subscribe Signup for our Newsletter expand Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog

The hCG Diet

By Mary_RD on Jun 22, 2010 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates
Edited By +Rachel Berman

I am always surprised when HCG pops up on the radar screen; I thought the stuff was banned for use in weight control.  But, actually, the FDA didn’t ban hCG.  They just banned selling and advertising hCG without a warning label.  No matter that the American Society of Bariatric Physicians issued a statement about hCG’s ineffectiveness for weight control, or that the American Medical Association put out a safety warning.  These things alone or together do not add up to a product ban.  But what exactly is hCG?

Several forms of hCG

hCG (human choriogonadotropic hormone) is sold as an injectable, pill and homeopathic tincture (drops).  Injectable hCG is indicated by prescription for the treatment of infertility, growth hormone deficiency, organ transplants, and AIDS-related muscle wasting.  That is the form condemned by the medical societies for the treatment of obesity.  In addition, injectable hCG is banned by Major League Baseball and the Olympic Committee as a performance-enhancing drug – not that hCG enhances performance, but it mitigates the side effects of ending a cycle of steroids. 

Over-the-counter oral hCG pills, powders and drops do not present a safety problem; they are simply ineffective.  Hormones (think insulin) are made of protein that is digested, and therefore changed, in the gastrointestinal tract.   Laboratories are devising ways to protect hormones during digestion, but they aren’t there yet.  hCG drops are delivered under the tongue (sublingual) to enter the blood supply directly - although many doctors say hCG degrades before it reaches the bloodstream. One double-blinded research study suggested that sublingual hCG works, but the research subjects followed a very low calorie diet and that's where the confusion rests.

The original hCG Diet

The original hCG Diet for weight loss was popularized by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, a British endocrinologist.   He observed that calorie-deficit pregnant women from India had higher than usual hCG secretions, which seemed to produce a loss of stored fat while preserving muscle in the mother. hCG is produced in the hypothalamus section of the brain by pregnant women and growing children.  In pregnancy, hCG helps the uterus to accept the embryo and, among its other actions, hCG triggers the mobilization of fat to be used for fuel. 

Dr. Simeons proposed pairing hCG with a low calorie diet to produce selective fat loss.   In 1954, he published a diet protocol in The Lancet, Letters to the Editor.  His protocol consisted of daily hCG injections along with a 500 calorie diet.  The diet allowed unlimited use of tea and coffee with artificial sweeteners, and one tablespoon of milk, 200 grams (7 ounces) of very lean meat, fish or poultry, two vegetables, two fruits, and two bread sticks per day.  

Over the years, several studies (1, 2) showed that the effectiveness of Simeons’ hCG diet was entirely due to calorie restriction. Some of them concluded that weight loss with or without hCG was equal and that hCG had no effect on fat mobilization, appetite or sense of hunger, or on body fat distribution.  In 1995, a meta-analysis review of prior studies concluded that there is no scientific evidence that hCG is effective in the treatment of obesity.  Nevertheless, the hCG Diet program has enjoyed worldwide popularity for years.

After Dr. Simeons’ death in 1970, hCG Diet clinics sprang up everywhere.  The diet protocol was often changed but the hCG injections continued. In 2007, infomercial salesman, Kevin Trudeau, released a book, The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About, a variation of Dr. Simeons’ diet plan. The company that marketed the book was later charged with deceptive advertising by FTC.

The Bottom Line

Reputable studies refute the effectiveness of the hCG Diet and respected medical organizations warn against it.  Still, it is freely promoted all across the Internet, and so buyer beware! 

  1. MR Stein, et al.  Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction: a double-blind study.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1976
  2. RL Young, et al. Chorionic Gonadotropin in Weight Control A Double-Blind Crossover Study.  Journal of the American Medical Association,  1976


Your thoughts....

Have you used or considered using the hCG Diet?


Comment Removed

I guess it's still popular because it's the fantasy.  A magical pill (injection/drop under the tongue) that will help you lose weight.  It's sad, selling pipe-dreams to people too desperate or naive to know better. :( 


I was desperate and stupid enough to buy ($90) this stuff.  The restrictive diet was torture.  The oral spray claimed "you won't be hungry."  You are suppose to gorge yourself two days prior to starting treatment.  I got so weak and stomache upset and told my doctor what I was doing.  He was close to smacking me for doing this to myself.  It is not worth it.  It doesn't work.  Save your money.  A balanced diet and exercize is the key.  I have lost 48 pounds in 5 months of starting with Calorie  I feel great, training for a marathon, and I don't feel like I'm starving all the time.

I started the hcg protocol in Feb 2010 and have done 2 rounds losing a total of 37.5 and many inches.  I followed the plan and the plan works.  Yes it is strict but the results are worth it.  Each round consisted of 21 days on the VLCD (very low calaroie diet 500 caleries)  I was seldon hungry, had lots of energy and very pleased with the results.  I am not on maintanence where I am learning to control my eating habits and eat healthy.  Yes, eating healthy and exercise is what it is all about...but you have to get to that place/frame of mind first and hcg was a great help in helping me to get there.

Like any diet or change in eating patterns, it must be right for you and you have to create a mindset that "you are going to do this because it is what you want"..The hcg protocol is strict but not difficult and I would recommend anyone who is interested, read Simeon's "Pounds and Inches" so that you have a good understanding of how and why this protocol works.  It is availabile on the internet for free - just goggle it.

This article links to "Pounds and Inches" here:  In 1954, he published a diet protocol in The Lancet, Letters to the Editor....

I am currently on the HcG Diet and have lost so far 12 lbs and 11.5 inches total in my arms, hips and waist in 14 days.  I have no hunger, and actually have more energy than I had previously.  I am using the drops as opposed to the injections.  Honestly, I was incredibly skeptical, but witnessed a friend and his wife lose over 40 lbs each after two rounds of the protocol, and have kept it off for more than six months.  But it works, so I continue to have an open mind.  The real test will be if the weight stays off, but that requires behavior modification--portion control, healthy choices and exercise, which I am committed to in order to maintain my weight loss.  I might add that I also lost 50 lbs between last July and November through a medical dr, and managed to keep that weight off, so my reason for going on the HcG Diet was to merely lose that last ten pounds I wanted to be rid of...mission accomplished!  At 45 years old and 5'3", I am now 136 lbs.  I will continue the 26 day protocol, so anything else I lose at this point is icing on the cake!

I'm 11 lbs down in the 2 weeks since I started taking HCG.  I didn't think I could do this restrictive diet, but for some reason (maybe psychomatic) I've had no hunger and am very motivated to keep going.  I had a healthy (lots of healthy organic foods, maybe too much) diet before hand and lost only 38 lbs since February 2009, so this is what I needed.  Feel great, look good and not hurting anyone.

I studied the details thoroughly before hand and feared being hungry, but since I have no hunger and plenty of energy, I can't see what harm there is in trying it.  I take it sublingually and the costs for 4 rounds of supplies were less than $150. for the sublingual preparation I am taking.

I think this is yet another one of those things that will work for some people and not others.  I am not sick during pregancy but I lost 10lbs during the first trimester of all 3 pregancies, despite eating when hungry and allowing for the I am pregnant I can eat what I crave so I think it could work.

I am doing it without so I am not going to bother adding something in that I would have to give credit to.

Yes, I did the original Simmeons HGH (injections) and diet in 1975 under the supervision of a doctor. It's true!!! The calorie restrictions are exactly as described. I stuck to it exactly and lost 50 pounds in 3 months.  It taught me to eat very slowly and less become less interested in food. That weight stayed off for years until I got pregnant 8 years later and made the mistake of eating for two. In recent years I think that doctors have increased the calories and portions of that particular diet, and at least in Canada have substituted the HGH hormone injections with vitamin B injections. Perhaps the effectiveness of the program has to do with the strong willpower of the dieter to follow the instructions in addition paying lots of money to the clinic (which also stimutes the desire to succeed).

I lost 10 lbs in 13 days with just diet and exercise...why do people fall for this crap??? What a waste !

I've done both types of HCG, the most recent being the tincture.  The first time I wasn't hungry, had loads of energy and lost 18 lbs.  This time I lost 8 lbs.  I'm 57 yrs old,  5'4" and 126 lbs and feel great.  I don't think it is pyschosomatic, I do think it works.  If Major League baseball has banned it, it must have some effect and I personally have "felt" the increased energy and lack of hunger.  So I for one believe in this diet and have never had any diet before this one work as well.  However, I don't disagree with prior comments that healthy eating and excercise can do the same thing.  But if everyone already knows that, then why do we need to do this to lose weight?  The problem for me was, I was already "lazy" because I didn't feel good BECAUSE I was overweight.  Now that I've lost it, I've joined a health club.   So I say YES to HCG.  Worked for me! (and for my sister n law and daughter)

I appreciate the sympathy ("It's sad, selling pipe-dreams to people too desperate or naive to know better.") and the criticism - however, I was on HCG for 3 weeks and lost 22 pounds. This allowed me to lose some unwanted weight and to get back on track (read that as: I didn't go back to eating as I had before - which I strongly suspect many do after finishing this diet). That was 6 weeks ago. I have gained back 2 pounds but am back in the gym, gaining muscle instead of fat and enjoying life again. My wife, who has been on every diet and exercise program and who has trouble losing weight, is 20 pounds down and is going for 20 more...the most she has *ever* lost.

As has already been stated, this is something that works for some (it has really worked for us). Just because it has not worked for others is not a reason, in my opinion, to insult those for whom it does (BTW: I am a 50 year-old educated man with 4 children and 6 grandchildren working in the computer industry with a degree in Biology - I have never considered myself all that desperate or naive). If you are willing to use something like this as a platform for a life change, it can be extremely beneficial.

I lost 20 lbs on HCG and have kept the weight off for months. It was so easy people!!!! Its not crap!!! I had so much energy on this diet, I suffered from headaches for years and during the time I was on HCG I did not have one single headache. This is a great way to lose weight and to teach yourself healthy habits!

We have research showing that hCG as it is delivered in the diet protocol is either ineffective (under the tongue, pills) or downright dangerous (injections) and yet, we have people claiming that it "works" and they will stick with it. 

Charlatans are making money off of people because of the placebo effect. The downside is that those taking hCG in spite of the warnings are at best losing money they don't need to lose and at worst, putting their health at risk. After doing this, then they still have to learn portion control and behavior modification which has been delayed due to their reliance on the placebo. 

The FDA should have more power to stop folks from being duped. 

It was the best 50 bucks I ever spent!! It taught me healthy habits to live by!

I did hcg a year ago and have kept all the weight off. My mother in law did it two years ago and kept it all off. It works but it is like any other diet if you don't change your eating habits you will just put it all back on when your done. I also went to a reputable (real) doctor who knew what they were doing and would have a lot to lose if this was something harmful.

I know that diet and exercise is the way to go and i am busting my butt doing just that.  But it's hard and tempting when you see family members who have lost 40 lbs each by using these drops and 500 calorie diet.  I know in my head that it's wrong and your body needs more than 500 calories to function.  Hopefully i will win out in this battle between good and evil.

Thats the thing when your on the hcg your body is feeding from the stored fat in your body. You are only putting 500 calories in your mouth but you are receiving much more. I had more energy than I have ever had while on this diet. It teaches you those healthy eating habits and portion control. I have been off for 6 months now and have lost 5 more pounds and feel amazing!

While I realize this site depends on advertisers to function, I find it disturbing that on the same page as this article discussing the ineffectiveness of HCG, there are no less than four links for HCG diets.

If you have never tried Hcg don't knock it, It has worked for my whole family as of today I have lost 34 lbs, my Mother has lost 21 lbs, my Sister lost 17 lbs and her Husband lost 25lbs therefore HCG has made a believer out of me, FDA is just ticked off because they dont have their finger in the pie their not making any money off HCG and they really like people to be fat so the Dr's can prescribe all those diet pills that are FDA approved

I did do this diet and I feel fantastic and the weight is still off.  If you follow the total protocol of Dr Simeons diet and do every stage you will lose weight and keep it off.  This diet allows you to really find out the "trigger points" of each persons body and if you listen to your body and how it feels you will not only keep the weight off but you will feel better then you ever did.  No one or any thing will make us change each person must decide in their own mind to make a change and then do it.

I do not agree to this diet at all.  I have lost a considerable amount of weight on my own...although it has been a huge struggle but only eating 500 calories a day is ridiculous. Our bodies need more to exercise and follow a normal caloric diet. I try to stay in a 1200 - 1500 range it all depends if I workout or not. My opinion...the HCG is a unhealthy way to achieve a weight loss. It is just another scam to fool people. It is very SAD that it is allowed to promote something like this. If it works for people that is great...its just not a normal way to lose weight. Why is it that everyone wants that quick fix. How long did it take to get here...its going to take that long to get it off.  Good luck to all and stay positive.

I went on the hCG diet (injectable) on January 21, 2010, and in five months and 2 rounds of hCG I lost 55 pounds.  I'm currently on maintenance and doing well.  During the diet, I had tons of energy and I was not hungry, despite eating no more than 500 calories a day.  I swear by the diet.  I weigh myself every morning and I have kept within two pounds of my LIW (last injectable weight).  I know that this diet is not for everyone.  You still have to have great will power and a need and desire to lose the weight, but then, you have to have that with any kind of diet you go on.  There is an "miracle cure" for fat.  I would recommend that for anyone who wants to start this diet that they do their homework and thoroughly read up on it, don't just go diving head first into it.  Know what you are getting into.  Otherwise, you're just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.

I'm not condoning this by any means, but if you're going to only eat 500 calories a day, why bother spending the cash on the drug? You're already starving yourself, why go broke as well?

These products make me embarrassed of our immediate gratification society.  I have no pity for people that go to such extreme measures only to end up getting overweight and unhealthy. 

Venusredhot, do not knock something you know nothing about. Like I said in a previous comment, when you are on the hcg you are only putting 500 calories in your mouth but your body is feeding off of stored fat so you ARE getting everything you need. I had SO much energy on this diet, it works!!!!!!!!!!

AND to you mjsophie, you are speaking about something you know nothing about! I was by no means starving myself, I was never ever hungry on this diet!

It is very funny that people that are critical pick at one aspect of the protocol to attack when they really have no understanding of how and why it works.

Read the book Pounds and Inches and after having read it, you have a comment, by all means, make a comment. 

One more thing...I paid about US$45 for enough drops to complete one 30 day it is not expensive.  You save that money in food costs over the 30 days.

Thank you gals1105! Great comment! I spent about the same for mine and it was the best money I have ever spent!!!!!!

The scary thing for me about this diet is the long-term effect of messing with hormones...  Would the protocol recommended work without the hCG?  I am not criticizing those who choose this route, but just concerned about them.  Here is link to some weight loss tips that may help you.  Weight Loss Tips

You would most likely lose a comparable amount of weight, but the difference is the HcG keeps your body from going into "starvation" mode because of the very low calorie diet.  Because your body does not go into starvation mode, once the protocol is complete you are less likely to regain the weight as long as you follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen.  As Mary's article states, there are actually no side effects from the hormone itself.

I hope this is helpful.  Best of luck on your weight loss journey!

I am in maintenance following a 43 day hCG drops diet.  I lost 32 pounds, ate a very healthy, low calorie diet, and am adding in foods slowly to my daily diet and am staying within two pounds of my final weight on the diet.  Everyone else that I know that has done either the injections or the drops both lost weight and desirable inches.  It is the fantasy of targeting visceral fat!  I've not lost any of my bra size other than my chest measurement around, no cup size, and that is generally the first fat loss I experience on any diet.  If you look into what it is that hCG does for pregnant women, it stops muscle loss for energy production thus targeting fat, it makes sense why it DOES work.

there are so many internet sites that sale hcg; how did you decide which was the one for you?  what is the best place to purchase this.  I am considering the hcg diet.

I lost 37lbs without hcg.  You're crazy.

I find it very interesting that the people who are slamming this seem to know nothing about it.  They do not know of one person who has been effected negatively.  Ignorance on a subject does not give you knowledge to make crazy statements.  Read the information from the sources being shared.  Even try it yourself to disprove it.  I think you may change you mind.

I have personally read the information and knew nothing about this before.  I was skeptical but after reading the diet and program information it made a lot of sense... so I decided to give it a try.  What have I found so far...

Well the first 2 days or excessive eating I gained 5 lbs.  This seemed crazy but I was going to follow through on this to see where it led.

I have now been on the spray for 13 days and have dropped a total of 24 lbs (19 from the pre-gorge days).  I admit the 500 calorie diet has been a challenge a few of the days but I have been surprised that I have not been very hungry almost all of the time.  I am going to follow this protocol for the duration of this program and will keep you up to date on what happens.  I feel better and yes, I am excited to finish this phase and be able to eat more food - but that is because I like eating.  This is more behavior modification than anything for me because I used to live to eat, now I want to eat to live.

So many people (that haven't tried it) say it's crap and it doesn't work. That simply isn't true and to the lady who gained all her weight plus more back. Why would you blame that on hcg? You fell back into your old habits and you gained...simple as that.

I lost 40 lbs on the hcg protocol & have kept it off with a balanced diet and exercise. I was not hungry during that time because I was using REAL hcg. Read Pounds and Inches. It tells you why this is so. This is not a starvation diet. I did the REAL Dr. Simeons protocol with injections. The homeopathic drops & hcg sprays barely get any hcg into the bloodstream if any at all. I'm not surprised if someone that used either of them them where hungry during the very low calorie diet.

Wow! I don't understand why only 'part' of what HCG really does is in the article here.  I never even heard of HCG until I ran into a gal at work the other day who looked terrific! She was pretty chunky before and she sat with me and explained the HCG diet. She lost 45 pounds from Jan-March and it being June now...has kept it off. 

For the last year I've been trying to excercise, calorie count, eat lo fat and fat free and only lost like 5 lbs.  I started HCG 4 days ago and am down 5 lbs!

You are NOT hungry on the 500 calorie diet because the HCG takes the rest of your calories and energy from your abnormal fat deposits, not your 'normal' fat reserve which is around your organs which would happen if you did a 500 caloried diet WITHOUT the HCG.

I've seen what it has done for my friend and the lady who sells it through her company I purchased it from, has kept her lost weight off for 4 years.

Yes you WILL have to change the way you eat to keep it off, you only take the HCG drops for 23-40 days, then you do a 3 week maintenance mode, then your new way of eating for life starts.

The HCG diet book I have let's you know what are GOOD proteins, carbs, etc and how lo-fat, fat free, sugar and starchs are NOT good for you.  All the FAKE sugar is bad news and I've been eating it for years!

It will be up to the consumer - the one doing the HCG to continue to stay away from the processed stuff and eat REAL stuff.  If not, yes, you will gain the weight back.

I am really hoping I can do this, I weigh less this morning than I have in 2 years.  I am excited about eating REAL, healthy foods again, Organic food is a big thing for the HCG diet too.

I did a ton of research....was EXTREMEMLY skeptical when I heard what you eat in a day but I wasn't hungry yesterday and I woke up this a.m. NOT hungry.  here is what I ate yesterday:

breakfast - 1/2 grapefruit sweetened with Stevia (a natural sweetener), organic tea, water sweetened with Stevia

lunch - 3.5 oz lean grilled steak with 3.5 oz of raw spinach (which is ALOT) and an apple cider vinegar dressing, organic tea, water

Snack - an orange

dinner - 3.5 oz grilled boneless/skinless ckn breast, 3.5 oz. plum tomato with sea salt, organic tea, water

May not sound too 'exciting' or alot to some, but for someone who LOVES food, I was pleasantly satisfied.

On a scientific note: HGC is produced in the normal pituitary.  Adults whose pituitary glands produce too much growth hormone tend to be overweight.  Children with too much growth hormone grow too tall.   Be very careful with any HGC dieting.


Good article.  : )  Scientific analysis debunks so many diet myths...

HcG is not a growth hormone.  I'm not sure where you are getting your information from.  I think you are confusing it with HGH, which is a growth hormone that can cause the conditions you speak about.

I read somewhere that a possible side effect of this severely restrictive diet is weight gain.. just saying.

Why would anyone add an untested chemical to thier diet?  Get some willpower and eat less and excersise more.  No magic involved.

Like any other weight loss plan..if you go back to your past way of eating then yes, of course you will gain weight.  The key is behavior modification.

I did one round of this last October.  It was a good way to jump start my weight loss.  I lost 11 pounds in 3 weeks, and then I've used to lose another 15.  It was hard, but it helped me to realize I didn't need to eat such big portions!

Original Post by: suzystaywell

The scary thing for me about this diet is the long-term effect of messing with hormones...  Would the protocol recommended work without the hCG?  I am not criticizing those who choose this route, but just concerned about them.  Here is link to some weight loss tips that may help you.  Weight Loss Tips

Hi please can you tell me what website I can get this from as there are so many

Anyone would lose weight with that kind of calorie reduction.  Come on people.  I was one of those who had the injection when it first became "the latest miracle".  Taken to the doctor by a parent who was terribly embarrassed by her fat little girl.  By the time we got home, I was unconscious.  Thus ended my mothers embarrassment as well as the injections.

can anybody tell me which is the best site to use

I've been on this diet under the supervision of a naturopath. I've lost over 10 pounds (haven't followed the 500 cal. very closely), haven't experienced significant hunger, and have had great improvements in mood, energy, and skin (I have issues with hormone sensitivity most likely related to polycystic ovarian syndrome - think permanent teenager - acne, depression, oily hair, weight issues, etc.). This comes after being on several medications, diets, and exercise programs which had absolutely no effect, and many of which actually caused weight gain administered by a family doctor, then an endocrinology specialist at the hospital, and then the naturopath. This is the only thing that has had the slightest effect of weight loss for me, while despite intensive exercise or dieting i would not otherwise lose weight due to other health complications... If anyone is thinking of doing this, absolutely do not buy online, but find a registered, well known and respectable naturopath to treat you to get the safest and best results.

why is everyone with negativy just 'posting' and not reading what people who have taken HCG have written.  Of course eating a 500 calorie diet without HCG you will Loose weight...but your body will be in STARVATION mode..HCG prevents this as I put in my post, I wrote this underlined and bolded:

You are NOT hungry on the 500 calorie diet because the HCG takes the rest of your calories and energy from your abnormal fat deposits, not your 'normal' fat reserve which is around your organs which would happen if you did a 500 caloried diet WITHOUT the HCG

I think there is a general perception that if you're not losing weight "their way" then you are "cheating" and "not playing the weight loss game fairly." Wouldn't it be a better approach to allow people to make their own decisions about weight loss without judgment?  I certainly would not dream of telling someone else how to lose weight.  It's a very personal choice.  I do know what has worked for me.  As I posted earlier, I also lost 50 lbs under a dr. supervision, so this is not my first time to the weight loss rodeo.  I might add that I went on the hcg diet to merely lose that last ten.  I was able to maintain my 50 lb weight loss since last november, save for three pounds that i gained back.  Behavior modification is the key to success with ANY diet.

I can’t believe the criticism some people have of this diet without reading anything more than the article at the top of the page.  My wife and I are both on this diet—after reading Simeon’s book. My wife literally cried in some parts, because of how she's tried so hard (literally working out hard 50 mins each day, eating less than 1500 cals per day and STILL gaining weight – withOUT cheating!). What the naysayers do not understand is their statistical sample of ONE is usually their own, and everyone is different. Some people can eat a pound of bacon for a snack and it doesn't affect them. Lucky them. I DO agree not to fall for Internet scams. Go to a wellness clinic and get hCG through a prescription. In the past 30 days I have lost 30 lbs and my wife has lost 20. Read Simeon’s book before you cast judgment. Is behavior and portion control important? Obviously vital. But I will choose a pound per day loss on hCG while feeling fine over 1.5 per week while feeling miserable.  And yes, I really am learning to love the flavor of whole foods instead of processed "stuff." 




Post Your Comment

Join Calorie Count - It's Easy and Free!