Do you wonder if a “natural” hormone in the body produced during pregnancy can help in weight loss? The guarantee transformed the hCG diet coined after the hormone into a major hype that does not appear to fade. Some claims backed by studies state that picking a diet with ultra-low-calorie intake can help reset your metabolic activity so that you lose around a pound daily without feeling fatigued or weak. Weight loss is a major outcome related to any super-low caloric diet. Studies found that hCG’s full form is human chorionic gonadotropin which does not impart anything to it.(1)
For several years, the hCG diet has attained a lot of fame. The advocates of this diet claim that it leads to a rapid weight loss of about one to two pounds daily. You will not suffer from hunger issues while following this diet procedure. But, FDA or the Food and Drug Administration stated that this diet is illegal, dangerous, and a scam.(1, 2)
Our post today analyses the real fact behind the hCG diet!
Overview of hCG & How It Works?
Human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, exists at higher levels during the early phases of pregnancy. The hormone gets used as a tag for the pregnancy tests performed at home.(3) It is used to assist in treating fertility issues in both women and men.
But, the higher blood levels of hCG also indicate various cancer forms, including ovarian cancer, placental cancer, and testicular cancer.(4) Albert Simeons, a British doctor, initially proposed hCG to aid weight loss in 1954. He tested a diet following this procedure comprising two primary elements:
- a super-low caloric intake of around 500 cal daily
- injecting with hCG hormones
Several hCG products are being sold in various forms, including pellets, drops, and sprays, while they are even available on several websites and physical stores.
The main reason behind the hCG diet plan is to offer sufficient nutrients to help a pregnant woman to overcome the fatigue and morning sickness. This way, the baby retains the energy, and the hCG hormone facilitates access to a sufficient supply. It got noted that it overly simplified the several systems at play during pregnancy. At the same time, there are a sufficient number of active hormones, and how they interact at times leads to the promotion of fat gain for the would-be-mom.(5)
hCG’s Effect On Bodily Functions
During pregnancy, a protein-based hormone, hCG, is produced by the body, which aids in maintaining the generation of vital hormones. It includes progesterone that helps in supporting the healthy development and health of the fetus and uterus.(6)
At the end of the first three pregnancy months, the blood levels for the hCG reduce significantly.
How Does hCG Diet Promote Weight Loss?
Several hCG diet advocates claim that the hormone can boost the metabolic activity in the body and aid you in shedding those additional pounds without you feeling hungry. Multiple theories try to explain the mechanism of hCG’s weight loss.
But, several studies conducted over time claimed that weight loss is achieved by following the hCG diet due to the intake of a low-calorie diet. It has no connection with the hCG hormone.(7, 8)
Several studies compared the effects of hCG and the injections of placebo offered to people following the calorie-limited diet. Weight loss was almost similar between both groups.
Additionally, these studies determined that the hCG hormone did not have any effect in suppressing hunger.
How Does The hCG Diet Offer Health Benefits?
hCG performs as a hunger-suppressing agent, which is the hormone supplemented to help reduce your calorie intake.
The viable mechanism that got noticed while following the hCG diet and losing weight is burning the fat reserved in the body for generating more energy due to the low-calorie intake, sparing the mass of lean muscles, suppressing hunger cravings, and offering metabolic boost arriving from higher levels of testosterone.
Studies noted that the average weight loss inferred with the hCG diet in forty days is about twenty-five to thirty-five pounds in women and thirty-five to forty-five pounds in men.
Research has shown no difference between the hCG-treated controls and the participants. Studies conducted to prove the potential of the hCG diet other than the limitations on calorie intake in weight loss are not available as of the date.(10)
Guidelines To Follow With The hCG Diet
The hCG diet has low-fat constituencies and follows a low-calorie diet. It is then divided into three phases as follows:
- Loading Phase: Start by consuming hCG hormone while consuming an adequate amount of fat which is rich in calories, for around 2 days.
- Weight Loss Phase: Continue with the intake of hCG and consume only 500 calories daily for three to six weeks.
- Maintenance Phase: Discontinue the intake of hCG and eventually increase your food intake; however, keep in mind to avoid starch or sugar for three weeks.
Individuals looking to lose weight might start spending three weeks in the second phase. At the same time, others are looking for significant weight loss and might get recommended to follow this diet for six weeks, along with repeating all the phases of this cycle multiple times.
In the weight loss stage, you can consume two meals daily, mainly lunch and dinner.
Your hCG diet plan indicates that every meal should comprise the following:
- A single piece of lean protein
- A single piece of bread
- A vegetable of your choice
- A single serving consisting of fruits
- You might even get a curated list of approved foods to pick from under specific portions.
Ensure to avoid oils, sugar, and butter; however, you are advised to drink ample water. Even coffee, mineral water, and tea are recommended.
Are There Any Risks Associated With The hCG diet?
The FDA does not approve the hCG diet to facilitate your weight loss journey. Rather, FDA had questioned the safety associated with the hCG diet and the products you get over-the-counter for hCG. These are unregulated products containing ingredients that are not known, and it is the reason why you should avoid them.(2)
The following are a couple of adverse effects linked to the hCG diet:
These are due to the low-calorie intake, which is almost related to starvation, and it is highly guaranteed to make individuals feel less miserable. A study conducted in 2014 stated that a 64-year-old woman who was following the hCG diet developed blood clots all over her lungs and legs. The primary cause of the clots and other adverse effects is more likely contributed by the diet.(7)
It is highly appreciable whenever it comes to losing weight and having better health; however, the approach towards attaining the goal should lead to a healthier lifestyle. The hCG diet has displayed signs of negative results, but there is not much evidence.
Consuming a healthy, balanced diet and performing exercises will help you stay safe in your weight loss journey.
The hCG diet is an extreme diet that restricts your calorie intake to just 500 gms daily for weeks. Diets with low calories can help you in losing weight.
But, several studies have discovered that the hCG hormone does not affect weight loss or suppress hunger. If you take your weight loss journey seriously and keep them off, then there are varied potential ways that are highly sensible and safe than the hCG diet.
Make sure you consult your dietician, doctor, or nutritionist to determine that the method you pick is the right one for you!
- American Society of Bariatric Physicians: “Use of HCG in the Treatment of Obesity.”
- HCG Diet Products Are Illegal. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. September 20, 2013.