To HCG Or Not: Dr. Oz Says Not Yet

The HCG, or “Hormone” Diet

The HCG diet promises to help you lose weight quickly. While many claim it works, it has a potentially damaging effect on your metabolism.

The diet is based on the properties of HCG, or human chorionic gonadatropin. This hormone is produced during pregnancy, so pregnant women can use the right kind of fat when burning off calories.

The HCG diet pills contain small doses of HCG which are advertised by those promoting the HCG diet as helping your body tap into stored fat and burn it off. They also advertise that HCG suppresses your appetite so you can consume as little as 500 calories a day. Initially, this diet may help you rapidly drop pounds — as any diet dropping your calorie intake will do. Ultimately, it destroys your metabolism, as you are essentially starving yourself. Another negative side effect is the loss of muscle mass, so much that you will no longer be able to effectively burn calories.

If you’re looking to naturally suppress your appetite, Dr. Oz recommends using the four Fs: fiber, fish, fowl and good fats – like walnuts and flaxseed.

I have been hearing a lot about the HCG diet on television and in articles.  It seems strange to me how easily people will inject substances into their body without really understanding the consequences.  Also, eating only 500 calories a day can’t be good for you.  It is recommended to always keep at least 1,200 calories in your body per day to make sure you have the proper amount of nutrition your body needs to function.  I went to Dr. Oz’s website to see what he thinks about it and I agree with his findings:

Most of this is directly from Dr. Oz’s  web site:

Which of the below statements is true about the hCG diet?

  • You can lose 30 pounds in one month.
  • Many dieters swear by it.
  • Doctors say it doesn’t work.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls hCG supplements illegal and fraudulent.

What’s remarkable is that all these statements are true. Let’s take a close look at the hCG diet to separate fact from fiction.

What is the hCG diet?
The hCG diet combines extreme calorie restriction with daily shots of a hormone produced by pregnant women called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG).

How much can you eat on the hCG diet?
Very little. The hCG diet requires that you eat only 500 calories a day. You would hit your daily limit with one turkey sandwich with Swiss cheese and mayo. Any diet that limits you to 500 calories a day is unhealthy, but will work, since starving yourself has always been a way to loose weight, but has also always been a really, really bad idea.

Can you lose a lot of weight on the hCG diet?
Yes. If you don’t eat, you’ll lose weight. Skipping meals and extreme restriction of food has been used by dieters for decades to try to lose weight. If you stick to a diet of only 500 calories a day, it’s possible to lose 5 or more pounds a week. But, again, starving yourself is NEVER a good idea.

If you lose weight fast, then why don’t doctors recommend it?
You don’t keep the weight off. Decades of research have demonstrated that if you diet by eating only 500 calories a day, you regain a lot of weight after the diet ends. It turns out that these crash diets lead to no more weight loss after one year than if you modestly reduce calories and increase exercise.

It’s unsafe. Common sense tells us that starving is not very good for our bodies. Your mom probably have told you this. Scientists have also proven this.  If you only eat 500 calories a day, there are serious health risks.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has investigated over a dozen deaths linked to very low calorie diets as far back as the 1970s. While dieters are unlikely to die from a limited duration hCG diet, the diet is long enough to lead to other health problems like hair loss, constipation and gallstones – a painful condition that often requires surgery.

What about the hCG injections – doesn’t that make the diet more effective?
No. Promoters of the hCG diet claim that when people are injected with hCG hormone they don’t feel hungry even though they’re not eating. The idea of using hCG injections to curb appetite was introduced over 50 years ago and has been carefully studied in over a dozen well-done trials. Every single well-done trial showed that the hCG injections were no better than injecting a salt-water placebo. In other words, people injected with hCG lost the same amount of weight as people injected with a salt-water placebo.

If hCG injections don’t make you lose more weight, do they make the diet safer? Unfortunately, the injections don’t make starving yourself any safer and, in fact, might make it more dangerous. Since the use of hCG has been shown to be no better than salt-water injections for weight loss, it is not used by mainstream physicians for weight loss. Therefore the safety of injecting a pregnancy hormone into women (and men!) when they are eating so few calories has never been studied. Although hCG injections could have long-term health effects, the truth is that we just don’t know.

People on the hCG diet say they don’t feel hungry. If it doesn’t work, how can that be?
It turns out that when it comes to hunger, humans are very suggestible. Probably earlier this week you weren’t at all hungry until someone starting talking about a favorite food or you lost your appetite at the sight of unappealing food. When we want to believe that a shot, whether it’s of saltwater or hormones, will make our hunger go away, our hunger sometimes does go away. The placebo effect is as effective for helping one not feel hungy.

Does it really matter if it’s the medicine or the power of suggestion? If the shot helps with dieting, isn’t it worth a try?
The extreme calorie restriction is known to cause serious health problems and the safety of hCG injections in this setting is completely unknown.

Do hCG drops work?
hCG is sold in stores and on the Internet as drops. Injecting over a hundred international units of hCG is not proven to work for weight loss. Similarly, drops which barely contain any hCG do not work either.


Are hCG drops legal?
No. The hormone hCG has never been approved to be in any product sold directly to consumers. The leader of the FDA’s Internet and Fraud Team has said all such products are illegal.

I’ve heard that a physician is providing the hCG shots for weight loss. Is that legal?
Yes. After the FDA approves medications for one indication (for example, hCG is approved for treating infertility), physicians can use approved medications in any way they wish. So, even though all studies show that it doesn’t work, physicians can still legally inject anyone with hCG. While the overwhelming majority of physicians would not give someone a medicine that has been proven to be ineffective, you can find physicians willing to compromise their ethics.

If I’m experiencing negative side effects from the HCG diet, what should I do?

  • Stop the diet if you haven’t already.
  • Inform your personal physician.
  • Inform the FDA.

Use your common sense when it comes to new fads like this.  Does it sound normal to lose that much weight so quickly?  Eating 500 calories a day does not sound right.  Our bodies need nutrients and we are not getting proper amounts when taking in only 500 calories a day.  Also, how can anyone find the energy to work out after only eating 500 calories?

I understand we all want things to happen quickly but learning how to change your lifestyle by eating healthy and exercising will keep your risk of heart disease and other physiological problems down and keep you slim at the same time.