The HCG diet is a weight loss program that uses injections or oral drops containing human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that occurs naturally in pregnant women. The diet’s creator believed that HCG can help to reduce hunger and cravings, reduce body fat, and increase the body’s metabolism, which can help to burn more calories.
The diet plan requires you to follow a very low-calorie diet alongside the HCG supplementation.
What Is the HCG Diet?
The HCG diet was created by Dr. Simeons during the 1950s. At this time, Dr. Simeons was a renowned endocrinologist who believed that the pregnancy hormone HCG could help promote weight loss.
HCG is a hormone that is elevated during the early stages of pregnancy, and it supports the embryo’s growth. This hormone is also elevated when trophoblastic cancers are present.
Dr. Simeons claimed that HCG injections promoted further weight loss for those on a calorie-controlled diet. However, recent research has shown that the calorie-controlled aspect of the regime is the only cause of weight loss and that HCG has no effect.
Experts claim that taking HCG could promote the growth of cancer, the recurrence of cancer, and cause blood clots. However, since the use of HCG typically goes unmonitored, there could be other dangers that remain unknown.
It’s important to note that while HCG has approval by the FDA to help those with infertility complications, it is not approved for weight loss. In addition, HCG injections are a prescription-only medicine and should not be obtained without one.
How the HCG Diet Works
The HCG diet is split into three phases:
- The loading phase
- The calorie-restriction phase
- Maintenance phase
Dr. Simeons recommended loading up on calories during the loading phase before starting the calorie-restriction phase. He claimed that binge eating during this phase would also facilitate weight loss during the second phase.
This phase lasts for two days, and any type of food can be eaten. During this phase, the HCG intramuscular injections also start.
After two days of loading, Dr. Simeons recommends cutting the calories down to 500 per day while continuing the injections. He also provided a strict meal plan for people to follow.
The meal plan consisted of coffee or tea for breakfast with only a tablespoon of milk. However, there was no limit on the amount of coffee or tea, and artificial sweeteners must be used instead of sugar.
Lunch and dinner also remained very strict and could include:
- 100 grams of lean meat boiled or grilled with no additional fat
- One type of vegetable
- A small piece of bread
- A small portion of fruit such as an apple or a handful of berries
This phase lasts three to five weeks.
Carbohydrates are added to the meal plan during the maintenance phase, and the HCG injections are discontinued.
It’s also recommended to count calories in the future once the diet is over, to prevent weight gain from recurring.
Since this diet is not approved by the FDA, the costs remain unclear. However, there will be some costs involved with the HCG injections or supplements.
But it is not recommended to use these injections without a prescription, and it’s unlikely that you will find a doctor who will prescribe HCG injections for weight loss.
Dos and Don’ts
- Seek medical advice if you are considering this diet.
- Consider the risks that are involved with this diet.
- Use HCG injections or supplements that were not prescribed to you.
Sample Diet Plan
Tea or coffee with a tablespoon of milk
100 grams of poached chicken, a small serving of broccoli, and a small piece of bread
100 grams of oven-baked fish, a small serving of carrots, and a small piece of toast
A handful of strawberries
Health Benefits and Risks
Healthcare professionals do not recommend this diet because supplements or injections that claim to contain the HCG hormone are unsafe. In addition, extensive research on the HCG hormone proves that it does not promote weight loss either.
Overall, there are no benefits to this diet. While some people claim to have lost weight from this diet, this is due to the restricted calories. It has nothing to do with the HCG hormone.
As mentioned, this diet is unsafe and not effective. Besides this, pursuing this diet will only waste your time and could make you extremely unwell. Despite extensive research, there is no evidence to support the claim that HCG can help you to lose more weight.
Another point to consider is that even if you were to follow the meal plans and avoid the injections, 500 calories per day is difficult to achieve. Many diets fail due to the strict rules or conditions that make them impossible for people to follow.
Additionally, many people who have tried the HCG diet in the past struggled with the injections because they did not like needles. Injecting oneself also appears easier than it looks and many people struggle if they have not used intramuscular injections in the past.
Lastly, this diet is not safe for anyone with underlying medical conditions. Especially those who have specific dietary requirements.
The Bottom Line: Is the HCG Diet a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?
The HCG diet is not a healthy way to lose weight. It’s a fad that is unsafe, and the HCG hormone itself does not promote weight loss. Anyone looking at weight loss options should consider safer diets that have proven results. Besides the injections, severe calorie restrictions are not ideal either.