Note: Sarcasm and irritation follow – you’ve been warned!
Fad diets are nothing new. The real challenge is keeping up with them, and being smart in recognizing a new one when it appears.
The one you’ve probably seen popping up most recently is the so-called “HCG Diet”. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone produced by females during pregnancy. The premise of the diet is that you take this hormone in some way and it helps you lose weight.
Oh, and you only eat 500 calories a day. Amazingly, this is an important part.
The “HCG” supposedly works to suppress your appetite and supply energy so you can continue to function and be a non-worthless human being while existing on only 500 calories a day. Let’s temporarily ignore the fact that none of the various claims made by “HCG” suppliers have ever been confirmed by legitimate clinical studies (in fact, numerous clinical studies have shown it has no effect on weight loss), and realize that if you’re taking in 500 calories per day, you’re going to lose weight. It may be fat, it may be muscle (“HCG” supposedly preserves your lean tissue so you only lose fat – another nonsense claim with no backing), and it won’t be sustainable – but you’ll lose weight. The placebo effect is very strong in some people, and they can convince themselves that the drops are working by telling their bodies that they can’t be hungry. More power to ‘em.
I’ve been putting “HCG” in quotes because actual HCG is a prescription drug used largely for fertility and anabolic steroid post-cycle therapy, and taken via subcutaneous injection. You need a prescription for it, and your chances of getting your PCP to write you one for weight loss is not great. Instead, the HCG Diet Centers you see around typically offer a version you can take orally. These substances contain who-knows-what, because there is no regulation or standard for such a product.
Check out the website for an “Advanced Weight Loss Center” in Fresno. Their disclaimer says outright: “ The Food and Drug Administration has labeled HCG as not being effective in the treatment of obesity.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Do some more searching and you’ll see numerous websites with similar sounding names (HCGDietDrops.org, WeightLossDrops.org) all parroting the same propaganda in mildly broken English (those 2 sites are registered to an individual in India), referencing the same individual’s ground-breaking work (Dr. Simeons) and being generally vague about direct statements concerning FDA approval.
The big problem (well, who am I kidding – there are numerous problems here) is that this diet can’t be sustained forever. When the dieter “finishes”, they haven’t learned anything about sustaining a healthy diet, and commonly fall back into their previous eating habits. The weight comes back. And after eating only 500 calories a day, you’ve likely done some significant damage to your metabolism – that’s going to make losing those pounds the second time around that much harder. Also – at 500 calories per day, it can be pretty easy to develop a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
When you see those mind-numbingly irritating website ads that talk about “1 weird trick to losing belly fat”, they’re likely pushing HCG drops. So save yourself the time and skip it. Instead, let me give you 1 not-so-weird trick, that is the only thing that really works:
Eat a sensible, well-rounded diet and move.
Sweating is also encouraged.