Pregnancy hormones, syringes and only 500 calories a day—these are the components of the increasingly popular HCG Diet, which is considered a miracle by some and dangerous crash diet by others.
HCG refers to human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that’s produced by pregnant women and also given to men and women to treat infertility. Daily doses of HCG are usually injected into the thigh, though some dieters ingest drops instead. This hormone treatment is coupled with a very limited consumption of 500 calories a day. Proponents of the diet say that the hormones work wonders at curbing ones appetite, making it possible to consume such a small amount of food each day.
So, what exactly do you eat on the HCG diet? The answer is a short, restricted list. Dieters are encouraged to eat only organic foods—mostly meat, fish and vegetables. Fruit is permitted sparingly, and one thin piece of bread, like a dry breadstick or Melba toast, is permitted each day. Sugar, daily and alcohol are not permitted; however, those that do not eat meat may have small amounts of 100% skim cottage cheese or eggs. Here’s a link to Dr. Oz HCG Diet Plan review.
Though there have been success stories of people losing up to 30 pounds in one month on the HCG diet, many experts criticize the use of hormones and the severe restriction of calories, and question its long-term success. To many experts, it comes as no surprise that people lose large amounts of weight since the diet restricts calories so severely. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, dubbed the diet as reckless and irresponsible, arguing, “Can you lose weight on it? Of course, but that’s mainly because you’re hardly consuming any calories. And any benefit is not going to last.” Many say that once people finish the 30-day regimen, they will often regain the weight and then some as their body will feel starved and their metabolism will be weakened.
While the FDA has approved the use of HCG to treat infertility, they have warned that its sale as a diet tool is deceptive and that there is no proven evidence that it aids in weight loss. Reviews on the HCG diet have repeatedly stated that in over a dozen trials, people injected with HCG lost the same amount of weight as people injected with a placebo.
As with the use of any drug, the HCG diet risks could far outweigh any benefits. HCG can cause headaches, blood clots, leg cramp s, temporary hair thinning, constipation and breast tenderness. There may be many more adverse effects of HCG; however, because it has not been studied for weight-loss purposes, the full list of risks is unknown.
In addition to the possible complications of the use of HCG, consuming 500 calories a day also poses risks. Extreme restriction in calories can not only cause a person to be irritable and constantly tired, but could also lead to severe bone and muscle loss, electrolyte imbalances, gallstones and even death.
My advice: Stay clear of HCG when it comes to dieting–you could be setting yourself up for a metabolic disaster.
Yours in Health,
Stella Metsovas B.S., CCN