Beware hCG Diets: Unproven and Dangerous

If you have been keeping up with the fad diet scene in the past year, you no doubt have heard of the hCG Diet.  This diet uses a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which is created in the placenta during pregnancy.  Physicians have been using hCG on women with fertility issues for years with great success.  More recently, naturopathic doctors have been touting hCG as a “miracle” weight loss product that will burn fat and decrease appetite, often to the tune of $1,000 for six weeks of treatment.  The hormone is used along with a diet of only 500 calories per day.

A recent report by the FDA however, identified hCG weight loss pills, solutions and injections to be fraudulent with no sound scientific evidence that the hormone itself is causing the weight loss.  It is much more likely that the very low calorie intake is the reason for weight loss.  Eating only 500 calories a day does not provide enough nutrients to stay healthy, even if followed for a short amount of time.  People who follow the hCG diet run a risk of electrolyte imbalances and a decrease in muscle mass (not the kind of weight you want to lose!).  The American Society of Bariatric Physicians (i.e. the people you can trust for reliable weight loss information) has issued a statement saying that the hCG diet should not be used due to lack of evidence that it works and the associated risks.

So, yet another fad diet bites the dust, further proving that the best way to achieve healthy, sustainable weight loss is by eating well, moving more and making small positive changes to your life.  This kind of weight loss takes time, but what you gain is a lifetime of good health.

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