HCG Weight Loss: Does It Work?

February 15, 2012

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hgc weight lossYou may have seen or heard ads for HCG weight loss programs that promise easy and quick weight loss and wondered, “Do they work?” The short answer is no – despite numerous medical studies, no connection between HCG and weight loss has been shown. Worse, these plans could put your health in serious danger.

To understand why, let’s talk about what HCG – or human chorionic gonadotropin – is and how it became linked to weight loss. HCG is a hormone produced in women during pregnancy by the placenta and excreted in the urine. In 1954, a British physician named A.T.W. Simeons published a manuscript titled “Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity” that promoted the use of HCG combined with a very low calorie diet for weight loss. The program was briefly popular before being discarded and largely forgotten.

Then in 2007 an infomercial by Kevin Trudeau renewed interest in the diet. Trudeau was fined $37 million dollars by the Federal Trade Commission in 2008 for false and misleading claims, but by then the HCG craze had begun, spawning numerous copycat HCG plans and products.

The warning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires on all HCG products says it all: “HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, The Journal of Family Practice, and Archives of Internal Medicine all came to the same conclusion: HCG weight loss doesn’t work and HCG diet programs are a scam.

It is true that people on HCG diet programs do lose weight, but what the ads don’t say is that along with HCG injections, drops, pills, pellets and sprays, people follow a very restrictive and nutritionally unsound 500-calorie-a-day diet plan. No wonder they lose weight! But it’s not because of the HCG, it’s because of the extremely low calorie intake.

Following a 500-calorie-a-day diet is extremely unhealthy because it cannot possibly provide the nutrition and energy needed for even the most basic bodily functions. Such a low calorie plan also triggers the body’s starvation response, which slows the metabolism and forces muscle and water loss instead of fat loss.

HCG weight loss is also dangerous because the compounding pharmacies who make the HCG products by extracting the hormone out of the urine of pregnant women do not test the urine donors for infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis. That means anyone following a HCG weight loss program could be at risk of being exposed to these and other illnesses borne by bodily fluids.

Bottom line: Don’t look to a HCG weight loss program to lose weight. Not only are they expensive and unproven – they’re dangerous. On the other hand, patients following a medical weight loss program like the one at The Center for Medical Weight Loss not only lose weight quickly, they do so safely. And unlike HCG diet programs, the medical weight loss approach has been scientifically proven to help people lose excess weight and keep it off.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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Comments (2)

[…] leptin with supposed “fad hormone-based” diets like HCG. These are not the same thing and the HCG diet does not regulate these hormones nor is it a safe or long-term way to manage weight. I don’t know […]

[…] hCG diet is particularly concerning because it has gained a great deal of popularity in recent months. […]

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