HCG Diet Review 2016 | Does It Work For Weight Loss?

HCG Diet
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The ugly truth about the HCG diet in 2016

The HCG diet has been around for decades, but does it work and is it safe?

I’m not going to mince words: I’m calling the HCG diet yet another gimmicky, too-good-to-be-true, quick-fix diet which will leave you lighter in the wallet and less healthy in the long run.

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The diet regained popularity between 2010 and 2013 but has since lost momentum as we come into 2016. Nevertheless, it is still being sold on the internet despite the preponderance of scientific evidence showing that it has no effect on fat loss beyond that which can be accomplished by a healthy lifestyle.

What is the HCG diet?

HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin and is the hormone produced by women during pregnancy. In the 1950s, British physician Dr. Albert T. Simeons used HCG injections for the treatment of obesity. He suggested that the addition of HCG to a reduced-calorie diet might help dieters stay on track (adherence), reduce hunger cravings during food restriction, and promote fat loss.

The Simeons HCG protocol entailed daily injections of 125 international units (IU) six times per week for a total of 40 injections.  The diet component consisted of 500 calories per day broken up into two daily meals.

HCG advertising

You can easily buy HCG online in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The internet is littered with commercial websites promoting HCG as a weight loss panacea. The sites are egregiously biased to sell product and do a masterful job of overcoming objections and giving visitors that sliver of hope that it “might” work (even though the boloney detector says no). Unfortunately, these websites also crowd out reliable unbiased sites that aim to protect consumers.

Even more reputable sites like Amazon let a lot of “woo” slip through the cracks.  Check out this Amazon advertisement and you can see for yourself how false and misleading the claims are (i.e., “Lose a pound a day.” Yep, maybe a pound of muscle, carbohydrate, and body water, but it certainly won’t be a pound of fat). Keep reading for more details.

False and misleading HCG claims

In the image below, you can see the types of deceptive tactics used by HCG sellers. I note that this advert refers to the HCG drops and not the injections which would need to be administered by a medical professional.

  • No prescription required capitalises on the notion that it’s not a “poisonous pharmaceutical”
  • The claim of “natural weight loss” doesn’t really mean much but it plays on consumer fears of “chemicals”
  • The claim you can lose 1-2 pounds (~0.5 to 1 kg) per day is deceptive and misleading. It is not physiologically possible to lose this much fat in 24 hours. Crash diets are unhealthy and can set you back in the long-term.
  • The claim that homeopathic HCG is safe is likely due to the fact that it has no effect in the body, but the claim that it’s effective is false.
  • “Same results as in an HCG clinic” is competition bashing meant to lower your guard and make you think it’s easy to lose weight without the hassle of going to a clinic.
  • “Proven to increase your energy levels” is a false claim. No scientific evidence supports this.
  • “HCG converts fat into nutrients without loss of muscle” is a false claim. Converts fat into what nutrients?
hcg diet review
Misleading HCG diet advertisement. Click to enlarge.

Legal action against HCG marketers

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came down on several HCG marketers for making false claims exactly like those in the above image. Even more disturbing is that they sold their products through major retail outlets like GNC, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. This is particularly concerning since consumers might assume the products are safe and effective since they are sold in reputable pharmacies.

The FTC maintains that Kevin Write and his companies, HCG Platinum and Right Way Nutrition, LLC, promise consumers that HCG Platinum liquid drops will cause fast and significant weight loss similar to that of the endorsers in their advertisements.

Dr Oz HCG diet stamp of approval

The HCG diet even made the rounds on the Dr Oz show. This might sound like the stamp of approval you’re looking for, but before you get too excited, let’s not forget Dr Oz has copped a lot of heat in recent years for peddling bogus weight loss remedies. Many high ranking doctors and academics have even called for his resignation from Columbia University for his promotion of quackery.

In one of his segments, he gave airtime to a woman who is pushing her own rebranded version of the HCG diet.  She claims to have conducted “research” but, in fact, this was nothing more than an impromptu “study” she pulled together that was not reviewed by other scientists (called “peer-review”). The only “evidence” she has for her diet is that she was on the Dr Oz show, and that’s no evidence at all.

HCG diet research

In the early to mid 1970s, HCG diet studies started surfacing in peer-reviewed medical journals. A 1973 study by Asher and Harper showed positive results but was later slammed for poor methodology, with subsequent studies consistently debunking its use as ineffective for weight loss.

1983 HCG review article

A 1983 report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reviewed all evidence up to that point and concluded that:

  • “HCG has no known effect on fat mobilization, appetite, or sense of hunger, or body fat distribution.
  • HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy for obesity.
  • There is no evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction.
  • There is no evidence that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat.
  • There is no evidence that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.
  • Adverse effects may include headache, irritability, restlessness, depression, fatigue, edema, precocious puberty, gynecomastia, pain at injection site.

1995 HCG meta-analysis

A 1995 meta-analysis (a combined statistical analysis) published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology evaluated 8 uncontrolled and 16 controlled research reports. The authors concluded:

  • Most studies were of poor methodological quality (scores ranged from 16 to 73 points baed on a 100 point scale. Higher points meant better quality)
  • Of the 12 studies that scored 50 or more points, only one reported that HCG was useful
  • There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity
  • HCG does not bring about weight loss or fat redistribution
  • HCG does not reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being

For a more detailed breakdown of the evidence, you can read Joe Cannon’s HCG research review here.

HCG injections vs. sublingual HCG drops

One of the most blatantly obvious holes in the HCG diet marketing armor is the fact that they trump up the outdated claims by Dr. Simeons and conveniently neglect to mention that all early research was based upon HCG injections.

As of this writing, there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that sublingual HCG (under the tongue) has any effect on fat loss and preservation of muscle.

In the image below, the advertiser falsely claims that HCG drops are “clinically proven” (which means nothing) and are effective for inducing ridiculously large amounts of daily weight loss (not fat loss). They also take liberties by making it look like it has been approved by the FDA.

hcg diet drops
Deceptive HCG drops advertisement. Click to enlarge.

A promotional website for oral HCG has links for additional “research and information” but when I visited the page and examined the references, it was obvious that nearly all the studies were just general obesity papers that had little or no bearing whatsoever on the usefulness of sublingual HCG drops.

500 calorie HCG diet

Though HCG diet advertisers spout off the benefits of their sublingual drops, they neglect to mention that this is simply a very low 500 calorie diet. There is no question that weight loss will occur on such an irresponsibly low and unsupervised regimen, but I would question the extent to which HCG diet drops play a role in this weight loss.

This tactic is nothing new. Other questionable products such as Calorad have banked on this technique by duping consumers into eating a low-calorie diet and then hoodwinking them into thinking the weight loss was a result of the product.

HCG diet limitations and warnings

1) Muscle loss

A VERY important drawback to low-calorie regimens like the HCG diet is the fact that not only will you lose fat, but your body will break down valuable muscle necessary to stoke the flames of your metabolism.

Such a low calorie regimen cannot be realistically maintained for an extended period of time and, when you go back to eating normally, your reduced muscle mass (lower metabolism) will leave you more susceptible to weight regain (yo-yo dieting).

2) Safety

A 500 calorie diet is very low energy and ideally should be supervised by a responsible bariatric physician or university-qualified dietitian (not a self-styled “nutritionist”). Generally speaking, a diet of less than 1200 calories is likely to be nutritionally deficient in terms of the main macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat) and vitamins and minerals.

I see that the HCG promoters include a B-complex vitamin, but this is like brining a band-aid to a train crash. This should not lull you into a false sense of safety. If you have underlying health issues such as poorly controlled diabetes or other metabolic conditions, you should first visit your doctor for guidance.

3) Unrealistic weight loss

Promotional materials for the HCG diet tout that you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) per day.    Responsible health practitioners recommend a safe and healthy weight loss of approximately 1-2 pounds per week, NOT per day.

Any rapid weight loss, particularly that induced by such a drastically low-calorie regimen, will activate the body’s famine response which will reduce your metabolism and make your body more resistant to giving up its fat stores.

4) Hallmark signs of quackery

One website promotes “the HCG diet is considered one of the fastest and safest ways to lose weight and keep it off.”

There is no legitimate, independent scientific evidence to corroborate this claim. There is no such thing as both “fast” and “safe” weight loss. As I stated above, healthy weight loss should fall in the range of 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) of fat per week. See my article on 13 ways to keep fat off for life.

The claim that HCG will help you “keep it off” is completely misguided. After coming off a 500 calorie diet, you’re likely to not only gain back the lost weight, but will probably end up fatter than before you started the diet.

5) Doctor recommended

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to selling hokey diets and nostrums.  The world loves to slam doctors for knowing nothing about nutrition, yet the minute a doctor puts out a diet book or hawks a miracle weight loss product, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to shell out their hard earned cash.

So what’s it going to be?  You can’t have both.

In the case of the HCG diet, as I said, this is a very low calorie regimen and really SHOULD be supervised by a responsible physician.   But save your money on the HCG portion, as its use is not supported by the preponderance of peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

6) Homeopathic HCG diet

It was only a matter of time until the homeopathy camp jumped on the bandwagon to get their share of the pie.  As with sublingual HCG drops, there is no objective evidence that a homeopathic version would have any impact on weight loss.  In fact, because it is diluted to the point that the original active ingredient no longer exists, it is unlikely to exert any effect in the body.

Does the HCG diet work?

I wish there was such thing as magic weight loss drops, but unfortunately the HCG diet is unlikely to result in any lasting weight loss  (losing weight is easy, keeping it off is difficult).

Bear in mind these final take home points:

  • The scientific evidence strongly refutes popular marketing claims and any weight loss experienced is  attributable to the extreme reduction in caloric intake.
  • Outdated “evidence” used to promote the product has since been discredited by the mainstream scientific community.
  • HCG marketing is egregiously false and deceptive and does more to confuse consumers than genuinely inform. Federal action has been taken against HCG sellers for such false claims.

I recommend avoiding HCG diet, as it is yet another unsubstantiated quick-fix diet which is unlikely to result in long-term weight loss and weight loss maintenance.


  1. Asher WL, Harper HW.
    Am J Clin Nutr. 1973 Feb;26(2):211-8.
    Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger, and feeling of well-being.
  2. Ballin JC, White PL.
    JAMA. 1974 Nov 4;230(5):693-4.
    Fallacy and hazard. Human chorionic gonadotropin-500-calorie diet and weight reduction.
  3. Young RL, Fuchs RJ, Woltjen MJ.
    JAMA. 1976 Nov 29;236(22):2495-7.
    Chorionic gonadotropin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study.
  4. Birmingham CL, Smith KC.
    Can Med Assoc J. 1983 May 15;128(10):1156-7.
    Human chorionic gonadotropin is of no value in the management of obesity.
  5. G K Lijesen, I Theeuwen, W J Assendelft, and G Van Der Wal
    Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 September; 40(3): 237–243.
    The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis.
  6. Harvard Womens Health Watch
    What Do You Know About the HCG Diet?


    • Thanks Dr. Naomi. Please share this article and take a stand for responsible health and integrity in advertising!

      • Hi Bill. Tai from Porirua Wellington. How are you? Awesome website! How did I come across it? Not sure!
        Texted KEn to tell him I came across your website and said he has been trying to find out
        where you are based these days. Hope to hear from you soon

        Great work you are doing!
        Bless you!

  1. I can concur 100% with your findings Bill. I also reviewed the research on HCG and likewise found no good proof for weight loss.

    The Asher and Harper study you mentioned should be viewed with skepticism because the researcher who handled the data collection had an HCG weight loss clinic. As you know, this opens up all sorts of issues relating to the scientific method.

    The point about homeopathic HCG ads is also valid – they base their “proof” on the work done on HCG injections (which as you also point out, has been repeatedly been shown not to work).

    The research clearly shows that it’s the 500 calories per day that people eat, that causes weight loss – not HCG injections or HCG supplements.

    One of my rules of science is that when faced with 2 answers to a question, it’s usually the simple answer that is the correct answer.

    The simple answer here is that people lose with on the HCG diet because they are only eating 500 calories per day.

    Researchers have given people HCG injections and 500 calories per day and compared them to people who only got 500 calories per day (no HCG). They lose the same amount of weight.

    If anyone reading these words uses HCG to help weight loss, ask the person who sells you the HCG this question “can you show me a published study that HCG helps weight loss?”.

    There is no good proof that it helps anyone lose weight.

    This is especially true for people who sell homeopathic HCG drops. There is zero proof for oral HCG supplements and weight loss.

    • What more can I say Joe? Couldn’t agree more. The HCG Diet is a classic case of deception by omission. It’s not what their marketing literature is telling you, rather what it’s NOT telling you. The real smoking gun here is that HCG injections have been shown ineffective. Period. Yet all the products being hawked to consumers are oral HCG drops for which there is no body of evidence to support their use. I can only hope consumers are not duped by hokey websites run by people only interested in profit and not the genuine health and well-being of their customers.

  2. Hey Dr Bill, yet again another well written expose on a fad diet that does not have an ounce of scientific evidence behind it!

    I love your no nonsense approach to reviewing such products and will be sharing this with all my clients and friends. I totally agree that there should be some regulatory body that insists all ‘diets’ are backed up with scientific evidence.

    Keep them coming and thanks for caring and sharing!

    • Thanks Shaz, while I do like to be a bit more diplomatic in my approach, I find that a bit more of an emotion-charged debunking may be what resonates with consumers. People have said, “oh your article is biased” but I see this more from the perspective of providing a balancing out of egregiously lopsided marketing. No question HCG Diet marketing materials are borderline illegal, if not downright deceptive and devoid of all ethical obligations. Sigh….

  3. This is all very interesting, I do agree with the information around homeopathic treatments. It does not explain however why i’m currently on the HCG diet, as prescribed by my doctor, and are not experiencing crippling hunger pains. I’m not hungry and if I do feel hungry shortly after using the product I am no longer hungry. I have not been able to lose weight due to a medical condition and now it’s falling off, and trust me I know how to diet and exercise. On one day I ate more than my calorie allotment and actually put on weight. Your article also does not explain why every single one of the nurses at my doctors office have used the diet, lost weight and have kept off the weight once resuming a normal diet. Perhaps you need to research this better yourself rather than relying on third party information?

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Thank you for your comment. The cause of obesity is multifactorial and treatments can be just as varied. Individual responses to a given treatment may differ from person to person, where others may experience hunger pangs, it appears that you do not. I have absolutely no doubt that the weight is falling off at a recommended intake of 500 calories per day. This was never in question at all. The crux of my argument is that from an objective, science-based perspective, there is no substantive body of empirical evidence to support the use of HCG drops for weight loss. This is a case where one must separate cause and effect from coincidence. The cause and effect is that you’re consuming a very low number of calories each day and weight loss is the only logical outcome. However, I would venture to say that it is coincidence that this weight loss happens to be occurring in tandem with your use of sublingual HCG (and you’d probably be losing the exact same amount of weight without HCG drops).

      Regarding the nurses in your doctor’s office, as with your experience on this diet, I have no doubt that they’re losing weight on such a low energy intake, but because their story is coming to me as an anecdotal reference, I could not comment without being fully informed of their entire clinical picture. As I’ve written in numerous articles and blog posts in the past, “losing weight” is not the particularly difficult part, rather keeping it off over the long-term (3-5 years out) is difficult. While many popular diets boast numerous weight loss successes, they would hold more practical value if put into a proper long-term context.

      Regarding your reference to relying on third party information, I specifically cited scientific peer-reviewed journal articles because it undergoes rigorous evaluation by independent scientists. Third party anecdotal testimonials like the the reference to the nurses are not scientific and would not be relied upon in any scientific forum as evidence of efficacy. BUT, I do think it’s noteworthy to mention that testimonials, if compelling enough, can certainly serve as an impetus for creating research hypotheses. All scientific theories must be viewed in a tentative light until new research challenges those theories and may perhaps topple them in due time. Thanks again for your contribution.

  4. Carolyn
    First off, I am very glad you are losing weight! I must concur with what Bill has already said, namely that there is no good proof that HCG drops + 500 calories per day work any better for weight loss than just eating 500 calories per day. There is likewise no good proof that HCG injections + 500 calories per day are any better than only eating 500 calories.

    I did my own research review on sublingual HCG for weight loss and I couldn’t find any studies on it either.

    I’ll be the first to admit that, a lack of evidence is not the proof that something does not work, but if we look at the studies that have been done on HCG injections, the research is clear that HCG injections + 500 calories per day are no better for weight loss than only eating 500 calories per day.

    I would think that since HCG is injected, that it would (in theory) be much more powerful for weight loss than HCG given in sub lingual solution taken by mouth. But, if that really were true, how is it that the more powerful way (injections) does not work?

    Carolyn, again I’m really glad you are losing weight. Can you please do me a personal favor and ask your doctor this question: “How can sub-lingual HCG help weight loss when 99% the research on HCG injections shows HCG injections dont help weight loss?”

    I have never had the chance to ask a doctor who uses HCG this question and I really want to understand their reasoning. If you could help me with this, I would be eternally grateful to you!

  5. Can you explain to me why I am not experiencing the hunger pains and the dizziness that is associated with a VLCD? I’ve tried to cut my intact down to 1200 calories in the past have experienced a large range of symptoms including dizziness and hunger not to mention the extreme crankiness. I have none of these on less calories. I should also mention i’ve lost none of the “fun” bits of my shape which includes my breasts, they are the same size but i’ve lost all of the thyroid weight I put on including that around my back. I have been unable to lose any weight previous to this experience, i’ve tried everything and I exercise each day and eat very very well.

    I’m sure people who are fat due to laziness or lack of knowledge may not have this success and I would not recommend it to them. but for someone who has suffered weight gain due to medical conditions I would strongly recommend trying.


  7. Dr Bill –
    I’m a nutritionist, a health radio host, and a chronic guinea pig for all things nutrition. I have taken a stance similar to yours regarding HCG for all the reasons you stated, and also because of my distaste for the widespread overuse of hormone products for every variety of condition.

    A physician I’ve worked with asked me to reconsider my feelings on this, offering me the results of his own use, as well as those of his patients, (who granted permission for him to show me their records). He kept meticulous notes, including bodyfat-to-muscle ratios. He and I also have experience working with people who have gone on prolonged fasts, as well as extreme hypocaloric diets like this one, and we’ve looked at the differences in what those people tend to experience vs what they experience on HCG.

    Much to my chagrin, it is obvious that something is going on here apart from mere weight loss due to low calories. Muscle mass has been retained, for example, which is something we never see in fasting patients. Fat loss is extraordinary and far exceeds either fasting or mere low calorie dieting. And while the results are more pronounced in those folks who use injections rather than drops, even those using drops have results that exceed anything either of us have seen in the past.

    No, there’s no way you can verify what I’m saying, which makes it anecdotal and not credible by scientific standards. I should tell you that I’m still not in favor of using HCG because of my concerns about the possible hormone disruption that could occur. But I have to admit that what I’m seeing is remarkable and is qualitatively quite different from anything I’ve seen either with fasting or with extremely low-calorie dieting.

    As for the studies you cite, I think they should be weighed heavily in the minds of physicians who prescribe this regimen. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t relay my memories of the 80’s when I first entered nutrition research. I was struck by a plethora of studies which tried to prove that anabolic steroids did nothing to enhance body mass or performance. This corresponded to a concerted effort to try to stop the increasing interest by young men to use these drugs for sports and bodybuilding. Two decades later, steroids are routinely prescribed to middle aged men (albeit, in sane amounts) for the very reasons that young men in the 80’s were taking them, and today it would be laughable to suggest that steroids don’t do what everyone always knew they did. The studies may have tried to convince us otherwise, but professional athletes have a way of doing what works – even if it’s at the expense of their health.

    My feeling is that based on what my eyes are telling me, HCG is working – perhaps at the expense of people’s long-term health. Maybe we’ll see a couple of decades pass and a more sane HCG approach is discovered, much like steroids. I don’t know. But while I cannot recommend HCG or ridiculous anabolic steroid use, neither can I deny what is plainly there in each of those cases, regardless of what the studies are asking me not to see in patient after patient after patient.
    Best to you and thanks for your work.

    • Thanks for your comments Kyle. As you mentioned, anecdotal testimonials are not scientific in nature and are therefore not conclusive evidence of efficacy. There are cases where people “believe” that a product is working for them because they “want” it to work for them (i.e., placebo effect). However, it may be that there is still no demonstrable improvement in any clinical markers. For this reason, we still need to see proper clinical trials conducted with the results published in the peer-reviewed medical literature. I do recognize that this may sound rigid, but to not do so is to let hokey diet promoters continue to sell the public something with no credible support.

      Is it possible that the HCG diet is doing something good in the body? As with any diet, pill, or exercise gadget, there is a theoretical, albeit small, possibility that anything could have a beneficial effect in the body. But what really matters is what the preponderance of evidence has to say. Many years ago, a friend of mine was a health/science editor at one of the top-selling muscle magazines in the entire United States. He has legitimate credentials (a PhD) but, when writing about dietary supplements (or diets), upper management told him to view every supplement from the perspective of “if there’s even a 1% chance that the pill could work, then isn’t that enough?” He resigned in disgust and refuse to sell out his credentials. The financial success of all those “muscle comics” are hinged upon selling useless supplements with little to nil scientific support. Flip through the advertising and this much is obvious. The business is money and the storefront is fitness, diets, pills, etc.

      Regarding HCG, sure, there’s a chance that it “could” work, but the preponderance of evidence says otherwise. The testimonials you mention certainly could give rise to future studies which may eventually go on to prove its efficacy. But as of this conversation, the HCG diet is sadly still being sold via deceptive marketing.

      Thanks again for visiting the site and for your comment. Cheers,

  8. I have been trying to get objective information about this supplement for months. So glad to find I don’t need to waste my money.
    I am also disturbed by the ethics of promoting products that one knows to be ineffective and/or unsafe, unsuitable for certain populations etc. I personally will not promote any product that I research and find to be lacking what the company claims it’s supposed to have or do. I also don’t like misleading people for profit.

  9. Hi Bill! Thanks for your words of wisdom. I go to your site to read on many different topics before trying or purchasing a number of products. I understand your view on the HCG drops and homeopathic versions of HCG, but I must say, I have had the same experience as Carolyn, Betty, and Kyle. Sure it makes sense that you will lose weight on a VLCD, however, like the others, it has reshaped my body and I did NOT feel any hunger during the protocol. I was fortunate not to have experienced the headaches and fatigue that some have experienced. I just felt invigorated and happy all of the time. And that I am sure is because I was started to look good and healthy again. The protocol has helped me to learn portion control and awareness on the “good” foods to eat. Healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats, organic vs. chemically induced foods, addiction to sugars, etc. I also hope that in the future Doctors find that HCG is healthy for all of us whom have tried it! After-all, why would our bodies produce HCG during pregnancies if in fact it would be harmful to a human fetus? My research is strictly researching articles by professionals like yourself and I know that everybody has an opinion and facts, however it does amaze me that those “facts” are often unjustified. I can only hope that in the end my experience with HCG continues to help me make proper decisions regarding nutrition and enthused with the quality of a healthy, happy, long life!

    • Hi Kim,
      Thank you for taking time out to write such a thoughtful comment. I wish to commend you on your success and hope this carries on for the long-term. I don’t think anyone questions that weight loss occurs in tandem with the HCG diet due to the low calorie nature of the regimen. However, I remain skeptical that the results are a direct result of any physiological effect of oral HCG administration. HCG is a protein structure (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_chorionic_gonadotropin) which, if taken orally, would likely be broken down by stomach acid and digested/absorbed in much the same way as an egg or piece of chicken. This is usually an inherent limitation of taking any protein containing substance (friendly bacteria etc).

      You should also be aware that my main intention was to report on the scientific evidence behind the HCG diet and, as of this writing, there is no conclusive evidence that it does what promoters say. The onus should be on them to make sure they are selling something that actually has evidence of efficacy before going to market. Unfortunately, many consumers willingly spend their money on wishful shrinking when, in most cases, it is really just a clever way to get people to reduce their energy intake. Another great example of this is my post on Calorad which, similar to the HCG diet, is a protein-based substance that would unlikely survive the digestive tract intact.

      Again, I am happy that you have achieved the results you were looking for, but I also think you should take more credit for your results than you’re giving to the supplement. I would suggest that you do a little experiment where you continue with what you’re eating but without the HCG and see if your results continue on the same path. The thing is, while personal experience may be real to each of us, it can also be misleading in that we may not consider all the confounding variables which might explain why we got the results we did. Also consider if supplements contain other ingredients which could actually have contributed to the results instead of the main ingredient.

      Going back to the scientific evidence for HCG, you have to remember that a scientific study tries to eliminate the confounding variables and discern whether or not those results stemmed from the supplement or other factors. I am just the messenger in this case and, for what it’s worth, I would like to see more scientific studies come out which would shed more light on this. But until then, oral HCG still appears to be just another too-good-to-be-true regimen with no independent scientific support.

      Yours in health,

  10. Thanks Bill for your response. Gosh, you are one intelligent man! I will continue to follow your site. VERY informative! I just wanted to mention that I have the same thoughts on oral HCG as well. I chose the injections because my Doctor also agrees with you regarding the oral “homeopathic” drops. It just didn’t make sense to me to ingest tiny drops that have to go through the digestive tract process, not to mention the quality of them… are they real, or fake? I felt the injections went “right to the source”, and from a good Pharmacy Compounding source. Perhaps it is silly, and thank you for your vote of confidence. I will consider some of the supplements I had been taking as a variable. Have you got any suggestions as to what supplements are helpful with weight loss? I just can’t keep up with Dr. Oz! Seems he endorses many weight loss methods, and then retracts his statements made on his show at a later time (via the internet). I brought up several of products talked about on the show, and my Doctor just kindly smiled and said, “Yes, a lady asked me about that the other day. I’ve never heard of such a thing.” Things that make you go… hmmm. Well, I do believe in supplements, but the factors and the quantities are so very confusing! As with everything, there are many different views and advise on each and everyone of them. Ugh. Perhaps I’ll spend the morning studying your site. I’m sure I’ll find many things to enlighten me! Thank you again for your words of wisdom. I really appreciate you!

    Great day!


    • Hi Kim,
      Again, thanks for writing such a thoughtful message and for the kind words. I assure you, I don’t live just to spend my days slamming dietary supplements. When it all comes down to it, I’m ok with people spending money on products and experimenting on themselves provided there are no clearly defined health risks. Assuming no imminent danger, then by all means indulge. However, on a different level, when I see products being trumped up with more hype and fancy marketing than legitimate scientific support, then I deem it to be economic deception (i.e., don’t let the truth get in the way of a good sales strategy). I’ve also been accused of being “biased” but I think this is unfair. Where slick marketing is explicitly lopsided and biased, conveniently omitting inconvenient truths, then it’s my duty to categorically take them to task and provide the balance to those slick marketing claims. So if that makes me biased, then so be it, but my aim is to simply provide consumers with the other side of the story.

      As for supplements which are helpful for weight loss, I think it’s important to note that even if a supplement does increase metabolic rate a little bit (herbal uppers, etc), it is not likely to increase it to the extent that it results in massive increases in calorie expenditure. I believe consumers expect something along the lines of a Pink Floyd laser light show when in fact the difference is not quite as much as people would expect. It is far more prudent to take up moderate to high-intensity exercise to stimulate the metabolic rate. Supplements like ma huang (ephedrine) and guarana (caffeine) will induce a mild increase in metabolic rate but there are still defined health risks and the increase isn’t really all that much. In short, lifestyle changes maintained over the long-haul will result in a more sustainable healthy weight. Not quite the sexy recommendation that supplement companies promise, but I’ve been in this biz for 22 years while most of them have since folded once the profits dried up.

      As for Dr. Oz, you make an interesting observation. He is a legitimate doctor though my fear is that his show’s been hijacked by sponsors and other vested interests. Some of the quacks and garbage he provides a platform for are absolutely insidious and do more harm to public health than good. From the sounds of it, your doctor seems to share similar views. I think some of Dr. Oz’s general health recommendations are good, though he has gone a bit fringe and, now more than ever, I believe it’s important to be more skeptical of the things highlighted on his show.

      Sorry to sound like I’m pissing on the parade, but I guess I’ve just seen so many things come and go over the years that it’s easy to see history repeat itself. The same sales strategies that were used in the early to mid 90s to hawk products (with little to no objective scientific evidence) are still just as effective today (sadly). As I mentioned above, my main concerns are two-fold: 1) I want to know something is safe and unlikely to result in long-term health problems; and 2) that it is not an economic fraud (legitimate scientific evidence). Beyond that, I’m not bothered by people spending their hard-earned money on something that may or may not work. I know it sounds cliche, but the placebo effect is still alive and well. Intention can play a strong role in one’s expectation of improvement. If you go to the doctor, you have an expectation of improving….and likely will even if they don’t do much for you. Similarly, taking a supplement with the intention that it will strip off the fat might subliminally push you to keep up with your healthy eating and exercise. So you have to ask if it’s a case of cause and effect (supplement did it) or coincidence that you just so happened to be taking a supplement while you were putting in the hard effort and doing your time in the gym and eating right.

      Thanks again for your comment, Kim. Really great to see you taking the time out to leave a carefully considered comment.
      Yours in health,

  11. This article is well written but doesn’t seem to be a “no strings attached” kind of article. Any nutritionist will tell you that cutting out 500 calories a day will result in 1 pound of weight lost per week. Even if the average caloric intake was 3500 calories a day that would only be 5 pounds a week. How do you explain all of these people losing 1-2 pounds a day even on a restricted diet?

    • It is likely that people losing up to 2 pounds (1 kg) of scale weight per day are losing water weight, lean mass (muscle), fat, and exhausting their glycogen stores. But it’s highly unlikely that anyone is losing 2 pounds of stored body fat in a 24 hour period (i.e., 7000 calories).

  12. In 1975 I went on the “shots” diet and lost 40 pounds in 30 days. I don’t know about anyone else but, this sight seems like a sight set-up to ditch hCG. I kept the weight off for three years then 1. I got married, 2. Moved to Bakersfield from Sacrmento and 3. Started a practice all in one month. The stress help me regain some of the weight. But, I did kept it off for three years.

    If you talk about the homeopathic remedies, as far as hCG it is much less effective but, it does work. I have tried it. Stress seems to be the major factor in my own case.

    • I agree with you. I find it really difficult to believe in what other’s write or say about subjects when they have ZERO personal experience to back up their comments.

  13. After quitting smoking in my mid 40’s I gained 40 lbs. and was unable to lose it. I tried just about everything to lose weight and my weight wouldn’t budge. I tried the HCG Protocol and lost 20 lbs. in 41 days and felt great. I also kept the weight off for well over a year and then “let” myself overeat and gained half of it back. Yes, you will lose weight on a VLCD, however, you will feel as though you are starving. On the HCG my hunger was manageable and the fat loss was from the right places. I felt really good on it and will do another round and hope that this time I will have learned my lesson and will not regain what I lost.

    My advice – speaking from personal experience – if you really want to lose and have been unsucessful, give it a try. It changes your mindset about food, especially processed food (which you won’t want anymore) and that helps you to make the right food choices when you’re not following the protocol. If you gain weight back that’s plain old overindulging like I did, not the protocol’s fault.

  14. I wish I could say that I “wish” I had read your article two months ago but, knowing me, I would have tried the diet anyway. The anectodal evidence was just pulling me to try this. Wish I hadn’t. Ended up having some rather serious side effects. My heart was beating erratically and would race at night. It changed my cycle and my second period only three weeks after my first on this was so heavy that I really thought I was going to pass out. As for hunger pains, well, I’ve done other diets in the past and I know with all certainty that once your body adjusts, it tends to go away. That was the same case here. My only question though is that after reading that hCG is not really absorbed under the tongue and is rendered useless when swallowed, why did this affect my cycle so? By the way, I did lost a bit of weight but once I stopped, even while not overdoing it, I was gaining again. I’ve put a stop to it and am losing by doing this diet without the drops. Let me say though, when say I’m doing this diet, I’m really saying that I’m eating all the healthy foods but more of them and adding breakfast. I’m probably getting between 1200 to 1300 calories right now a day and have been losing just as quickly as while taking the hormone.

    • Hi Kay,
      Thank you for your comment. In answer to your question regarding why you had side effects, it is difficult to say without you having been checked out by your doc and knowing something about your clinical lab values (blood). One of the things about this diet is that it is a very low calorie diet. I can’t be certain that it wasn’t the dramatic reduction in energy intake, but even this would seem to be an odd side effect.

      It doesn’t surprise me that you’re continuing to lose weight eating around 1300 calories. That is still reasonably low and you would not want to go much lower without having it sanctioned by a responsible health practitioner like a bariatric physician or registered dietitian. You run the risk of nutritional inadequacy by eating too little.

      I think another point you raise which should be a story others can learn from is that even without the HCG drops, you are continuing with a low calorie regimen and losing weight. I maintain that the predominant reason for weight loss is likely due to the low calorie nature of the HCG diet. Use the drops or not, if you’re eating less, you should be losing weight (or maintaining weight loss). Consider someone who went from eating, say, 4000 calories per day comprised of fish and chips, burgers, 2-liter bottles of Coke down to eating less than 1000 calories per day virtually overnight. It is a MASSIVE shock to the system to cut 3000 calories out of the picture.

      Anyway, keep up the good work and, if you become symptomatic again, I would suggest getting a proper work up with blood tests etc to see what’s happening on the inside. Knowledge is power!


  15. Hi Bill and thanks so much for your response! Yes, I do have an appointment with my hemotologist. I have no doubt whatsoever that any female who has issues with iron and anemia should NOT do this diet. Thankfully I had just had iron infusions before beginning this or I have no doubt this would have been much worse for me. I am also making at appointment with my OB-GYN.

    So, I am really skeptical now about what is in this bottle of hCG drops. Of course, under ingredients, it only says ‘propietary blend 120ml’. I’ve actually read that this is possibly just some unsafe appetite suppressants. It does list under active ingredients ‘hCG 3x,6x,12x,30x,60x’. Do you have any idea what that means? What I would give to get these ingredients tested. I had a friend in the Army who developed serious heart issues because he took Fen Phen.

    I’ll leave you updated on my non-hCG hCG diet. I know from doing Weight Watchers after the birth of my son that this is more calories a day than I was doing on that program! By the way, Weight Watchers worked and I kept off all that weight until I had my daughter. I only really want to lose another 10 lbs or so so not sure how much longer I’ll be trying this experiment.

    Thanks again. Really appreciate the feedback because this diet really concerns me now.

    • Hi Kay,
      Regarding HCG drops, there is no compelling evidence that it would even make it past the stomach acid and to the target cells. I’ve not seen any legitimate evidence that oral HCG does anything. The anecdotal testimonials are likely a direct result of drastically cutting calories and not much to do with the drops.

      However, if the company is shifty and unethical, then they could plausibly be selling an adulterated product over the internet. It’s easier to be amorphous so if people do end up sick or die from the product, then they cannot be easily located.

      HCG injection are another option I’ve seen but, rest assured, screwing around with your hormones can be a very risky proposition. I strongly urge people to talk to a responsible doctor (not some new age wackjob selling you fairy dust) before tinkering with hormones.

      Those numbers you are referring to appear to be referring to dilutions. I do not know if this is a homeopathic remedy, but it may be the amount the product has been diluted. While some people swear by their homeopathic remedies, we really don’t have any evidence that the HCG version does anything more than the pills.

      Let us know how you go with your doctor and lab values.
      Kind regards,

  16. Oh, one more question for you. The brand of hCG drops I’ve used is Omnitrition. They *claim* this is pharmaceutical grade hCG. If that were true, could they be selling it via the internet?

    • Hi Kay, I strongly urge people to be careful what they buy over the internet. For example, a diet pill called Maxiloss was found to be adulterated with a prescription drug Subtramine! Of course it worked. It had a drug in it! Here is the link: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm340967.htm It was labeled a supplement and sold over the counter so people are none the wiser. It is very much a case of buyer beware. There are far too many unscrupulous criminals out there selling things that are adulterated and, until someone has a reaction and ends up in the hospital (or dies), then they get away with their scam.

      As for Omnitrition (add a .com for the site), I have reviewed their website and it looks like a low-budget operation. If you look at their website you will see that they used a cheap template which still has the words “this is a short description” next to the main categories. It basically means they needed to slap something up on the internet but were not meticulous enough to even care about the finer details. Not a good sign.

      I can’t be sure they’re doing anything illegal like selling adulterated products, but using the words “pharmaceutical grade” is very misleading and unethical.

      • That report is scary. I’ve developed yet another issue due to these drops. This was such a huge mistake on my part. I am looking into getting the bottle of hCG drops evaluated. It really will depend upon how expensive it is to do so. Omnitrition hCG drops are really making the rounds on Facebook. They delete any comments of serious side effect or complaints on their forum so a very one-sided view is presented.

        Thank you so much for your time with this. I really appreciate it.

  17. I have done the HCG diet by Dr. Simeons sublingual and lost 35 pounds in 30 days. ait does in fact work.

    • Physiologically, it’s unlikely you lost just over a pound of FAT per day on the HCG diet. You clearly lost scale weight but I would question the composition of that weight loss. I’d venture to say you lost a fair amount of muscle and water in addition to a bit of fat. However, when you realise you can’t sustain a diet of 500 calories per day indefinitely, that’s when you start to put the weight back on again, at which time your body begins to buffer against further weight loss attempts. Better to stick to a nutrient rich, healthy diet with adequate calories.

  18. Well, if there is no proof, how did I manage to lose 31.8kgs and 186 centimetres all over my body, predominantly over my problem areas…..ON HCG?….

    True anyone will lose weight on a 500calorie diet, but the addition of HCG helps your body to burn the abnormal fat…and the protocol clearly states that the maintenance period is what is most important….. it is not about the diet, it is about how willing you are to change the way you think and feel about food, and that can be said about any diet…..

    before using HCG I was grossly obese…. unhealthy and at risk of my cancer returning because of me being obese…. Now I am at goal weight, healthy and happy….. If you have not tried it, don’t slam it….It works, if a person is willing to put everything into it

    Ohhh and did I mention? I hardly have any loose skin except for some bingo wings because I chose to do toning exercises all the way through the process….

  19. What a great article on the HCG diet! What a scam! You appear very committed to your subject, which is a refreshing change of pace. I bet your content will soon get picked up by a major syndicate. Thank you for bringing this information out and showing the world that HCG is a rip-off. It’s much appreciated!

  20. I have been on this diet in the seventies in Cape Town SA under the supervision of dr sacks. He was running clinics with workshops and the results were amazing. We were loosing weight and we all looked great but like all these diets we all picked up this weight again. It was later discovered by the university of Cape Town that one could follow the diet without the injection and still loose the same amount of weight as when using the hormone. I can still remember the diet by heart. The only thing I can’t remember was the maintenance programme which I don’t think I followed religiously

    • You “lose weight” but you’re not losing as much fat as you might think. You’re also losing muscle due to it being a very low calorie diet, pretty much a starvation diet. With your famine response activated, it’s no wonder you and your friends gained back the weight and then some.

  21. Totally agree, these fad diets generally don’t work. They might work short term, but it’s not addressing the issue: Your lifestyle needs to change to make long term changes, and they need to change in a manner you’re happy to keep with for life. It’s a shame the media gets more attention with their rubbish than Doctors do with scientific research!

  22. The worst diet injection I have ever bought, used the injection for a month and I gain all my weight. As if someone is injecting me with fat every day. It has messed up my hormones, I cannot loose weight anymore. Used the injection for 1 month and 3 months later, unstoppable weight gain.