One new diet trend that’s gaining popularity all over the world is the hCG diet, where you take hCG as shots, hormone or homeopathic pills, paired with a restricted diet of 500-800kcal per day for around 8 weeks. hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone that’s produced by the placenta of pregnant women to keep the fetus healthy.
In the medical field, it has been used to treat fertility for years. In 1954 scientists then tried in a study to use this hormone for weight loss as it is supposed to suppress hunger, trigger fat burn and create a general sense of well-being. Advocates claim that the restricted diet of approximately 500kcal a day leads to weight loss, while the hCG regulates how you lose weight. Compared to regular diets where you lose your muscle and therefore the metabolic rate lowers, the hCG diet is said to burn fat while helping you to maintain muscle.
Is it effective?
Since the first study in 1954, many studies have been conducted to answer this question. Most controlled and double blind studies could not prove weight loss or fat-redistribution according to various meta-studies. Neither could they reduce hunger or increase well-being. Positive results in studies could only be found in uncontrolled studies (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2125.1995.tb05779.x/abstract and http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/3609673)
So you might be losing weight as with every diet, but it might not be as sustainable as you would want it to be.
Is it safe?
hCG is FDA approved for fertility treatment and may be prescribed by medical personnel. The over-the-counter homeopathic hCG globuli is not FDA approved.
When it comes to the restricted diet of 500-800kcal per day, the big problem that I see here is providing the body with its nutritional needs. We usually need between 1200-1500 kcal per day in order to supply our bodies with the nutrients that it needs to function properly, without taking supplements.
My personal view
The restriction imposed by the diet for such a long period is not something I would recommend – I am a fan of nourishing our bodies so that each cell has the nutrients it needs. Also, one should delve deeper into the problem - why did you gain weight in the first place? Getting to the root of the problem is very important and will help you on your weight-loss journey; more so than any trendy diet.
I personally will not try the hCG diet as I am against messing around with the natural processes in my body if I don’t have to. Why should I take a hormone that my body only needs when I am pregnant just to lose weight? There are other and better alternatives. If someone wants to try the hCG diet, I would suggest the homeopathic version instead as it seems the safer option - even though, as mentioned before, it is not FDA approved.
Whatever it is you decide to do, always remember to consult a doctor before you embark on any diet. While shedding those pounds if you’re overweight will improve your health, how you do it is equally important.