The hCG diet involves extreme calorie restriction (around 500 calories a day) and a daily injection of 125mg of the hCG hormone. Other programs promote taking the hormone orally in the form of liquid drops. Proponents of the diet claim that hCG prevents the body from breaking down muscle for energy and instead begins to burn fat reserves. The hCG Diet typically lasts for three weeks and is monitored by a health professional.
How does the hCG Diet work?
hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the cells that form the placenta. Its function is to make stored fat cells available for the developing fetus. In the 1950s, a doctor discovered that when given to both men and women in a controlled clinical setting, hCG reduced appetite and promoted weight loss.
Each round of treatment lasts a minimum of 26 days, and 23 of those days require multiple daily doses of hCG, either through injections or under-the-tongue drops. Treatment may last as long as 43 days (with 40 injections), unless a patient loses 34 to 40 pounds (15 to 18 kilograms) before the allotted time has passed. Patients don’t receive hCG injections for the last three days of any treatment period so the hormone can cycle completely out of their bodies before they resume a normal diet.
HCG drops cost less than injections which should only be administered by a qualified physician. HCG injections can cost as much as $600 or more for a 5 week program. On the other hand, a 30-day supply of hCG drops usually comes as part of a package that also includes member-only website access and support tools and costs between $120 and $150.
Suppliers of hCG weight loss program are numerous. Dieters should take care to select a reputable distributor.
*Pricing reflects available cost details as of January 2012.
Pros and Cons
- Reputable programs require supervision by a qualified medical professional
- Alcohol is forbidden when following the protocol
- Does not require the purchase of special food or supplies
- Calorie restriction is far below what is deemed safe by health and medical professionals
- Serious side effects include headaches, risk of blood clots, restlessness, and depression
- Exercise is discouraged on the hCG diet
The most distinguishing characteristic of the hCG diet is the rate of weight loss it promises. Combined with a very low-calorie diet, dieters following an hCG protocol may lose up to 1 to 2 pounds a day.