What is the HCG diet?

It’s quite possible that you or someone you know has recently tried this new fad diet. HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a pregnancy hormone which is measured to indicate if a woman is pregnant. The method of the diet includes taking HCG sublingually or by injection. Either method is to be done on a daily basis until the desired amount of weight has been lost. The individual must accompany the HCG  with a very specific 500 calorie per day diet plan. The diet claims an average of 1-2 pounds per day will be lost.

Too good to be true?

The trouble is…the HCG diet isn’t new at all. The diet first made an appearance in 1954 by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons. The diet was greatly popular in weight loss clinics all over the US and in particular, on the West Coast. Researchers began to explore the effectiveness of the diet and found little to be desired. Study participants were divided into two groups, one receiving the HCG and the other a placebo. Despite claims stating the HCG hormone would decrease hunger, participants in research studies reported no change in hunger level. However, they did report an increase in the feeling of anxiety. Compared to the placebo group, there was no difference in the amount or rate of weight loss. Even in 1977, it was found that HCG had no greater effect than a placebo. Patients did, however, lose weight when following a 500 calorie diet. The long term success of adherence to this limited amount  is, understandably, not realistic. To read more on this study, look for “Human chorionic gonadotropin (hcg) in the treatment of obesity: a critical assessment of the Simeons method” by Greenway and Bray.

Bottom line, if it sounds too good to be true (or too crazy to make sense)…it probably is. Focus on the diet recommendations given by your dietitian and advise your friends to do the same.