A diet which was first popularized decades ago, and which had since disappeared, has recently been revived and has caused quite a stir. It is the so-called HCG diet.
Basically, the controversy comes from the fact that the health risks seem to outweigh the weight loss benefits. The thing is – this diet involves the administering of HCG – a human pregnancy hormone (human chorionic gonadotropin) produced at the beginning of the pregnancy by the placenta – either as injections or drops taken orally. Not only does it involve taking hormones, it also requires the person undergoing the “treatment” to follow a very unhealthy diet of about 500 calories per day.
Approved by the FDA only as fertility drugs, and not as weight loss medication, the HCG hormones are being used anyhow for the sakes of weight loss. Not only does the FDA refuse to approve their use for weight loss purposes, but they have required the producers to place labels on their HCG products, which warn the client that the product has no proven effect on helping weight loss, nor to remove the feeling of hunger, or help burn the “trapped” fat in the body.
Apart from being very expensive, it is clear that using HCG for weight loss is not that healthy or safe. For one, the Government is refusing to approve HCG as a substance which can be used as a weight loss medicament, and a couple of states have banned its use for dieting purposes.
In Southern Florida, where it is most popular, some frightening facts and statistics regarding this HCG diet include the fact that there is little or no regulation in the facilities which offer this kind of treatment, and in many cases the people working are self-proclaimed dietitians and nutritionists, without the proper education and license. Generally in the USA, getting HCG without a licensed Doctors’ prescription is illegal.
More importantly, experts throughout the US claim that HCG has nothing to do with the weight loss these clinics/facilities are claiming to be occurring for their clients. Rather, medical experts say that the drastic diet which is required from the clients, while they are under the HCG treatment plan, is so limited that anybody will be losing weight anyway.
A sample menu which people getting this treatment, need to follow, in order to get the weight loss results promised includes a daily caloric intake of 500 to 700 calories, which is basically putting the body in starvation mode. The recommended length of this diet is from 21 to 40 days. A daily menu will consist of a black coffee, a little fruit, very little lean meat or fish and a bite of veggies. Of course sugar, alcohol and dairy products are a no-no. A month’s HCG diet therapy cycle will cost up to 800$.
This prolonged low-calorie diet is dangerous for the bones, muscles, and may cause serious health conditions such as development of gallstones and even death.
The people who advocate the success of the HCG diet claim that the hormone causes the organism to “think” that it is pregnant and use up fats rather than muscle. The idea is that HCG “unlocks” the body’s ability to burn the excess fat, which is otherwise “trapped” inside it. According to the supporters and promoters of this diet, a person can lose 30 pounds for a month. The benefit of HCG according to some people, who have gone through this diet, is that it blocks the hunger and so the 500 calorie per day regimen isn’t so difficult to be followed.
Unfortunately, because right from the beginning HCG was deemed as useless for weight loss by a few studies, there has been no more ongoing research of this matter. Thus, it isn’t clear what the possible side effects of this treatment for dieting purposes may be in the short and long term.