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What is the HCG Diet & Does It Work for Weight Loss?

The hormone-based weight loss diet has become a new thing in the modern fitness community. Here's everything you need to know about this diet before trying it out.

Daniel Murphy
What is the HCG Diet & Does It Work for Weight Loss?
Table Of Contents

To lose extra weight and stubborn body fat, the use of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) in conjunction with a calorie-deficit diet has become a new thing in the modern fitness community.

The enthusiasts of this method assert that it results in rapid weight loss of up to 0.5–1 kilogram (1–2 pounds) per day. In addition, you shouldn't experience feelings of hunger while going through the process.

But, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. Regarding losing weight, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disapproves of HCG supplements as a safe option. Officials stated, "HCG is not approved without a prescription and is not approved for weight loss," in July 2020.

This article will take a look at this mind-boggling diet and examine why some people swear by it.

What is HCG?

Human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as HCG, is a protein-based hormone that helps an egg develop normally in a woman's ovary and stimulates the egg to be released during ovulation.

Ovulation can be induced with HCG, which is also used to treat female infertility and boost the number of sperm produced in males. In young boys whose testicles have not yet descended into the scrotum in the normal manner, HCG may also be administered.

TL;DR - It helps in fertility and gonads development during puberty in both males and females.

The Rules of the HCG Diet

The hCG diet is an extremely low-fat and extremely low-calorie eating plan.

In most cases, it can be broken down into three stages:

  • Loading phase. Start taking hCG and eat many foods high in fat and calories for the next two days.
  • Weight loss phase. Keep taking the hCG and limit your daily caloric intake to 500 for the next three to six weeks.
  • Maintenance phase. Stop taking hCG. Your food intake should gradually increase, but sugar and starch should be avoided for the next three weeks.

People who want to lose a moderate amount of weight might stay in the middle phase for three weeks, but those who want to lose a significant amount of weight might be advised to stay on a diet for six weeks and perhaps even repeat the entire cycle of phases more than once.

During the diet phase, where you are trying to lose weight, you are only allowed to consume two meals per day, typically lunch and dinner.

HCG With Regards to Weight Loss

Taking HCG in any form has not been shown to cause weight loss. Methods used with HCG, such as a very low-calorie diet, may lead to weight loss.

The prescriptions of HCG are not what actually causes weight loss; rather, it is the diet that goes along with them as an "aid" to weight loss.

HCG has received a lot of attention in the media in recent times. Advertisements for the product state that it "targets the fat" and "reduces cravings."

However, HCG providers also recommend a diet of only 500 calories per day. A very low-calorie diet, defined as consuming less than 800 calories per day, would result in significant weight loss.

However, there are risks associated with a very low-calorie diet, and it is recommended as a standard of medical care that patients be monitored by a medical professional.

People who take HCG say they don't feel hungry, but why is that?

There is no evidence that HCG lowers your appetite. The reduction in hunger praised in HCG advertisements is most likely attributable to the diet, which emphasizes higher protein intake and/or restricts carbohydrate intake, resulting in ketosis. These dietary regimens are associated with a reduction in the sensation of hunger.

TL;DR - It is not the HCG hormone itself that suppresses hunger but rather the diet that is prescribed in conjunction with it.

Methods of Taking HCG

Drops of HCG are the most common form of administration, but injections and pills are also possible choices. Only one of these approaches to taking HCG is actually effective, and even then, the benefits are dubious, and the side effects are dangerous.

HCG Drops

HCG is available in sublingual (under the tongue) drops. The maximum molecular weight that can be absorbed orally is around 1500 daltons, so there is a threshold at which molecules stop being absorbed (a measure for molecular weight). Compared to insulin, which has a molecular weight of 6,000 daltons, HCG is roughly six times larger, with a molecular weight of 36,000.

Why are we discussing insulin? Insulin must be injected; it cannot be consumed orally. Similarly, because of its enormous molecular weight, HCG cannot be absorbed through the digestive tract as insulin can.

Assuming that drop formulations of HCG actually contained the hormone, the protein molecule would be metabolized in the stomach into inactive peptides and amino acids, just like the chicken in your dinner.

HCG Injections

An "off-label" use of HCG injections by a medical professional is possible. Unfortunately, there are consequences to this action. It is possible that this medication could cause multiple pregnancies. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) has been reported in some women taking this medication, especially after the first treatment cycle. If you have a family history of breast, ovarian, uterine, prostate, hypothalamic, or pituitary gland tumors, you should NOT take this medication.

Homeopathic HCG

The term "homeopathic" appears on the packaging of the vast majority of hCG products currently on sale. Homeopathy often calls for using extremely diluted versions of originally potent substances.

The theory behind homeopathy is that substances that cause similar symptoms in healthy people can be used to treat disease. Due to their high molecular weight, all drop forms of HCG have no pharmacological effect. In addition, the hormone's action is dependent on the particular molecular shape and structure.

Homeopathic, over-the-counter remedies do not contain any active hCG. Patients undergoing hormone therapy or infertility treatment are typically injected with authentic hCG. Only with a doctor's prescription can you get your hands on it.

Only injections can increase hCG levels in the blood; over-the-counter or online homeopathic remedies have no effect.

Are HCG products legal?

Sales of HCG-containing over-the-counter medications are prohibited in the USA. Homeopathic HCG products are also subject to this ban.

Seven firms marketing products claiming to contain the hormone had received warning letters from the FDA by May 2016. These businesses had broken the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

When administered by a medical professional, the HCG hormone is considered entirely legitimate. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed HCG to treat male and female infertility.

It's possible that doctors could prescribe HCG for unapproved weight loss purposes. There isn't any proof that it works, and it could potentially cause several unwanted side effects.

Risks and Side effects

Taking HCG does not appear to help with weight loss, and doing so could have negative effects. According to the findings of some studies, the following are some of the reported side effects of HCG:

  • Depression
  • Edema, also known as a buildup of fluid in the tissues of the body
  • Lack of energy and feelings of fatigue
  • Gynecomastia is medical terminology for male breast enlargement.
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Thromboembolism, also known as blood clots

Taking HCG can also affect the results of pregnancy tests, which determine whether or not a person is pregnant by analyzing the amount of HCG present in their urine. If medical professionals are unaware of the individual's HCG diet, the individual may be exposed to an additional risk. Extreme calorie restriction has been linked to several negative health effects, including the following:

  • Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals
  • Increased likelihood of developing gallstones
  • Muscle loss
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • A pulse that is not regular.
  • People with heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes have an increased risk of complications.

Some research suggests that following a low-calorie diet may negatively affect a person's mental and physical health in the long run, even though it may promote weight loss in the short term. When someone stops following the diet, there is a good chance that they will gain back the weight they lost.

Those following the HCG diet or taking HCG supplements and experiencing side effects should see their primary care physician as soon as possible.

Additionally, the FDA advises that people only follow a low-calorie diet while under the care of a qualified medical professional.


1. What have the studies on HCG revealed?

The use of HCG to treat obesity is ineffective, according to a meta-analysis of eight randomized controlled trials and sixteen additional studies. The lack of weight loss or fat redistribution, the inability to curb appetite, and the absence of a general sense of well-being led researchers to conclude that HCG is not an effective obesity treatment.

2. Has the FTC taken action?

The FTC warned the Simeon Management Corporation, Simeon Weight Clinics Foundation, Bariatrics Management Corporation, C.M. Norcal, Inc., and the HCG Weight Clinics Foundation and their officers in 1976 about making false claims about the safety, efficacy, and/or FDA approval of their HCG-based weight-control programs.

The clinics were allowed to continue using HCG, but the order mandated that patients who agreed to pay for the treatment be informed in writing that:

  • The Food and Drug Administration has not approved HCG as a safe and effective treatment for obesity or weight control.
  • There is insufficient evidence to support the claims that HCG causes a more appealing or "normal" distribution of fat, increases weight loss beyond that brought on by caloric restriction or lessens the discomfort and hunger brought on by calorie-restricted diets.

3. Should you try the hCG diet?

No, you should not follow an hCG diet. The hCG diet is not a healthy or sustainable way to lose weight and can be downright dangerous. The hCG hormone is not FDA-approved for weight loss, and no scientific evidence supports the claim that it causes your body to burn fat or promote weight loss.

The hCG hormone can actually cause serious health problems, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can be fatal. So, if you're looking to lose weight, it's best to steer clear of the hCG diet and try a more sustainable and healthy approach.

4. What are some alternative diets to hCG diets?

Some alternative diets to hCG diets are the Atkins diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the Paleo diet. The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that can help you lose weight. The Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy and includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. The Paleo diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that has been shown to help people lose weight.

These diets pose some good benefits without being harmful and injecting chemicals into our bodies.

Take Away

The HCG diet has gained popularity due to its claims to cause fast and significant weight loss. However, the risks associated with its extreme calorie restriction and unregulated supplements mean it is not worth trying. A healthier, more long-term option is a weight loss plan that is both reasonable and well-rounded.

Remember that you may not need to go on a diet and that many popular diets are ineffective in the long run. We do not recommend any particular diet or weight loss program but present the information necessary to make an educated decision based on your unique nutritional requirements, genetic makeup, financial situation, and desired outcomes.

There are many ways to pursue health, and that weight loss is one of many ways to get there if that's your goal. How you live — with respect to exercise, sleep, and everything else — also significantly impacts your health. A healthy diet is well-rounded and easy to maintain.

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Tariq, S. (2016, January 7). Successful fertility treatment with gonadotrophin therapy for male hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism. NCBI. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from
  • Parikh, H., Thomas, L., English, R., Raguckas, C., & Shi, Q. (2015). Acute multiple deep venous thrombosis (Dvts) as a probable adverse event of the use of human chorionic gonadotropin (Hcg) for weight loss. Blood, 126(23), 4725–4725.
  • Centre (UK), N. C. G. (2014). Very-low-calorie diets. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
  • Lijesen, G., Theeuwen, I., Assendelft, W., & Wal, G. (1995). The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (Hcg) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: A criteria‐based meta‐analysis. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 40(3), 237–243.

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Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy is a fitness enthusiast who has been exploring the fitness world for many years and is combining his passion for writing to create well-researched, engaging, and unique content

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