Today we journey to the dark side of the fitness universe to look at The HCG Diet.
This is a new weight loss craze sweeping social media and, as usual, it promises quick and easy results for minimal effort.
So is it really as effective as it claims to be? Or is this another bulls**t diet you should avoid like a Herbalife rep?
One quick search on Google yields dozens of ‘reviews’ that are actually sales pitches, so I decided to put together this in-depth breakdown of what you can expect from the HCG diet if you
get sucked in give it a try.
Ready? Let’s go!
WHAT THE ACTUAL F**K IS THE HCG DIET?
Because today we have to take things to a whole new level. You see, this is one of the most dangerous and unhealthy weight loss diets I’ve EVER seen.
So how does it
take your money work?
Well, the HCG diet involves eating just 500 calories per day and having injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is a pregnancy hormone. The injections of HCG will supposedly lower hunger pangs, allowing you to see rapid weight loss success WITHOUT any of the drawbacks typically associated with a very low calorie diet. You know, like snappiness, cravings, wanting to headbutt everybody in sight, etc.
I’ll show you if this is TRUE in a moment, because check this next part out…
While on the HCG diet you are not allowed to eat any carbohydrates at all. If you slip off track with this you’ll be encouraged to make up for your mistake by eating just six apples the following day as a punishment.
Yes, you read that correctly.
And that’s the HCG diet in a nutshell – a nutshell you’re definitely not allowed to eat.
Now let’s science the s**t out of it.
WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID THE HCG DIET
If anyone experiences weight loss using this diet, it’s because they’re only eating 500 calories per day.
That’s it. (8)
Because contrary to what the fake doctors in the adverts claim, there is ABSOLUTELY ZERO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to support claims that HCG improves weight loss.
In fact, there’s actually a boat-load of evidence to show it DOESN’T HELP.
A thorough meta-analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal back in 1983 confirmed beyond all doubt that HCG is of absolutely no value to the management of obesity. (1)
They also showed it has no effect on fat mobilization, appetite suppression, or better distribution of fat. Worse still, side effects of HCG include headaches, irritability, fatigue, depression and pain at the injection site.
And that, my friends, is game over.
But if you needed any more evidence to fight back against the nutcase at work who’s trying to convince you to do this diet (there’s always one), then I’ll continue…
In 1995, a huge meta-analysis on this subject was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. (2)
A meta-analysis looks at the entire body of research surrounding a particular topic (in this case, it was HCG and weight loss). They confirmed that there is no evidence HCG is effective for weight loss, nor does it reduce hunger, nor does it create a feeling of general well-being.
Sadly, that doesn’t stop people from trying it.
The internet is awash with stories from previous HCG diet users who suffered a severe lack of energy due to the very low calories they were told to eat and ultimately piled any weight loss straight back on when they were unable to persist any longer. The saddest example of this is a previously fit soccer referee who got so ill she could no longer perform her job.
In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission took down several companies for making false claims about the supposed weight loss benefits of the HCG diet. You can read the report here if you like. It is now illegal to sell HCG for weight loss purposes due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting it’s validity.
BREAKING DOWN THE BULLS**T ONE BY ONE
With such compelling evidence that it does NOTHING for weight loss, why is the HCG diet so popular?
Well, take a look at the advertisement above.
This is a typical ad for the HCG diet which you can find anywhere on Google and/or social media.
If somebody has struggled with nutrition in the past, I can 100% understand why they’d give that a try. After all, it sounds so EASY!
The problem is it’s absolute boll**ks.
The sellers make a number of fraudulent claims in this advert, let’s take a look at them now.
“Lose 1-2 lbs PER DAY and keep it off!”… At that speed, you’d be DEAD in three months.
“Proven to increase energy levels!”… Just don’t ask to see the proof, because it doesn’t exist.
“HGC converts fat into nutrients without loss of muscle tissue!”… That’s not how ANY of this works.
“Safe for men AND women!”… It’s only safe because it has zero effect!
“No exercise needed!”… Thank f**k, because you won’t have the energy on only 500 calories per day!
“Natural weight loss!”… All weight loss is natural. Something not being steroids doesn’t automatically qualify as a plus point.
But perhaps the worst part about this ad is that they’ve even used a stock photo of a model in a doctor’s outfit to make it look official. F**k these motherf**kers. I hope their next poo is a hedgehog.
RUSS’ FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE HCG DIET
Don’t even entertain this bulls**t.
The HCG diet is an unproven, unsafe weight loss plan which causes more problems than it solves.
The internet is choc-full of quick fix diets like this and they’re not worth your time or your dime. I sincerely hope this comprehensive review prevents you, or any of your friends, from getting sucked into this one.
If they do, however, then that’s exactly what the ‘Snooze all from Karen for 30 days’ button was invented for.
Who Is Russ Howe PTI?
Russ has been a personal trainer in the UK since 2002, and provided both training advice and full programs on this website since 2011.
His work has been featured in Men’s Fitness magazine, and the content on this website led to him being voted one of the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost.
Russ’ days are spent coaching men and women in the legendary Powerhouse Gym, and creating new content for the 109,246 followers of his popular free weekly e-mail, which you can join below!
- 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)
- Howell, S., et al. “Calories in, calories out” and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2017)