HCG Diet Weight Loss

Posted: March 17, 2011 in Obesity Medicine by

Is the HCG Diet right for me?  The short answer is no.  I do not recommend the HCG diet or the Simeons method for dieting.  The HCG diet (also known as the Simeons diet) has been around since the early 1950s.  Dr. Simeons was a physician who treated boys with a hormonal condition.  In this condition, a brain tumor caused hormone abnormalities which resulted in the boys not entering puberty.  The appearance of overweight in these boys seemed to Dr. Simeons to be of the “feminine” type (a 1950s term), and was centered around the trunk.  When treating them with HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), it raised testosterone and they entered puberty and proceeded to lose some of their weight.

Dr Simeons went on to adapt this diet to many who were overweight.  For the “HCG diet” he added the injection of HCG to a 500 calorie diet.  His claims for the diet were robust.  Weight loss, he claimed, was drastic, targeted the central weight, gave minimal hunger, and several other very far-fetched claims including that it made singer’s voices better.

This diet has been studied multiple times throughout the years.  After 1-2 studies (that have been repeatedly questioned for their accuracy and design) showed the HCG and diet combo did work, several well designed studies have been unable to reproduce the weight loss seen in the original studies.  They also have not shown that HCG adds anything to the severely reduced calorie diet.   Based on these studies the FDA has required that since 1975 that all physicians that use HCG for weight loss have to have their patients sign a waiver that states HCG has not been shown to be a helpful addition to weight loss on a low or very low calorie diet.

Because of the FDA ruling and the lack of good studies on HCG, its use fell out of favor until 2007 when Kevin Trudeau, an internet marketer,  came out with a book and a set of infomercials about the book.  The book was entitled “Weight Loss Cure.”  He was subsequently fined 37 million dollars for false advertising.  He stated the diet helped you permanently lose weight.  Unfortunately, based on this publicity, HCG and its diet has become the latest reborn diet fad.

The fact is we want to believe in HCG and the Simeons diet.  Unfortunately, the science (and there are plenty of well done studies- randomized, double blinded and placebo controlled) just doesn’t support the use of HCG.  We all believe that everyone on a 500 calorie diet should lose weight.  Also based on what we now know about nutritional ketosis, most of those people should not feel hunger.  The problem is that the HCG (either by injection or by mouth) has not been proven to add anything to the diet.  Most doctors will also agree that the amount of protein provided in the 500 calories Simeons diet are not enough to maintain metabolism and lean muscle mass and therefore are not a healthy way to lose weight.

Last year the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASPB.org) released a position statement which states that the use of HCG for weight loss is not recommended and the Simeons diet (the 500 calorie diet) is not recommended.  I have read, in depth, the 15 studies associated with the position statement and completely agree with the recommendations.  I spoke at the ASBP meeting in November 2010 to support the position statement.

Fortunately, there are many different diets that do show great weight loss results and have the science to back it up.  I recommend you find a physician who is board certified in weight loss and start a proven diet that can help you get started on your weight loss journey.