Saturday, April 2, 2011

HCG Diet: Boy, I Wish I Could Get Behind It, But I Can't.

For those of you living in seclusion, the HCG diet is a great new craze.  Thank Kevin Trudeau, who publicized his own weight loss using the diet. 

Now, the basis of the HCG diet is a five hundred calorie diet.  Guess what, that's effective.  Starvation does actually lead to weight loss.  But the next step is to inject yourself with HCG.  For the men out there, this is the stuff that pregnant ladies generate.  And you'll be injecting that into yourself.  Hence my initial difficulty with the concept.

So does the HCG do anything?  Well, no.  It really doesn't.  Don't believe the experts, don't believe common sense.  Just have a look at the double blind, placebo controlled study.

S Afr Med J. 1990 Feb 17;77(4):185-9.
Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Bosch B, Venter I, Stewart RI, Bertram SR.
Department of Medical Physiology and Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch, Parowvallei, CP.

Low-dose human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) combined with a severe diet remains a popular treatment for obesity, despite equivocal evidence of its effectiveness. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the effects of HCG on weight loss were compared with placebo injections. Forty obese women (body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2) were placed on the same diet supplying 5,000 kJ per day and received daily intramuscular injections of saline or HCG, 6 days a week for 6 weeks. A psychological profile, hunger level, body circumferences, a fasting blood sample and food records were obtained at the start and end of the study, while body weight was measured weekly. Subjects receiving HCG injections showed no advantages over those on placebo in respect of any of the variables recorded. Furthermore, weight loss on our diet was similar to that on severely restricted intake. We conclude that there is no rationale for the use of HCG injections in the treatment of obesity.
PMID: 2405506 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

So, while I'd love to have lots of patients and put them all on HCG, it hasn't been shown to work.  Starvation does work short term, but it generates long term problems.  As you generate a deficiency in the body, you are telling the fat cells that are left to become more active.  Fat is not just passive storage.  It works for your body by generating a range of hormones. 

BMC Med. 2011 Mar 16;9(1):25. [Epub ahead of print]

Regulation of vascular tone by adipocytes.

Maenhaut N, Van de Voorde J.

ABSTRACT: Recent studies have shown that adipose tissue is an active endocrine and paracrine organ secreting several mediators called adipokines. Adipokines include hormones, inflammatory cytokines and other proteins. In obesity, adipose tissue becomes dysfunctional, resulting in an overproduction of proinflammatory adipokines and a lower production of anti-inflammatory adipokines. The pathological accumulation of dysfunctional adipose tissue that characterizes obesity is a major risk factor for many other diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Multiple physiological roles have been assigned to adipokines, including the regulation of vascular tone. For example, the unidentified adipocyte-derived relaxing factor (ADRF) released from adipose tissue has been shown to relax arteries. Besides ADRF, other adipokines such as adiponectin, omentin and visfatin are vasorelaxants. On the other hand, angiotensin II and resistin are vasoconstrictors released by adipocytes. Reactive oxygen species, leptin, tumour necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6 and apelin share both vasorelaxing and constricting properties. Dysregulated synthesis of the vasoactive and proinflammatory adipokines may underlie the compromised vascular reactivity in obesity and obesity-related disorders.
PMID: 21410966

The bottom line is that I've just talked myself out of a whole bunch of patients looking for a quick weight loss solution.  But that's not what I want to do with patients.  What I want for patients is not term weight control, not just short term weight loss.  For that we have to use the body's wisdom to help people figure out what works for them. 

Kathryn Retzler of Hormone Synergy has done a wonderful job of summarizing the data on HCG.  I hope she publishes her position paper, because we need people to understand the whole picture about HCG. 


  1. Very well explained. Weight loss needs a lot of motivation in order for us to succeed in it. I think what makes most people succeed on the HCG is their motivation or perception that it actually works. Many success stories have surfaced in the blogosphere and they have been inspiring others to do the same. So it would really help a lot knowing that someone have succeeded in it.

    HCG Weight Loss

  2. Good stuff. Thank you so so much for sharing your knowledge with the world through the Internet. Wonderful blog and post you got here
    HCG Diet
    HCG Diet Drops

  3. Good stuff. Thank you so so much for sharing your knowledge with the world through the Internet. Wonderful blog and post you got here
    HCG Diet
    HCG Diet Drops

  4. wow great i have read many articles about this topic and everytime i learn something new i dont think it will ever stop always new info , Thanks for all of your hard work! hcg

  5. Useful information ..I am very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us this useful information. Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post. hcg