The HCG Diet – Philosophy, Execution, Contradiction, and Stupidity

The HCG Diet – Philosophy, Execution, Contradiction, and Stupidity

Okay.

Let me start this off by saying that I’m usually not a judgmental person. I’m just.. not. I feel like educated people should be able to make educated decisions about their lives without unsolicited criticism or influence from others. I also feel like after a certain age, you should be given the benefit of the doubt and it should be assumed that we’re all very intelligent. Hence.. I don’t judge. However.. for some reason, when it comes to health and fitness, this line is blurry for me. Why? Because even the most intelligent of individuals are still out there committing the most egregious of sins when it comes to health. I’m not talking about eating a whole bag of cheetos or slaughtering a whole pie. I’m talking about stuff like the HCG diet.

Table of Contents

What IS the HCG diet?

Well, let me tell you. It consists of injections of HCG in your ass, and 500 calories a day. Ta da!

Wait… that’s it?

I can hear you asking it in your head. Of course that’s it.

Taking a look at HowStuffWorks gives a pretty thorough understanding of what the diet hopes to accomplish for any of it’s participants:

Shifting into the HCG diet is likely to be quite a lifestyle change. Participants are required to cut their caloric intake to roughly 500 calories and take a daily injection of HCG hormones. More water, vegetables and fiber in the daily meal plan is said to accelerate the weight loss

[source: HCG Weight Loss]. There is no established exercise regimen, and the duration of the diet is up to the individual, as the plan dictates that the rules be followed until the target goal is reached.

The original HCG diet plan is quite restrictive and particular. For breakfast, you can have only tea or coffee without sugar. The diet puts a one-tablespoon limit on how much milk you can consume each day, so if you require milk with your coffee and tea, you’ll want to keep this in mind. For lunch and dinner, you can cook 100 grams (.22 pounds) of lean meat or seafood and pair it with one vegetable from this list of 13: asparagus, beet greens, cabbage, celery, chard, chicory, cucumbers, fennel, green salad, onions, red radishes, spinach and tomatoes. For lunch and dinner, you can eat one toast cracker and an orange, apple, half a grapefruit or strawberries [source: Goldsmith].

That explains the eating habits and how, on Earth, you’re expected to survive on 500 calories. But what about the injections? What is HCG? Ask HCGWeightLoss how this stuff works, and they’ll tell you the following:

In overweight people, HCG seeks out the stored nutrients in the fat cells. Liquefying the content of the fat cell, these nutrients are then flushed through the bloodstream. This naturally stored energy supplies the body with upwards to 2000 calories per day. While burning this stored energy, the body’s energy level increases and appetite decreases. The cells are emptied and shrunk down to sizes much smaller than normal cells. Therefore, inches, as well as pounds are lost on the program. — HCGWeightLoss

Let’s talk about that whole HCG thing. HCG stands for human Chorionic Gonadtrophin. You know how, when a woman believes they’re pregnant, they go and snag a pregnancy test? Well, those tests are looking for HCG, because it’s the chemical that pregnancy produces in the human body. According to The Daily Spark, it’s possible that HCG serves to break down stored abdominal fat to be used as an energy source for a growing fetus, thereby increasing the budding mom’s metabolism. This is why it’s assumed that HCG can do the same for the non-pregnant (quite a term, ain’t it?) as well. It’s also generated in the human body as an indicator of some cancers [Source: UFB], as well as a tumor. It can be prescribed by a doctor to increase fertility, as well as aid in the production of testosterone for men. Needless to say, it has its beneficial uses.

Notice I didn’t say anything about weight loss. Why? Because I can’t find any study to back that claim. In fact, a trip to the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website produced a study titled The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis.

Guess what that said?

We conclude that there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight-loss of fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being.

Got another. Guess what it said?

There was no statistically significant difference between those receiving HCG vs placebo during any phase of this study…

In the mood for overkill?

HCG does not appear to enhance the effectiveness of a rigidly imposed regimen for weight reduction.

Keep in mind, the daily injections of HCG are supposed to be the mitigating factor in whether or not you can handle getting by on 500 calories a day. If there is study after study after study after study that says it’s not possible, how are these people getting by? Apparently, there are people all over that are getting by on this diet, so what’s the deal?

I have a personal guess. You know how, if you go out of town for an extended period of time – say, for a conference or something – and your eating habits change drastically because you have to accommodate your new temporary schedule? You ever experience that feeling of, I don’t know, comfort or complacency accepting the changes in your eating habits? Maybe it’s attributed to mind over matter, maybe it’s your body getting used to the changes, maybe the lack of calories just konked out your ability to understand what you’re doing to yourself. Either way… the HCG can’t help you. Period. Your body is simply trying to accept the deficiency you’re forcing on it – and it may do a good job of accepting it at first – but you’re not becoming “less hungry” because of the shots.

The NHLBI advocates that a healthy weight loss plan will include cutting your caloric intake by anywhere from 500-1000 calories. Considering how the average person takes in about 2000 calories in one day (very base assumption) and it only takes 3500 calories to lose one pound… if you cut down to 500 calories in a day, it’s not going to take too long to see weight start falling off. Right? The deficiency of at LEAST 1500 calories is going to ensure that you lose at least one pound every two days.

Why is this 50 year old “diet” being reintroduced now?

I believe I can also answer that. You know the guy — yeah, the one with no medical credentials whatsoever — on the late night infomercials peddling the “natural cures” book that talks about how to save on prescriptions by instead going a more holistic route in regard to health? Well, his name is Kevin Trudeau and he’s taken up the task of reintroducing the HCG diet to the masses. In 2007, he wrote a book about how HCG is “the weight loss plan they don’t want you to know about.” His whole shtick is promoting cures that the government doesn’t/won’t advocate because the government is SO in bed with the pharmaceutical/food industry, they’re not going to promote something that will hurt their buddies’ profit margins. Regardless of whether or not I think there’s truth to that (I’m sure you’ll figure it out in my future posts), he’s profiting off of the fears and paranoias of the public. The FTC makes it their business to publish press releases about how much of a crook he is… and I’d hate to forget the lawsuit.

I’ll make it easy for you, so you can get a quick glimpse of the FTC’s beef with him:

During the ads, Trudeau claims that the weight loss plan outlined in the book is easy to do, can be done at home, and ultimately allows readers to eat whatever they want. However, when consumers purchase the book, they find it describes a complex, grueling plan that requires severe dieting, daily injections of a prescription drug that consumers cannot easily get, and lifelong dietary restrictions.

Why is this so unhealthy, though?

Because you’re not a gerbil. You’re a human being… and if you’re living a regular day as a carnivorous individual, you’re not going to be able to function on the portion sizes that 500 calories would allow you. A better question would be, “Why is the injection so pointless?” Now, that? I can answer:

When hCG was tested, it was compared to a placebo which included the Very Low Calorie Diet. And yes, VLCDs work. You will lose weight on one. Guidance and support can also be very helpful for weight loss; that’s why programs like Weight Watchers have regular meetings and weigh ins. Frankly, if you have to be accountable to someone for your successes and failures, you tend to be a little more serious about making an effort.

But what the clinical data shows is that when you compare the results of people on a VLCD and those on a VLCD and hCG, there is no perceptible difference—in weight loss, in perceived hunger, in anything.

In other words, it is the low calorie diet, possibly in conjunction with the regular support and guidance, that is responsible for the weight loss.

Not the hCG shots.

And even if it were effective, it would not be easy to obtain. You’d need regular intramuscular injections, a “friendly” doctor to prescribe it for “off label” usage, and it would cost you and arm and a leg. — UFB

I have my complaints about supplements, but I will save those for another rant. Why? Because I’m well over 1500 words on this one. The bottom line is this: considering injecting your body with a foreign substance all as a means of tricking it into undoing the years of damage you’ve BEEN doing to it… is not the answer to your weight loss problems. It simply isn’t. Trying to circumvent the process of healthy eating and regular activity will cost you every time, and seeing as how these injections and “treatments” are getting more and more radical by the day… following the wrong trend can cost you your life. Be happy, be healthy, but most of all.. be smart. : )

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By | 2017-06-10T11:25:30+00:00 April 8th, 2014|Fad Diets|22 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.

22 Comments

  1. Kels September 27, 2009 at 1:48 PM - Reply

    Unbelievable. 500 calories? Sheed 🙂 Great entry. Cheese and supplements, let’s go!

  2. Lydia October 11, 2009 at 5:30 PM - Reply

    Your comments make a great deal of sense and I would normally agree- except this HCG original protocol actually works. I have done it 3 times – made many food mistakes the first time, lost 13 pounds….second time was much better and lost 20 pounds and now am on my third and last round. It is actual more of a medical protocol than a diet. It is very straight forward with no leeway to be inventive. With the significant medical risks that overweight can create, I am delighted to found a consistent fundamentally easy way – not based upon some superhuman will power or hope- to forever lose weight gained later in life and return to a normal little size. After completing the protocol, you have reset yourself- changed your body chemistry…
    Just another perspective [ was searching a something regarding HCG and came upon your post.] Best

  3. Lydia October 11, 2009 at 5:32 PM - Reply

    Oops forgot to add that the cost is quite reasonable if you get on the forums and locate the right suppliers and one can do it themselves – great free support forums, low cost forums and more . I did it that way and had a total phobia regarding needles.

  4. Erika October 11, 2009 at 5:42 PM - Reply

    Lydia, thanks for visiting! I appreciate your comments, but again… I disagree wholeheartedly for reasons I’ve already listed in the blog entry.

    The hCG is a scam. You don’t need a shot in your ass to lose weight off of a 500 calorie a day diet. I’ve already listed clinical studies that show that it has yet to be seen that hCG can do anything for metabolism OR weight loss in general.

    A consistently easy way to lose weight and keep it off would be changing one’s eating habits and taking advantage of a healthily active life, not a quick crash-and-burn diet. Calling it a “medical protocol” absolutely does not change what it is – it is 500 calories a day. Clearly, you don’t intend to continue it on for the rest of your life. It is an extremely low-calorie diet. No “medical professional” worth their degree (if their degree is worth anything) will OK that.

    Will power isn’t about “superhuman strength.” It is a muscle – much like the ones in our bodies – that has to be used in order to gain strength. If you can’t control your eating habits, what is a shot in your ass going to do for you? What is 500 calories a day going to do for you? You can’t control the thing that is causing you to gain/keep the weight in the first place! I’m sorry, I wholeheartedly reject the notion that the hcg works, or is actually beneficial for long-term weight resolution.

    Best of luck to you, though, and thank you for stopping by!

    • Jessica June 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM - Reply

      Its now June 2014, my question to Lydia is……so have you lost all the weight you’ve desired to lose in 2009 from the HCG? And if so, have you kept it off and maintained a healthy lifestyle? Or, are you consistently using the shots? I agree with Erika and am curious. Because if you still struggling with the weight issues due to your diet and exercise and other internal issues……the HCG DOES NOT WORK!

  5. Gina October 12, 2009 at 1:47 AM - Reply

    We are in a capitalistic society and we, for the most part, are mindless sheep waiting for the easiest way to get what we want. As long as it is legal of course. I’ve always said that I wanted to sell pills full of bee pollen for a reasonable price but also give a book about proper diet and exercise for free. Make the public kinda believe the pills and the proper way should always go together. Like they wouldn’t lose weight anyway. Especially market it to fat people who do not know any better.

    IMO, it makes ZERO sense to take HCG and do the proper things. It’s a waste of money and it is a serious mindf@ck. Tricking yourself into dependency. It’s a crutch and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Great article and great response Erika.

  6. Lydia October 12, 2009 at 3:32 AM - Reply

    I now see the better way to share my experience .
    1. I am 56 not in my 20s.
    2. Been thin all my life until my 40s [ so basically no bad eating or life habits.]
    3. Had children, lost weight after and kept off.
    4. Then hormones, stress etc began to take a toll.
    5. I tried for 10 years to rebalance naturally – am a great raw chef [ with meat/fish added] studied all different approaches – eating, spiritual, physiological and could not break the situation.
    6. For me at my age, HCG was a blessing, a gift.

    At your age, you are right to pursue and encourage others to rebalance themselves in a long term way of healthy eating, and lifestyle.

    May I suggest though that in some cases, maybe if your mother or grandmother is at high risk with diabetes, that there is another way. Rants are great – just realize that if someone you love is suffering greatly – this is not a scam – it is another alternative for which I am grateful each day. Many are helping others for free as they also are so grateful.

    I am actually healthier with my hormones now as this approach specifically offers the body a rest.

    Love you energy, love the picture and truly wish you well in your life

  7. Lydia October 12, 2009 at 4:08 AM - Reply

    Gina, I agree completely about the capitalistic society and the resulting scams especially to us. What happens when something real comes along? we react as though it is a scam. However, truth sometimes bubbles up as people themselves see results. May not be right for you but may be a life saver for many. Best

  8. Erika October 12, 2009 at 4:49 AM - Reply

    Lydia, I’m beginning to wonder exactly what brought you here. We’ve discussed this via e-mail as well and you tapped out there, tacitly insulting me. What’s the point?

    The bottom line with your list of descriptions in regards to your “experience” is that you, apparently, DID have bad eating habits. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have put the weight on the way you did in the first place. I’m sorry, looking at the information you gave me here as well as on the side, I can see that clearly. Raw lifestyle with meat (?) aside, you were doing something wrong.

    This isn’t about age, and I refuse to let you introduce that into the equation as if it’s a means of discrediting my stance and my research. Scientific studies have proved over and over and over again that hcg works no better than your typical placebo! Your “success” is due to a 500 calorie diet. Not a miracle drug. This isn’t a rant. It is a stance based off of scientific studies that I compiled. What more is it going to take for you to stop crediting a drug you barely understand (I KNOW you barely understand it because scientists barely understand it… can’t tell what it does in the body, just knows what it does NOT do) with your weight loss?

    I would NEVER recommend something as nebulous as hcg to any woman I loved. My mother suffered from high blood pressure and high cholesterol (common in many Black women her age… hell, it’s common in Black women MY age), and I personally assisted her in becoming healthier and more fit. We did that together with walking every day and changing her eating habits.

    Lastly, I am happy – really, I am – that your 500 calorie diet has worked for you. However, I know it’s simply not real. And even if it were, by some strange stretch of the imagination? As I told you via e-mail, I will never endorse or condone any method for weight loss that costs one pink penny. Ever. Weight loss is free, and can easily be done in the comfort of one’s own home. I will never use this blog to condone laziness on the part of the person struggling with weight, because allowing a woman to maintain a lazy demeanor while still “losing weight” only practically ENSURES that she will gain it back. 50 isn’t “too old” to get a handle on that. The man who first encouraged me to set out on my OWN fitness journey, no matter how fat I was? He was 61.

    Thank you very much for the compliments, though! Even though we thoroughly disagree on this, I appreciate them and your ability to still give them. 🙂

  9. Erika October 12, 2009 at 4:53 AM - Reply

    Gina, it is absolutely a crutch. Someone’s making money off of it, though. I’ve always said Capitalism is making money off of doing things for people that they don’t believe they can do themselves. Having said that….LOL.

    Lydia, as for your second comment.. your results are not due to hcg. I’m sorry. Have a lovely day. 🙂

  10. Rhea March 16, 2010 at 7:23 PM - Reply

    Hi Erika!

    Editors’ Note: Hi, Rhea! When you can match my studies with studies, then we can talk. As the rules dictate, anecdotal evidence doesn’t work around here.

    Have a wonderful day! 🙂

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