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What Is Hcg Diet

What Is Hcg Diet

HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone present at high levels in early pregnancy.

In fact, this hormone is used as a marker in home pregnancy tests (3).

HCG has also been used to treat fertility issues in both men and women (4).

However, elevated blood levels of HCG may also be a symptom of several types of cancer, including placental, ovarian and testicular cancer (5).

A British doctor named Albert Simeons first proposed HCG as a weight loss tool in 1954.

His diet consisted of two main components:

  • An ultra-low-calorie diet of around 500 calories per day.
  • The HCG hormone administered via injections.

Today, HCG products are sold in various forms, including oral drops, pellets and sprays. They are also available through countless websites and some retail stores.

What Is the HCG Diet, and How Does the Fad Diet Work?

The diet requires that you eat only 500 calories a day, supposedly as part of an effort to help reset your metabolism and change your abnormal eating patterns, as the FDA explains in its warning against the diet. (1) The HCG diet also requires you to take a daily dose of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Available in injections, pellets, sprays, oral drops, and pills, HCG is the hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy.

Is HCG Safe?

Physicians working with HCG point to the fact that minute doses of the hormone are used. Long-term studies of the HCG protocol for weight loss, however, have not been done.

At the same time, there are practitioners who have been using HCG successfully with their patients for years. Increasing numbers of legitimate practitioners, including physicians, hormone experts and some bariatric (weight loss) physicians, are rediscovering HCG, and using it themselves, or with patients, and finding it successful.

Even the American Society of Bariatric Physicians includes panels and sessions on the HCG debate in its annual meetings, and recognizes that there are different positions regarding the use and effectiveness of HCG among its members.

The HCG diet side effects are dangerous.

Besides being cranky and hangry, taking illegal hCG shots and pills (yikes) could lead to headaches, fatigue, and more irritability. The severe calorie restriction could set you up for gallstones, an irregular heartbeat, or even an imbalance of the electrolytes that keep the body's muscles and nerves functioning properly, as we previously reported (Government Cracks Down on HCG Weight-Loss Supplements).

HCG Dietary Supplements

hCG is a protein, so it is broken down as food when taken by mouth. This process makes it inactive, meaning the hCG contained in drops and pills will have no effect on the body.

A homeopathic form of hCG is sold widely as an over-the-counter supplement. Homeopathy seeks to trigger the body to heal itself by giving very small doses of highly diluted substances. Most homeopathic products are so diluted that none of the healing substance—in this case, hCG—remains.

Whether or not an over-the-counter product actually contains hCG, doctors have concerns about the safety of dietary supplements. The FDA does not regulate food supplements the way it regulates prescription drugs. So trying to figure out if a particular product is safe can be confusing.

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