HCG Diet An Evidence Based Review

Have you heard of the HCG diet? It’s been around for over 60 years. I first heard of this diet in 2007 in a book called “The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About”. What I would like to do here is review the scientific studies that have been performed on the HCG diet protocol and let you draw your own conclusions about whether HCG injections help weight loss or not. This review will focus on the original version of HCG diet  – the version that uses injections of the hormone HCG.  I’ve also written a review of homeopathic HCG (HCG drops). I suggest you read this review of the original HCG diet protocol first and then check out the info on HCG drops for a more full picture.

 

What is the HCG diet?

HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin. This is a hormone that women make when they are pregnant. In fact the most natural way to raise HCG levels is to get pregnant.

The HCG diet dates back to about 1954 when a doctor named Albert Simeons started giving HCG injections to obese people.  He published his study in the Lancet, a well known medical journal.

The HCG diet basically consists of daily HCG injections coupled with a 500 calorie diet. In addition people are also told to refrain from using hardly any fat. Even the fats in cosmetics are to be avoided during the HCG diet. There are many HCG diet books to help people with the food portion of the program.

According to Simeons, giving HCG along with the 500 calorie diet was better for weight loss than just giving them 500 calories. He claimed that his technique achieved fast weight loss without people being hungry. This he said was because HCG suppressed the appetite and enhanced people’s moods.

HCG injections also were alleged to burn fat from specific areas of the body. Today we would call this claim “spot reduction” – ridding fat from only certain locations like troublesome areas of the thighs for example.

It’s my understandings that in Kevin Trudeau’s weight loss book, he speculated that HCG stimulated the hypothalamus of the brain to get the body to start burning fat. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter.

For more on Kevin Trudeau, see my review of Herpes Cure Report.

What matters is that Dr. Simeons claimed that the HCG diet could result in weight loss of between ½ lb and almost 2 lbs per day on average.

 

HCG Diet Research

There is HCG diet research. From what I can discover, scientists have looked this diet several times since the early 1960s. I want to summarize this diet research because the HCG diet books probably won’t tell you about it.

Where possible I have also linked to the actual scientific studies so you can read them for yourself if you like. Let’s now briefly summarize the HCG research:

In 1963 Craig and associates tested the Simeons diet in 20 overweight women. The study lasted 45 days. Women were split into 2 groups:

  • one group received daily shots of HCG (125 units)
  • the other received shots of a placebo

All women ate only 550 calories a day contained in 2 meals. Women could drink as much water, tea or coffee they liked (no sugar in tea or coffee).

Results: Women getting HCG injections did not lose more weight.

In 1973, Asher and Harper tested the HCG diet in 40 overweight women for 6 weeks.  The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Women either received either

  • daily HCG injections (125 units)
  • or a saline placebo.

All women consumed a 500 calorie diet.

Results. Asher and Harper found that women getting HCG injections lost more weight than those who received a placebo.

 

In the study, it was stated that Harper, who did the “clinical work” also “has an active practice using HCG for weight reduction”. In science, this is technically a no no.  Some might see this as possible bias (even unconscious bias) on the part of the researcher.

However, the connection of the researcher to the HCG diet was clearly disclosed at the beginning of the study. They were not trying to hide this and I will call this study a “win” for the HCG diet.

It was because of the findings by Asher and Harper that in 1976, Stein and colleagues decided to test the HCG diet. In their investigation, they used a similar protocol as Asher and Harper (Asher provided Stein with their research design).

They tested the HCG diet in 51 young women (ave age 33). The study lasted 32 days. Women were split into 2 groups:

  • One group received daily injections of HGC (125 units)
  • The other group received injections of a saline placebo

All women were put on the identical 500 calorie diet as in the Asher and Harper study. Women were also instructed to drink 8-10 glasses of water per day.

Results. This study found that the HCG diet did not help weight loss.

Women getting HCG did not lose any more weight than those getting the placebo. In addition, women getting HCG injections did not lose more weight in specific areas of the body (as the HCG diet proponents often say will happen).

 

Also in 1976, another HCG study was performed by Young and colleagues. In this study, there were 202 people.

For 6 days a week, people received either

  • injections of HCG (125 units a day)
  • or saline injections (placebo)

In addition people also ate 500 calories a day and received lectures on diet and behavior modification twice a week for the length of the study.

All fat was excluded from the diet except for the fat that was associated with the protein that people ate from food.

 

This study also tested whether HCG treatment helped people maintain their weight loss better. This was accomplished by giving people 6 weeks of no HCG injections coupled with education about how to eat properly.

Results. At the end of the study, researchers found that HCG injections did not lead to any greater weight loss or weight maintenance than those who did not get HCG injections. In the words of the researchers:

“… we could not demonstrate by any objective indicator that HCG was beneficial in promoting weight loss, nor was there any significant difference in fat loss or body circumference measurements”

 

In 1977, Shetty and Kalkhoff did a small study of HCG in 6 hospitalized obese women. The women were only given 500 calories a day and injected daily with 125 unites of HCG for 30 days.  Another 5 women were given the exact same diet yet injected with a placebo.

Results. According to the authors, weight loss between groups was “nearly identical”. Measurements of the circumferences of the chest, waist, hips or thighs also showed no differences between the HCG and placebo groups. Any changes observed, the authors noted, was consistent with “semi starvation” and weight loss”.

 

Also in 1977 Greenway and associates, tested the HCG diet for 6 weeks in 40 healthy women (age 20-40) who were randomly divided into 2 groups:

  • One group received HCG
  • The other group got a placebo

Both groups received injections 6 days a week for 6 weeks. Greenway did not specify how much HCG women received in their investigation (I’ll assume it was 125 units but I cannot prove this).

Results. People getting daily HCG injections did not lose any more weight than women who received a placebo. Likewise, there were no differences in body circumferences or mood in those who received HCG injections.  The Greenway study was concluded with these words (note these words were written in 1977):

“We feel that the 20 year history of the use of HCG in the treatment of obesity should come to an end because injections of placebo appear to be equally effective in all respects.”

 

In 1983 Birmingham and Smith reviewed 6 of double blind studies of the HCG diet conducted at that time.

Results. They concluded that only one study (the Asher and Harper study mentioned above) found that HCG injections caused weight loss more than placebo. The other 5 studies found that HCG injections do not cause weight loss.

In 1990, Venter and associates tested the HCG diet in 40 obese women for 6 weeks. In this double blind placebo controlled study, women were either given daily HCG injections or injections of a placebo. All women were put on the same diet that supplied 1200 calories a day.

Before and after the study, they tested body weight body circumferences and hunger level.

Results. The HCG diet “showed no advantages over those on placebo in respect any of the variables recorded”. So HCG didn’t work.

 

In 1995, Lijesen and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 24 previously published HCG diet studies.

A meta analysis basically means that the researchers added together the results of a bunch of studies, to see if they could find “the big picture”.

Results. They concluded that “there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity”

and that:

“it [HCG] does not bring about weigh loss or fat redistribution nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well being.”

 

Summaries of HCG weight loss studies

StudyPeople in studyStudy designResults
Craig (1963)20Double blind placebo controlledHCG doesn’t work
Asher/Harper (1973)40Randomized double blindHCG works
Stein (1976)51Randomized double blindHCG doesn’t work
Young (1976)202Randomized double blind cross overHCG doesn’t work
Sheety (1977)6Randomized double blindHCG doesn’t work
Greenway (1977)40Randomized double blindHCG doesn’t work
Birmingham (1983)358Meta analysis of 6 HCG studiesHCG doesn’t work
Lijesen (1995)?Meta analysis of 24 HCG studiesHCG doesn’t work

Note. This is just a sample of the HCG weight loss studies. There are several others.

 

My friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Sukala, has written good science based review of the HCG diet research if you want additional info on the science of the HCG diet plan.

 

HCG Diet and the thyroid

Some ask if the HCG diet can help the metabolism or thyroid or improve hypothyroidism.  I am not aware of any research that looked at the HCG diet protocol and checked to see if it altered the level of thyroid hormone or altered TSH levels.  As people lose weight -though any diet – metabolism does tends to decrease. This is why its often easier to lose the first 50 pounds than the last 10 pounds of weight.  Whether or not HCG can alter this is something I feel needs some research.

Related to this, people to advocate the HCG diet protocol often say that HCG injections (and HCG drops) help people preserve muscle during weight loss.  Again, I have not seen any scientiif proof that HCG injections or oral HCG drops reduces muscle loos when dieting.  Theoretically eating only 500 calories per day would eventually cause the body to start cannibalizing itself to maintain adequate energy.

Whether HCG injections can reduce/reverse this process is unknown as far as I can tell and is likewise deserving of research. These 2 aspects of the HCG diet would make for very interesting grad student research…

 

So, does the HCG Diet work?

Some say that HCG needs to be used soon after being prepared or it becomes useless. Could this be why all the other HCG studies show it doesn’t  work? Could all the other researchers have made a critical mistake?

Maybe. In theory there may be something to this- if HCG really does break down as fast as they say.

Could there be a conspiracy by the medical community to prevent people from knowing the truth about HCG? I don’t think so. Here’s why.

Covering up proof that the HCG diet works would be very difficult because EVERYBODY can read the HCG diet studies.  ANYBODY can replicate the studies today using the very same procedures and see if it works.

 

So why don’t the sellers of the HCG diet protocol – instead of invoking the name of Alebert Simeons– do their own HCG diet research, publish that research and prove to the world that the HCG diet really works?

What do you think?

Comments

  1. Lakiira says

    HI, Thank you Joe, that is really sincere of you. I do care more about being healthy and feeling better than weight loss, and I know that once that starts the weight loss is an added bonus…Im so glad I found someone so informative and genuine on the internet, I dont get that very often. But I will try and incorporate a shake, and since its been nicer here in Chicago, I started to walk the dog around the park. It usually takes an hr…I love to walk and run in the summer, but I packed the pounds on this winter and I had some extra stressors that didn’t help either. But I just got a great new job and Im ready for a healthy lifestyle change that I can stay with even in times when the depression lurks in. Thanks for your suggestions. And it does help, Lakiira

  2. Lakiira says

    oh, and I started to drink the “Naked” green juice. Its supposed to be good for energy. It tastes really good. Do you know if its good for me? lol

    • Joe says

      Latiira, I have not heard anything bad about naked juice. Id look at the calories per serving and see what it says. next time Im in the supermarket, I will check it out :)

  3. Lakiira says

    ok thanks, and its no problem but you have spelled my name wrong in each of the responses to me, lol. Its Lakiira. Ttyl Joe..

  4. Eva says

    Hi Joe, I just wrote to you on another post regarding your protein drinks when I found this post. I recently did this hCG diet but with a different kind of drops. I lost 20 lbs the first time around and the second time around down another 10. I had plenty of energy, no cravings, lost lots of fat, muscle is fine. Hope this helps. If you have any questions let me know.

  5. deanna says

    I would like to announce that it has been one year since doing the hcg diet and I have not gained any weight back! :D HCG is my miracle!

  6. deanna says

    I decided to do the hcg diet one more time. I have a photo shoot in 2 weeks so I want to be as skinny as possible. As you remember I went from a size 12 to a size 4 in 3 weeks the first time. I am trying to get back to the size I was in my 20s and I am almost 50 now. I have been on the diet for 5 days and have lost an additional 7 lbs! I have only 4 more lbs to go to hit my target. I LOVE HCG!!!!!!

  7. Debbie Robbins says

    so are u doing the shots if so what are u paying and if not which liquid are u doing and where do u get it. Thanks Deb

  8. deanna says

    Hi Debbie,

    Happy to say I am now a size 2! Only problem is…I am 5’9″ and it is hard to find pants that fit the length of my legs in a size 2. I think jean makers think that if you are a size 2 you couldn’t possibly be tall. LOL.

    Anyway this is where I purchase my hcg: http://www.hcg1234.com/204.html

    Good luck! I love HCG

  9. Vicky Rowe says

    Joe, thanks for a thoughtful and detailed approach to the protocol.

    I’ve personally lost and maintained a 30 lb loss for over 2 years now as a result of the hCG protocol, despite having a number of health setbacks with surgery and tick-borne disease that caused a lot of inflammation and bodily upset. It lost of total of 60 lbs, but various health issues, combined with losing my exercise program from medical restrictions have put some back. However, I’m still 30 lbs and 4 sizes less of me than there was for many, many years, and I don’t have to work very hard to keep it there, just eat real, healthy food.

    Full disclosure: I have since gone back to school and gotten certified as a health coach, and specialize in helping people lose weight and maintain healthy weight, including helping people with the hCG protocol.

    What I’ve learned in my experiences with my hCG clients, with myself, and in the thousands of people providing anecdotal evidence in various groups around the web is that while the hCG protocol works, it only works well if one sticks strictly to the protocol as it was designed by Dr. Simeons. I have seen hundreds of people who followed altered food plans with different foods or higher calories lose, but then fail to maintain those losses for long afterwards (which to my way of thinking is the critical factor here, since anyone can lose weight, it is keeping it off that is the hard part).

    Additionally, I’ve come to realize that ‘standard’ food plans from the FDA/ADA/etc. nearly always result in weight gain, or at best no loss if one wishes to lose. I definitely have come to realize that ‘calories in-calories out’ has no meaning. There was an active person earlier in this comment thread that mentioned that the ‘standard’ approach didn’t work for them.

    What a person must do to maintain their weight loss after any plan depends on that person’s bodily needs, and that varies from person to person. Some thrive on low-carb or paleo style approaches (actually many, possibly even the majority from the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen), some from vegetarian, some from low fat, or gluten free. Basically, there is no one way to ‘eat for life’ that will work for everyone, which is why traditional ‘diets’ like Weight Watchers, etc. fail for so many, as they are a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It is ludicrous to assume that a white European-descended male requires exactly the same food balance as an Asian woman or South Pacific Islander. You can see how that works in the decline of health in groups such as the Inuit and Okinawan peoples when ‘western’ food was introduced to their cultures, with our processed, high sugar/carb low fat approach.

    You can also see it in our own population since the introduction of the ‘heart smart’ low fat eating style, where the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many other disorders has risen *sharply* since the American populace was convinced of this as a ‘good’ way to eat. In fact, the study that started this entire thing has since been shown to be in error in the assumptions made.

    It is indeed sad that no one has chosen to perform a modern, double-blind randomized study of the hCG protocol as it was designed. Regarding the studies you list (I list the same ones on my web site for those who wish to research), if you look into the food plans, nearly all of them deviate from the protocol as it was designed, so they cannot really say they are getting results for the effectiveness of the Simeons protocol, since they don’t follow it.

    Dr. Simeons notes in several places in Pounds and Inches that any deviation, no matter how small, causes the entire process to become unbalanced, and unreliable in the ability to maintain these losses. As regards Dr. Oz, well, for one, he has a diet book to promote, so of course any other approach is ‘no good’ because of that, and secondly, he has advertisers to make happy, so anything he says is suspect. I don’t give any ‘TV’ doctor any credence, they are tainted by their association with advertising and media. Case in point was Dr. Oz’s derogatory and inflammatory responses to Gary Taubes when he was on the show, despite a mountain of evidence showing that Taubes approach is very valid for many people. Interestingly, his own wife was doing the hCG protocol (albeit the ‘homeopathic’ one, which I reserve judgement on), while he was doing the show.

    Does hCG work? If you ask the people who performed the studies, no. But if you ask the hundreds of thousands of people who have not just lost weight and kept it off, but gotten off their heart meds, thyroid meds, diabetes meds and other medications, they will tell you resoundingly, YES. It worked for them.

    Is it hard? Yes, it requires a very strict approach for 40 days, then another 21 days of avoiding sugars and starches to ‘set’ things. Then one goes on to eat ‘normally’, which is the really hard part, because you have to figure out which foods work for your body, and there isn’t really a guide for that anywhere.

    I do know that the number of people I have observed over the last 5 years of researching and coaching people with the protocol that those who attempt this *without* hCG experience extreme hunger and weakness, where those who do use hCG have hunger, but not the extreme hunger or weakness they get without it, so something is happening there. Placebo effect? Perhaps, but I am inclined to think not, given that this effect occurs in the majority of those doing the protocol. Again, these are based on my observations of those posting in various support groups over the last 5 years, as well as my own experience and that of my coaching clients.

    Does it work? The science has never (to my mind, since all the studies were flawed by their design) been adequately tested. However, the overwhelming anecdotal evidence is out there showing an awful lot of people who are no longer obese or even overweight after doing this protocol. Study or not, that sort of evidence is pretty hard to refute. I see it succeed every day with people, and a significant percentage of them (60-70% per Dr. Simeons’ study, but in my experience, more like 40-50%) keep the weight off long-term (longer than 2 years). I attribute some of that difference to the fact that in the 50′s we weren’t overrun with Frankenfoods and inundated with advertisements for such foods and other unhealthy foods, and as such didn’t have as many poor choices to work with. Given that traditional weight loss programs have a success rate of less than 5% maintaining over 1 year, I’d say that is a pretty good result.

    If nothing else, this protocol has given back an awful lot of people their health, and to hear them talk about it, their lives. That, right there, is evidence enough for me, even if a study is never done.

    Frankly, given some of the evidence that has come to light of late regarding skewed studies and shadow companies behind creating studies that really aren’t (note all the ‘studies’ showing Splenda and Nutrasweet are ‘safe’, when these products have health complaints with the FDA totaling over 70% of all the FDA complaints submitted), I don’t place a lot of faith in so-called studies anymore. Seems to me like the American medical, agri-conglomerate and pharma industries have gotten so corrupt that it is difficult to believe them if they tell us the sky is blue. So, I’ll take real people with real results any day, at least right now. Is that scientific? Perhaps not, but at least they’re honest.

    • Joe says

      Vicky, thanks for your impute. I’m still hoping somebody, somewhere does a good randomized placebo study on HCG. Given its popularity, it does not seem to be popular with researchers, and that’s just sad.

  10. Eva says

    Hi Joe,
    I just wanted to add that I never did this diet for 40 days. I did it for 21, then did a second round for another 21. I also get the vibrational hcg, not the homeopathic. I was very happy with my results and am now on another round. I love the hCG plan by Dr. Simeons. It’s very specific and you know exactly what to do. There’s no guessing, which I really like. Also my energy level was fantastic. I’ve tried to eat “not very much” but always gave in. I could never eat less food without these drops.

  11. Vicky Rowe says

    You’re welcome Joe. I agree, a valid randomized study would be great. But honestly, it seems counterproductive for big pharma/the medical community, because if it did prove to be valid, there would be billions lost by the weight loss and bariactric industry, and many jobs lost. It isn’t economically sound to have a healthy populace, and in this country, it’s all about the profit. Sadly, healthy people don’t appear to be profitable. Sick people create more revenue, so why research cures when it is so much more money to research treatments for symptoms instead.

    Sad, I agree. I’m afraid that we’ll not see significant research in curing obesity anytime soon. It just isn’t in the best interests of those who make their living selling us treatments for symptoms instead.

    • Joe says

      Vicki, its a good point about the money being in the medicine (rather than the cure). College professors, who in theory, should be shielded from the money aspect of things, might be good people to do this research. They have the resources and they also have access to a large population of college students to take part.

  12. Average Joe says

    A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1995 reviewed 8 controlled and 16 uncontrolled clinical trials concerning the HCG diet. The full text of the article can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1365103/pdf/brjclinpharm00004-0042.pdf

    The endocrine society also has a ‘myth and fact’ sheet on HCG which folks should read as well. http://www.hormone.org/Public/upload/MFS-hCG-Diet-12-7v2.pdf

  13. Vicky Rowe says

    @Joe – yeah, they should be shielded, but sadly, because of grants and such, they are often compromised as well. Not always, true, but often.

    @Average Joe – yeah, I’ve read that, but IIRC, they didn’t evaluate whether the studies actually replicated Dr. Simeons’ original setup re food and dosages. And, to my way of thinking, not replicating the original premise when testing the ‘validity’ invalidates the study results……

  14. Jessica says

    I’ve actually done the HCG injections/Diet Plan while taking Phentermine. Though, my diet plan allowed me 1000-1200 calories daily. It was a high protein diet and it was really hard for me to get 800 calories down a day. The phentermine curbed my cravings. I took only phentermine for the first month and I only lost 1 in my stomach.

    The 2nd month I took phentermine and started the HCG shots (2 weekly) and I lost 3 inches in my stomach. I continued Phentermine, Diet Plan & HCG for 6 months and I lost 65 pounds and 15 inches in my stomach.

    The pills and diet helped me lose the pounds and the HCG shots helped me lose the inches. Taking the shots alone will not work. I have been off the diet, pills and injections for 1 1/2 years now and I’ve only gained 3 pounds and kept the inches off. I eat about 1500 calories daily with occasional cheat day. I work out 4-5 times weekly. So I consider myself a HCG diet success story.

    I would recommend it if you’re really determined to lose the weight. It really kickstarted my journey. I’ve yo-yo dieted my whole life. Most diets worked for me, but they weren’t long term and I can’t eat the same weight loss bar or shake for the rest of my life.

    Within 2 weeks of ending other diets, the pounds would start packing back on. Especially NutriSystem. I gained more weight after quitting than I lost the 6 months I was on it. Anyway, talked enough. I hope this gives a little more insight on the HCG diet.

  15. Jack says

    I have done the HCG diet. It worked for me. I went through a clinic and was supervised by a doctor. It was the injections, not the drops, by the way. However, I didn’t feel like I was never hungry and full of enery. Food was all I thought about and I was quite miserable.. But it did work.

    I twas great having everyone tell me how great I looked… After the diet, I didn’t exactly watch what I ate and I still didn’t gain back any weight.. I only gained weight back once I got careless and let myself go again. But the diet did work wonders for me, and had I kept some darn self-control, it could have stayed off. But that was my own fault.

  16. Cheryl Dumais says

    Interesting results but I see no mention of the study Dr. Oz referred to on one of his programs where they studied FAT loss not just weight loss. HCG seems to result in more fat loss and less muscle loss. If you can find it you might want to add that one to your site. Those of us who have used HCG use it for reasons other than greater weight loss.

    Dr. Simeon felt it resets your set point weight. For me the main reason to use it is the reduction of hunger making it possible to continue on 500 calories per day which without HCG is extremely difficult. There is no magic pill but this tool has helped me in the past.

    • Joe says

      Cheryl, I cant locate the HCG study Dr Oz mentioned. I’d love to see it and add it to my review if anybody can find it.

    • Joe says

      Cheryl, I looked at the dr video clip you provided. dr oz called it a “pilot study” (which means small study / beginner, fact finder study) but its not a peer reviewed study. dr Emma only provided data on 12 people which is very little. Dr Emma is a doctor – a scientist. I cannot understand why she would publish no research on HCG diets. She has the patients and the background to do this. so why not?

      the video shows people lost 11 lbs fat and 2 lbs muscle but Dr oz does not tell us how body composition was measured. The way that data is collected/measured is crucial to the believability of the results.

      I also noticed that the guy giving the counter argument said he only “briefly” could review dr emmas data. That makes me wonder if the dr oz staff gave the data to him just before the show, which, if thats the case, its not right.

      I was pleased that Dr Oz said “HCG drops do not work” and are a “waste of money”. I agree with that. I also agree that a fresh look needs to be taken on HCG injections for weight loss.

      My question for the scientific weight loss community – including doctors who prescribe HCG injections for weight loss – is why has nobody done a peer reviewed study recently?

      I wish I was in the audience so I could ask Dr Emma some questions.

  17. Heather says

    I just paid for the 20 day version of this program out of sheer curiosity. I’m interested in finding a lab to test the stuff in the little vial to see if it contains anything but saline solution.

    If in fact it does contain hcg, I’m wondering if this will have any noticeable side effects. My preliminary reading indicates it may increase fertility (?) No, I’m NOT planning on this side effect, but again, I’m curious.

  18. Missy says

    The purpose of the HCG drops is to help curb your appetite and to take off inches in your problem spots. My cousin is doing the diet right now and has lost almost 70 lbs total. She is on the 2nd week of the second round…she has done excellent with it. She gets 550 calories a day and says she forgets to eat sometimes.

    • Joe says

      Missy, Im glad she is losing weight but I still ask the question, how? How does a liquid that is diluted to the point that it contains zero HCG curb appetite? Also, how does HCG curb appetite? Even Dr Oz has said that HCG drops were “junk.”

        • Joe says

          Kat, I think when Dr Oz talks about supplements that he gives easy answers to complex questions. I think he doesn’t this because he wants to help and give people something tangible to hold on to when they try to lose weight. I think problems arise when people only take the supplement, thinking it will cause the weight to melt off, which likely will not happen.

  19. Linda says

    Hi Joe, It sounds like your argument against HCG is the fact that a 500 calorie diet returns the same results as HCG plus 500 calorie diet. I’ve recently completed the HCG diet and I am a big fan. With the “other” restricted calorie diets I noticed negative impact on my focus, mood and overall well being. With HCG I experienced an overwhelming sense of well being and felt GREAT!

    I think the medical research has missed one key point. What about hormonal benefits when dieting. Isn’t adiponectin increased with a restricted diet. It is also produced during pregnancy. Therefore a 500 cal/day diet without HCG or with HCG will stimulate this hormone. What about other hormones that HCG and a 500 cal/day diet stimulate? Does HCG make it easier to be successful? Does HCG really get to fat stores?

    Does HCG protect muscle? I believe after my personal experience and applying logic to the HCG program. Here are my conclusions. The HCG hormone made it possible for me to be successful eating 500 calories a day. I NEVER have felt better. I felt balanced and had an overwhelming sense of well being.

    I believe the combination of HCG and other hormones that are triggered by a low calorie diet work with your body to produce great results. Do people feel the same without HCG? HCG works for me!!! I highly recommend it!!!

    • Joe says

      Linda, it is quite possible the medical community has missed something when it comes to HCG and weight loss. I dont remember seeing any study that looked at adiponectin and HCG so thats an interesting observation. So my questions is, why has nobody in the HCG medical community shown any proof that HCG (shots or drops) alter hormones – adiponectin -or otherwise?

      As Ive said to others who have said HCG worked for them, Im really glad you have found something that works for you. My frustration is when medical doctors who prescribe shots (or drops) of HCG without providing ANY medical research to prove that they do anything.

      I’ll say it again, doctors who “prescribe” HCG for weight loss make A LOT OF MONEY doing this stuff. How come none of them has spent any of that money to prove that it actually works? Doctors, are, after all, scientists. Why do they deny the scientific method to prove it works? Testimonials should only be the beginning of knowledge – they should not be the foundation by which they do things.

      For me the HCG diet (esp with drops) makes no sense but Im very open to the possibility that this is not a placebo effect. I would just like to see a good research study published to tell me otherwise. This would not be expensive. It could easily be done at a university and only take a few months at most. Linda, I think we both deserve that research.

  20. Amy says

    Linda,

    Where did you get your HCG drops from? I am looking for a reputable place to get it. I paid $1000 for my doctor administered shots for 23 days. I cannot afford to go another round with this kind of money but the diet is working out so I do want to do it for one more round.

  21. Kim says

    This is a very interesting article and I am impressed with your unbiased way of presenting the information. From my understanding anyone will lose weight on a low calorie diet. However, the difference with HCG is that the weight is specifically fat loss rather than the typical fat, muscle and water loss. HCG forces the body to hold onto healthy tissue for the development of the baby, and thus turns to using reserve fat stores first for nutrition. Thus, all patients on a starvation diet will lose the same amount of weight, the big question is WHAT is the weight?

    • Joe says

      Kim, thanks much. I would just like to see some good evidence that HCG causes fat loss and not fat, muscle and water loss. I cant find that proof. My hope is somebody finds it for me so I can look it over.

  22. Phebe Vance says

    I lost 35 pounds doing the HCG diet. I did a 41 day protocol and then a 23 day protocol. I did injections and followed Dr. Simeon’s instructions to the letter. His book can by found by Googling “Pounds and Inches”. Initially, I had lost 30 pounds by counting calories and had simply stalled.

    My doctor suggested this diet, saying that I really needed to get my weight down and I could view it as “emergency” and go for a drastic fix. Because I have Hashimoto’s, my weight loss was extremely slow, and lower on the HCG diet than for most people. That said, this was a fantastic program for me. I completed the program two years ago and have maintained a weight loss of 65 pounds.

    It isn’t easy, but I would like to make a couple of comments about Dr. Simeon’s protocol. First, he was successful in helping thousands of people lose weight. It seems that there are a lot of folks cashing in on this diet and are putting their own spin on it, as if they know how to make it work better.

    I am concerned that varying calories, using “homeopathic” drops, etc. may skew the results of this wonderful protocol. Secondly, Dr. Simeon included in the diet a rather lengthy transition period. The first six weeks one adds fats and oils. The second six weeks, one gradually adds carbohydrate.

    Additionally, there are instructions for what to do if you are over your target weight when you do your daily weigh in. Those additional weeks taught me a lot about how I was processing food. In my case, I have found that I need to minimize carbohydrate intake. No problem. I feel great and would urge anyone who has a lot of weight to lose, to consider the real, original HCG protocol. Read Dr. Simeon’s book!

  23. Tampaanonymous says

    Hi Joe, this has been going on for a while. But let me explain a problem with one of the things you are stating. The hcg drops you find online that clearly state they have the hcg hormone in them. Do indeed have hcg, if they didn’t, you could sue their pants off. I just ordered drops that contain as much hcg as the shots from a trusted, common place…amazon, the reviews claim it contains the legitimate hcg. Hcg can be put on a prego test, if it comes back positive, it has hcg. People do it to test the product all the time since the hcg fda scare.

    I mean no offense in saying this, but this is two days research.

    I will trust many many people who swear by it, for a few reasons. Let me explain them.

    1, the fda is backing a dangerous weight loss program called alli. They themselves have done studies proving it is dangerous. Yet it remains on the market.

    To gain lots of small info about this diet Joe, you should read product reviews. I made sure to read over 500, and also dive into multiple forum, asking questions about this diet.without that I would have thought as well that the drops were fraudulant. The drops that contain no hcg state clearly on the box they are hormone free. The ones that do indeed contain do not, however are very hard to find. Especially below 300 dollars.

    I will be monitored for muscle loss during my hcg diet. I am 21 now and 220lbs. I want to loose inches, could care less for the actual weight loss, as ill gain my pounds back through weight training after the loss.

    I will attempt to make it a point to reply to you hear to update my progress. But I also will point you to my YouTube channel where I will be doing a weekly blog like sophisticated mama to show my results. However I must state, now that hcg for weight loss is illegal and no longer found in stores, what most people are taking are hormone free and that will likely be all that is available to them forever now that it has been made illegal. I will be sad to state at the end of my project that it worked without muscle loss, as that means the fda just made the 500 calorie diet hcg plan much, much more dangerous.

    The actual hcg drops arrive at the end of Feb.

    • Joe says

      Tampaanonymous, I appreciate your passion for this. I’m curious:

      1. who is doing the research on you? who is monitoring for muscle loss? A university? Are you part of a HCG research study? How many others are involved?

      2. You said hcg drops did in fact contain HCG but how do you know this? Have you seen any proof? I’m more than willing to look at any peer reviewed evidence that has showed HCG drops really do contain HCG – esp any that says they have as much as a shot of HCG.

      Even doctor Oz has said that HCG drops are not worth it.

      As I understand it, the FDA regulates homeopathic products differently than prescription drugs or supplements. Here is a link to the FDA page about homeopathic products.

      Here is another link to the FDA that discusses homeopathic products and regulations.

      Regardless of who is right, I’m really curious if you are taking part in a scientific stud about the effectiveness of HCG and weight loss. Ive said for a long time that Id like to see some new research on HCG drops and weight since the last studies were done decades ago

  24. Tampaanonymous says

    I’m getting my muscle loss monitored by 2 separate physicians, I’m also asking my doctor what he can do to give me a second opinion. The drops I bought are an older product from an older market, I will be testing them upon arrival with a pregnancy test as instructed by those who spend much more than I on endeavors such as this one.

    The drops I bought are not from a fda regulated source. The reviews claim the product does indeed contain hcg, however I am not blind to the idea that people believe what they want to, and will be testing that fact for myself before using the product, products such as the one I bought are sometimes held in customs because of the idea it contains an illegal hormone, however during my times on the forums I find that this is quite rare.

    I find I better enjoy the idea of proving results to myself, so the “scientific study” will be performed by myself, two physicians, and my personal doctor. As well as my personal trainer if he agrees to take part.

    I will update you on results of my tests for the hormone upon arrival. I believe that the pregnancy test is sufficient proof it contains hcg, if it does not I will promptly discard the product and continue my search.

    I am honestly not worried about who is right or correct on this specific topic, I simply am as curious as you as to why the results of such have not been detailed in said clinical studies and will be taking part in a journey to find the truth. Nothing is more confusing to me than info that seems to jump back and fourth in accuracy and legality without any change in available information.

    At the first sign of bad side effects (listed in multiple place relating to starvation) which are claimed to be non existent I will be removing the diet from my list of mysteries and stating it to be fraudulent but cannot accurately do so without gaining the information for myself, first hand.

    Of you have any tips that may aid my progress in this study as I have not performed one such as this before, please feel free to help out as I am sure you are as curious for this information as I and lots of others are.

    Thank you for replying promptly to this, from what I understand my information is accurate and of so, I will be able to supply to a social site such as YouTube the information we have been lacking for a few years.

    I again want to clarify however, that the bottle claims to contain as much of the actual hormone as an injection. The hormone is listed even in correct dosage in active ingredients. From what I understand, products such as the drops you speak of claim no hormone of any kind right on the box or bottle. There are versions of the drops that contain hcg, they are just much, much harder to obtain now that the fda is cracking down on the hormone, very few places exist to obtain the ones that still have hcg, even they cost 400 dollars for a 60 day run. I thing I just happened upon a site that had the old, non updated product.

    I apologize if any typos or grammatical inaccuracies can be found in this post. It was made on my phone and auto-correct can be very agitating.

    • Joe says

      Tampaanonymous, it sounds like you are doing your best to cover all your bases and I like the idea of checking for HCG with a pregnancy test. I’m not sure how much HCG is in a shot but I assume your doctor can tell you this. The pregnancy test might tell you if there is HCG, but I don’t think it can tell you how much HCG is in the drops. Either way, I’ll be interested in learning about your progress. I do hope it works.

  25. Tampaanonymous says

    I apologize I need to clarify further about the drops after reading that back to myself.

    Since the fda ban, no drops contain hcg. And beforehand there were two types of the drops. Homeopathic and I cannot recall the exact name of the other but it was generally prescribed or imported. The ones doctor oz mentions is the drops that you speak of. That have been diluted over and over to the point the have no hcg in them.

    The drops I ordered are the old product you used to import or have prescribed however did contain hcg comparable to the injections. The kind Dr oz is talking about is a different product. And is generally the only kind now available. However the kind containing hcg is still available through import, or from non regulated companies in the US. Or private sellers. To be honest this is information I cannot prove until I do the tests myself on this product when it arrives. I will update you with more information when I have some to give.

    Right now the only true information I trust is what I will be obtaining myself.

    • Joe says

      Tampaanonymous, because of the problems about importing supplements from other countries I can only cross my fingers that it really does have what they say it has.

  26. kathy says

    Why does no one who has done the HCG diet speak of a typical days intake of food? Exactly what did you eat to only consume 500 calories?

    • Kay says

      I’m off the diet because after a month, it was just causing problems but a typical day looked like this: breakfast: baked apple with Stevie and cinnamon. Lunch: 4 ounces of chicken (or some other meat) with 4 ounces of cucumbers or homemade salsa or something. Dinner: the same only a different variation.

      You are allowed two ‘grains’ (i.e. Grissini breadstick or melba toast round) and one more fruit (apple, orange or strawberries). What really got me is that I was only eating about 500 calories a day. When somebody stalls, they tell them to avoid oranges, tomatoes and the grains so that cuts down even further what you can eat.

      Honestly, I don’t even believe the drops are hCG after everything I’ve been hearing. The hCG drop Ingredients list has ‘proprietary blend 120ml’ listed. What is that?

        • Kay says

          I have no idea. I’d love to know though. I did find this comment online:

          “I used to use Omnitrition – even went to the national convention in Sacramento years ago. It was there, I vowed never to use it again. At that time they had an ephedrine derivative in the tea and the president of Omni said not to tell anyone. When asked about heart patients possibly dying if they try it, the President said, if you mention that heart patients shouldn’t use it, then people will be scared to buy it. Just don’t say anything and let the heart patients take their chances – it probably won’t hurt them to take one dose.
          He put profit above people – pure and simple. Until then, I loved the product, but when I found out it had an ephedrine derivative I was shocked. We had continually been told there was no ephedrine in it and at the convention he said it wasn’t a lie – it was a derivative, which is not the same thing, but if people found out they wouldn’t want the product.
          Simply put – I will always go to a company that puts people’s health above profit.
          People lose weight with Omni – but at what cost?”

          and so I wonder just what they are hiding in their drops? You think there is any way to get these drops tested?

  27. Kay says

    Found your page through Bill Sukala’s page. Just recently quit the hCG diet (Omnitrition’s version) due to the side effects. Thanks to you and others, I decided to share my story: squidoo.com/unsafe_hcg_diet

    Weight started creeping back up once I quit so I am actually doing the hCG diet sans the hCG now! Because I had a very difficult time with the diet though, I decided to use a bit of common sense. I’ve read that you can actually double the calories and still have the same loss. Well, I decided to stick to about 1200 to 1300 calories this time.

    I still have the basic food list but, again tweaking it a bit, I’ve found pages where people have posted cheat foods that still work for the hCG diet. Okay, added those in. Did the two-day loading just like the hCG diet and am on day three of my “Phase 2″. Again, no hormones but, so far results are impressive.

    I’ve lost the same amount in three days that I lost the first three days of the hCG diet. I’ll be sharing my results on that page I posted if this continues to work. I really truly believe the hCG thing is a scam now. It wasn’t worth what it was doing to my health. Thank you so much for your page!

  28. kat says

    i’m starting the HCG diet shortly. i have a thyroid problem and i know what it feels like to feel like crap constantly. i have allergies as well from eating the horrid food we have here. I’m tired of what food is available in northern America and how everything is processed. i would love to live in Europe where quality is much higher. however, i am willing to try anything at this point for nothing could make me feel any worse.

    I’ve done my research and EVEN if the drops don’t actually contain HCG, it boils down to psychology. I’m using the drops to break my bad habits and finally ween me off wheat forever. i will be using the wheat belly cookbook after the diet to maintain. whether or not the drops work, i shall see for myself. you cannot trust “dr oz” or even the FDA. they are all about money, politics and what benefits their stakeholders. there are severe ethical issues with the FDA as they approve proven dangerous drugs on numerous occasions.

    Dr oz also has proven endorsements from companies and the FDA itself. what does that tell you? he will say whatever he is paid to say. there may some truth in what he says but it can also be deceptive marketing, for the majority of people will believe whatever anyone tells them. i prefer criticial thinking over following a mass group of sheep.

    so what now? i think since everyone has the right and will to choose as they please, it should be up to the individual to try it out and see what comes of it. of course, if you have a serious disease or long term illness you need to consult healthcare professionals – and not just one, get many opinions, even those from natural health care providers.

    When i use to eat clean and not a whole lot of calories, combined with yoga (yogis adapt this diet as well and lifestyle), i felt AMAZING. sure, i had side effects like headaches and stomach ache sometimes from not eating huge intake of calories (which is what i was use to). but, all my test results and physical came back better then ever. other benefits: contentment, spirital enlightenment, weight loss, flexibility, regular bathroom trips, regular periods, glowing skin and no gas/bloating/stomach problems. since then, i obviously got addicted back into our unhealthy society of crappy food and have suffered the consequences LONG ENOUGH. if i could feel like that again, minus the headache and occasional stomach ache, i would pay anything for it.

    the real research comes from actual individual experience. case studies and so forth, based purely on science can be biased and misleading. everyone will react differently. a lot of it also has to do with psychology – if you are not in the right state of mind, you will not be successful. in fact you can start making up side effects and prevent yourself from losing. therefore, talk to as many people as you can who have done the hcg diet and get real life reviews. not those from companies, case studies, the television, etc.

    IE – dr oz say’s it’s bad. but marie claire magazine featured a real review of one of their editors who tried it and LOVED it. so, what do you pick? exactly. rely only on yourself.

    • Joe says

      Kat, I use published peer reviewed research as my litmus test for supplements because it is the best tool I have to analyze supplements and their claims. is it perfect no but its better than other things out there. Yes no study is perfect but if enough of them is done – and are well conducted – we can at the least see trends. The trend when it comes to HCG diet is that its the starvation that causes wt loss not the HCG. that said I am intrigued by the testimonials and so that’s why I call on some scientist to do a newer, better study to see whats going on. This would be a hard study to do but, it could be done by weight loss clinics that have hospital resources. I dont know when that study will occur but I hope somebody does it.

      For what its worth I do hope it works for you.

      • kat says

        i understand your opinion and reasoning and by no means am I trying to say you are completely wrong without being open minded and up for good debate. however, i read through the comments and noticed many comments claiming they have experimented with HCG free and HCG diets with the SAME diet, same calories and have seen TWO DIFFERENT results.

        the first one from the starvation diet without HCG – headaches, weight loss would stop after a week or two (slow metabolism), stomach aches, general feeling of crap. with hcg – no headaches, no side effects, rapid weight loss.

        IF hcg has NOTHING to do with it, and the diet ONLY works because it’s starvation then why would there be a vast amount of different results when both are put to the test? it makes little sense.

        if in fact, hcg is being injected and it’s the accurate, real hormone, then yes, it MUST in fact have SOME effect on the human body. perhaps the homeopathic version is only psychological, but even then, there is an effect that is taking place that allows for this kind of behavior. the body adapts and responds to what it’s given.

        if the experiment is done by several hundred people with the same result, how does hcg NOT work?

        • Joe says

          kat, there is a part of me who feels maybe the HCG is acting as a kind of crutch, something people can have faith in while they are dieting with 500 calories per day. I know there are those who don’t want to hear that and it’s just one mans opinion, but I am basing this on what I have seen as far as the research is concerned. That said, I am VERY open minded as to new research on the HCG diet being conducted.

          Considering the popularity that HCG diet has garnered, I am very disappointed in the scientific community for not doing any new research. For me, its not enough to see doctors on TV talking about how it doesn’t work – because all they are doing is basing their statements on the same research I looked it. They need to take the time needed – maybe 4-8 weeks – to test HCG + diet vs diet only in group of at least 50 people. This is not a hard study to do.

          Until I see this type of research done, I’ll remain open minded on the issue.

  29. Max says

    Great article…both this one and the homeopathic one. Thanks for doing all this research for me! And you don’t even know me! I don’t expect “facts”, I’ll settle for information, and you supplied that.
    Thanks again.

      • Wendy says

        Hey Joe, Excellent information here!!
        I came across this product called Assist, that is supposedly based on similar principle, but is not hCG, but a homeopathic equivalent of the same..it has the resonant vibration of hCG, and mimics its effects in the body, ie helps with increasing metabolim, shedding fat, etc…but does not actually contain the hCG molecule itself. Have you heard of it? What is your take on it??

        • Joe says

          Hi Wendy, glad you found me! I have not heard of “Assist” but I would need some research on it before I could give it some believability. Do they have any evidence that Assist raises HCG levels in humans? Id also be curious how they determined its “resonant vibration.” My instincts say its no different than other homeopathic HCG products but I’m always willing to look at any research they have.

  30. Nancy Van says

    My sister’s vet told her that HCG causes Cancer. I haven’t come upon any info that supports that theory. Has anyone??

    • Joe says

      Nancy, Ive heard this also but am not aware of any human proof. That said I do not believe the HCG drops cause cancer because I dont believe they contain any HCG.

      • Anonymous says

        @Joe. Thanks for your quick response. My doc recommended that I begin the HCG Boost Program (shots not drops) I have a consult with the nutritionist in his office every week. I am on a 1200 cal with supplement shakes and other vitamins. High Bp and diabetic and am very carefully monitoring vitals and weight between visits

  31. Sean says

    Joe
    I have just finished the hcg diet and for the first time in 17 years (since my complete hysterectomy) I am at a normal BMI. I am a RN and have a good grasp on what I need to be doing to lose weight. Prior to the hcg I was working out 3x a week for 2 hours and eating a low carb diet with no results other than a bit of toning.

    The low carb diet works well for my hypoglycemia, but produces very little weight loss. I did have a small amount of hunger at times while on the diet, but not much. I also never got the shakes from my blood sugar crashing. I was followed by a physician during this process, and had bloodwork done to test my thyroid, as well as my hormone levels. They also checked the basics; a CBC and BMP and did a complete health check up prior to the diet. I lost 42# in 40 days. I look and feel awesome! Of interest, my midsection which seemed to appear after menopause, was where I lost the weight first!

    My waist is back and I am thrilled! I still work out and continue to follow a healthy diet, and am not gaining the weight back.

  32. Keri says

    I have done the hcg diet and had much success. I was not on a 550 calorie diet but rather a 750 calorie diet along with some exercise. (that being walking, yoga and a bit of interval training. No weights) I barely lost any muscle which I would have definitely lost without the hcg and just doing such a low calorie diet. You should check out some of Colin F. Waton’s information. His entire family has done the protocol and he is an hcg body coach.

    hcgbodyforlife.com I lost 20 lbs in the 26 day protocol (158 lbs to 138 lbs) and I am a 5’6″, 32 year old woman. I believe it works if you can keep with it. Also, if I ate only 500 calories a day I would be famished. The hcg really does help to keep you feeling not hungry. Just my opinion as I know everyone is entitled to theirs.

    • Joe says

      Keri, I didnt see where the HCG study was published. was it a published study? It looks like she is advocating HCG injections rather than HCG drops yes?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] HCG Diet An Evidence Based Review. Rather than go on the diet himself, Joe Cannon of Supplement-Geek.com decided to review nearly 50 years’ worth of scientific studies, providing a synopsis of six individual studies and two meta-analyses. The individual studies included anywhere from 20 to 202 patients each. One meta-analysis compiled and analyzed data from 358 patients between six individual studies, while another meta-analysis reviews an unreported number of patients between 24 studies. Only one of the individual studies concluded that dieting with hCG performed better than dieting with a placebo. Homeopathic hCG drops are handled in a separate research based review with even more negative conclusions—again, not a first person account, but well-vetted third party data. Not everyone wants to read negative reviews of the hCG diet, but everyone can benefit from multiple perspectives. Comments Off [...]

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