Mar 03, 2011
Over a year ago, I posted a blog arguing against the use of Human Growth Hormone as a weight loss supplement. But little did I know that when many people read “HGH,” they instead think “HCG.” Who knew? But as a result of this visual similarity, I’ve found that a good number of the posted comments were written in defense of this “miracle” diet, which combines supplementation with a hormone first detected in the urine of pregnant women (yep) and...a daily 500 calorie restriction. So I thought it was a good idea to readdress the issue, with a renewed focus on HCG this time. Drum roll please...
I think the HCG Diet is a bad idea for at least three reasons.
1) Supplementation with HCG has not been proven to be effective as compared to placebo. Multiple double-blind placebo controlled studies have not demonstrated a beneficial effect. Not much else to say about this. It just doesn’t work. Please note - I am not talking about the prolonged and severe calorie restriction that accompanies it. That works just fine. It just isn’t healthy. See #2.
2) This diet requires prolonged and severe calorie restriction. While some forms of the diet might be so liberal as to allow 700 calories, the most common recommendations hover in the 500 calorie range. That’s a bagel with cream cheese - for an entire day. Sure, you will lose weight, but ultimately isn’t the goal is to get healthier? Balanced nutrition, fewer trans fats, less processed food, and smaller portions will help accomplish that, with more than the double the daily calorie intake. Extreme calorie restriction also raises the likelihood of nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances, which can impact heart health in particular.
3. It’s not sustainable. Severe calorie restriction or any significantly lopsided approach never works in the longer term. People claim success during the first few weeks, or even months, but you don’t see as many ardent supporters five years later. We know all too well how difficult it can be for most of us to lose weight and keep it off. But if you want to give yourself a fighting chance of maintaining your success down the line, you will have a much better shot if you start with a more balanced approach that lets you enjoy good food, family celebrations, and the twists and turns that life inevitably takes - without making false promises.
But because of a combination of viral marketing, a small but vocal group of supporters, and blog posts like this that stir the pot, there will continue to be publicity around the HCG Diet until the next miracle comes into fashion. You don’t see too many people extolling the virtues of hoodia or acai berry anymore, do you?
Hmmm...just you wait.