hCG Diet: It’s Not A Miracle…It’s Starvation

HCG Diet:  Should Starvation Be An Acceptable Weight-Loss Plan?

Have you heard of the hCG diet plan?  It’s been around since the 70’s and is making a comeback in today’s quick-fix society.  With promises of quick weight loss and little hunger, it sounds like the weight loss miracle we’ve all been hoping for.  But SURPRISE!  There is no miracle, just deception.  And much worse, this diet plan will most likely do you more harm than good.

With so many women trying to lose weight in this country, it scares me to think of how many of them may be taking this “diet plan” seriously.  It’s not a diet at all, it’s a dangerous consumer deception.  With a 500 calorie a day limit, this plan is nothing more than a starvation diet combined with a medical gimmick, and no good can ever come from it.

The New York Times — Diet Plan With HCG, a Fertility Hormone, Has Fans and Critics

Ms. Brown, 35, is not taking hCG to help her bear a child. She believes that by combining the hormone injections with a 500-calorie-a-day diet, she will achieve a kind of weight-loss nirvana: losing fat in all the right places without feeling tired or hungry. “I had a friend who did it before her wedding,” Ms. Brown said. “She looks great.”

Before I even touch on all the problems with hCG injections, let’s look at the daily calorie intake for this “so called” diet.  Are they kidding?  Limiting the amount of calories you consume in one day to 500 is nothing more than starvation.  There is absolutely NO WAY to limit your daily calories to 500 and be healthy, it’s pure insanity.

Women like Ms. Brown are streaming into doctors’ offices and weight-loss clinics all over the country, paying upward of $1,000 a month for a consultation, a supply of the hormone and the syringes needed to deliver it. More than 50 years after a doctor at a Roman clinic began promoting hCG as a dieting aid, it is as popular as ever, even though there is scant evidence that it makes any difference.

Again, are you kidding me?  If you used that $1,000 a month to buy all healthy foods to stock your kitchen with for a month, you would still have more than enough money left for a gym membership.  Not only would you lose weight this way, but you would also lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer — and that’s not a gimmick, that’s a fact.

And what about the risks of HCG injections?  Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

This is from a review of the HCG diet by Dr. Micheal Snyder, who begins his review like this…

You won’t see me promoting quick fixes or fad diets anytime soon. But every once in awhile something comes along that seems so dangerous I have to call it out. That’s why I’m going to help reveal the truth behind the HCG diet.

Dr. Snyder talks in detail about what HCG is, how it works in our body, and the lack of scientific evidence for weight-loss claims.  More importantly, he points out some of the side effects and risks of taking HCG…

The common side effects include headaches, mood swings, depression, blood clots, confusion, and dizziness. Some women also develop a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS); symptoms of this include pelvic pain, swelling of the hands and legs, stomach pain, weight gain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting/nausea, and/or urinating less than normal.

Did you see that weight gain is one of the side effects?

So far I think ABC News says it best — HCG Diet:  Starving on Pregnancy Hormones?

“We’re so desperate to have good solutions for weight control that a lot of people with good common sense literally suspend it when it they confront weight-loss claims,” Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said. “This diet is appalling. It takes irresponsible diets to new heights.”

From WebMD – The Truth about HCG for Weight Loss

Not only will you waste your money on hCG, but there are also potential consequences — from side effects of the product and self-injections to nutritional deficiencies.

It is virtually impossible to meet your nutritional needs for carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fiber with less than 500 calories per day and the diet will most likely result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

You would think with all of the medical evidence against the HCG diet that a search of it would bring up mostly negative results – nope.  Instead you get page after page of how great HCG is.  I imagine this has something to do with so many people making money off of these false claims.

Even Dr. Oz has caved to the pressure.  This is from Weighty Matters – Dr. Oz – so corrupted by fame he even sells himself out

The show was predictable. Dr. Oz spent the bulk of the show obtaining testimonials from HCG providers and dieters, mentioned how his wife has done the HCG diet, spent a scant amount of time with HCG detractors, mentioned that the complete and utter lack of medical evidence to support its use was counter-balanced by the 4 people he had in his audience who had succeeded in losing weight, called for further study, suggested it was worth a try, and wondered if future research into it may in fact lead to a cure for obesity.

Here’s what Dr. Oz said about the HCG Diet just 3 months ago

“Initially, this diet may help you rapidly drop pounds. Ultimately, it destroys your metabolism, as you are essentially starving yourself. Another negative side effect is the loss of muscle mass, so much that you will no longer be able to effectively burn calories.”

And now?

“If you find someone like Dr. Emma (the HCG provider he had on his show), I think it’s worth trying”

And how much will it cost his viewers who take his advice to try the diet scientifically proven to be useless and the one he himself rightly reports is likely to dramatically impact on muscle mass, so much so that weight regain will be far more likely? Dr. Emma charges her patients $800 for 6 weeks of this sham treatment.

As someone who is always fighting to take off (or keep off) those last ten pounds, I find this whole HCG diet thing appalling.  Of course if you only eat 500 calories a day you are going to lose weight fast, the HCG aspect of it is totally irrelevant.  Let’s put it this way…

I could make up a jelly-bean diet right now, and tell everyone to eat one red jelly-bean each morning along with limiting their calories to 500 a day.  Guess what?  They would lose weight.  And if selling red jelly-beans could be profitable?  I would probably get a book deal and have the endless love of the jelly-bean industry.

Now, just replace the red jelly-bean with HCG and you are where we are today.  The bottom line is…500 calories a day is starvation NOT a diet.  Even when you are on a weight-loss program, you should still get at least 1,200 calories a day.

Anyway, I could go on and on about all the reasons this HCG diet is a bad idea, but I’ve got to end this post somewhere.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  What do you think of the HCG diet?  Is it a miracle or a scam?  Have you tried it?  Would you try it?  What do you think about all the controversy?  Please let us know your thoughts in comments.

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*photo credit Hive Health Media

13 comments for “hCG Diet: It’s Not A Miracle…It’s Starvation

  1. Christine
    April 28, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Catherine I agree it is dangerous and not very smart. That said, a girl friend of mine who exercises faithfully (treadmill daily, weights every other day) and knew this diet was likely not the smartest thing to do but was tired of not getting the results she was used to as a younger woman and was gaining steadily decided to give it a try. Well she ended up losing a lot of weight over three months and is now so happy to “finally be thin again.” She said it was starvation though whatever they gave her really curbed her appetite. While I’ve expected a call telling me she is gaining it all back she hasn’t yet. Time will tell. And while we all know a reduced calorie diet and exercise needs to become a lifetime habit especially as we age I think an issue not talked about as much as I would like is the HUNGER ISSUE some of us have as well as our slower metabolism as we age that makes these crazy diets seem so attractive even to those that know better. It was a big wake up call for me when I learned that I now only need 1,650 calories to maintain my (over)weight (vs the 2200-2500 I was told years ago) and there are many days that this even seems like a starvation diet. Are thin people always this hungry and just learn to live with it?

  2. Catherine Morgan
    April 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks for your comment, I hope your friend is able to keep the weight off (but statistics aren’t in her favor)…If she made lifestyle changes and is eating healthy foods and continuing to exercise, maybe she will be able to keep it off. It’s no shock that people are losing weight on a diet of less than 600 calories a day, but it’s a dangerous thing to do. The best way to lose weight and be healthy is to eat healthy foods and get exercise. As far as hunger issues…Foods like vegetables and fish have very few calories and fat, so you can eat quite a bit of it…It does take a few days for your body to adjust but once it does hunger becomes much less of an issue. Hope that helps.
    🙂

  3. June 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I’ve never understood all these diets, I mean what’s the point? You go on a diet for a few weeks, you lose a few pounds, then what? Unless you make a real change to your life in regards to what you eat and how active you are, you will gain those pounds again and probably a few more.

    Eat healthy and live an active life, that’s the medicine. By eating healthy I don’t mean that you should stay hungry. If you eat the right food you can probably eat more than you can handle without gaining weight.

  4. zildjian zbt
    September 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Nice post!

  5. September 15, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I definitely enjoy every little bit of it and I have bookmarked your blog.

  6. stephanie
    September 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    As with all diets, the hcg diet is highly effective but can be difficult to sustain resulting in weight gain and yo-yo dieting.

  7. Tessa
    November 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    You didn’t mention that results from placebo studies showed no dirrerent results than the ones with drops/injections. I agree that it’s just a starvation diet. It’s another fad. And a dangerous one at that. Look up long term effects of starvations diets. Scary stuff!

    As for the lack of hunger that gets attributed to the hcg, your body goes into what’s referred to as “starvation mode” after about 5-7 days and hunger pains subside, regardless of whether you are taking hcg or not.

    It is very sad that people are willing to try all these fads that can seriously harm their bodies just because they are unwilling ot mkae lifestyle changes. The best way to lose weight is, and always will be, to eat a healthy, balanced diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible and live an active lifestyle. My husband always says, “if you’re sitting behind a desk all day then you don’t to eat as much.”

    I have close friends who are tied up in this scam and it’s sad to see them believing in this “miracle cure” for their weight.

  8. November 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any means you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  9. Emma
    November 26, 2011 at 10:25 am

    This article and all of the comments above only show the ignorance of their authors. Please do yourselves a favor and actually “read” the free-online HCG diet book by the founder himself Dr Simmeon: “Pounds and Inches”.
    There you will discover that all of your fears and worries are unfounded as 50 years of medical research went in to the construction of this strict diet that actually helps cure obesity. I myself tried it & lost loads of weight & kept it off.
    Best to read about the diet from the original source& founder himself, than to make ignorant comments based on fairytales & sensationalism. Eg depending on how much fat you have to lose means you could well be existing on up to 4,000 calories (and not, as you say, “500 calories”. There is a reason for the calorie restriction & you must read why, in Dr Simmeons free online book.). Best not to comment with absolute resolve when you yourselves have not even TRIED this diet. A LOT of good has come out of this diet- though it is not for everyone. It is for those who are obese, as others do not need such help and intervention:

  10. December 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I have several friends who have done the HCG diet with great weight loss success. But almost everyone of them had a side effect or two. The girlfriend who did it through a doctor had great results with no effects. I think if you want to do something this drastic you need to be under a doctors care.

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