It’s shocking that the HCG method for weight loss is still around, especially considering that HCG for weight management has never been approved by the FDA, any physician licensed medical body, and most individuals will admit that they do not know anyone who has sustained long term weight loss with HCG. The largest bodies of licensed weight loss experts from organizations such as the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA), The Obesity Society (TOS), Obesity Action Coalition, and American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery all agree that there is no evidence to support HCG weight loss. In November 2016 the American Medical Association took the official position that HCG did not lead to weight loss or improved human health; a position that OMA adopted 6 years previously. These positions were based on studies that demonstrated HCG injections with a 500-calorie diet versus a 500-calorie diet alone did not produce significant weight loss or appetite suppression. Despite all of this evidence, many weight loss clinics tout HCG and the accompanying HCG diet as safe and effective for weight loss. This is simply not true.
What is HCG?
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced by pregnant females. This hormone is detected by home pregnancy tests and is used to confirm whether a woman is pregnant. HCG is not (usually) produced in males or non-pregnant females; with the exception of cancers such as testicular or ovarian cancers. The purpose of HCG is to produce additional hormones (in higher than normal amounts), such as estrogen and progesterone, that are required for a healthy pregnancy. Once these necessary hormones reach the correct levels to support the growing fetus (this typically occurs in the first 12 weeks) HCG decreases and returns to original pre-pregnancy hormone levels. This may explain why most programs utilize HCG for only 3-6 weeks.
The HCG diet and weight loss claims
The HCG diet is a 500 calorie diet that is low in sugar and starches and, at least for the first few days, is high in fat. It is basically a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. Supporters of the HCG diet claim that using HCG. The weight loss programs endorse a 1 lb loss a day. Unfortunately, there is nothing about HCG that will reduce appetite, but there is nothing about HCG, elevated estrogen or progesterone that will help with satiety! It is true that the first few weeks of pregnancy that some women will develop nausea or vomiting but it is also true that most pregnant women actually have an increased appetite. Taking more of these hormones will not guarantee appetite suppression at all. For individuals who use this diet, they may experience fatigue, headaches, nausea, or abdominal pain the first few days and that is due to caloric restriction. Over time, the body learns how to adjust to almost any diet, and the natural appetite suppression, if any, is really coming from eating less food, smaller portions, and less sugar. The other claim for HCG is that it can preserve the loss of muscle that often happens with very low calorie diets. This is controversial because the HCG diet is usually a higher protein diet and this alone will help with muscle preservation and lean muscle mass. Also, muscle composition and basal metabolic rate are not always measured before and after the program, so how can this be proven?
The idea behind the injection is related to the best method for absorption. HCG cannot be taken in a pill form because it will be degraded by the GI tract, so the injection bypasses digestion and allows for proper absorption in the body. It can also not be absorbed as a drop, spray, pellet, or topical form. The HCG injections that are available in the pharmacy are only FDA approved for women who have difficulty with ovulation or supporting a normal pregnancy. Therefore, most individuals taking HCG are getting it outside of a licensed pharmacy. The FDA discovered hundreds of fraudulent forms of HCG in retail stores and in online shops. Sadly, there are even licensed medical professionals selling HCG directly from their offices, outside of FDA and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regulation. Unregulated HCG is not guaranteed to be safe. The FDA first banned the use of HCG for weight loss in 1976 and again in 2011 by prohibiting the sell of homeopathic and over the counter HCG preparations and deeming their use and promotion as illegal. Kevin Trudeau, a non-licensed layperson, misrepresented claims for the HCG diet in the 1990s and made millions by promoting fraudulent books and infomercials supporting HCG weight loss. He was later sentenced to pay $37 million dollars and eventually ordered to federal prison.
HCG is not benign. It can create fertility difficulties for women by overstimulating ovaries and testosterone and can feed hormonal cancers.
What you can do
Now that it is clear that HCG is not a weight loss option, it is time to explore real solutions. First, avoid any weight loss practice using HCG, it is harmful, not proven, and a scam. Do not align yourself with any clinician or provider who is practicing fake medicine.
Now if you are serious about this weight loss journey, the best place to start is by taking a personal mental inventory. Check in with your heart, soul, and mind. Are you ready to make a real weight loss commitment? Do you understand the journey that your body has been on that has lead to excess weight? Tools such as our free Weight History Chart can help you see the patterns for weight gain in your life. If you are ready to make a commitment, start by seeing a licensed weight loss doctor. This specialist will cut down on the trial and error, failed attempts, and confusion! A bariatrician (or obesity specialist) will help you lose weight in a controlled and safe environment. There are many methods for weight loss, find the one that is best for you without risking your health, wasting time, and wasting money!