Fad Diets: The HCG Diet
Diets have a way of resurfacing, in fact low carb, high protein diets have been around since the 1800’s. Another diet has made a comeback. In the 1950’s a British physician combined injections of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone with a very restrictive 500 calorie diet. The “Shot”, as it was dubbed, is back. The proponents of today’s version, claim that HCG, a hormone produced in small amounts by both men and women and in larger amounts when a women are pregnant, produces fast and hunger free weight loss. If you have been considering trying this plan, there are three important questions to ask yourself, is it safe, does it work, and if so, is it the HCG that is responsible. Here are the answers to those questions according to a recent article in the University of California Berkley Wellness Letter:
- The caloric level of the diet is dangerously low, near starvation levels, and can’t be sustained. It can cause weakness, fatigue, protein malnutrition and loss of bone minerals over time.
- There is no good evidence that the diet works. Controlled studies show that people lose the same amount of weight on a 500 calorie diet, with or without the injections. The weight loss is simply and not surprisingly a result of the aggressive, restrictive diet. In 1995, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology summarized the findings of 24 studies involving HCG. It was concluded that HCG “does not bring about weight loss or fat redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of wellbeing”. The Wellness letter adds that there hasn’t been much research on HCG since then.
- Over the counter HCG products have not been tested in studies and, therefore, provide no reason to believe that they would work.
- Like other fad diets, it doesn’t work in the long term. Once you get off the 500 calorie diet, chances are you will return to your previous lifestyle and gain any weight lost, back.
- The bottom line, according to Dr. John Swartzberg, is that “the HCG diet is complete quackery.”