The HCG diet is great, and you should definitely try it.*
(* if you are a douche.)
Yes, today we go back to the dark side of the fitness industry to cover the latest weight loss craze sweeping social media – the HCG diet.
More and more people are turning to things like this, which promise quick and easy weight loss results for very minimal effort.
But is it really as effective as it claims to be? And is it safe?
What does science say about the claims being made?
If you’ve Googled it, you’ll know that finding genuine science-based results is very difficult, due to the number of sales pitches which pose as ‘reviews’ before trying to sell you their 30 day starter plan. That’s exactly what website member Sherrie found, so she got in touch to ask me to write this review.
(P.S. Become a free member of my email list yourself, so you can ask future questions!)
So today I’m going to break this diet down in my trademark no-nonsense style. If the HCG diet is good, you’ll see that it’s good. If there’s bulls**t, bulls**t will be exposed for all to see.
(Spoiler alert: there is more bulls**t here than a farmer’s field.)
In my professional and unbiased HCG diet review, I’ll also cover some of the most popular searched questions, including:
- What is the HCG diet?
- What can you expect from doing it?
- Does the HCG diet work, or is it nonsense?
The HCG Diet Review
I’ll take the “ripping off a band aid” approach…
If I’m really going to sit down and do a HCG diet review, then I need to be honest with you guys (and girls) from the beginning. So here goes…
The HCG diet is one of the most dangerous, unhealthy weight loss diets I have ever come across.
If you want to get in great shape, my advice is to avoid this like the plague.
There! Honesty! Doesn’t that feel better than some lady called Joan trying to sell you a ‘detox pack’?
Glad you appreciate it.
Because the HCG diet really is awful, and the only people who will say otherwise are those who want to sell it to you.
But don’t take my word for it – let’s science the s**t out of this.
What Is The HCG Diet?
Before reading on, please make sure you’re wearing a tinfoil hat in order to protect your brain from the crazy I’m about to bring toward you.
During the HCG diet, participants are advised to eat just 500 calories per day and have injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
That’s a pregnancy hormone, and the idea is that these injections will help you with additional weight loss by lowering hunger pangs.
You are not allowed to consume any carbohydrates, and if you slip off your diet you’ll be encouraged to eat just six apples the following day in order to “make up for your mistake”.
(Yes, you read that correctly!)
That’s the HCG diet in a nutshell.
False Claims Being Made
Like all crazy fad diets, the internet is awash with false claims being made about the HCG diet.
Here’s a perfect example of an online ad:
Whoa there, Jimmy…
Let’s break down some of the claims made in this advert, and answer them with common sense:
- Natural weight loss (because it’s not steroids?)
- Lose 1-2 lbs per day and keep it off (please join me in facepalm)
- Safe for men and women (because it has no effect)
- No exercise needed (luckily you won’t have the energy anyway)
- Proven to increase energy levels (just don’t ask for that proof, because it doesn’t exist)
- HCG converts fat into nutrients without loss of muscle tissue (that’s not how any of this works)
OK. Now I’m suitably raging, let me break down exactly why the HCG diet (and anybody selling it) should be dropped into a vortex and never seen again…
Why The HCG Diet Is Total Bulls**t
So many plot holes, so little time…
First up, the hormone in question (HCG) has been shown to cause quite nasty headaches, blood clots, and constipation. Couple that with a ban on carbohydrates, and you’ve got a recipe for a severe lack of energy.
Many people who have tried this plan have reported being unable to climb the stairs in their home after just a couple of weeks. One particularly sad case came from a generally fit soccer referee, which should highlight the brutality quite nicely.
Make no mistake, there is one thing (and one thing only) that’s causing weight loss on the HCG diet – you are only eating 500 calories per day.
There is no magic system at work here.
There is no evidence to show HCG improves weight loss. None at all. On the contrary, in fact, a thorough review study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that HCG is of absolutely no value to the management of obesity. (1)
The researchers also confirmed that:
- HCG has no effect on fat mobilization, appetite, or reducing hunger.
- There is no evidence that HCG increases weight loss, beyond that of simple caloric restriction.
- There is no evidence that HCG causes a better distribution of fat.
- Adverse effects can include headaches, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, depression, and pain at the injection site.
This was further confirmed during another meta-analysis (which looks at the entire body of research pertaining to using HCG for weight loss purposes) published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, where the researchers confirmed that
- Most studies claiming to show benefits of HCG usage are conducted with very poor methodology.
- There is no evidence that HCG is effective in combating obesity.
- HCG does not create weight loss or better fat distribution.
- HCG does not reduce hunger.
- HCG does not create a feeling of well-being. (2)
But that doesn’t look good on a snazzy advert, right?
Back in 2013, the FTC took down several companies for making false claims regarding weight loss and the HCG diet.
In their report, the FTC documented the fact that claims were being incorrectly made regarding HCG causing rapid, sustainable weight loss. Read it here.It’s now actually illegal to sell HCG for weight loss purposes, due to the lack of evidence supporting it’s effectiveness.
The problem is the health and fitness industry is a billion dollar business.
So while there are undoubtedly some very good coaches out there who will go to college or university to gain the relevant qualifications and then gain experience training various men and women in the gym, it’s an industry which invariably attracts a f**ktonne of charlatans, too.
Heck, if anything, the charlatans may even outnumber the good trainers.
So instead of just common sense advice, you end up with lots of so-called “systems”, and conversations like this:
“What are you doing to try to lose weight?”
“Oh, I’m trying that Cambridge diet.”
“I’m doing the cabbage soup diet.”
“I was thinking about going on the gullible diet next.”
The underlying rule with all of these gimmicks? You guessed it! You eat barely any calories, hence weight loss occurs.
Why do these things exist?
Well, because “eat fewer calories than you need” isn’t sexy enough. We love to find complicated solutions to simple problems, and wind up going to extremes in search of an answer.
But when a diet is too low in calories (and especially if it’s restrictive with food options), it is not sustainable. (3)
As a matter of fact, this type of rigid dieting usually causes eating disorder-like symptoms in participants, which include anxiety, mood swings, disorganized eating patterns, and becoming overly concerned with body shape issues. This was well demonstrated in a 2002 study published in Appetite.
It’s also human nature to rebel against the rules, especially with diets.
Research shows that when we partake in overly restrictive eating plans (and the HCG is a perfect case study of this) we respond by looking for ways to break the rules. We find it damn near impossible to avoid treat foods, because we now associate them with both the feeling of a treat and the feeling of ‘being naughty’. This usually winds up in us eventually giving in to temptation then binge eating all of our forbidden fruits. (4)
This rebellious nature is built-in, and was perfectly demonstrated during a 2016 study where researchers from the University of Chicago found that simply telling people certain foods were healthy made them want it less. (5)
If we combine our rebellious nature, and our tendency to choose these overly-restrictive gimmicks as our method of weight loss, we have the main reason 95% of dieters have regained the weight they lost (and more) within one year of losing weight in the first place.
Further still, research clearly shows that calorie control is the most important factor in any weight loss diet. (6)
It’s not eating carbohydrates after 6 p.m. It’s not that you’re eating regular salt instead of special issue Himalayan rock salt (which was supposedly formed ten thousand years ago in a south american fat burning volcano, yet has an expiration date of 2019). It’s not even that you occasionally lick the windows of your local bakery.
It’s that you’re eating too many calories.
But as well as the insane caloric restriction of just 500 calories per day (split into two 250 calorie meals), the HCG diet places a “ban” on carbohydrates.
This is a sneaky little tactic designed to paint carbohydrates as the cause of weight gain, when research clearly shows that they are not. (7, 8)
It’s also commonly associated with fad diets because a ban on carbs will cause the participant to flush water from their muscle cells, creating the illusion of increased weight loss in the first ten days of dieting when all that’s really being lost is water.
After going over her daily allotment, website member Sherrie was advised to eat just six apples the following day in order to atone for her error.
So while I’m on the topic of carbohydrates, it seems the creators of the HCG diet have forgotten that apples consist almost entirely of “the C word” that you’re not supposed to have.
Or maybe it’s okay if it comes specifically from apples. Cuz magic.
The HCG Diet – Final Words
Stay away from this quackery, and make good use of the ‘hide’ button on Facebook for any friends who’ve been caught up in selling this nonsense.
The HCG diet is not only unsafe, it’s completely bonkers.
I cannot explain why it has gained such a cult following on social media, given the fact that no evidence exists to show it’s effectiveness for weight loss – and there’s a mountain of proof that it isn’t effective!
You wanted honest, right?
Well, you got it.
Anybody trying to sell you the benefits of the HCG diet is a f**king charlatan, looking to make a quick buck at your expense.
My advice is to get yourself one step ahead of the game. Start learning about proper nutrition. Get a handle on your workouts. My article 10 Weight Loss Tips That F**king Work is a good place to start.
Then you’ll never fall victim to stuff like this again.
If you found my HCG diet review helpful, share it on social media. If you found it helpful, others will too. Plus. you’ll look like a boss for dropping such a savage article. Join my email list below for more tips.
- Birmingham, C. L., et al. Human chorionic gonadotropin is of no value in the management of obesity. Can Med Assoc J. (1983)
- Lijesen, G. K., et al. The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis. Br J Clin Pharmacol. (1995)
- Stewart, T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. (2002)
- Ogden, J., et al. Cognitive changes to preloading in restrained and unrestrained eaters as measured by the Stroop task. Int J Eat Disord. (1993)
- Bryan, C. J., et al. Harnessing adolescent values to motivate healthier eating. PNAS. (2016)
- Howell, S., et al. “Calories in, calories out” and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2017)
- Raatz, S. K., et al. Reduced Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Diets Do Not Increase the Effects of Energy Restriction on Weight Loss and Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Men and Women. J Nut. (2005)
- Leibel, R. L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition. Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)