"...it's easy to do, you can do it at home..."
"...it was the easiest, simplest, most effective thing I've ever done."
"...eat whatever you want and you don't gain the weight back."
"...HCG mobilizes stored fat; suppresses appetite; and redistributes fat from waist, hips, and thighs."
"...an absolute cure for obesity."
Sounds to good to be true right? That is because it is. Ever since I first heard of this diet I have been incredibly suspicious. For those of you who don't know I suffered with eating disorders for a good chunk of my life (and still do in some ways). So anytime I hear of or witness people eating around 500 calories a day I automatically think anorexia because that is what I did. It is NEVER healthy to eat less than 1200 calories a day. When you go below the recommended daily caloric intake your body automatically starts stealing nutrients from your muscles, bones, as well as your fat cells. There is NO way to specifically make your body just target your fat cells in this process, not even with the assistance of a hormone like HCG.
HCG is a hormone that is prevalent during pregnancy. Most people recognize it as the way one would tell if they were pregnant. This hormone ensures that the growing baby receives the nutrients that it needs if the mom isn't eating properly by taking nutrients from the mothers stores (fat). However, I would not be surprised to find out this hormone also causes nutrients to be released from muscle tissue and bone as well (they are more easily accessible- and a lot of women who have bore children end up with osteoporosis which means they suffered a depletion of calcium during pregnancy etc.). In the 1950's a man by the name of Simeon was treating overweight adolescent males with this hormone due to their lack of or slow physical development. He noticed that not only did the hormone help them to develop properly, but these children also lost weight. And thus the claims of HCG being used as a "cure" for obesity or for general weight loss began. Before I continue I would like to emphasize that these children were not normal, and before being treated with HCG they had a hormone deficiency. It only makes sense to me that upon dosing these adolescents with a hormone that other changes to the the body were observed including weight loss.
Since then several studies have been done with the hormone. I only found one article that was accessible that supported HCG in any way. It is entitled "effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger, and feeling of well-being" by Asher and Harper. They claimed that HCG assisted individuals in losing significantly more weight than those not on HCG and also that they had less hunger and a greater sense of well-being. However, upon further investigation I noticed that this article failed to mention something important. The average weight of the HCG group was 171.7 and the average weight of the placebo group was 165.4. That is a 6.3 lb starting weight difference which meant overall the HCG group had more weight to lose. In the end the HCG group lost an average of 19.96 lbs and the placebo lost an average of 11.05 lbs which is only a 10 lb difference and thus the HCG group only lost maybe 4 lbs more on average than the placebo group in general. This is not something I would say is significant. When you look at the percentage of body weight lost there is even less of a difference. The HCG group lost 11.47% and the placebo 6.77% which is only about a 4% difference without taking into account how much percentage each group had to lose in the first place. So overall, really not much of a difference in that aspect. And don't forget this study is done on people and there is no way to completely ensure they did not cheat in any way even though they were required to keep a journal and such....there is nothing stopping people from lying.
As far as hunger and well-being, those are strictly psychological. Upon looking at their tables I do see a difference between the HCG and placebo group. In fact upon further investigation I see that in the placebo group about half of the people felt hunger and half did not, whereas the HCG group had about 3/4 of the people that did not feel much hunger and 1/4 that did. That still means people felt hunger. You cannot claim that HCG stops hunger if a quarter of your subjects are still experiencing it. There are only 25% more people that feel they did not experience hunger in the HCG group versus the placebo group. If they had 99% without hunger or even 95% or 90% that would be better grounds for making such a statement rather than 75%. As far as the feeling of well-being there was only a 15% increase in the HCG group than that of the placebo group. And I must state once again, this study was done on people and these factors are strictly psychological. A person can convince themselves they are not hungry and feel great, how do you think I was anorexic? It feels awesome to be dropping weight even if your body starts to fall apart in the process. It feels excellent to feel attractive and confident and fit into a size 2 or 0, and I did not need a hormone for those feelings. Furthermore, neither of the above results have been reproducible.
Most of the articles I have read were more recent than this previous article and showed no difference between the HCG and placebo groups at all. In some cases it showed the placebo was better than HCG, which I find to be ironic and hilarious. If interested you may look the articles up yourself. I will include citations at the end.
Further readings into this topic lead me to some other interesting articles; "FTC: Marketer Kevin Trudeau Violated Prior Court Order" News release September 14, 2007; "HCG Worthless as Weight-Loss Aid" by Stephen Barrett, MD; "How the HCG Diet Works" by Tom Scheve; and "HCG Diet dangers: Is Using HCG Worth The Risks?" January 16, 2009. These articles restate some of the research done and also basically say a lot of the same things. The first article I mentioned talks about the marketer of the product himself, Kevin Trudeau. The Federal Trade commission basically sued him for lying and contradicting himself like making the claims I stated at the very beginning of this long venting session. For one, this diet is not easy to do- it is expensive and requires getting injections- enemas, massages, and saunas are also recommended. You cannot eat whatever you want because your diet is heavily regulated by the caloric restrictions not to mention exactly what you are supposed to eat in the 4 different phases of the diet. You can't do it completely at home because you need a prescription or a licensed physician to administer the doses, not to mention seeing a colonoscopist and the other random things he says that should be done. Then there are the random restrictions on what you wear (hair products, makeup, etc) even down to the kind of vitamins you take (you can't take in any oil or fats into the body- which is odd because your body needs those fat soluble vitamins). Side-note- your body does need fat. Fat is involved in everything in your body. It makes up part of your cells, insulates, protects, and helps us function. When your body doesn't get enough fat you start to lose your hair, your nails become more brittle, and you have an overall sense of weakness.
The next article I mentioned further discusses the falsities of HCG. The supporters of the diet claim" HCG would mobilize stored fat; suppress appetite; and redistribute fat from the waist, hips, and thighs." However, there has never been any scientific evidence whatsoever that supports these claims. This article tehn restates what I said earlier and that is that "a 500-calorie (semi-starvation) diet is likely to result in loss of protein from vital organs" and even further that "HCG can cause other adverse effects". This weight loss program is not and will probably never be FDA approved for these very reasons. The FDA requires the producers of this diet to use the following statement: "HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or 'normal' distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets."
The third article talks about the HCG and what it IS known to do. That being said, HCG has been approved by the FDA as a fertility drug. It does state however some of the increased risks of the HCG diet and those are: blood clots, headaches, restlessness, and depression. Mr. Scheve further states that those who dare endeavor to do this diet need to know straight out that once you are done with the diet you will need to adopt a healthy eating style or the weight will just come back ( and with a vengeance) because this is not a long-term behavioral modification but only a short-term weight loss fad.
The fourth article speaks even further on the risks associated with the diet, be prepared they are not good. These negative effects are as follows: ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (life threatening), arterial thromboembolism (life threatening), blood clots (already stated), risk of multiple pregnancies like twins or triplets (maybe I will do this in order to be done having kids quicker), abnormal enlargement of the breasts in men, over stimulation of the ovaries (related to multiple pregnancies), acne, tiredness, changes in mood, irritation in area of use, excessive fluid retention (like with being pregnant), hair loss (because you are not taking in fats), and prostrate hypertorphy. By taking HCG your chances of having these problems are increased by 30-45% (insane!). I think from reading these articles I am tempted to take HCG only to possibly increase my chances of having twins (lol) that way I can prevent being pregnant several times (lol).
In conclusion, I have not, do not, and never will support the HCG diet. I support the hormone treatment for simply what it is- a hormone treatment. A healthy human being should not be injecting themselves with hormones or restricting themselves to less than 1200 calories a day. It is not safe. I am afraid to say the ONLY way to successfully lose weight (and keep it off) is to eat less (not as low as HCG), eat the right foods that promote weight loss (veggies, protein, and complex carbs), and exercise (sorry to disappoint). And I am also sorry to say, but you have to keep this lifestyle as a permanent solution, not a temporary one or you WILL gain the weight back.
I hope this information has been helpful, and if anything you know what HCG does or does not do. If you are still considering doing the HCG diet after reading this than I think you might have an eating disorder and you should probably go talk to a doctor about this.
References that I stole from another article
1. Simeons ATW. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:946-947, 1954.
2. 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.
3. Bosch B and others. Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. South African Medical Journal 77:185–189, 1990.
4. Carne S. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:1282–1284, 1961.
5. Craig LS and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in the treatment of obese women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12:230–234, 1963.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Shetty KR, Kalkhoff RK. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) treatment of obesity. Archives of Internal Medicine 137:151-155, 1977.
9. Lebon P. Treatment of overweight patients with chorionic gonadotrophin: follow-up study. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 14:116–125, 1966.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. Young RL and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study. JAMA 236:2495–2497, 1976.
14. Mirkin G. Getting Thin. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1983.
15. In the matter of Simeon Management Corporation et al. Order, opinion etc., in regard to alleged violation of Secs. 5 and 12 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Docket 8996. Complaint, Oct 15, 1974. Final Order April 29, 1976.