HCG diet: how does it work? What are the health risks?

Many people end up seduced by the “miraculous weight loss” and bet on diets and the use of substances without scientific proof. Therefore, they are not always able to achieve this purpose, which consequently generates a feeling of frustration, disappointment and even health complications.

One of the proposals that has been questioned in relation to the effectiveness in weight loss is the HCG diet and many specialists and medical institutions are against this method. Find out why in the text below.


What is the HCG diet?

The HCG diet is a method that combines a restrictive dietary routine in relation to the amount of calories consumed per day, being only 500 Kcal (adding all the foods ingested, which must be without sugar or fat) to the use of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG ).

This combination, although it can have an effect on weight reduction, is considered very dangerous for the health of those who decide to adhere to it.

One of the reasons that justifies this is the drastic reduction in the amount of food consumed in daily meals, since it is necessary to eat only 500Kcal per day.

To get an idea, it is estimated that, on average, a healthy adult needs about 2000Kcal per day for the body to be able to perform all metabolic activities properly.

Thus, the food restriction proposed by the HCG diet in some cases can compromise the proper functioning of the body.

In addition, an essential part for this diet to cause weight loss, is the use of the hormone that gives it its name, HCG  allowed by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) only for fertilization treatments.

Thus, using it for the purpose of losing weight is not indicated, not least because there is no scientific evidence to justify its efficiency in this case.

What is HCG hormone?

HCG is an essential hormone for women during pregnancy.

HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is one of the main hormones present during pregnancy. It is produced by trophoblasts, cells that form the placenta over the weeks of gestation.

When a woman is in early pregnancy, HCG increases rapidly causing some characteristic symptoms, such as delayed menstruation, sensitive breasts, tiredness and excessive sleep, cramps, among others.

Therefore, the quantitative beta HCG test, which determines the value of this hormone in the bloodstream, is considered the best way to prove that the woman is pregnant.

The belief that the hormone HCG could promote weight loss arose after observing that the body of pregnant women who were not eating properly, that is, malnourished, metabolizes the metabolized fat and used it as energy for the baby.

From then on, in the 50s, the English researcher Dr. Albert Simeons started to evaluate daily obese people who received injections of HCG.

After that period, he found that they not only managed to lose weight, but also had a reduced appetite and conserved muscle mass.

And it was then that the HCG diet started to become popular as an effective weight loss method.

However, more recent studies have shown that it is not the application of HCG alone that causes weight loss, but dietary restriction based on the consumption of 500Kcal.

Therefore, if an obese person or someone who wants to lose a few “extra pounds”, using the hormone without restricting their diet, will probably not have any results.

Thus, in addition to not bringing benefits, it can trigger a series of complications to the body such as thromboembolism, which is when clots form in the bloodstream, preventing circulation.

Because of this, the Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabology (SBEM) and the Brazilian Association for the Study of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome (ABESO), are totally against the use of this hormone for weight loss.

What is the purpose of the HCG diet?

The goal of the HCG diet is to reduce hunger and promote fat burning in an accelerated manner (in just over a month), without the person having to practice physical exercises daily.

For this, it is necessary to restrict the diet, cutting completely carbohydrates , fried foods, sweets, fats and any type of processed food.

And so eating only fruits, vegetables, vegetables and liquids that have few calories, because at the end of the day it is necessary to have consumed only 500Kcal.

In addition, it is necessary to supplement the diet with daily use of 3 doses of HCG, as it is thus possible to “trick” the body into thinking that it is going through a pregnancy. With that, it takes the displacement of fat to be used as an energy source.

During this period it is forbidden to do physical activities, even if they are light and of short duration, since, as one is eating little, the body would not be able to exercise.

How many pounds do you lose with the HCG diet?

The HCG diet promises the loss of up to 15 kilos in a month, through a restricted diet and use of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (by injection or sublingually) every day.

In addition, the HCG diet guarantees that there will be proportional weight loss throughout the body, that is, even the famous localized fats, considered more difficult to be eliminated.

However, there is no scientific data to prove that weight loss is due to the use of HCG.

How it works?

In general, the HCG diet is divided into three phases:

  • Loading phase: this period marks the beginning of the diet, and its purpose is to encourage an increase in the consumption of foods rich in fats, which consequently contain more calories, for a period of 2 days. Because, from there, the person will start using the hormone HCG;
  • Weight loss phase : this phase is the longest in the diet, as it lasts an average of 3 to 6 weeks. In this stage, the person starts to restrict his / her eating routine and ingest only 500Kcal a day, and also continues to use HCG, either by injection or sublingually (3 times a day);
  • Maintenance phase: this can be characterized as the final stage of the diet, where the use of HCG will be stopped and the caloric intake may be gradually increased for the body to get used to.

Who can not do the HCG diet?

The HCG diet is prohibited for people who have a disease and are undergoing medical treatments, since, as the weight loss method combines a limited diet and the use of the hormone HCG, it can drastically affect the recovery of the patient.

In addition, some more specific cases the diet is also not indicated (mainly in relation to the use of HCG), they are:

  • Menopause;
  • Polycystic ovary;
  • Gynecological hemorrhages;
  • Tumors in the pituitary or hypothalamus;

Therefore, due to several complications, the HCG diet can only be done in specific cases, and after a rigorous medical evaluation.

Is there a defined menu?

To eat the HCG diet, it is necessary to consume foods with low energy value.

The menu to be followed during the HCG diet will vary according to the stage that the person is in, since at the beginning of the diet, also called loading, the consumption of foods rich in fat and calories is recommended.

Because, through this process the body ends up understanding that it already has enough fat stock to use as an energy source, generating the burning of it and causing weight loss.

Therefore, during this phase, the consumption of pasta, snacks, fried foods, fatty meats, snacks, among others, is allowed.

However, when there is a transition to the second stage of the HCG diet, the menu to be followed changes completely, becoming very restrictive, since it is allowed to eat only 500Kcal a day.

Thus, the person who is on the diet, and is in this stage, must literally count each calorie present in the food to know if he can consume it or not.

Therefore, it is recommended to have a menu rich in low-energy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, vegetables, fish, lean meats, some oilseeds and eggs.

Thus, an example of a menu for this second phase (1 day) , would be:

  • Breakfast: 1 cup of tea (without sugar) and 1 slice of whole grain bread with ricotta;
  • Lunch: 100g of grilled chicken and 3 tablespoons of cauliflower rice;
  • Afternoon snack: 1 apple and 3 cashew nuts;
  • Dinner: 100g of fish plus 3 tablespoons of cooked vegetables.

We emphasize that the HCG diet should not be done without indication and specialized medical monitoring.