Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The HCG Diet

          I’ve wanted to post an article on the HCG diet for some time now but felt I should do a little research first. I have very strong feelings about this diet and wanted some hard facts before I started spewing out what I thought. This post is going to be a little different from those I’ve written previously but I think this is very much worth your time in reading.
HCG is short for human chorionic gonadotropin and is a hormone produced during pregnancy. To make a long story short it aids in the growth of the embryo and placenta. This same HCG hormone is what is used in the HCG diet (obviously, since it bears the name of the hormone it uses). Most HCG diets require a daily injection of HCG (now you can buy drops that you put under your tongue 3 to 6 times per day depending on which company you buy from) and you are placed on a VLCD which is short for Very Low Calorie Diet. This VLCD consists of a mere 500 calories per day and severely limits the variety of foods you are allowed to eat. This diet is sustained for 40 days or until you reach about 30 pounds at which time they will stop your HCG diet for a certain amount of time before letting you go another round. Many doctors will suggest this diet to patients looking to lose large amounts of weight and weight loss clinics will offer this diet to anyone looking for fast results. The claim is that you can lose 1-2 pounds of fat per day without being hungry or irritable.
My goodness that sounds amazing doesn’t it? But let’s stop and think about what we’ve learned. Let’s start with the VLCD. In January’s focus topic we covered nutrition. Food is essential. Yes, it can lead us to gain weight if we eat the wrong things, but the fact remains that we need food to sustain life. Our body has what’s called a basic metabolic rate. Your BMR is the amount of energy (measured in calories) that your body needs to sustain life in a state of rest. This number is different from person to person but we all have it and if we fail to reach that level, we fail to function. When I say fail to function I don’t mean we have a bad day and try again tomorrow. I mean that basic bodily functions begin to shut down to preserve energy. This means even your brain activity takes a hit.
Our bodies need to have enough energy for our BMR plus some. We don’t all just sit on the couch all day and never move. Even the laziest person has to walk to the kitchen for a snack, or walk to the bathroom, or get out of bed just to make it to the couch. All of this takes energy. Using more energy means needing more calories. The majority of us lead fairly active lives. Mothers are constantly chasing kids around the house/park/store/wherever. Most people have jobs that require them to move around, even if it’s just a little bit. Even thinking burns calories. Again, we use more energy than just what our BMR requires so we have to consume more than our BMR worth of calories to function normally. Eating only 500 calories per day is so dangerous. I cannot impress upon you the seriousness of that. I have no words to describe how dangerous a 500 calorie per day diet can be. Most likely, 500 calories is lower than your BMR which means your body is starting to metabolize muscle along with some fat (causing the muscles in your body to atrophy) because it needs the extra energy and less important bodily functions (but important nonetheless) stop working to preserve energy. Things like digestion, supplying blood which brings heat (a form of energy) to your extremities, and some brain activities are shutting down because your body does not have enough energy to keep them working.
Along with your VLCD that the HCG diet plans, you have your daily injection (or your drops) of human chorionic gonadotropin. Most of us have hormonal imbalances already because our diets are so filled with processed foods and preservatives and most of us haven’t been able to tell that our hormones are out of whack; some, on the other hand, struggle with various issues due to hormonal imbalances. Having a daily injection of yet another hormone that does not belong in your body in those quantities is asking for more hormonal imbalances. People often joke about “hormonally challenged” women PMS, and other things however hormonal imbalances don’t just bring on mood swings. It can cause unexplained weight gain, high blood pressure, inability to lose weight, infertility, and a host of other nasty things that we really don’t want to deal with. Human chorionic gonadotropin does exist naturally in our bodies at a very, very small level. Pregnancy brings on some very high HCG levels and a lot of women are left with serious hormonal imbalances after a pregnancy. Putting hormones into your body that do not belong there (or have not been prescribed to you for medical reasons) is just not a good idea.
Almost everyone who uses this diet sees results. There’s no denying that. People have lost upwards of 60 pounds using a few rounds of the HCG diet. I did not write this article to try to make you believe that the diet does not work. I wrote this to warn you of the serious dangers of this diet. As I’ve said before, I have some very strong feelings towards the HCG diet and those who suggest this method of weight loss. It’s just not safe. The risks involved are not worth it. If you want to lose weight and stay healthy then you need to eat right and exercise. There is no way around it. Sure you can lose 60 pounds on the HCG diet but being left with hormonal imbalances and traumatizing your body is so not worth it. Chances are you’ll be forking out another $700 to go another round of HCG because you didn’t keep it off. I know that the companies report 70% of people have found it easy to keep the weight off but don’t buy it. In order to have permanent weight loss you need to make lifestyle changes. You need to heat healthier (and 500 calories per day is NOT healthy no matter what anyone says) and you need to exercise. Do not fall for the HCG diet or any other diet pill. Hard work pays and hard work will give you the results you want and let you keep the results, and eating healthier and exercising is free.
If you’re having trouble losing weight and you’ve considered the HCG diet or other magical weight loss pills please contact me first and let me help you. Do not endanger your life to lose some pounds.


  1. Not gonna lie, I actually tried this diet. I did lose a lot of weight remarkably quickly, but I was cranky and hungry all the time. The required foods are so restrictive it's really hard to stick to.

    Some days I was just so sick of meat that I would eat about 2 bites of chicken and then start crying. Not a good idea.

    Now my husband and I walk 2 miles or more almost every day (even in the snow!) and I am losing weight naturally and feel much better about the process. No more no-food tears!

  2. Yay Heather! I'm so glad you're enjoying food again and losing weight the right way. You're much more likely to keep it off this way. :) I'm proud of you! As always, let me know if you have questions or need help with something!