Magic Bullet or Weight Loss Fraud? The hCG Diet.
It seems that hCG is one diet craze that refuses to die. At AppforHealth.com, we’ve addressed the hCG issue before, but since it is still regularly hyped in the press, we wanted to give you more info. Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG), a hormone produced by pregnant women, has been touted by some as being as close as it comes to a weight loss magic bullet, supposedly helping dieters cut calories and shed pounds without feeling hungry.
Wondering what hCG is all about or if you should try it?
Here are some important things you should know:
1) What is The hCG Diet?
Most hCG diet programs follow the same regimen established by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, the physician who began promoting hCG as a weight loss aid in the 1950s. That’s right — while hCG may sound revolutionary, it has been in use as a diet drug for over 50 years. A round of treatment with hCG consists of a minimum of 23 consecutive days of daily hCG injections. In addition to receiving shots, dieters are advised to cut food intake to as little as 500 calories per day. (Note: not all hCG diets use this 500 calorie per day rule, but it is fairly common.) Some dieters undergo multiple rounds of treatment with hCG.
HCG is only available (legally) by physician prescription, so theoretically a medical professional oversees all hCG diets. Still, many ‘homeopathic’ forms of hCG are popping up in over-the-counter products like sprays and lozenges. These are illegal.
2) What does the FDA say about hCG?
HCG is approved by the FDA only as a treatment for infertility. HCG is not approved for any other use, however some physicians prescribe hCG ‘off-label’ as a diet aid.
3) What are the potential side effects of hCG?
Risks of hCG include blood clots, headaches, restlessness and depression. Not surprisingly, since hCG is a pregnancy hormone, some users also report swelling, breast tenderness, and water retention. HCG has also been associated with a serious condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The FDA recently received a report of a patient on the hCG diet who had a pulmonary embolism.
4) What does the scientific research say about the effectiveness of hCG as a weight loss aid?
Most credible, peer-reviewed studies of the hCG diet have found no difference in weight loss between dieters on a low calorie diet with hCG and dieters on a low calorie diet with a placebo. In addition, although one of the purported advantages of hCG is to reduce hunger, some studies show that hunger pangs are still a problem for those on the hCG diet.