So what do I think of HCG?
Well, I’m glad you asked 😉 Unless you’re new to the weight loss and fitness world, you’ve no doubt heard of HCG and its weight loss effects.
Some have labeled it as the proverbial quick fix solution to being overweight; you take an injection or a few drops a day, you don’t have to work out, and weight just falls off you.
The old trainer in me would just shoot from the hip his opinion and blast this thing off its feet like an old western movie. Now I have worked with clients that have done HCG and have spoken to multiple people in the midst of the diet. Its popularity seemed to die off since last year but I’ve seen a bit of an up kick from the community about dabbling into this again.
So… I decided to indulge in my inner nerd a bit and do some research on this.
Get some coffee and get comfy.
First off, what is HCG and what does it do?
To break it down simply, HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and its produced by pregnant women (the egg after it’s been fertilized and later the developing placenta)1.
I won’t get into the real nitty-gritty of how the hormone interacts with others but essentially it helps with fetal development and metabolic increase especially during pregnancy; a developing fetus needs some extra calories.
In a nutshell, HCG helps stimulate the hypothalamus to secrete more TSA (thyroid stimulating hormone); hence the metabolism increase.
How does the program work?
For the purposes of this blog, we are sticking with the popularized HCG Diet, although there are other uses for the hormone.
To sum it up, the HCG program is a “diet” where a doctor recommends a patient, looking to lose weight, take either HCG drops or injections over the course of time in conjunction with…
This is the most important part…
A two to three-day binge, followed by an ULTRA low-calorie diet, usually about 500-1000 calories a day consisting of high protein and low carb/no processed carb foods.
Hmm…. sounds like a low carb diet with ultra-low calories.
In case you wondering, the drops or injections are extracted from pregnant urine. NOW we aren’t really sure if this is female human urine OR in some cases, primate urine, and no one really will say for sure, and the synthesized version does not work with the body.
Does it really work?
“Does it work” is an interesting question in the context that does the diet or the hormone work?
There have been a number of people who have lost weight with the HCG diet and we really can’t argue with those stats.
I bet if you looked around your close circle of friends, you will find someone who has been on the HCG plan at one point in time; it’s so popular that you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone who has experimented with this program.
When I used to run a few corporate boot camps, I would ALWAYS come across a few people that were strongly considering doing the HCG program.
So does the program work? Technically if you follow the guidelines yes you will lose weight.
But the real question here is; “Is it the hormone or the diet that causes the quick drops in weight?”
My money is on the low cal diet and NOT the hormone.
“Registered Dietitian Jennifer Nelson of the Mayo Clinic states that the real weight loss from the HCG Diet is mostly coming from expending energy by burning through the five hundred calories; however, Nelson affirms that such drastic weight loss will occur in any low-calorie diet” 6.
Studies on HCG have been around since the early 1970s, so it’s nothing new folks. The history goes that Dr. Albert T. W. Simeons discovered this hormone in the late ’50s and observed through the hormones ability to manipulate the body theorizing that with ultra-low cal diet could help speed up the body’s ability to drop just body fat and keep muscle mass.
“ Simeons, while studying pregnant women in India on a calorie-deficient diet, and “fat boys” with pituitary problems treated with low-dose HcG, claimed that both lost fat rather than lean (muscle) tissue” 1.
He theorized that what kept these people alive during ultra low calorie diets was that the HcG reprogrammed the body to metabolize body fat only and leave muscle mass alone. Honestly, if we had the technology they did back in the 50’s I could see how that theory came about.
Soon after he wrote his, Pounds and Inches, his goal was to begin to combat obesity, and clinical research began.
Clinical testing began in the late 60’s early 70’s and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
In fact, in 1976 the FDA required Simeons to put this on ALL of his diet advertisements:
“These weight reduction treatments include the injection of HcG, a drug which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective in the treatment of obesity or weight control. There is no substantial evidence that HcG 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-restrictive diets.”
– 1976 FDA-mandated disclaimer for HCG diet advertisements –
That was just one statement of MANY that I found really starting to bash this method of weight loss.
Why do doctors STILL prescribe it?
The reason they still prescribe this crazy diet is money.
I mean SOMEONE has got to pay for their 16 year old kid’s new Mercedes.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is medicine is a BUSINESS and if you’re willing to pay to be given a crazy hormone AND put on an ultra low calorie diet then they will take your money.
You combine this mindset with a society that is brought up pill happy, having experiences that diseases can be cured by a pill or injection, then the medical industry has a cash cow.
Because they know NO ONE wants to work out to be fit, so let’s sell them the latest drug.
I don’t want to go any further on the state’s medical issues or dilemmas, that’s a topic for another blog elsewhere, but ultimately everything revolves around the dollar.
Side Note: I’m NOT bashing all doctors out there, without them we as a society would not have evolved and developed into who we are today. We DO need them. Unfortunately, just as there are some good ones there are some NOT so good ones.
Hey, it is a hormone and it’s designed to speed things up but it’s not always the metabolism as we thought; I have found a number of cases where diseases were sent into overdrive by taking this product.
That’s not the only side effect.
The BIG side effect that I have seen from people that have undergone this diet is the rebound from an ultra low calorie plan.
A rebound in this case is where a person who was on a diet for a period of time all of a sudden goes back to eating the way they were BEFORE their diet OR… wait for it… eats even healthier than before AND still gains their weight back.
I can’t tell you HOW many people have seen that fall into these two categories of rebound:
- Gain the majority of their weight back and eventually more.
- Maintain their weight but have to live such a restrictive life style that it’s not feasible for everyday society.
I’ll save this topic for another blog but in short, a person that was on this plan usually has damaged their metabolism so much that it takes a LONG time to repair it to where the person CAN eat food without gaining weight.
Geez, that was a long nerdy rant lol
To sum it up:
- Yes the diet works (seriously eat 500 calories a day and you’ll lose weight, and probably a lot of other things such as: YOUR MIND)
- No, the hormones don’t work
- Your body is screwed up for months afterwards
- It doesn’t fix the problem that got you overweight in the first place.
This program is a very unhealthy, temporary solution to a bigger problem in the first place, and if not handled correctly can turn into a massive problem that can take several years to fix <=== Yes you read that correctly several years.
I won’t go into any more details about the horror stories and methods that I’ve heard about this diet but I look forward to when this fad finally goes away. It just makes my job harder in the long run by messing up people’s metabolisms and hormonal patterns.
- Wikipedia contributors. “Human chorionic gonadotropin.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 May. 2013. Web. 7 May. 2013
- Williams, Lance (May 8, 2009). “Manny Ramirez suspended; testosterone ratio exceeded limits; fertility drug reported”. San Francisco Chronicle.
- Stein MR, Julis RE, Peck CC, Hinshaw W, Sawicki JE, Deller JJ (September 1976). “Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction: a double-blind study”. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 29 (9): 940–8.PMID 786001. Retrieved 2009-02-03
- Barrett S. “HCG Worthless as Weight-Loss Aid”. Diet Scam Watch. dietscam.org. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- Lijesen GK, Theeuwen I, Assendelft WJ, Van Der Wal G (September 1995). “The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis”. Br J Clin Pharmacol 40 (3): 237–43. PMC 1365103. PMID 8527285.
- Nelson, Jennifer K., R.D., L.D. “HCG Diet: Is It Safe and Effective?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hcg-diet/an02091>.
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
P.S. – If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends using the social media buttons below.
P.P.S. – Please ask a question or share a comment with us in the Leave a Comment section at the very bottom of the page. We love your feedback and will use it to develop future content.
PLEASE CLICK THE “LIKE” BUTTON, POST A COMMENT AND SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS…