The HCG diet is not a new fad – it is not new at least. It has been around for quite a while. Though it has been having a lot of attention for the wrong reasons lately (we would go more into that later) we are going to focus more on what the HCG diet is all about together with a not-so-comprehensive history lesson on the HCG diet. Surprisingly, the HCG diet was not invented by a circus scammer or any shady person, it was actually invented by a credible person. It was invented by a British endocrinologist Dr. Simeon in 1954. This is where it got its other name from – “the Simeons therapy”.
The HCG diet or Simeons therapy goes like this – a person is required to eat low carb and a low-fat diet for about three and a half to six weeks. All through that time, the person is going to be taking an intramuscular injection of about 125 international units (IU) of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) daily simultaneously with the diet.
Dr. Simeon developed the HCG diet based on his experience with a condition called Fröhlich syndrome where a lot of fat accumulates around the genitals. People who support the diet claimed that in addition to losing weight, you wouldn’t feel hungry or week and you would only lose fat from where you are supposed to and not lean body mass.
It was popular for a while but however, it slowly started to fade out of popularity in the 1970s when studies could not find any evidence that it worked. However, it is coming back into popularity and with the popularity, the authorities have started becoming more critical about the effectiveness of the diet for some reasons. One major reason is that since HCG is used, there are concerns about the side effects of HCG. We will talk about some of the side effects peculiar to the HCG diet.
The side effects of the HCG diet:
The difference between HCG diet and many of the common weight loss diet is the fact that in addition to the low-fat-low-carb diet, HCG diet involves giving human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). That is where the name HCG diet comes from. Unfortunately, like all other drugs, HCG has its own unique side effects. Some of the more common side effects that are less serious are Headache, Irritability, gynecomastia (a situation where men start to develop female breasts), Restlessness, shortness of breath, Fatigue, Depression, and Swelling in the feet, ankles, lower legs, or hands. Some of the reasons for these side effects in HCG diets are not far fetched.
HCG is a hormone that controls the production of reproductive hormones in men and women. The use of HCG can stimulate the body to produce excess estrogen which can lead to the development of female characteristics like breasts in men. Some more serious, rare side effects of HCG include early puberty this is because HCG causes the body to produce reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen which control puberty; life-threatening allergic reactions if you are allergic to HCG; multiple pregnancies (like twins or more); and blood clots probably because HCG increases the amount of progesterone which has been linked to blood clots and cardiovascular issues as a result of blood clots. In fact, there is a case study of a 64-year-old woman who came to the hospital with leg swelling and shortness of breath.
On investigation, they discovered that she had deep vein thrombosis (there were blood clots in the veins of her legs blocking blood flow) and she had pulmonary embolism (blood clots inside her lungs blocking air flow). The only risk factor they discovered was the fact that she was on HCG diet for two weeks. She has been taking 20 drops of HCG twice daily. So, in this scenario, it was highly probable that the HCG diet could have caused such issues.
Other issues with HCG diet:
HCG diet also has some other issues. First, there is no scientific proof it works. Many studies on it show that the weight loss achieved with HCG has more to do with the fact that you are eating only 500 calories a day than with the fact that you are taking HCG. HCG does not seem to have any effect on weight. Also, another problem with the diet is the fact that over-the-counter HCG medications are illegal. Yes, that is correct.
The FDA actually considers this diet harmful and have banned the use of HCG supplements over the counter. Also, there are concerns that a severe restriction of calories for quite a long time can lead to gallstone formation. Also, less food may mean fewer minerals and vitamins – fewer minerals can lead to electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to irregular heartbeats and symptoms of dehydration. In summary, experts, don’t really think it is a safe way to lose weight.