HCG Diet

According to Wikipedia: British endocrinologist Albert T. W. Simeons proposed HCG as an adjunct to an ultra-low-calorie weight-loss diet (fewer than 500 calories). Simeons, while studying pregnant women in India on a calorie-deficient diet, and “fat boys” with pituitary problems (Frölich’s syndrome) treated with low-dose HCG, observed that both lost fat rather than lean (muscle) tissue. He reasoned that HCG must be programming the hypothalamus to do this in the former cases in order to protect the developing fetus by promoting mobilization and consumption of abnormalexcessive adipose deposits. Simeons in 1954 published a book entitled Pounds and Inches, designed to combat obesity. Simeons, practicing at Salvator Mundi International Hospital in Rome, Italy, recommended low-dose daily HCG injections (125 IU) in combination with a customized ultra-low-calorie (500 cal/day, high-protein, low-carbohydrate/fat) diet, which was supposed to result in a loss of adipose tissue without loss of lean tissue.

Other researchers did not find the same results when attempting experiments to confirm Simeons’ conclusions, and in 1976 in response to complaints the FDA required Simeons and others to include the following disclaimer on all advertisements:

These weight reduction treatments include the injection of HCG, a drug which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective in the treatment of obesity or weight control. There is no substantial evidence that HCG 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-restrictive diets.

— 1976 FDA-mandated disclaimer for HCG diet advertisements

Our Story

My wife and I have been on the HCG diet for 35 days now.  We were recommended to visit the doctor by a family friend who has been using the doctor for years.  I have lost 27.6 pounds and my wife has lost 14.4 pounds, which is right in line with what the literature the doctor gave us when he prescribed the diet.  It stated women should lose 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound per day and men should lose 3/4 to a pound per day.  

Pros and Cons

Pro: It seems to be working.  It’s hard to argue with 27.6 pounds in 35 days.  At 54, that is a near miracle.  In the last few years, it’s extremely difficult for me to lose weight.  2 months ago, I hit my all-time worst weight of 280 pounds.  Yesterday I weighed in at 248.2, the lightest I’ve been in at least 6 or 7 years.

Pro: It is done with strict medical supervision.  We’ve done bloodwork twice already and have weekly visits to make certain we’re not being affected by any of the side effects.

Pro: I’ve been eating a lot better.  Most of my life, I’ve considered my an “anti-vegetarian”.  Taco Bell, Cheez-its, ice cream, frozen burritos, chips and queso, etc.  Now I’m dairy-free, sugar-free and gluten-free, eating mainly lean meat and veggies.  Am I super thrilled with lack of variety?  No.  Am I managing comfortably?  Yes.  The lack of variety is mainly my laziness.  I could do more research on HCG-friendly recipes but I haven’t.

Con: It’s insanely expensive.  It’s costing $20+ per pound lost.

Con: It is very restrictive.  It is almost impossible to eat out.  Chipotle is the only place we figured out to go (a salad with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, a small scoop of black beans and medium salsa).

Con: it’s very controversial. From the Mayo Clinic website:

Has the HCG diet been shown to be safe and effective?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

No on both counts. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised consumers to steer clear of over-the-counter weight-loss products that contain HCG.

However, diets that so severely limit calories have risks, such as gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat, limited intake of vitamins and minerals, and an imbalance of electrolytes.

Side effects have also been reported with the HCG diet and include fatigue, irritability, restlessness, depression, fluid buildup (edema), and swelling of the breasts in boys and men (gynecomastia). Another serious concern is the risk of blood clots forming and blocking blood vessels (thromboembolism).

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.

My Thoughts

Considering how calorie-restrictive the HCG diet is (500-600 daily), it was surprisingly easy to follow.  I wasn’t hungry all of the time.  The was some stomach gurgling along the way but no intense cravings for a meat-lovers pizza, a triple bacon cheeseburger, Blue Bell Cookie Two-Step ice cream (the best ever) or a Taco Bell party pack.

So far, no side effects, so fingers crossed.