What to think of the HCG diet?
With the HCG diet, those who want to lose weight inject or take a pregnancy hormone and only eat 500 kilocalories a day. Experts warn against this weight loss method
Squirt you slim? HCG injections are not approved for weight loss
© Fotolia / Benicce
Hollywood celebrities lead the way: everyone has to look perfect. Not a gram too much on the hips. And many women try to emulate their slender idols. A dangerous trend that supports the dubious business with alleged super diets. According to media reports, a weight loss method used by some superstars is the HCG diet. HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin. This is a hormone that the placenta produces during pregnancy to help keep it going.
As early as 1954, the English doctor Dr. Albert Simeons developed a controversial weight loss method with the hormone: Those who wanted to lose weight reduced their daily energy intake to a maximum of 500 kilocalories. To understand: an average woman needs around 1800 kilocalories a day, a man around 2300 kilocalories - the actual values of course always depend on age, weight, height and physical activity and can therefore be higher. In order to allegedly reduce very special fat deposits, dieters are injected with a certain dose of HCG practically every day during the hunger period.
Since then, the HCG diet has regularly come into fashion. Which is surprising, because: "There is no medical evidence that the pregnancy hormone supports weight loss," explains nutritionist Dr. Martin Hofmeister from Munich.
This is how the HCG diet works
The HCG injections start on day one of the diet. On the first two days, those who want to lose weight should eat so much fatty, high-calorie foods that they can no longer. Hofmeister suspects: "After such gluttony, most people are oversaturated for a day or two - the body then wants healthy food." So maybe a trick to make it easier to get started with dieting?
From the third day on for about three weeks, the following applies: a maximum of 500 kilocalories per day and the hormone injection. Some also choose HCG drops, tablets or sprays instead of injections. During the diet period, fat, sugar and alcohol are prohibited.
Weight loss through drastic reduction in calories
"Because of the drastic reduction in calories, people naturally lose weight," explains nutritionist Hofmeister. However, such a low supply of energy is dangerous over a long period of time. There is a threat of a lack of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. In addition, kidney stones, for example, and cardiac arrhythmias can occur.
Doctors strongly warn against the diet
"The German Society for Endocrinology and the German Obesity Society advise against the HCG diet," says Hofmeister. On the one hand because it has not been proven that the method works. On the other hand, medicine considers side effects such as menstrual disorders up to thrombosis to be conceivable. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also urgently warns against the HCG diet.
In general, experts take a rather critical view of diets with a very low calorie intake: "If dieters live on very few calories for a long period of time, then they can cause irreparable damage to their bodies," warns Hofmeister.
The supply of the hormone is not without problems. "There is no telling what consequences the active ingredient will have on the body," warns Hofmeister. In addition, there is no scientific evidence for a weight-reducing, mood-enhancing or appetite-suppressing effect of HCG.
HCG is not approved for weight loss
In addition: "HCG has no approval for the area of weight reduction," explains the expert. For this it is used in another medical area: women who want to have children use the hormone HCG to trigger ovulation.
Some dieters get the hormone on the Internet - and thus take additional risks: Medicines from online sales can be counterfeit. Sometimes such counterfeits are ineffective, but sometimes there are harmful or even toxic substances in the preparations. Anyone who orders medication online should be absolutely sure that the provider is reputable.
The hCG diet is often followed by the yo-yo effect
What follows after sticking to the drastic diet? Often the yo-yo effect! "Rapid weight gain is to be expected as soon as the old eating behavior is resumed," warns Hofmeister.
So if you want to lose weight in the long term, you should change your diet and get enough exercise. Because the secret of losing weight is a basic physical law: Consume more energy than absorb. There is no secret recipe or miracle cure - and it will probably stay that way.