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Food Trends: Say Heck No to HCG

It is my opinion that the topic of nutrition is like politics.  Everyone thinks they know a lot about it, and for the most part people do know the basics, but when it comes down to the need to make individual change, there’s a lot of talk and little visible action.  This is why for the most part when strangers, friends, and even family speak of nutrition; I keep my mouth shut unless it’s worth discussing.  It is not my desire to come off as a no it all even though the amount of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and anatomy I’ve ingrained in my head far outweighs most of the general public or that my years of experience proves results with many clients.  I am mostly happy that people are interested in the subject and always very interested in what’s out there.  Still, at the end of the day 65% of the United States is still overweight with one third being OBESE. 

So it is not unusual, that I have been relatively quiet on the HCG ‘diet’ except for a couple of conversations with my dietitian colleagues and friends.  I have to say though, I’ve had enough and my usual unbiased opinion has been left at the door today.  This ‘diet’ is in the newspapers, on the news, we have a wellness center in the DC Metro area that has been featured in Groupon promoting this diet, and I just can’t be silent anymore.

I will always stand by my statement that if a diet, lifestyle plan, what have you looks like a pill, is advertised as easy or the answer, or is mega bucks, it’s a Fad diet and that my friends, is exactly what this diet is all about.  Not only is this diet a Fad diet but it is dangerous and my recommendation is to avoid it at all costs.

The diets name hCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin hormone which is made by a developing embryo after conception.  It basically helps protect and nourish the womb during pregnancy.  It is used clinically to induce ovulation in the ovaries, testosterone in the testis, and has even been suggested that some levels can be the culprit inducing morning sickness in pregnancy.  Clients either take injections or topical creams of hCG or combine it with a very low calorie diet mostly 500 calories a day, sometimes 800 calories a day.

Let’s remove the hormone from the equation and talk about the 500-800 calories. This is extremely low and will result in a constant vicious cycle of your body feeling starved for energy.  Your body will breakdown every single nutrient it can to provide the energy it needs just to survive, including the very important muscles your organs need to function properly. 

I am appalled that Dr. Oz mentioned he thinks it’s worth a try under physician supervision for people who don’t have another option.  Why would a physician ever recommend something this dangerous over something that is approved by the FDA or provides positive research with proven results?  To this day hCG has not been approved from the FDA for dietary usage and has described as fraudulent and illegal.  The FDA also bans direct-to-consumer-sale but since hCG is on the market for other therapies, it is still being prescribed for ‘off label’ uses.

At the end of the day, I suggest avoiding this diet at all costs.  Losing weight is hard work.  It first takes a commitment, then a specific plan with measurable goals, and requires a lot of support, but if you do it the right way the rewards outweigh the hard work you endure.  Do you know anyone who has tried this diet?  What are your thoughts?  Be well!

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