I would like to discuss a fad crash diet proposed a few decades ago. It’s called the Dr. Simeons hCG Diet. If you’ve never heard of it, then you have been spared yet another ludicrous proposal in the “nutrition” industry. You will see, why.
I would like to start with the last scientific article on the HCG diet, proposed by Dr. Simeons, was published in 1995. And that’s quite some time ago. In science, topics will usually stop being researched because of two reasons:
- They become universally agreed on
- They become unproven hogwash
That is, if we exclude possible lobbying and so on. In any case, the latter point is true for the hCG diet. The last published review actually examined all the published studies that had been done with the hCG diet at that time. Through a rigorous analysis and scientific investigation of 24 studies, their conclusion was this:
We conclude that there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight-loss or fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being.
The Simeons therapy itself included the patient eating a fat-free diet with an average intake of 500 calories per day – keep in mind that the average person needs to eat around 2000-2500 calories per day. And while intermittent fasting for a short period is nothing to be afraid of, when you’re exposed to a very low caloric intake such as this for prolonged periods of time, your metabolism starts to slow down. If that weren’t enough, the main part of this therapy were actually regular injections of hCG.
HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone in our bodies. It gets produced in large quantities during female pregnancy, it is being used to make a drug for the treatment of infertility problems.
His “scientific” reasoning for this therapy was his own medical experience of using hCG with which he treated boys who suffered from Frölich’s syndrome.
Frölich syndrome, also called adiposogenital dystrophy, is a rare childhood metabolic disorder. Its main features are obesity, stunted growth, and a retarded development of genitals. The most common cause are tumours which increase your appetite and lower the secretion of gonadotropin.
Furthermore, he made some incredibly “sensible” claims:
- There will be a guaranteed weight loss under his method. Who would have thought you could lose weight while eating 500 calories per day, right?
- There will be no feelings of weakness due to weight loss
- There will be no feelings of hunger
- There will be fat loss from parts of the body where it tends to stay the longest, so stomach, hips, thighs, upper arms. He was basically promoting the fat spot reduction myth before it was called the spot reduction myth.
In retrospect, I am unfamiliar with the findings of the medical and nutritional community from the 50’s of the past century, however, I seriously doubt some of these claims could have been taken seriously even back then.
The scientists from the mentioned review agree with me, they end that there is no scientific basis for any of the above-mentioned claims. And let’s be honest, some of them are downright ridiculous from today’s standpoint of nutritional knowledge.
Their findings are given further weight by the fact that there wasn’t a single study where the addition of hCG was better than a placebo. This means that they could have injected them with anything and the effect would stay the same. Moreover, the FDA has declared that the sale of “homeopathic” and other HCG products is illegal and a fraud.
Moreover, all the weight loss attributed to the hCG diet is simply due to the very low caloric intake. I probably don’t need to explain that a prolonged period of a very low caloric intake can cause serious damage because of malnutrition. It’ very likely that someone who consistently eats only 500 calories per day will suffer from malnutrition. 
What hCG IS used for today?
- It is being used as a tumor marker
- It is used to enhance the production of progesterone, a hormone
- It is used to stimulate certain cells to enhance production of testosterone
- It is also being increasingly used to counter some negative effects of anabolic steroids
None of these have anything to do with weight loss.
The future of Dr. Simeons’ HCG Diet?
It has no future. While a quick scan through Google images shows a multitude of “weight loss successes”, all of their success can be attributed simply due to their low caloric intake and other possible factors such as exercise. None of it, however, can be attributed to hCG injections. hCG injections for weight loss are a scam.
If you know anyone who wants to undergo a “hCG diet” please stop them from doing so.