A low-calorie, low-fat diet, the HCG diet is an extreme diet used to lose upwards of 2 pounds per day.
Though the FDA has called the diet incredibly dangerous, it has remained popular for a number of years and continues to be used by those who are looking to trim fat quickly. The science behind this hormone-based diet has been around for the last 60 years or so and is still often found in weight loss communities today.
Discovered Through Observation
The HCG diet was founded by Dr. A.T. W. Simeons, who practiced in England in 1954. After observing patients who lost weight after using HCG injections in combination with a low-calorie diet, he concluded that the diet was one that could be easily undertaken by many different kinds of people.
Dr. Simeons then launched into research about obesity and the effect the hormone HCG has on the appetite. This testing is what directly led to the HCG diet.
However, more recent studies done over the last two decades have revealed that the process is incredibly dangerous, and can negatively affect the body in the long term. Because of this, the HCG diet is far less popular today than it once was.
A Prescription Diet
Typically, the HCG diet is divvied up into three different parts:
- Loading, which is when you begin taking HCG and are eating high-fat, high-calorie foods for two days straight.
- Weight loss, in which you continue taking HCG but only eat 500 calories a day for between 3 and 6 weeks, depending on your weight loss goals and bodily needs.
- Maintenance, in which you gradually increase food while avoiding starch and sugar for three weeks. During this time, you also stop taking HCG.
Because of the very low-fat, low-calorie basis of this diet, it can be quite difficult to find variations or modifications to the process, especially when it comes to the taking of HCG.
However, one way you can modify the diet is in the second phase, in which you have a wide timeframe in which to eat 500 calories per day.
A Diet Deemed Unsafe By The FDA
Some of the most recent news about the HCG diet comes from a 2018 study that showed that the diet isn’t safe or effective, particularly when done with over-the-counter products.
In fact, the International Journal of Obesity has since published articles stating that the real effects of the HCG hormone may in fact be unsafe for some people in certain amounts.
Be Aware Of HCG Dosages
Something to look out for when following the HCG diet is the dosage of the hormone that you take. As noted, the FDA has said that there is no real evidence backing up the claims that the diet can sustain weight loss, and in some individuals, the use of the HCG hormone can be dangerous.
For this reason, it’s important to speak to a health care professional before starting the diet.
Tried By Celebrities
Some celebrities have said they found success with slimming down via the HCG diet. Celebs like JWoww from “Jersey Shore” and Brittany Spears were on the diet in the early 2010s and shared some of their success stories with fans. In fact, it was rumored that Britney Spears’ comeback was linked to her following the diet.
A Potentially Dangerous Diet
As with everything, moderation is key with the HCG diet. This diet is one that may have brief short-term effects but is believed to be ultimately a fad diet that is slowly losing popularity.