There is a lot of controversy regarding the HCG diet among those who have tried it and those that have not. The FDA is squarely against HCG injections as a weight loss aid and has issued a disclaimer about the product which states:
“HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”
Even physicians are at odds about the program. Many physicians do not like the idea of injecting the HCG hormone into their patients for weight loss, even though HCG injections are an approved treatment for several other conditions (infertility, testosterone therapy and more).
Meanwhile, hundreds of clinics and physicians throughout the United States still use the product for weight loss patients because a doctor can prescribe products for “off-label use” at the Doctors discretion.
What Physicians Say About HCG Injections
Some Physicians have conducted individual studies on HCG; they maintain that their patients see weight loss and other benefits when using HCG with a calorie restricted diet.
Dr. Emma, who was made famous by multiple segments on the Dr. Oz Show, has stated that HCG did not necessarily increase weight loss in patients, but in her studies increased muscle retention in patients on HCG vs. those not taking HCG.
Dr. Emma’s Theory
Fat loss coming from a low-calorie diet is usually accompanied by significant muscle loss as well. So, someone that my lose 10+ lbs on a low-calorie diet may have lost 5 lb of muscle and 5 lbs of fat, just as an example.
We also know that muscle weighs more than fat. So, based on Dr. Emma’s theory, if another dieter also loses 10 lbs while on HCG, and their weight loss breakdown was 7 lbs of fat and just 3 lbs of muscle, there will be a difference in appearance and a net gain of 2 additional pounds of fat loss.
One will likely look a bit more fit and toned while the other may be what some call “skinny fat,” meaning they have lost weight, are smaller, but their body composition is about the same as before. Also, it is critical to remember that the more muscle you can retain, the more calories your body will use at rest. So, retaining muscle is not just for aesthetics – it’s for keeping your metabolism at optimal levels.
The question then becomes, is this even a possibility? It is pretty clear that the diet alone is responsible for the weight loss and several studies prove that. But is it possible that those on HCG are seeing increased muscle retention over non-HCG groups?
To get that answer we have to look at HCG as a hormone and what it does in both males and females.
HCG Injections for Men
We already know that higher testosterone levels typically means less fat in scientific studies. We also know that in males after the age of 30 testosterone levels decrease every year and up to 39% of older men may have “low T.”
So it is reasonable to conclude (at least in men) that as we age, it gets harder to lose weight and easier to put on fat.
There are several forms of testosterone therapies available, usually in the form of injecting testosterone to boost levels. Other physicians prefer to treat low T with HCG injections since HCG is known to increase natural testosterone production.
In fact, even those using testosterone for TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) often go on HCG for a week or two at a time. Introducing testosterone from an outside source will reduce your natural production even more. The HCG helps these men increase natural testosterone production as well.
While this is still speculation, we do know two things:
- HCG helps elevate testosterone levels in men, especially those with low T
- Testosterone promotes muscle retention (or gains) and fat loss
These are scientific facts that may explain the results of Dr. Emma’s studies. That might explain the results in men but what about women?
HCG Injections for Women
Well, it is pretty much the same. Women and men both have testosterone and estrogen. In men, testosterone is the more plentiful hormone. In women, estrogen is the more abundant hormone.
This fact does not change the nature of testosterone in women, however.
Several years ago there were rumors that female athletes from some countries were “abortion doping” to gain a competitive advantage.
Abortion doping is the practice of getting pregnant and then having an abortion shortly after. Studies have concluded that blood concentration increase in pregnant women which can deliver more oxygen to muscles while several hormone levels increase, including testosterone.
So does testosterone improve muscle mass in women too? Yes! Testosterone also helps build (or retain) muscle in women as well. Don’t believe me? Check out Olympic athlete Marion Jones before and after the Olympics when she was caught using steroids.
Now, if you are a woman and wondering if your testosterone levels will be off the charts by taking HCG injections, the answer is no!
The amount of HCG used for the HCG diet is minuscule compared to the amount that is present during pregnancy. However, even a slight increase in testosterone may help with muscle retention as we discussed earlier.
So What is the Verdict on HCG Injections?
This article is not a scientific study; it is solely gathering evidence and presenting a possibility. But, much of the evidence supports the possibility that Dr. Emma’s findings may be accurate. The low-calorie diet by itself can typically generate the same weight loss in both HCG and non-HCG dieters. However, based on the scientific data regarding HCG and its effect on testosterone production, it could be possible that the increase in testosterone production in both men AND women might help with retaining the muscle over the non-HCG users on the same diet.
* This is just opinion and none of the information may be considered medical advice. Before starting any weight loss or fitness protocols see your physician.
** Be wary of homeopathic HCG such as found in over the counter HCG drops. HCG is strictly available by prescription, and as such over the counter products do not contain HCG. The best way to take HCG is via injection.