There has been a lot of hype over the past year about the “HCG Diet”. I’ve had quite a few patients that have either done the diet, or have asked me about the diet so I figured I’d “weigh” in on the issue.
First off the biggest question you should be asking yourself is: “Are there any negative side effects.” And to be truly honest, no one really knows what taking HCG is really going to do to you long-term. So what do you do when there are no real studies done on something like this?? You go back to physiology. You have to go back to the beginning and look at how things were created to work in the first place and ask yourself “Does this make sense?”, “Is this safe?”, and “Will this potentially cause problems down the road?”. So let’s take a look at what HCG is and what it does.
HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadatrophin) hormone is a hormone produced by cells in the placenta when a woman becomes pregnant. When it is produced, it serves to keep the mom’s progesterone levels stable. It also supplies the corpus luteum (layer in the ovary) to keep it healthy and to help it produce the right amount progesterone to supply the uterus with the nutrients it needs to be able to hold the egg and the developing fetus throughout a pregnancy. The balance of these hormones is so intricate that I don’t how anyone ever gets pregnant in the first place!! Throwing in a hormone like HCG, which is a pregnancy hormone that comes in at the end of a woman’s cycle can possible throw off the entire cycle. One of the things the body is not going to do is more work than it needs to to get a job done, meaning, if you’re pumping all this HCG into the body….what happens when she gets pregnant?? Will the body be able to secrete HCG at all?? Will a woman’s progesterone levels be too high after the HCG to prevent her from getting pregnant at all?? In a man, will HCG cause problems in the maturity of the sperm because it interferes with the secretions of Leutenizing Hormone (LH), responsible for maturation of the sperm?? We don’t know yet…
Dr. Simeons has studied effects of low level HCG and claims that at low levels, taking it just like he says to, you can achieve real, substantial weight loss. There are 2 different ways people are taking the HCG diet on the market right now. One is an injection of the hormone, stimulating the body to start losing weight, the other is a homeopathic drop that you put under the tongue. Kevin Trudeau Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About also has an HCG diet that he advocates and claims it has been used in England for over 50 years with amazing success.
I’m not a fan of either really. Since there are no long term studies to show that this isn’t throwing off hormone function down the road it’s really just a gamble, or russian roulette to see what happens after you quit the diet. And the main thing I have an issue with is that they restrict the people on the diet to like 500 calories/day!! That’s ridiculous!! 900 calories/day is considered starvation levels and they are dropping it almost half of that. Anyone could lose weight if they were dropping their calories that much. Most of the weight they are losing is in the muscle tissue, which will most certainly come back quicker after going off of the diet. HCG for women is one thing, but they are also advocating the diet for men as well. I’d be very cautious before I injected/ingested a hormone that occurs during pregnancy into my body as a guy hoping it helped me to lose weight.
Everyone (mostly) wishes that they could be a few pounds lighter…..but is skinnier really healthier?? Not necessarily. If you are wanting to drop some weight and get into better shape, then do that, but do it for the right reasons. Counting individual calories wasn’t how we were intended to live our lives. We need to be at a healthy weight for our body type and to eat healthy foods combined with moderate & consistent amounts of activity to help the body burn excess calories out of our system. Our culture has done an incredible job at confusing us (especially women) about what “normal” weight looks like. Losing weight should be a result of becoming healthier and leading a healthier lifestyle, NOT because you tricked the body and because you figured out a shortcut by using a obscure hormone, you happened to drop some pounds. Nothing you ever get without work is ever worth it in the end because it usually won’t last.
So my vote on the HCG diet is definitely a “NO”. I don’t recommend traditional “diets” as it is, but definitely not one that drops calories this low and is dealing with a very delicate hormone system.
If you want to try a weight loss program, check out the one I’m using and researching right now. Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats by Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions and Dr. Mary Enig using coconut oil and good fats to stimulate your metabolism and help your body lose excess weight in a safe, healthy way.
Weight loss is great, but not at the expense of your health.