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Hottest New Diet Trends: The HCG Diet

HCG dietAnd, drum roll please . . . the last diet we’ll cover in our “Hottest New Diet Trends” series, outlined by Roberta Lee, MD, at the 9th Annual Nutrition and Health Conference, held a few months ago in Boston. The final weight loss approach? The HCG Diet.

A Diet Full of Controversy

No other diet has sparked as much controversy and experienced as much popularity and obscurity as the HCG diet.  Once promoted as an effective weight loss tool throughout the 1950s, by the 1970s the HCG diet had largely faded into the shadows . . . only to reemerge in recent times much stronger than ever. 

It might be easy to feel the need to try this mysterious diet. Dramatic “before and after” videos and pictures, and promises of melting the pounds away can be enticing enough for anyone to give it a shot.  Whether or not it’s just a “fad” diet that will pass with time, it wouldn’t hurt to try, right?  

Well, let’s dig a little deeper first.

As diets fight to get attention in the burgeoning fad diet market, it’s hard to stick out bright enough to be spotted by everyone.  With the HCG diet, the controversy surrounding it was enough to propel it to fame rather quickly.  After all, it gets its name from human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that’s found in the urine of pregnant women.  Yep, you read correctly – this diet involves injecting the hormones into your system on a regular basis.  

But wait, it gets worse.  The HCG hormones are supposed to suppress your feelings of hunger, and force your body into using its stores of fat for fuel.  Because your body is drawing energy from itself instead of outside food sources, HCG dieters are limited to a mere 500 calories a day – just a fourth of what the average adult should be eating.  These 500 calories can only come from organic, unprocessed foods, and this schedule has to continue for at least 45 days, until your metabolism evens out.  

The promise of losing several pounds a day should be enough to raise a red flag in anyone’s mind, as losing any more than 2-3 pounds a week will greatly increase your chances of developing stretch marks (as well as putting that weight back on rather quickly). Not only that, but having your body undergo such a drastic change can be taxing on it and leave your energy feeling sapped.  

The FDA Speaks Up

There are no FDA-approved HCG weight loss products, and the FDA has cracked down heavily on companies that sell HCG products with claims of healthy weight loss and homeopathic results.  While HCG can also be taken as oral drops, these drops are said to contain a very miniscule amount of the actual HCG, if any.  Researchers strongly believe that the drastic reduction of weight is due to the limited consumption of calories, not because your body is benefitting from the hormones.  Additionally, extensive research conducted by the FDA has shown that not only can the HCG diet be unhealthy, but it doesn’t have any real benefit.  Because of this, coupled with the dangerously low caloric intake, the FDA recommends that anyone currently trying the HCG diet stops immediately and resumes a normal, healthy eating pattern.

Cited Sources

Lee, MD, Roberta. "Beta HCG Diet.” 9th Annual Nutrition and Health Conference. Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, Boston, MA. 16 April 2012.

"HCG Diet Products Are Illegal." FDA.gov. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, n.d. Web. 19 July 2012. <http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm281333.htm>.

Haupt, Angela. "HCG Diet Dangers: Is Fast Weight Loss Worth the Risk?" USNews.com. U.S. News & World Report, 14 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 July 2012. <http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2011/03/14/hcg-diet-dangers-is-fast-weight-loss-worth-the-risk>.

Scheve, Tom. "HCG Diet: What You Need to Know." Health.HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery Fit & Health, n.d. Web. 19 July 2012. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/diet-fitness/diets/hcg-diet.htm>.

Nelson, R.D., L.D., Jennifer K. "Does the HCG Diet Work - And Is It Safe?" MayoClinic.com. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 19 July 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hcg-diet/an02091>.


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