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Examining HCG for Weight Loss

Sarah | June 21st, 2012

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New diet fads are popping up all the time and this year’s favorite seems to be the HCG diet.  HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin)  is a hormone that is produced during pregnancy. It has gained a reputation for promoting weight loss when combined with a restricted calorie diet.  Dieters who choose HCG for weight loss, have the hormone delivered into the body via injections, oral sprays or drops, and in pill form.

Purveyors of these supplements say that HCG is among the best diets practiced since the hormone allegedly suppresses hunger pains and any other side effects that come with extreme calorie restriction. In addition to the hormone supplements,dieters consume just 500 to 800 calories a day diet- less than half of the recommended intake for most adults.

Opponents of the HCG diet maintain that it is a risky way to lose weight.

The case against HCG for weight loss

Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently told U.S. News Health that the HCG for weight loss diet is “reckless, irresponsible and completely irrational” adding that anyone who does not eat will lose weight.

Though it is possible that someone turning to an HCG for weight loss diet will lose 30 pounds in a month as claimed by HCG supplement manufacturers, such is the result of diet that essentially promotes starvation. Opponents of extreme calorie restriction state that the HCG diet can cause long-term health effects including severe bone loss, gallstones, and electrolyte imbalances.

Those who choose HCG for weight loss also expose themselves to a risk of developing blood clots, leg cramps, constipation, breast tenderness and headaches. These side effects are attributed to the HCG hormone itself. Because HCG is extracted from urine, untested extracts can also pass infections such as hepatitis to HCG supplement users.

“HCG was studied briefly [for weight loss] and found to be ineffective, so we have no idea what its potential risks are,” Cohen told U.S. News Health.

The best diets

In addition to a long list of side effects, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved HCG for weight loss. In fact, in January, the FDA warned HCG supplement manufacturers that it is illegal and fraudulent to sell HCG for weight loss purposes.

Fad diets that promise to show you how to lose weight quickly are often too good to be true. Recently, more dieters are looking to their own doctors for recommendations of the best diets and the most efficient and sustainable ways to lose weight.

One group, the Center for Medical Weight Loss (CMWL), has grown into one of the largest networks of weight loss physicians.  Under the supervision of a doctor, patients are given diet strategies, exercise plans, and medical guidance that together yield long-lasting results. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine showed those who participated in their physician-led weight loss plan lost an average of 28-pounds during a 12-week period.

If you are ready to make a commitment to your weight loss and want to implement the most efficient and sustainable diet tailored to your medical needs, find out if there is a Center for Medical Weight Loss in your area. To locate a center near you, enter your zip code in the space provided. Special offers vary by location and are often extended to first time visitors.