As obesity rates continue to climb, many people are looking for an easy way to lose weight fast. One such new diet requires daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin or HCG, which is a hormone found in pregnant women. Many physicians are unsure of the safety and efficacy of the diet, while many say it is it regulates the hypothalamus and resets metabolism - helping dieters lose up to 1 pound or more a day.
As seen on The Doctors, several doctors weigh in on the HCG Diet and whether or not it is dangerous. FDA approved for fertility, there have been no long term studies of HCG being used for weight loss. Many physicians, including Doctors cast member Dr. Lisa Masterson, are concerned that the hormone may have the potential to cause cancer while affecting several bodily systems in men and women and that the hormone should be studied long term before being prescribed as a weight loss tool.
However, physicians who are prescribing HCG for weight loss say that the diet is helping their patients effectively lose weight by suppressing their appetite. The HCG injections are also paired with a highly restrictive caloric intake of approximately 500 calories and limited exercise. According to Boca Raton HCG provider Dr. Janee Steinberg, "There is controversy about almost any diet, and the general public usually says, "Anyone on a 500 calorie diet will lose weight, but it is not safe to do this.' However, on 500 calories with HCG twice daily, patients are not hungry, not tired, do not experience headaches, and actually feel much more energetic, and healthier than they have ever felt. It is indeed difficult to totally explain everything that goes on in the human body, and everyone is so different, but so far, we have not had any treatment failures with our protocol."
Dr. Steinberg does stress the importance of seeing a trained physician and attending the weekly follow-up that allows the physician to monitor the patient's progress. "It has been very safe when supervised by a physician. It should not be purchased over the internet or in gyms or tanning salons," states Dr. Steinberg, "Certain patients are not candidates at all. Blood tests can be monitored and we find in many cases that cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose decrease to the point of decreasing or discontinuing drugs for these problems."
According to Dr. Steinberg, the hormone works by releasing fat instead of muscle, which is why patients are allowed to do only minimal exercise on this diet. Aside from the hormone, the diet is extremely restricted. "It is necessary to follow the exact diet, and specific foods are not allowed, including soda, alcohol, certain vegetables and fruits, and most carbs. It is important to drink water and the amount is calculated for each patient depending on the starting weight," says Dr. Steinberg, "For the first 2 days of taking HCG, patients are allowed to eat anything they want and any amount they want. Surprisingly enough, many patients start to lose a few pounds on the loading days."
Along with the strict 500 calorie diet, HCG may be taken in many forms but it is important that it is being prescribed by a physician. Many products available over the counter claim they contain HCG but in reality, have little to none of the hormone in it. Dr. Steinberg says, " The HCG may be taken in a dissolvable tablet, dissolvable liquid drops, or injections under the skin 2 -3 times a day." At her practice, the protocol is HCG drops twice daily for 30 days and then a 30 day break. This cycle may be repeated a couple times depending on how much weight the patient wants to lose. "In addition, we provide supplements to aid in digestion, probiotics, Vitamin D3, and weekly B12 injections combined with L-Carnitine. We see each patient once a week for weight, measurements, and advice on anything they want to know."
An ideal candidate for the HCG diet must be ready to change their eating habits and follow the diet plan stringently. Many patients who seek the HCG Diet have tried and failed previous diets and must adhere to a lifestyle change as well as taking the hormone. Recommended for patients who are looking to lose 25 pounds or more, this diet is not suitable for patients under 18 years of age. Dr. Steinberg says, "Most patients lose a pound per day and continue to maintain this weight loss on the maintenance month. They are so happy and feel so much better in so many ways."