hCG diet – Good Option or Waste of Money?

It’s almost summertime. For many people that means barbecues, bathing suits and beaches. For me, that means hearing about new wacky, desperate attempts to lose weight in short periods of time. Whether its bottles of mysteriously named “herbal remedies” or the hottest new diet, people walk into my office clinging to their supplement bottle, book or diet dairy and practically pleading for my blessing of Miracle Diet “I must lose my belly fat, pleeeeaaasse, help me” a la Summer 2010.

So the hCG diet has me quite perplexed.  It’s a blend of pure self punishment swirled up with a pregnancy hormone that you shoot into your butt (or wherever you can pull some skin and fat, but hey, you are already torturing yourself right?). Not exactly my idea of a good time. This very low calorie diet (VLCD) is just 500 calories per day accompanied by hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone that is produced by the placenta during pregnancy (in this diet, it should be a synthetic version of the hormone).  hCG has a number of functions during pregnancy and the hCG diet sites claim that injected hCG will tap into your body’s fat stores allowing you to burn thousands of calories per day without feeling hungry.

I understand, some people are desperate but desperate times should call for a reality check. There is no diet worth risking your health for. And, we don’t know the long term side effects of this diet.  hCG is not FDA approved for weight loss and if you lose it and go back to beer, chips and a sedentary lifestyle, I’m willing to bet you’ll regain that weight in no time (because a 500 calorie diet is impossible to maintain). Which brings me to my next point, there are no double blind, placebo controlled studies on the hCG diet. In other words, we can’t say it’s safe and effective for long term weight loss.

A word to the wise:  before purchasing any prescription medicine on line, check out this FDA safety guide. I hate to say it but anyone can stick something in a bottle and sell it on the internet. At best it may be ineffective. At worst, it could be downright dangerous.

There are many better approaches out there for losing weight.  Seek the advice of a registered dietitian who specializes in weight loss, write down your goals and “why” you want to lose weight and find a huge helping of motivation.

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