By: NYOKA BRYAN
(Gainesville, Ga.) Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women, also known as the HCG diet, promises quick weight loss—up to 30 pounds a month, but researchers and medical professionals are questioning if it is worth the risk?
The HCG diet has been used as a weight loss solution for decades. And like many others, restrict dieters to 500 calories per day of mostly organic, unprocessed foods along with HCG injections or serum drops under the tongue. The HCG hormone is supposed to suppress hunger and trigger the body’s use of fat for fuel.
In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters to seven companies marketing over-the-counter HCG products labeled “homeopathic” for weight loss. The letters warned the companies that they are violating federal law by selling drugs that have not been approved, and by making unsupported claims for the products.
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medicine School, Pieter Cohen, said the HCG diet is a so-called weight-loss miracle or a dangerous fraud.
“The plan will sure to deliver in losing weight but it is dangerous, reckless, irresponsible and completely irrational,” said Pieter.
“Can you lose weight on it? Of course, but that’s mainly because you’re hardly consuming any calories. And any benefit is not going to last,” he continued.
In recent decades, obesity has been increasingly cited as a major problem in the United States. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 35.7 percent of
American adults and 17 percent of American children are obese. Estimates have steadily increased from 13 percent in 1962. The obesity percentages for the overall United States population are higher, reaching 19.4 percent in 1997, 24.5 percent in 2004 and 26.6 percent in 2007.
With the growing rate of obesity, people are inclined to gravitate towards crash diets, preferably ones that are quick and easy. From the Cabbage Soup Diet to the South Beach Diet, they all promise the same results- eat very little to no food and lose a significant amount of weight.
Gabrielle Davis, a military wife, grew frustrated with losing weight and decided to try the HCG diet.
“The HCG diet is good, but it burns muscles. It’s basically starvation,” said Davis.
“It was hard to do, but I did lose a lot of weight. It didn’t stay off though, and the weight I lost working out stayed off longer.”
Nutrition experts believe patients can lose weight on the plan, but it is highly unsafe due to the consummation of extremely low calories. But, rapid weight loss diets give no instructions on how to switch back to a regular eating plan, therefore, dieters add the pounds right back on.
The diet is deceptive at best because it gives dieters a false hope of keeping the weight off. What happened to eating healthy and working out moderately to achieve long term results? Crash diets performed every time someone wants to quickly get in shape becomes damaging to the body. 500 calories a day is comparable to malnutrition and one should never have below 1,200 calories a day.
Any crash diet including the HCG diet makes it impossible to meet your nutritional needs for carbohydrates, protein, fats, fiber, vitamin and mineral. Moreover, extremely low-calorie diets can cause severe bone and muscle loss, electrolyte imbalances, gallstones and even death. A more sensible route to weight loss is no more mysterious than choosing healthy foods, limiting portion sizes and exercising.
Keri Gans, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, said the diet is another approach for people who believe there’s a silver bullet.
“All this diet does is show you how to restrict, and a person can only do that for so long without returning to old habits.”