The HCG Diet Is Junk - AnabolicMinds.com
    • The HCG Diet Is Junk


      By Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D., Huffington Post

      With the popularity of swanky nightclubs like The Edison and the Cicada Club retro is big in Los Angeles. But, while art, architecture, fashion and nightlife inspired by the past may be a "do" -- I'm going to say that doowop-era fad diets are a don't. Specifically, I'm talking about one lousy idea born in the 1950s that keeps coming back into fashion: the HCG diet.

      No matter how many times scientific studies shoot down the effectiveness of this regimen, someone eagerly brings it back with expensive injections and unproven products. The diet originally was developed by A.T.W. Simeons, a British MD. He injected children with Frohlich's syndrome -- a condition characterized by obesity and slow development of reproductive organs -- with human chorionic gonadotropin. It's a hormone derived from the urine of pregnant women and known as HCG for short. This hormone stimulates the testes to produce testosterone, which helped the kids gain muscle mass and lose some of their fat (i.e. they went through puberty). For the next 20 years, he tried out the injections on overweight people without hormonal imbalances, while simultaneously putting them on a strict, 500-calorie-per-day diet of lean meat, leafy vegetables, fruit and two pieces of crisp bread. Unsurprisingly, these patients lost weight. Fans of the regimen boast they can lose up to a pound day.

      It stands to reason that anyone who limits their food intake to a measly 500 calories daily will drop lots of weight -- which has nothing to do with that diet accompanied with a pricey hormone injection. That doesn't make it a good -- or safe -- idea. Further, the HCG diet claims that the hormone allows dieters to stick to minuscule meals without hunger pangs. However, many studies have since refuted this notion, with study patients both reporting ample urges to eat, as well as identical results between patients receiving the hormone and patients receiving placebo injections. The injections do keep the patients coming back to the doctor for the shots, a weigh in and a "wallet biopsy."

      That hasn't sent this idea as out of fashion as the poodle skirt. Instead, the diet has evolved from injections to "homeopathic" products packaged as drops, pellets and sprays that indicate they contain HCG. The hormone is produced by the placenta during pregnancy and approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a prescription fertility treatment. In January, however, the FDA condemned these weight-loss products as fraudulent and illegal. One problem is that while these products label themselves as homeopathic, they are unrecognized as such by the FDA. (Homeopathy is an alternative medicine practice in which minute or diluted preparations of drugs are used to treat a condition.) As an oral preparation, the hormone would break down in the stomach, rendering it useless. As an injection, the hormone is approved only as a fertility treatment and treatment of undescended testicles -- not a weight loss aid.

      There's good reason for that. Studies repeatedly have shown it doesn't work for weight loss. Dutch scientists analyzed eight uncontrolled and 16 controlled trials that measured HCG's effect in treating obesity and published their results in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1995. Their analysis concluded there is no scientific evidence the hormone has any effect in treating obesity, that it does not bring about weight loss or redistribute fat. Further, the hormone fails to reduce hunger or spark a feeling of well-being.

      The analysis also makes a point in remarking on the inappropriate use of the hormone in weight control since it is derived from pregnant women's urine, donated for the purpose of treating infertility.

      A svelte physique is so prized and sought -- particularly in Los Angeles, the natural habitat of the beautiful and famous -- people will consider just about any bad idea to obtain it. It's mystifying that people will go to great lengths to buy only organic foods, shun junk food and yet repeatedly feed their minds with junk science. The Food and Nutrition Science Alliance, which includes the American Dietetic Association, the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, American College of Nutrition, and a number of other professional scientific societies, has developed a number of "Red Flags of Junk Science." The HCG diet raises many, including its:

      • Promises of a quick fix. Any diet that claims weight can be lost fast should raise a skeptical brow.
      • Claims that sound too good to be true. Claiming that an injection can make you feel spry and content on 500 calories daily falls in this category. Proponents also claim the shots "redistribute" fat or "target" specific problem areas of the body, fallacies to those who know medicine or science.
      • Statements refuted by reputable scientific organizations.
      • Lists of "good" and "bad" foods. Nutrition is a science. There shouldn't be a moral judgment placed on foods. Foods can be rich in nourishing nutrients, or poor in them.
      • Recommendations made to help sell a product.
      • Recommendations based on studies not peer reviewed. Anecdotes of success, as opposed to conclusions drawn from large clinical studies, could fall under this category.
      As the medical community searches for tools to treat the growing obesity epidemic, there is a place for "very low" calorie diets, medically defined as diets consisting of 800 calories per day or less. These diets can be prescribed for those who are obese and need to lose large amounts of weight. But they are undertaken under physician supervision, with regular blood tests, blood pressure screenings and EKGs, among other screenings. Further, the food on these regimens often is prescribed, too, to ensure that patients get adequate nutrition from the calories they consume. This is accompanied by coaching in behavior modification and long-term strategies for weight control so the pounds don't just return when the very low calorie diet ends.

      There's no quick fix in weight loss, and no miracle pill or injection that will erase the sensation of hunger. Weight and obesity often are complex health problems with a heavy dose of emotion attached to them; they can be hard for physicians and patients alike to confront. This is why fad diets and products like these make me angry: they prey on people who have a real health problem, offering them false, often expensive "solutions" that don't work and can cause harm. Before dialing the number on a late-night infomercial, turn to a doctor you trust or one of the many weight loss programs that have real science -- not junk science -- on their sides.

      Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-..._b_940537.html
      Comments 8 Comments
      1. aj power's Avatar
        aj power -
        Interesting and nice timing as I have just been reading up about this one. Now I except that the people getting the placebo shot got the same weight loss results and its possible all placebo the people claiming they didn't feel hungry. What I think would really put the diet to rest is the facts behind the long term results? I.e Who put the most weight on after ceasing the diet? people getting the real HCG shots? the people getting the placebo shots? or was it the same? To my mind this is the most important aspect and the knockers haven't commented on this point yet even tho its the major selling point of the sellers!
      1. OrganicShadow's Avatar
        OrganicShadow -
        I imagine there wouldn't be much difference. Anyone on a 500 cal diet is gonna drop weight and fast. That's like starvation. Especially if these people are trying to exercise. This is a ludicrous idea- I would never.
      1. MidwestBeast's Avatar
        MidwestBeast -
        I still say it works. You can't convince me that 10 days in, at 500 calories a day, with no hunger (other than the obvious psychological cravings) that there is any way I should have been able to hit a PR on deadlifts (for reps, at that). If my thyroid wasn't screwed up during that time, I believe I could have ran it for the duration and been successful.

        I don't think it's a solution that many should seek, but I do think that in certain cases it's not the worst idea out there.
      1. aj power's Avatar
        aj power -
        Originally Posted by OrganicShadow View Post
        I imagine there wouldn't be much difference. Anyone on a 500 cal diet is gonna drop weight and fast. That's like starvation. Especially if these people are trying to exercise. This is a ludicrous idea- I would never.
        Thats what I would think but one of the big selling points / claim is the HCG hormone resets your body so when you stop taking it and dieting that is your new base weight. There are dozens of sites and blogs around with people claiming they only put a pound or two back on after returning to a normal diet. Most people that have weight trouble know that after a starvation diet your weight is coming back ... the selling point/claim is that it doesn't. Hence the double blind studies should have continued to monitor the weight of participants and report back what the weight was on a monthly basis for at least 12 months after ceasing the diet.
      1. GuyverX's Avatar
        GuyverX -
        Originally Posted by aj power View Post
        Thats what I would think but one of the big selling points / claim is the HCG hormone resets your body so when you stop taking it and dieting that is your new base weight. There are dozens of sites and blogs around with people claiming they only put a pound or two back on after returning to a normal diet. Most people that have weight trouble know that after a starvation diet your weight is coming back ... the selling point/claim is that it doesn't. Hence the double blind studies should have continued to monitor the weight of participants and report back what the weight was on a monthly basis for at least 12 months after ceasing the diet.
        If it works for some people then more success to them.
        Have done a little research on it but not enough to have a real strong opinion one way or the other.
        Scifit Ecdy worked wonders for me in terms of endurance, leaning out, and even sleep when a lot of people were dismissing ecdy as a waste.
        (Just should be marketed as the adaptogen it is rather than a miracle bodybuilding supplement.)

        With 10 hour workdays and my 6 day exercise schedule I'd fall out on 500 calories a day unless that HCG stuff is green lantern juice or something.
      1. DGSky's Avatar
        DGSky -
        Originally Posted by MidwestBeast View Post
        I still say it works. You can't convince me that 10 days in, at 500 calories a day, with no hunger (other than the obvious psychological cravings) that there is any way I should have been able to hit a PR on deadlifts (for reps, at that). If my thyroid wasn't screwed up during that time, I believe I could have ran it for the duration and been successful.

        I don't think it's a solution that many should seek, but I do think that in certain cases it's not the worst idea out there.
        What kind of fat loss did you have over that 10 day period?
      1. MidwestBeast's Avatar
        MidwestBeast -
        Originally Posted by DGSky View Post
        What kind of fat loss did you have over that 10 day period?
        I was losing about a pound a day in that time. But on days 9 and 10 or whatever, my weight started spiking like a pound a day going up lol. I was already on T4 for thyroid therapy at the time and I just axed it there because I didn't feel like investing another 30 days just to see nothing happen. Whatever is wrong with me is so deep rooted that even this wasn't going to work.

        I don't think it's something for everyone and it certainly shouldn't be a first resort. Manipulating nutrition and training should provide the results someone needs/wants, but in my case, where nothing else had worked, I was willing to try it. So I don't feel that it has NO place.
      1. mytwocents's Avatar
        mytwocents -
        I did hcg diet after christmas, I gained 15 pounds, and i was trying to start my diet and just cant. so i started the diet at 176 pound, at the end of the diet i was 153, about two weeks later i was 158. After diet started workout and my 3 protein shakes a day, Iam now 164, feel more harder than after hcg.