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HCG Diet – Weight Loss Miracle or Diet Scam?

What is HCG?

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is a prescription hormone that’s typically used to treat fertility issues in women. More rarely, HCG is also used in pre-puberty boys to assist in the normal dropping of the testicles into the scrotum, or used as a signaling hormone which causes the testes to release testosterone.

Is HCG good for weight loss?

The brutal honest truth is simple; HCG is NOT supported by any high-quality research as being an effective weight loss aid (see below). Also, HCG is NOT available as an over-the counter (OTC) nutraceutical (a.k.a. nutritional dietary supplement) contrary to what HCG-promoting websites and advertisements suggest. HCG is ONLY available by prescription and usually administered by a qualified licensed physician.

Still, I heard the HCG Diet works!

I’ve heard numerous times from customers that they know someone who’s on the HCG Diet that has lost x-amount of pounds. Usually the individual has purchased a worthless fraudulent OTC HCG-wannabe, but they’ve still lost weight. More rarely, they’ve actually found a clinic willing to prescribe HCG as a weight loss aid. In either situation, how is weight loss still possible?

Now, prepare yourself because I’m going to provide a cold hard fact here. Consuming fewer calories than what the body requires for fuel will result in weight loss, period. Consuming more calories than what the body requires for fuel will result in weight gain, period. If necessary, continue to read that sentence over again until it is permanently locked in your memory.

The HCG Diet incorporates an excessively low daily caloric intake of around 500 calories (see below). Not only is 500 calories about ¼ the calories required to obtain the proper nutrients for a healthy diet, it’s insufficient to maintain the energy for a typical healthy adult. After long periods of consuming such low calories, the body’s metabolism will drop to accommodate what would be considered starvation. A low metabolism isn’t exactly productive for weight loss. This low metabolism subsequently results in rapid weight gain after the low-calorie diet ends as the individual resumes normal caloric intake, with or without HCG.

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎06, ‎2011 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warn companies that the homeopathic HCG weight-loss products they sell are illegal and make unproven claims.

Editor’s Note: An Inside Look at the Diet and Accompanying Scientific Research

This section, regarding the scientific research surrounding the HCG diet, was contributed by Sean Casey

The Diet

As seen in below the diet itself is pretty barebones. How well do you think your training sessions will be if you only fuel your body on this protocol?

Image created by Sean Casey. HCG Diet Info Source of protocol4

The Research

There is a lack of scientific data to support the notion that adding HCG to a kcal restricted diet furthers weight loss or increases satiety123. In a meta-analysis completed by Lijesen et al., researchers reviewed the results of 24 previously conducted studies to see if HCG+ kcal restriction was more effective than kcal restriction alone on the purported benefits of this “miracle” diet. Upon careful analysis of the data, Lijesen et al. concluded that

“… there is no scientific evidence that HCG causes weight-loss, a redistribution of fat, staves off hunger or induces a feeling of well-being. Therefore, the use of HCG should be regarded as an inappropriate therapy for weight reduction…”

Bottom Line

The many frustrations involved in most weight loss programs provide the perfect breeding atmosphere for diet scams. Remember, HCG is NOT available as an OTC nutraceutical regardless how convincing the website or advertisement may appear. Even if an individual does stumble upon a clinic that’s willing to offer prescription HCG, the majority of any weight loss will be due to the calorically restricted diet and not the drug. For more productive weight loss results without spending hours in the gym or nibbling on bird seed, read Sean Casey’s High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for Fat Loss Blog.


1 Lijesen GK, Theeuwen I, Assendelft WJ, Van Der Wal G.The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 Sep;40(3):237-43.

2 Bosch B, Venter I, Stewart RI, Bertram SR. Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. S Afr Med J. 1990 Feb 17;77(4):185-9.

3 Robb-Nicholson C. By the way, doctor. I’ve been trying to lose weight for a long time and nothing seems to work. What do you know about the HCG diet? Harv Womens Health Watch. 2010 May;17(9):8.

4 “The Original hCG Diet by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons”. HCG Diet Info. 2007-2011. Accessed on August 6, 2010 from: http://hcgdietinfo.com/HCG-Diet-Protocol.htm

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Written on July 14, 2010 by Brian Putchio
Last Updated: December 13, 2011

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Brian Putchio is owner/operator of NUTRI-BODIES, LLC in Dubuque, Iowa. Through his extensive knowledge and experience in the nutraceuticals industry since 1999, Brian offers a unique perspective to his blog readers. Brian's refusal to simply flow with the marketing strategies of the industry conveys a strong sense of credibility that helps consumers successfully navigate the nutraceutical minefield.