What We Like
- Reputable programs require supervision by a qualified medical professional
- Alcohol is forbidden when following the protocol
- Does not require the purchase of special food or supplies
What We Don’t Like
- Calorie restriction is far below what is deemed safe by health and medical professionals
- Serious side effects include headaches, risk of blood clots, restlessness, and depression
- Exercise is discouraged on the hCG diet
How the hCG Diet Works
The hCG diet involves extreme calorie restriction (around 500 calories a day) and a daily injection of 125mg of the hCG hormone. Other programs promote taking the hormone orally. Proponents of the diet claim that hCG prevents the body from breaking down muscle for energy and instead begins to burn fat reserves. The hCG Diet typically lasts for three weeks and is monitored by a health professional.
hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the cells that form the placenta. While it is most commonly associated with pregnancy, it is present in both genders.
Each round of treatment lasts a minimum of 26 days, and 23 of those days require a daily dose of hCG, either through injections or under-the-tongue drops. Treatment may last as long as 43 days (with 40 injections), unless a patient loses 34 to 40 pounds (15 to 18 kilograms) before the allotted time has passed. Patients don’t receive hCG injections for the last three days of any treatment period so the hormone can cycle completely out of their bodies before they resume a normal diet.
What The Experts Say About the hCG Diet
- Claims of effectiveness—Although hCG is approved for the treatment of certain problems of the male reproductive system and in stimulating ovulation in women who have had difficulty becoming pregnant, no evidence has been presented to substantiate claims for hCG as a weight-loss aid. U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2011.
- Physiological effects of the hCG diet—Bariatric physician Dr. Michael Snyder claims that 500 calories per day is not enough to support normal brain function. Consequently, the body compensates by using stores of glycogen, protein, and fat, which lowers resting metabolism. Diets in Review 2010.
- Questionable safety and effectiveness—In a weight loss Q&A, Mayo Clinic nutritionist Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D., addresses the effectiveness and safety of the hCG diet and confirms that hCG is not approved for over-the-counter use and has not been proven to work for weight loss. MayoClinic.com.
Tips for Success
- The hCG weight loss protocol should be supervised by a medical professional
- Following the third hCG injection, you must adhere to the 500-calorie diet until 72 hours following the last injection
- Food choices should be high in protein and low in starches, carbohydrates, and fat
- Sugars, sweet fruits, processed foods, and heavy starches are not permitted on the hCG diet
- Shots of apple cider vinegar can be taken as a daily supplement
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