I wasn’t going to tackle the topic of HCG, as it wasn’t on my radar, till I found out my cousin was on it, then a girl came into work and everyone was marveling at her weight loss, and she said it was due to HCG. HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy. There are two ways to get it, as an injection from your doctor, or as drops available online. I have a link here to a Dr. Oz show exploring the whole issue. I know, kinda funny, I don’t care much for Dr. Oz anymore, and I’ve referenced him in two posts lately.
Here is a quote from Mayoclinic.com:
So why has there been so much talk about the HCG diet? Perhaps it’s because the diet recommends severe calorie restriction — typically just 500 to 800 calories a day. People who follow such a very low-calorie diet are likely to lose weight, at least in the short-term. However, that level of calorie restriction has risks, such as gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat, and an imbalance of the electrolytes that keep the body’s muscles and nerves functioning properly.
If weight loss is your goal, there are safer ways to lose weight. Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about how to make healthy changes that lead to permanent weight loss, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
I will tell you up front I think this is horrible. First, the only way to get true HCG is from your doctor. According to the representative from the FDA that was on Dr. Oz, there is no discernible amount of HCG in all of the over the counter brands they tested. If it is a “homeopathic” preparation, that already means there is little to no active ingredients, since that is in keeping with homeopathic beliefs. (A topic for another time.) So most of the people on the HCG diet, are simply on a diet. Don’t try to tell me it can’t be placebo, my experience with anorexia tells me that the most powerful diet aid is your brain. Your body will signal hunger, but you decide whether to listen to that signal or not.
Second, the diet. 500 calories a day is not healthy. Your diet is not just calories. Calories are only one thing your food provides. You need vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and fiber. They are called “essential” amino acids for a reason. Same with essential fatty acids. Starving yourself will work to lose weight. Ask anyone in a third world country. However, you will also lose hair, teeth, skin condition, etc. The reason women used to lose teeth when they were pregnant was their bodies leached calcium for the baby. People in the past faced famine on a regular basis, but they often died from it. You need to consume what your body uses. When you “burn fat”, it is only calories your fat is providing, not all the other essential things your body uses to make you. For every dramatic success story of weight loss on this diet, there are as many people who suffer physical harm. Here is a link to people’s reviews of the diet on About.com. As you will see, for every person who was happy with it, there was another who suffered from it.
Third, what are you learning from this diet about how to live the rest of your life? Will you forego pizza and hot dogs in favor of salad and watermelon? Or will you start a yo-yo diet of dramatic weight loss, gain it back, starve yourself, gain it back? I’m striving daily to get people to think about what they put in their mouths and what that is doing to their body, and I don’t see any indication that there is anything about this diet that teaches anything about health and nutrition. I have not heard one word about a transition to a normal diet, and teaching you how to achieve that.
My summation? If you want to starve yourself, be my guest. Just don’t ask me to support it. If HCG, or the placebo effect, helps you to do that, then why can’t you stick to a normal diet? Ask yourself that question. If you can eat 500 calories a day, why can’t you eat 1400 calories a day, get optimal nutrition and lose weight more slowly and in a healthier fashion. What is your philosophy? Appearance at any cost? Or optimal health and strength? I do realize that being extremely overweight is a health risk too, and some argue “any port in a storm”, but I say lets try harder to do it the right way before we resort to extremes. I’m not even against HCG itself, if it is truly legitimate. It is the pairing of it with such an extreme, unhealthy diet that bothers me.