It's no secret that the hCG diet I'm about to describe is controversial. How could it not be when it involves using a hormone produced during pregnancy while following an extremely low-calorie diet?

I also was skeptical about this diet when I first heard about it. In fact, several patients asked me a few years ago to put them on this diet and I refused.

What changed my mind: I spoke with other physicians who were prescribing the diet and came to understand that they were able to help patients lose weight-patients who hadn't been able to lose weight any other way. That convinced me. Because of the way that hCG functions in the body, it makes a very restricted diet much easier for patients. Individuals who benefit most are those who are obese-and anyone who is having difficulty losing 15 pounds or more. Find out how it can help…

How hCG Works

The compound hCG, which stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, should not be confused with human growth hormone (HGH). Instead, hCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Its main function is to enrich the uterus so that it can sustain the fetus. In this role, hCG functions as a release mechanism for stored fat and nutrients from the mother to the fetus. It also is produced in the pituitary glands of males and females of all ages. For weight loss, the hCG that I prescribe is bioidentical and comes from the urine of pregnant women.

It was discovered that when the hormone was given to women who were not pregnant (and to men), it promoted the movement of excessive fat deposits. The discovery of hCG for weight loss is credited to British endocrinologist ATW. Simeons, who found that obese patients were able to get rid of hard-to-lose fat when injected with small amounts of the hormone daily. The patients lost weight when the injections were accompanied by an extremely low-calorie diet (500 calories daily). Dr. Simeons found that hCG helped patients cope with a low-calorie diet without the side effects that usually accompany it, such as fatigue, headache and irritability. Also, hCG encourages the body to use fat as fuel-and this helps people feel less hungry when on a low-calorie diet. Dr. Simeons' work was published in the 1950s and 1960s in respected medical journals, such as The Lancet.

There is no doubt that hCG diet studies show mixed results in terms of effectiveness. But like many doctors who provide hCG treatments, I offer this treatment not because of the studies that I see on it, but because of the results that I have seen in my practice. It is a nontoxic way for people to lose weight that they would not otherwise lose.

My Protocol

I check my patients overall health before they begin this diet. I do blood tests to confirm there is no hormone imbalance or a nutritional deficiency. If patients need hormone treatment or a detoxification program, I make sure that they have these before beginning weight loss with hCG. I also perform a physical exam and an EKG if it looks as though these are needed.

Modified Diet

I have modified Dr. Simeons' original hCG diet because some of the requirements were quite difficult for patients.

Instead of a diet of 500 calories per day, my patients consume a restricted 660-calorie-per-day diet for 30 days. You might think that a difference of 160 calories is not all that much, but when you are eating this few calories, it's a significant amount.

On the Simeons plan, people ate a high-fat diet for two days before cutting out all fats. My plan does not include a two-day fat binge. Instead, my patients consume about 35% of calories from carbohydrates...18% from fat...and 47% from protein throughout the month. A typical day for a patient following my hCG diet might include a protein shake for apple or a few strawberries as a snack...and chicken or fish (three ounces per serving) with a generous amount of vegetables for lunch and dinner.

If this diet is so restricted that it causes low blood sugar or weakness, I increase the number of calories with similar food choices until the patient feels better. My patients eat healthful fats such as omega-3 fatty acids from salmon. They drink lots of water-80 to 100 ounces daily-which keeps nutrients moving through the body. At the end of 30 days, calorie intake is increased over a few days to between 1,100 and 1,300 calories. This calorie count forms the basis of the maintenance diet. Patients are able to keep the weight off indefinitely when they stay on the maintenance diet.


During treatment, I have my patients see a nutritionist once a week to review their diet and help with specific food choices. My patients take a multivitamin to prevent general nutritional deficiency as well as additional calcium and magnesium because they are not getting enough of these from food. If patients feel particularly tired, I prescribe vitamin B-12 injections. They also take low-dose fish oil.

If a patient on the diet is constipated, which happens with about 10% of patients, I recommend extra fiber, water and/or laxative herbs. If he/she is struggling with hunger, I often recommend the appetite suppressant Caralluma fimbriata and/or increase his hCG amount.

My patients have a choice between sublingual (under-the-tongue) hCG or a self-administered injection. Most patients choose the sublingual form simply because it's easier. I never recommend that hCG be purchased anywhere but at a compounding pharmacy to ensure that it is as fresh as possible. I don't advise buying hCG on the Internet.


About 90% of my patients following the diet lose about 15 to 20 pounds, and about two to three inches around their waists, in 30 days. For some patients, this is enough to kick-start their weight loss if they have more to lose.

For other patients who need to lose more weight after the first 30 days, the program can be repeated after 30 days on the maintenance diet. The hCG diet can be repeated several times, if needed.

Besides the side effects of constipation and fatigue already mentioned, hCG temporarily can increase the length of a woman's menstrual cycle and increase her fertility since it enhances ovulation, so precautions against pregnancy need to be taken if women are of childbearing age and pregnancy is not desired. There's little worry of hormone-related cancer. A study in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that women younger than 40 years old who had used hCG for weight loss or fertility had significantly less breast cancer than the group that did not use hCG. In men, hCG can stimulate testosterone production, but this does not generally cause problems.

In addition to weight-loss success, other conditions such as diabetes or arthritis also improve.

The diet changes patients' lives-it gives them energy...makes them feel healthy...and changes their outlook on eating.

Caution: This diet should be followed only while supervised by a doctor. If you haven't been able to lose weight despite trying, ask your holistic doctor about it.

Protein Curbs Overeating

University of Sydney, Australia, researchers gave lean volunteers a low-protein diet (10%). an intermediate protein diet (15%). and a high-protein diet (25%). Each participant spent four days on each diet. Those who ate the 10%protein diet consumed 12% more calories over the four days than those who ate the other menus. The additional calories were attributed to snacking because the participants did not feel full. Consuming 15% or more of your calories from protein can help curb your appetite and control weight. This confirms findings from a 2011 study published in Obesity.

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