What on earth is the hCG diet?
Most diets have pretty obvious names—the low-carb diet, sugar busters diet, gluten-free diet, raw food diet—but some are a little less clear. And one of those confusingly-named diets, the hCG diet, has been popping up more and more lately. It turns out that hCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone made during pregnancy. The idea of the diet is that by taking hCG supplements, you can limit yourself to 500 calories a day without feeling like you’re starving or are going to pass out. Follow it for eight weeks and you’ll lose a ton of weight.
But it’s not so easy. The first issue experts have with the diet is the incredibly low calorie count. By only consuming 500 calories a day (no breakfast, light lunch, light dinner), you can have a hard time getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Some experts even claim that such a low number of calories can lead to heart issues, gallstones, and poor functioning of muscles and nerves.
The other issue is about how people are getting those hCG supplements. The FDA approves hCG for medical use in some instances of infertility, but have warned against any other use of the hormone (in fact, the FDA has sent letters warning firms that market hCG as a weight loss supplement). So where do people get the hCG for this diet? From online stores or supplement shops that sell homeopathic versions in drop form. Some doctors are also writing prescriptions for the daily injections, which is not approved by the FDA. The injections are also useless. In clinical trials, there has never been an instance where hCG injections were more effective than a placebo in weight-loss.
Finally, once you go off the super-low-calorie diet, you’ll likely gain most of the weight back. So now you know—the hCG diet has a lot of hype but very little to back that up. Leave the hCG on the shelves and try a more balanced approach to weight loss.
Photo credit: tipstimes.com/diet