Today we go back to the dark side of the fitness industry to look at the latest weight loss craze sweeping social media – the HCG diet.
The diet promises quick and easy results for minimal effort, and website member Sherrie wrote in to ask about it.
Check out her message below.
A friend has started doing the HCG diet and wants me to start it. I’ve taken a look online and was pretty shocked by what I saw, to be honest, it doesn’t look very safe at all!
Could you do one of your reviews on it so I can show my friend?”– Sherrie, UK
I sure can.
However, don’t hold out too much hope for ‘saving’ your pal, Sherrie.
Once these things have gotten their claws into someone, it’s very hard to convince them to see sense. I recommend simply presenting the facts and letting them come to their own conclusions.
So today I’m going to take a look at the HCG diet and break it all down for you. If it’s truly as good as it claims to be, then that’s precisely what I will report to you.
On the other hand, if it’s a complete s**t show of f**king s**t, I’ll
tear it to shreds objectively present evidence which proves so.
Welcome To The Dark Side
The internet is the ultimate coin flip.
One one hand, it gives you instant access to the world’s best coaches and decades of scientifically valid research. What a power tool this could be.
But on the other hand, it provides a platform to all the crazies you’d usually ignore in the street.
Like Janice, who one day decides to start selling Herbalife supplements and suddenly becomes a nutritionist to her Facebook friends, thanks to the magic of the internet which allows us to bypass dull things like, you know, qualifications.
Or Cindy, who uploaded a picture of her bottom and then became a ‘coach’ thanks to the power of the Instagram bio.
Yes, every trip to the dark side of the fitness world is eventful.
And today we’re looking at something particularly weird; the HCG diet.
Before I begin, I’d just like to say the HCG diet is great for losing weight. You should definitely try it! ***
(*** if you’re a douche.)
This is one of the most dangerous, unproven, unhealthy weight loss programs I’ve ever seen, and that’s quite an achievement.
While on the HCG diet, you are advised to eat just 500 calories per day and have injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is a pregnancy hormone.
The idea is that injections of HCG will lower hunger pangs and lead to rapid weight loss.
You aren’t allowed to eat any carbohydrates, and if you slip off track with your nutrition you’ll be encouraged via their
cult Facebook group to eat just six apples the following day in order to “make up for your mistake.”
(You read that correctly!)
That’s the HCG diet in a nutshell. A nutshell you’re not allowed to eat.
Let’s Science The S**t Out Of The HCG Diet
Like all crazy fad diets, the internet is awash with false claims and bogus science.
See the advert above which showcases some of the supposed benefits of the HCG diet?
Whoa there, Jimmy!
Let’s break down some of those claims and answer them with common sense.
- Natural weight loss! (Because it’s not steroids? All weight loss is natural.)
- Lose 1-2 lbs per day and keep it off! (Please join me in facepalm.)
- Safe for men and women! (Because it has zero effect.)
- No exercises needed! (Thank f**k! You won’t have the energy on 500 calories per day.)
- 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.)
Okay, now I’m suitably raging, let me break down exactly why the HCG diet (and anybody selling it) should be on the receiving end of an angry Oompa Loompa with a sawn-off shotgun.
Why The HCG Diet Is Total Bulls**t
So many holes… so little time…
First up, the hormone in question (HCG) has been shown to cause nasty side effects which include headaches, blood clots, and constipation.
Couple this with a ban on carbohydrates, and we have a recipe for a severe lack of energy!
Many people who have tried the HCG diet have reported being unable to climb the stairs in their home, after just the first couple of weeks on the program. One very sad example came from a fit soccer referee who got so ill she could no longer perform her job, before regaining weight the moment she came off the plan anyway.
Make no mistake, there is only one thing which is causing the weight loss which occurs, and it’s not HCG.
It’s the fact that you’ve been told to eat only 500 calories per day.
The law of thermodynamics (calories in versus calories out) overrules everything. (8)
Contrary to what the social media posts and fake doctors in the ads claim, there is absolutely no evidence to show HCG improves weight loss.
On the contrary, a thorough meta-analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that HCG is of absolutely no value to the management of obesity. (1)
The study also confirmed the following facts:
- HCG has no effect on fat mobilization, appetite, or reducing hunger.
- No evidence exists of HCG promoting weight loss, other than via simply calorie restriction.
- HCG does not promote better distribution of fat.
- Adverse effects of HCG can include headaches, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, depression, and pain at the injection site.
This was further confirmed when another meta-analysis was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1995.
This time, researchers were looking to pinpoint the specific links between HCG and weight loss via the entire body of research which has been collected regarding HCG.
The study confirmed the following:
- Studies claiming to show HCG is productive for weight loss were performed with unreliable methodology.
- There is no evidence that HCG is effective for 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.
That doesn’t look good in a snazzy advert. (2)
In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission took down several companies for making false claims about the supposed weight loss benefits of the HCG diet.
In their report, the FTC documented the fact that claims were inaccurately made concerning HCG being able to cause rapid, sustainable weight loss (see the advert earlier in my article for an example of this). You can read the report here if you want.
It is now illegal to sell HCG for weight loss purposes due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting it’s validity.
Also, I’d like to point out the common sense vacuum which saw some c**kwaffle in a Facebook group advise Sherrie’s pal to eat just six apples as a form of punishment for eating too many carbs the previous day.
The primary macronutrient in apples? Carbs.
The HCG Diet – Final Words
This is the type of stuff the ‘hide posts’ button on Facebook was invented for.
While I can easily explain the data showing how ineffective and downright dangerous the HCG diet is, I cannot fathom it’s popularity on social media.
Anybody trying to sell you a program based on a HCG diet is a f**king charlatan looking to make a quick buck at your expense.
If you enjoyed my review of why the HCG diet is unsafe and ineffective, consider hopping on my free email list below for more tips like this, straight outta my gym!
- 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)