The Problems With the hCG Diet

Once a very popular weight loss supplement, with a resurgence in popularity in recent years, hCG, or human corionic gonadotrophin, is a hormone found in pregnant women that is associated with several weight loss claims. Many of these are anecdotal only, with no evidence for their effectiveness. Before considering an hCG weight loss plan, you should be aware of what the hormone is, the claims made, and whether it is effective or not.

What It Is

hCG is a hormone that is produced by the bodies of pregnant women. It is used by the developing fetus to create and maintain progesterone, another hormone that is essential for development. It can be detected in the blood about a week or so after conception, and so is a useful marker for pregancy and the mainstay of pregnancy test kits.

The Weight Loss Claim

Fifty years ago, a doctor working with pregnant women in India who were also on a highly restricted calorie diet (about 600 calories per day) noticed that they did not seem to be losing lean body weight, but only fat weight. After discovering the chemical responsible for this effect, he promoted it as a weight loss aid and soon it was very popular in diet clinics.

But Is It Effective?

Unfortunately, there is not much evidence for its effectiveness. There are plenty of anecdotal stories, but not much hard evidence. But the real problem with it is that it is hard to get. It is an injection available by prescription only, and since it isn’t recommended as a weight loss supplement most doctors will not prescribe it for that. In addition to that, it requires a restricted caloric diet, which is difficult to maintain over time. So with the difficult diet plus the difficulty in getting it, plus its dubious efficacy, it probably is not among the best diet supplements for weight loss.

Any Weight Loss Plan should put exercise and lower calories at the top of the list. There are no supplements that are magic bullets; at most some of them may help give a slight edge in dieting, but many of them have hyped claims far beyond their effectiveness.

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