc., and HCG Weight Clinics Foundation to stop promoting their HCG weight loss programs as effective, safe or FDA approved for weight loss.

Sudden New Interest in the HCG Diet

New interest in the HCG diet is mainly because Kevin Trudeau, infamous author and infomercial salesman, wrote a book in 2007 promoting this diet. In 2007, Kevin Trudeau violated a court order by misrepresenting the contents of the book in infomercials and was ordered to pay $37 million.

Kevin Trudeau is not a doctor; he is an author and a salesman and has written numerous books about how to get your money, wealth creation and natural remedies.

The Federal Trade Commission has also accused Mr. Trudeau of allegedly promoting unproven pain relievers, cancer cures and other products and in 2004 was banned by the FTC from appearing in anymore infomercials [1].

Health Risks of Eating Only 500 Calories per Day

The HCG diet says you are to eat two meals each consisting of only 250 calories per meal. To put this in perspective, 250 calories is equal to about 2 1/2 pieces of bread.

Eating only 500 calories per day is dangerous to your health and body. Every organ in your body needs the right amount of calories, including your heart and brain. And 500 calories is far below this minimum requirement.

The minimum amount is called the Basal Metabolic Rate, the amount of calories your body needs if were to rest 24 hours to keep your body functioning in a healthy way. Woman shouldn’t eat less than 1200 calories per day and men not less than 1800 calories per day.

The health risks of eating only 500 calories per day would include loss of muscle and lowering your metabolic rate, which would then cause you to burn fewer calories. Other health risks would be inadequate intake of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. The lack of certain vitamins can cause other medical illnesses such as anemia.

Health Risks of the HCG Diet

There are health risks when taking HCG other than eating only 500 calories per day. These risks include:

  • Potentially life-threatening ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), call your doctor immediately if you have severe pelvic pain, stomach pain, swelling of the hands and feet, stomach swelling, weight gain, shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea and urinating less than normal.
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Swelling breasts and water retention
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Restelessness
  • Depression
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Gout
  • Do not use HCG if you are pregnant, it can cause birth defects.
  • Call your doctor if you have the symptoms of pain, warmth, tingling in your arms or legs, redness, severe headache, extreme dizziness and confusion.
  • And remember, HCG is a fertility drug, if you do get pregnant, HCG can increase your chances of having twins, triplets or even quadruplets.

Before You Start the HCG Diet

Many people who are doing this diet are just buying the HCG off of the internet and starting the diet from instructions in the book. Not even sure if what you are paying for is HCG or the right amount. You need to talk to a qualified doctor since there are health risks. You must talk to a doctor first if you have:

  • A hormone related cancer or any cancer
  • Thyroid or adrenal gland disorder
  • Kidney disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Migraines
  • Asthma
  • And numerous other medical conditions

HCG Diet Studies

In 1995, Dutch scientists looked at 24 studies concerning HCG and found that 12 studies were done correctly. They did a meta-analysis of these 12 studies and concluded that there is no scientific evidence that the hormone HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity, weight loss, fat redistribution or reducing hunger pains on such a low calorie diet. One study out of 12 did find HCG was useful in weight loss [2].

In 1973, the Asher, Harper study had 40 women ages 18 and up participate in a double-blind placebo study for 36 weeks. The conclusion was that the group receiving the HCG lost significantly more weight than the placebo group. The doctors who conducted the test did conclude that the reason for such a large difference in weight loss was because those receiving the placebo did not adhere to the strict diet. They reasoned that this is probably because the patients receiving the placebo felt more hunger than the HCG group did [3].

In 1975, 51 women between the ages of 18 and 60 participated in a double-blind placebo controlled study. This study was to try and duplicate the findings of the Asher, Harper study. Each group ate the strict 500 calories per day, one group received the HCG hormone and the other group received a placebo. The conclusion found no statistical significant difference in weight loss, hunger pains or hip circumference between the HCG and the placebo group. Both groups did lose weight and hip circumference due to the small amount of calories eaten [4].

FDA Issues Warnings about HCG

Today, December 7, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Administration (FTC) has issued warnings to companies that are selling any form of HCG as a weight loss product stating these are unsubstantiated health claims. In fact some of these company ads illegally use the FDA logo. The FDA has taken the position that anyone eating a 500 calorie per day diet will lose weight and that HCG is nothing more than a placebo [5].

Conclusion

It is very hard to tell the facts from the hype about the HCG diet. There must be many thousands of people on the internet getting paid to promote and sell the HCG hormone.

When you read articles and comments from people who have had success with this diet, make sure they aren’t selling the HCG. Here is an article from a writer who had success with the diet and who isn’t selling the product; The HCG Diet Craze - If or How It Works

Studies have shown that people eating 500 calories per day and a placebo instead of the HCG also lost weight, so save your money and learn to eat healthy. Try the calorie restriction diet instead.

© July 2010 Sam Montana

Resources

[1] FTC Complaint against Kevin Trudeau

[2] Dutch study (pubmed) - The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis. Lijesen GK, Theeuwen I, Assendelft WJ, Van Der Wal G.

[3] Full text of the Asher, Harper study - Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger, and feeling of well-being. W. L. Asher, M.D., and Harold W. Harper, M.D.

[4] Full text of the 1975 study - Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction: a double-blind study. Mark R. Stein,MD., Ronald E. Julis, M.D., Carl C. Peck,M.D., William Hinshaw,M.S. Hosp. Pharm., John E. Sawicki, M.D., and John J. Deller, Jr.,M.D. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

[5] Chicago Tribune article

Drugs.com

Natural Weight Loss by the Numbers Basal Metabolic Rate math

32 comments

veronica seabury
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Apr 5, 2013
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jan 29, 2012
Sam Montana
50
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jan 7, 2012
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jan 7, 2012
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Dec 15, 2011
Sam Montana
50
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Oct 18, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Oct 8, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Sep 6, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Sep 4, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Aug 20, 2011
Shelly Mathis
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Aug 4, 2011
Chris Krieger
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jun 27, 2011
Sam Montana
50
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on May 20, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on May 19, 2011
Paul Torri
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 21, 2011
Sam Montana
50
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 2, 2011
Judith Barton
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 2, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 2, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Feb 27, 2011
Rebecca Adele Scarlett
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Feb 22, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jan 23, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jan 3, 2011
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Dec 15, 2010
hcg uk
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Sep 15, 2010
Judith Barton
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 14, 2010
Guest
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 14, 2010
Sam Montana
50
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 10, 2010
Charlene Collins
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 10, 2010
Judith Barton
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 10, 2010
Lorena Williams
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 8, 2010
Phoenix Montoya
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 8, 2010
M 5446
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jul 8, 2010

About This Article

Sam Montana

Explore Top Dieting & Weight Los Stores

Plexus Review Compare Plexus vs. top competitors See 3 Plexus Promo Codes MyFitnessPal Review Compare MyFitnessPal vs. top competitors See 1 MyFitnessPal Coupon Codes NutriSystem Review Compare NutriSystem vs. top competitors See 78 NutriSystem Coupons Weight Watchers Review Compare Weight Watchers vs. top competitors See 9 Weight Watchers Coupon Codes Lose It! Review Compare Lose It! vs. top competitors See 1 Lose It! Promo Codes Noom Review Compare Noom vs. top competitors See Noom Promo Codes Beachbody Review Compare Beachbody vs. top competitors See 2 Beachbody Coupons Isagenix Review Compare Isagenix vs. top competitors See 1 Isagenix Discount Codes Atkins Review Compare Atkins vs. top competitors See 5 Atkins Promo Codes FatSecret Review Compare FatSecret vs. top competitors See FatSecret Discount Codes SparkPeople Review Compare SparkPeople vs. top competitors See SparkPeople Promo Codes Fooducate Review Compare Fooducate vs. top competitors See Fooducate Discount Codes Nutritionix Review Compare Nutritionix vs. top competitors See Nutritionix Promo Codes MyNetDiary Review Compare MyNetDiary vs. top competitors See MyNetDiary Coupons MyFoodDiary Review Compare MyFoodDiary vs. top competitors See MyFoodDiary Promo Codes Tone It Up Review Compare Tone It Up vs. top competitors See 6 Tone It Up Discount Codes Renaissance Periodization Review Compare Renaissance Periodization vs. top competitors See 34 Renaissance Periodization Coupons Top-ranked dieting & weight los stores >>