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HCG Diet Explored by Medical Professionals on Dr. Oz

Sarah | June 18th, 2012

Last year, Dr. Oz explored the controversial weight loss trend: the HCG diet.  After interviewing several medical professionals about their competing views on the subject, Dr. Oz left his audience  little answer about whether this diet is good idea.  One common theme did prevail however among supporters and opponents alike: talk to your doctor before you consume HCG or begin an extreme diet regimen of just 500 calories a day.

HCG diet claims

The HCG diet boasts weight loss rates of 40 pounds in 40 days or one-to-two pounds lost a day. HCG or (human chorionic gonadotropin), is a hormone produced during pregnancy. HCG for weight loss captures this hormone in pills, sprays and injections. These supplements combined with a recommended daily caloric intake of just 500 to 800 calories, comprise the HCG diet plan.

HCG for weight loss proponents say HCG naturally suppresses the appetite, making the restricted calorie diet easy to follow. What they don’t talk about is the fact that the HCG diet has not been medically proven and may expose takers to harmful health risks.

The downside to losing weight with HCG

Pieter Cohen, M.D., of the Cambridge Health Alliance at Harvard Medical School, authored an article about HCG that appeared on Dr. Oz’s website. The article serves to dispel some of the myths that have been circulating among the public about using HCG for weight loss, and to caution would-be dieters about some of the pitfalls associated with the extreme diet.

Dr. Cohen reminds readers that dieters will likely not keep weight off once they discontinue extreme calorie restriction.  He also states that a diet of so few calories is unhealthy, unsustainable, and can lead to serious health risks such as gallstones, malnutrition, and in the most extreme cases, death.

Finally, Dr. Cohen emphasizes the FDA’s position on HCG.  In response to the frequently asked question about the legality of HCG drops, Cohen states that the hormone “has never been approved in any product sold directly to consumers. The leader of the FDA’s Internet and Fraud Team has said all such products are illegal.”  However, since the hormone is an approved medication for treating infertility, patients may receive HCG injections for any reason from their doctors.

Physicians maintain placebo effect of HCG

Physicians like Cohen believe that claims of hunger suppression linked to ingestion of HCG are due in large part to the diet’s placebo effect.

“When it comes to hunger, humans are very suggestible,” Dr. Cohen said about the HCG diet. “When we want to believe that a shot, whether it’s saltwater or hormones, will make our hunger go away, our hunger sometimes does go away.”

Alternatives to extreme, fad diets

Physician-assisted weight loss programs operate on a very different platform. Dr. Kaplan of the Center for Medical Weight Loss (CMWL) favors a more sustainable approach.  He states, “Unlike HCG diet programs, the medical weight loss approach has been scientifically proven to help people lose excess weight and keep it off.”

Rather than prescribing patients hormones, physicians with CMWL prescribe and supervise a personal diet and exercise program that delivers long-term results. According to the American Journal of Medicine, CMWL patients lose an average of 11.1% of their body weight in the first 12 weeks of treatment.

Dr. Oz took the first step in exposing the facts (and fiction) surrounding HCG for weight loss. Now, you can talk to your own doctor about a plan that’s right for you. If you are serious about finally achieving your long-term weight loss goals, there may be a Center for Medical Weight Loss near you. To find out, enter your zip code in the box above.  Special incentives vary by location and may be available to first time visitors.