Have any of you heard about this diet? It's gaining in popularity immensely, and it's actually a little frighting. The general idea behind the diet is that HCG, a hormone that pregnant women produce during the first few months of pregnancy, which is also the hormone that is tested to check for pregnancy, will basically suppress appetite while signalling the body to burn fat and retain organ function and lean muscle. This is done to ensure that a fetus has the energy it requires to grow, or something along those lines.
This drug is extracted from the urine of pregnant women, and injected or otherwise consumed by dieters while eating a roughly 500 calorie a day diet consisting mostly of protein, fruits, and veggies. This is done for six to eight weeks, and then you're off for an equal amount of time before doing it again. This can be done up to three times. Expected weight loss is around one pound a day.
Recently, whatever health insurance the school district offers here has began paying for specialized HCG treatment with licensed medical doctors. A friend of mine who has been obese for probably 15 years has been on it for a month now and has lost thirty pounds. According to him, he feels great and has a ton of energy. Two days before he started the 500cal/day portion of the diet, he was told to basically binge eat as much as he possibly could. The first few days of the reduced caloric intake he felt lethargic and hungry, but after that all was good. Every couple of days, I believe, he eats only an apple and 100g of meat, and calls it a "reset day".
The skeptical part of me thinks this is incredibly crazy. However, I believe it also makes a small amount of sense. Apparently, though I've only found pages saying this and not the actual study, there are studies showing that those given a placebo of HCG had an equal amount of weight loss. This leads me to believe that the HCG makes no difference and that those on this diet are simply in something of a deep ketosis diet, where they don't feel lethargic or hungry simply because they do have excessive amounts of fat to burn for energy, or something along those lines.
My pregnant cousin has seen my friends weight loss success, and having put on something like 60lbs during pregnancy, and always having had trouble with weight in the past, now wishes to give it a go herself a few months after she has her child. This entire diet worries me, but there isn't much I can really say in light of my friends 'success', as well as stories they've all been hearing for several months now. They've seen my success, both on Paleo and not, but given that my success is attributed to hard work and what they now deem my 'crazy diet', I doubt I could ever sway them against a magic injection that makes them skinny without putting in any work.
I know this isn't exactly a paleo question, though I wish I could sway them to even just read Why We Get Fat, but I've seen a lot of good information come from this website and I was hoping some of you had some insight. I'd love to hear what any of you have to say, and perhaps if there are things I can show them that might sway their opinion against this, if it is indeed negative as I fear, then all the better.
Thanks a lot, guys and gals!
asked byWil (492)
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on February 27, 2011
at 03:49 PM
HCG is snake oil. It does nothing. Only calorie restriction is what's working on this diet.
References in article linked above:
- Simeons ATW. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:946-947, 1954.
- Asher WL, Harper HW. Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger and feeling of well-being. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 26:211???218, 1973.
- Bosch B and others. Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. South African Medical Journal 77:185???189, 1990.
- Carne S. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:1282???1284, 1961.
- Craig LS and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in the treatment of obese women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12:230???234, 1963.
- Frank BW. The use of chorionic gonadotrophin hormone in the treatment of obesity. A double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 14:133???136, 1964.
- Greenway FL, Bray GA. Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity: a critical assessment of the Simeons method. West Journal of Medicine 127:461???463, 1977.
- Shetty KR, Kalkhoff RK. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) treatment of obesity. Archives of Internal Medicine 137:151-155, 1977.
- Lebon P. Treatment of overweight patients with chorionic gonadotrophin: follow-up study. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 14:116???125, 1966.
- Lijesen GK and others. The effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 49:237???243, 1995.
- Miller R, Schneiderman LJ. A clinical study of the use of human chorionic gonadotrophin in weight reduction. Journal of Family Practice 4:445???448, 1977.
- Stein MR and others. Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotrophin in weight reduction: a double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 29:940???948, 1976.
- Young RL and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study. JAMA 236:2495???2497, 1976.
on February 27, 2011
at 02:50 PM
the real issue with this diet is the calorie restriction and the fact it allows the user to remain leptin resistant. Anything that calorie restricts means leptin will make us regain the weight when calories return. HCG is useful to raise testosterone levels......in some cases. And the reason it works for obesity is because of its effects on hormone sensitive lipase and lipoprotwin lipase in the belly and butt and hips adipose tissues. In my view your better off optimizing your sex steroid hormones exogenously with bioidenticals with a doc who knows what they are doing and eating with a paleo diet. There must be a documented hormone discrepancy before you can use them but i have not met an overweight person yet who does not have some type of hormonal imbalance.
on February 27, 2011
at 05:10 PM
I am with Laura! There is so much bogus research on the internet and in newspapers, but without going further and actually reading the book to see how it works, you wont get accurate information! This diet is not for everyone and for others it works wonders when nothing else has worked. I am currently on the HCG diet and finally have lost the weight that wouldn't come off with diet & exercise alone. I do Crossfit & Paleo and indeed lost 10 pounds and then nothing. After being on several medications for a severe injury as well as anti-depressants. No matter what I did my metabolism was whacked. Many people on HCG who follow protocol keep the weight off and never regain it back. You have to be extremely disciplined & if you want to keep the weight loss, you can't go back to eating your unhealthy lifestyle prior to the diet! We are also able to eat 1500 to 2000 healthy calories a day to maintain the weight we lost. If this diet didn't work thousands wouldn't have had successful results including me! I have done every diet in the world and nothing worked. I've even done the master cleanse and similar low cal diets and I was starving. This diet, when your dose is correct, you are NOT hungry and your body is learning to use it's stored abnormal fats for energy in addition to the 500 calories. On the days I do Crossfit or other exercise I increase my protein.
There are also clinics out there giving out bad information. If your going to do this diet, I would suggest reading the book "Pounds & inches" br Dr. Simmeons, it's available online for free and then choose an appropriate clinic who follows protocol. I spent hundreds on HCG/shakes/bars/supplements at the clinics not loosing any weight before finding out the real information for myself. There are real clinics out there who follow protocol and this is how it should be followed.
HCG also follows a Paleo lifestyle & when followed correctly encourages it's users to make healthier life choices as to food. It teaches you discipline and retrains you how to eat healthy. It completely transforms everything you thought you knew about food and all the bogus crap the government tells you is "healthy for you."
on February 27, 2011
at 04:08 PM
Did you guys know that if a person tests positive for HCg and they are not a pregnant woman, that they have cancer? See World without Cancer: the story of vitamin B-17 by G Edward Griffin.
on February 27, 2011
at 01:43 PM
There is absolutely no evidence to support the use of hcg for weight loss. And the *small print for these diets is that they are grossly calorie restricted to between 400-600/day.
"Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 Sep;40(3):237-43. The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis.
Lijesen GK, Theeuwen I, Assendelft WJ, Van Der Wal G.
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Abstract
- A meta-analysis was conducted to assess if there is scientific ground for the use of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. 2. Published papers relating to eight controlled and 16 uncontrolled trials that measured the effect of HCG in the treatment of obesity were traced by computer-aided search and citation tracking. 3. The trials were scored for the quality of the methods (based on four main categories: study population, interventions, measurement of effect, and data presentation and analysis) and the main conclusion of author(s) with regard to weight-loss, fat-redistribution, hunger, and feeling of well-being. 4. Methodological scores ranged from 16 to 73 points (maximum score 100), suggesting that most studies were of poor methodological quality. Of the 12 studies scoring 50 or more points, one reported that HCG was a useful adjunct. The studies scoring 50 or more points were all controlled. 5. We conclude that there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight-loss of fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being."(emphasis mine)
on March 22, 2011
at 01:07 PM
I've been paleo for 3 years and after the initial 10 lbs came off, I found no benefit to my weight (thought tons of benefit to my general health, skin, hair, nails, energy and mood). I still carried around extra weight and I wasn't able to tweak my diet and exercise to lose it. My sister unsuccessfully tried HCG and when I read about the diet it sounded like a HUGE scam to me, and as a scientist the studies I read suggested that it was essentially a restricted calorie diet - basically starvation level - and that was why users lost weight. However the papers concerning the interaction of HCG and adipose tissue demonstrated the reason for the lack of hunger was the increased release of leptin from adipose cells when reacting with HCG. I did a quick little experiment with my sister's leftover HCG to see if I could restrict calories without hunger, just for kicks. I didn't lower to 500 calories because frankly I didn't want to, but I did lower to 1000 (which for me is fairly low and leaves me quite hungry) and at first I felt absolutely nothing different while taking HCG, perhaps the first few days I felt like crap and lost zero pounds, but after that I have to admit I had an odd artificial "full" feeling, nearly nauseating, and even eating 1000 calories was a chore. Take that for what it's worth. I didn't like the feeling and after about 10 days total I stopped taking it. The full/nausea continued for the next several days after stopping and it made me really nervous. I suppose that's what the HCG hype is - you probably actually can restrict calories without feeling hungry. Whether that's healthy or not and what else is actually happening in your body while you're starving yourself I don't know. I will say that in the course of the 10 days I lost 6 lbs and when I resumed my normal paleo diet only 1 lb came back to me, but I'm not sure that will be a long term change and I'm guessing not.
By the way, it's not 6 to 8 weeks, at least as I've read it - it's 3-6 weeks. the 3 weeks seems almost like a "cleanse" IMO - I cannot imagine carrying on for 6 though.
on February 27, 2011
at 06:50 PM
If you get your total calories low enough, you are also getting your carb intake low too, and in a lot of cases it is low enough to go below what Atkins called "carbohydrate equilibrium"--the point where your insulin is not jacked up and preventing fat loss. So you're going to see some fat loss that way, especially on a very low-cal diet that still allows meat, as apparently the HCG diet does.
That said, I can't fathom someone is getting their nutritional needs met on that little food. They might if it were all meat, including organ meat, but let's face it, your average fad-diet plan doesn't go that far.
Even without the potential risks of taking a hormone that should only be found in pregnant women, I can't believe a mixed diet at that low level of calories is giving the dieter enough protein to maintain lean mass, hormone production or anything else. It's probably lowfat too, even worse. I wouldn't touch a diet like this with a ten-foot pole. It amazes me how many people out there understand that anorexia is an undesirable eating disorder but are still willing to starve themselves if it's an Expert(tm) with a bunch of letters after his or her name telling them to do it. And that includes bariatric surgery patients.
on February 27, 2011
at 06:45 PM
HCG (as other people have mentioned) is noted as being a crazy / non-weight loss thing.
I would not take an insurance company supporting it to seriously either, there is currently a lot of hand-wringing in medicine over the inclusion of "integrative medicine" "traditional Chinese medicine" and the generic homeopathy variants in the real medical field. So you will see crazy things supported by entities that would traditionally avoid quackery now.
A good place for the odd stuff like that is http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/ (relatively long running blog by a surgeon). Though I think the anti-vax stuff is usually considered more vile than things like HCG, but still its all bad stuff.
on February 27, 2011
at 04:09 PM
My sister did it and her appendix burst 2 weeks after starting it. May have been coincidental. Injecting something from anyones urine is totally bizarre in my opinion and shows just how desperate people have become to be "thin."
I say love yourself, live a good life responsibly and stick as close to "natural" as possible.
on February 27, 2011
at 02:12 PM
Best weight loss method for new mom - breast feeding. (also the very best thing to do for your baby) This diet looks like it would preclude breast feeding which requires a lot of calories and nutrients.
n=1 I lost 40 lbs in 6 months after birth by simply breast feeding (despite not have an ideal diet) and not owning a car - hence lots of "foraging" type walking to store, laundromat etc. while lifting a (semi)heavy weight - daughter, and heavy weights - grocery and laundry sacks. I definitely did not calorie restrict at all - had to eat a LOT to support the feeding and activity.
on February 27, 2011
at 11:50 AM
I went on HCG this past summer. I've been eating low-carb/paleo for the past 3 years and lost 50 lbs within the first 15 months. After I stopped going to the gym 3x/day (which I was doing in the last 4-6 weeks) I've gained 25 lbs back. I never got it officially checked, but blamed my thyroid. I began seeing a "holistic" doctor who had come highly recommended, and he sold me HCG for $300. Desperate, I bought it, thinking it would cure all my weight issues. I lasted about a day and a half and almost died of hunger. According to the receptionist (who rarely let me speak with the doctor about the problems I was having) I was the only patient who had any sort of difficulty. I figured that since I already ate paleo, I wasn't on the same par as most of the other clients, and that made me frustrated, that I already ate so well and these people who went from mcdonalds to 500 calories a day were losing 30-40 lbs and I couldn't even lose 5. I almost forced my doctor to prescribe me adderall, so that my hunger would be suppressed (and not even that worked). Now, about 6 months later, I've discovered (without the help of that doctor... I was told to find another doctor) that the problem isn't my thyroid or the way I eat, but my liver. I do not recommend HCG to anyone.... I agree, part of it makes sense, the logic that the doctor and his assistents threw at me anyway, but overall... figure out what's not working for you instead of using a (very expensive) band-aid to cover it up.
on December 01, 2012
at 05:23 PM
I tried a round of this with success. I was as skeptical as anyone but seeing people like Dr Kruse, Robb Wolf, even Dr. Oz (well he'll endorse anything but still)...say "its basically harmless if done correctly" made me think why not. During a recent Balanced Bites podcast, Diane even said something like "she wouldnt recommend it, but there are some cases where it might be reasonable to try it".
There are a lot of scammers and I recommend only using shots, but yes, for whatever reason it works if you get the real deal and stick to the protocol (I did the no grains version). Some say it's because of the 500 calories and for some yes, perhaps that is part of it. However, I've tried crazy things like 500-800 calorie diets before without any success (like not even losing 1 pound!). Some people's metabolism is just broken and do not respond to calorie restriction the way it might work for others. So for whatever reason it works. Don't knock it unless you've tried the real deal. It's actually been around since the 40s or 50s so I feel pretty good about it.
on March 29, 2012
at 12:24 AM
The best way to get to know this diet is to read the book written by it's inventor - Dr. Simeons. The book is called Pounds and Inches and it's the best way to get your answers to any hCG diet questions. What you find "online" regarding this diet is nothing but a bunch of rubbish and rumors.
on March 14, 2011
at 11:49 PM
I am currently on my third round of this diet. I've done it with and without the drops. Personally, I feel it is the DIET alone that works. However, I think the added cell salts and such in the drops do help with energy, constipation, etc. I've lost over 40 pounds and kept it off in this manner. I have eaten primal/paleo for the past year. I lost a bit but that was it. I maintain beautifully eating primal/paleo/dairy free in between HCG rounds but some of us just need this extra push. Even Eades said that some people have to watch calories. I view the HCG as a short term period of cleansing and near fasting eating lean meat, organic veggies, and fruits. It's hard but so is being fat. We all have to find what works.
on February 27, 2011
at 02:37 PM
I did two rounds of HcG in July and September of this year. If you want to understand the diet better, I recommend reading Dr. Simeons Protocol. It is available for free from just about any HcG website. There are two types of HcG available. Real HcG, which is only available through a doctor's prescription, and homeopathic HcG, which is sold all over the internet (purportedly, some suppliers are charlataigns selling fake stuff!).
I lost 25 pounds over the two 23-day rounds. Not very impressive but I was not terribly obese to begin with (5'5", started at 175). I used the "real" hcg injections. I was a little hungry, but mostly bored with the very limited food choices (its in the Protocol). The first few days are carb withdrawals for most people.
After the hcg/VLCD phase is over, and this is very, very important, then another phase begins that bans all sugars and starches though one is allowed to eat to satiety!
I never left that phase, LOL. Instead I discovered first Mark Sisson then Robb Wolf and the rest of the lunatic fringe :)
I wouldn't recommend the hcg diet to everyone, but I caution anyone who wants to try it that you MUST be committed. No cheating or your just wasting your time and money. As far as the research goes, well, I don't know if it is true or not but look at research that denies our paleo lifestyle as healthy, just saying. But there's not a lot of studies the successes of hcg are, indeed, anecdotal. Keep that in mind.
In defense of hcg, it is the method I lost the majority of my total weightloss (I've lost only an aadditional 5 pounds, but no weight gain either). Also, were it not for hcg, I may never have discovered all that I have about Paleo lifestyle and the truths therein.