The Truth About hCG for Weight Loss
Editor’s Note: In December 2011, the FDA and Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters to seven companies marketing over-the-counter hCG products labeled as “homeopathic” for weight loss. The letters warned the companies that they are violating federal law by selling drugs that have not been approved, and by making unsupported claims for the products.
Diets don’t have to be traditional to be effective -- but when a weight loss diet involves injections of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women, you better be careful.
Two thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. That staggering statistic drives an insatiable appetite for solutions --preferably ones that are quick and easy.
Some dieters grow frustrated with slow weight loss and start looking for a quick fix. Like the "lose 30 pounds in 30 days" promise in The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don’t Want You to Know About that promotes hCG.
How the hCG Diet Works
In theory, the hCG hormone is supposed to suppress hunger and trigger your body’s use of fat for fuel.
Most hCG diet plans restrict dieters to only 500 calories per day of mostly organic, unprocessed foods along with the hCG injections or serum drops under the tongue (note: The oral hCG may contain little, if any, hCG). Follow the plan for 45 days straight, you will fix your metabolism, and lose several pounds a day, so the advertisements claim.
That's unlikely, say diet and nutrition experts. You will lose weight on the hCG diets but the weight loss will be the result of the very low-calorie or starvation-like diet, not the hCG.
Weight of the Evidence
Although it may sound like a plausible weight loss plan, the scientific evidence for using hCG is lacking.
In 1995, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published an analysis of research showing no benefit of hCG in promoting weight loss. A December 2009 position paper of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians concluded they did not recommend hCG as a weight loss aid.
Quack Watch.org director Stephen Barrett, MD tells WebMD that "scientific studies have demonstrated that hCG injections do not cause weight loss.”
He describes the protocol as extreme, nearly impossible to adhere to, and senseless, especially because the clinical trials have demonstrated that hCG is ineffective as a weight loss aid.
There are no FDA-approved hCG weight loss products, and the FDA and Federal Trade Commission have cracked down on several companies marketing hCG weight loss products
Potential Health Risks
Not only will you waste your money on hCG, but there are also potential consequences -- from side effects of the product and self-injections to nutritional deficiencies.
It is virtually impossible to meet your nutritional needs for carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fiber with less than 500 calories per day and the diet will most likely result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.