Doctors are slamming the popular HCG diet for several reasons: low-calorie diets are ineffective for long-term weight loss, and sometimes can also be dangerous; HCG appears to work as well as placebos; and homeopathic HCG has too low a concentration of the hormone to be effective.
The HCG diet involves restricting food intake to 500 calories a day while also taking human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by the female body during pregnancy. Dieters take HCG either by mouth or by injection, and obtain the hormone by prescription, at a health-food store, or by ordering it online. HCG comes in pure form or in diluted homeopathic form.
Proponents of the diet say it allows for extremely fast weight loss – 1 to 2 pounds a day – and leaves the dieter feeling satiated and sometimes euphoric, rather than starving. It’s said to regulate the hypothalamus and reset the metabolism, letting the dieter maintain his or her weight loss.
TIME Magazine’s Maia Szalavitz wrote in a recent article on TIME’s Healthland blog : “14 clinical trials [show] HCG has no effect on weight… People who take a placebo instead of HCG while restricting calories do just as well as those who take the hormone, and taking the hormone doesn't increase the likelihood that people will stay on the diet.”
Dr. Mehmet Oz is a rare standout in the sea of doctors condemning the HCG diet. He covered the diet on a recent episode of his show, and came to a surprising conclusion: “It’s worth investigating.” He was swayed by his show’s guests’ success stories, but he warned viewers not to obtain HCG any other way than by prescription: ideally, they should be under medical supervision while on the HCG diet.
Dr. Pieter Cohen of the Cambridge Health Alliance at Harvard Medical School wrote a research report for Dr. Oz’s show in which he stated that extremely low-calorie diets can cause health issues: “The Centers for Disease Control has already investigated over a dozen deaths linked to these very low calorie diets as far back as the 1970s… Of course, most people won’t die from the HCG diet, but many will develop other health problems like gallstones — a painful condition that often requires surgery.” Dr. Cohen also said that homeopathic drops are ineffective: “Since injecting over 100 international units of HCG is not proven to work for weight loss, drops which barely contain any HCG do not work.”
ABC 7 Chicago published a story about the hCG diet and consulted with Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite, an endocrinologist at Rush University Medical Center. "If a person is taking drops by mouth, the likelihood that the active substance is getting in the blood stream is too low" for it to work, said Dr. Kazlauskaite.
In my next article, I’ll examine the other side of the HCG diet debate and analyze this diet’s success stories. Stay tuned.
Originally published on GrannyMed