Friday, August 20, 2010

The HCG Diet...Seriously, Don't be Dumb

I'm just back from vacation and I'm feeling funny.  Not "ha ha" funny, but more like "I ate and drank way too much" funny-feeling-in-my-belly.  I even ate a Funyun for the first time in about a decade.  I didn't even know they still made those things.  Geez, maybe they don't and the bag I ate was from the 90s???  

Anyway, I'm sure when I step on the scale tomorrow morning I'm going to be disappointed.  And despite being a Dr. Dork Nutritionist, it's still really hard for me to shed those extra pounds that were so fun to put on.  What diet won't I be doing?  This silly HCG diet.  I've had several folks ask me about it lately and I thought I'd do just a few bullet points about it:

  • HCG = human chorionic gonadotropin.  It is produced shortly after conception by the cells that eventually form into the placenta and is what is detected by a urine pregnancy test.  Back in the early 1950s, a Dr. Simeons thought it would be a good idea to give people injections of HCG in addition to following a very low calorie diet (500 calories a day).  And yes, the HCG was coming from the urine of pregnant women.  
  • Dr. Simeons claimed that it helped shed fat while reducing hunger.  This prompted several research studies to be conducted.  There was absolutely no effect of the HCG.  Sure, the 500 calorie a day diet did lead to weight loss, but that HCG had no additional effect.  It just doesn't work!
  • It fell off the map until that idiot, Kevin Trudeau, wrote about it in one of his, "scam the public so I can make more money" books.  This guy is likely one of the biggest scam artists on the planet.  He wrote about HCG and Dr. Simeons' diet in his 2007 weight loss book, despite the fact that by 2007, over 20 research studies had proven that HCG doesn't work.     
  • Because the HCG diet is gaining popularity again, there are numerous places on the web where you can buy this stuff as either an injectable (ick) or as a pill (ick ick) or as drops for under your tongue (ick ick ick).  Just a reminder, HCG is made up of protein and such, there's a pretty high probability that it gets digested up into something that is not HCG with the rest of your food if taken as a pill.  Sure, you could buy the injectable but do you really want to inject yourself with something you bought off the internet?  Please say no, please say no, please say no!  And the drops are just as ineffective, so why bother. 
  • Is HCG safe?  This is a tricky question.  HCG is approved by the FDA as a treatment for infertility in women and puberty disorders in young men.  In those situations, the benefits of HCG outweigh the risks.  Whether or not the HCG you can buy on the internet or receive at a clinic is the same as that used for these conditions is not clear.  These fly-by-night companies make a lot more money if they sell you something that is not HCG and as such, the safety is not well known.   
  • A 500 calorie diet is an effective way to lose weight under the care of a physician for folks that are obese.  However, such a diet is generally not recommended.  Possible side effects include fatigue, constipation and gallstones.  Plus, gaining back the weight is really easy because metabolism will be lowered to such a degree.  
Save your money and try a diet that is safe and effective.  My personal approach to losing a few pounds is to increase my protein and vegetable intake and add an extra mile to my runs.  It's not very glamorous and it doesn't have an official name (yet), but it's inexpensive and rational.    

Happy weekend everyone!

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