Around since the 1950s, the popular yet controversial hCG diet was designed to facilitate rapid weight loss without the issues that challenge—and ultimately sabotage—many diets, predominantly gnawing, unrelenting hunger pangs and fatigue.
Originated by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, who’d studied obesity for 40 years prior to creating the diet protocol featuring injections of hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, the hCG diet was popularized by Simeons’ book and an article in the medical publication Lancet on the subject.
In them, Simeons posits that injections of the hCG hormone mitigated and often eliminated the uncomfortable byproducts of an extreme low-calorie diet—among them headaches, constant gnawing, fatigue, and sarcopenia (muscle diminishment).
Sixty years later, his 1954 book, “Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity,” is still riding the weight loss wonder wave. The FDA and others challenge the exact protocol (and have for years). The hCG diet continues to rack up evidence as an “off label” treatment – even where last-chance dieters are concerned. The FDA only adds on to the hormone’s controversy. As of December 6, 2011, the FDA prohibits the sale of homeopathic and over-the-counter hCG products for weight loss use. However, using hCG injections with the 500-calorie/day diet, proponents report experiencing minimal or no hunger pangs in the first week. They also report a feeling of complete satiation in ensuing weeks.
HCG Injections for Weight Loss
Detractors say almost anyone will lose weight on a 500-calorie per day diet, and the costs associated with adding hCG injections to the mix (one clinic client reportedly paid $1,200, but viable online sites such as https://usHCGshots.com, which requires physician approval, charge a fraction of that) only add to the stress and frustration of such severely limited calorie intake, but others disagree.
Research and Patient Reports
Nurse practitioner Lindsay Carmody, owner of Forward Medical Weight Loss in Germantown, Wisconsin, says she helped more than 150 people lose from 30 to 100 pounds on the hCG diet in the first two years her clinic was open. Customer Craig Strowid is among her success stories, losing 45 pounds in his first 45 days on the protocol.
Research shows the primary function of an HCG diet is that it doesn’t change that the dieter loses weight; as almost anyone can on a severely calorie-restricted diet. Rather, it changes how the dieter loses weight. This includes the prevention of sarcopenia—a gradual muscle loss that affects us as we age, and also during extreme dieting.
Sheri L. Emma, M.D., whose Colts Neck, New Jersey weight loss specialty practice features hCG and whose appearances on the “Dr. Oz” show have raised eyebrows and consciousness (she advocates an expanded Simeons hCG protocol), puts it this way:
By patient report, HCG reduces feelings of hunger. This allows them to eat very little comfortably. Why? Researchers believe the presence of HCG in the bloodstream takes the appetite away. In pregnant women, HCG often causes feelings of nausea in the early stages of pregnancy. HCG is a pro-hormone which helps the body make more hormones. Since hormone deficiency is usually part of the reason for weight gain, whether it’s your thyroid, or menopause, this hormone offers help.*