HCG is One Big Fat Fraud

This post is from Shaun Riebl, MS, RD, LN,  a practicing registered and licensed dietitian in Florida.  Riebl’s Headshot Rieblbackground is in exercise science and he specializes in sports nutrition.

Quick weight loss scams are nothing new but it always seems to be news.  The only thing that changes is the B-  C- or D-level celebs  who promote them.

One celebrity diet favorite, the “HCG” diet, is facing charges of fraud from the Food and Drug Administration.  Just last week, the feds made their comments known in an article in USA Today, saying that HCG does not have any role in weight loss whatsoever. The FDA’s likely next step is to notify marketers of the bogus products and require them to stop selling, as they’re being currently marketed.

In case you’re wondering how a woman’s sex hormone became a pricey (up to $70.00 an ounce) fad diet, here’s the HCG Dropslowdown.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced in pregnant women. It is often used as a medication as well to help those suffering from fertility problems.

The notion that taking HCG to aid in weight loss and aid in burning fat and retaining lean tissue while losing weight is not new. It actually started in the 1950s, and it was given to obese patients who were also on a 500-calorie-a-day diet.  The doctor who conducted the study said that HCG helped the obese individuals retain lean tissue and lose more fat tissue.  However, other studies have found no such evidence of this, and a 500-calorie-a-day diet will cause rapid decreases in body fat.

In fact, for most adults, a 500-calorie diet would promote losing losing about half-pound a day.  Here’s how: A normal diet of 2,500 calories to 500 calories is a 2,000 calorie deficit.  Since one pound equal 3,500 calories, a half-pound is 1,750 calories.  It’s not the drops, shots or pills, it’s the lack of calories that causes weight loss. 

What seems to happen with the many forms of the HCG diet, as with many diets, is that is comes and goes with the wind. Once a celebrity, like “J-WOW” from MTV’s Jersey Shore, comes out about using this diet to “assist” them in keeping their sleek figure then the demand rises and reports spread on entertainment gossip shows and websites everywhere about this “fascinating and effective” product. And in the end, HCG is not effective, legal and may be harmful.

The Bitter Truth About Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight, the hard fact to swallow is that it takes patience and commitment to lose weight. Its better to invest the money you would use for HCG in an appointment with a registered dietitian who can help you reach your weight loss goals the right way so you aren’t yo-yo-ing from one extreme to another. And, you might just get a bit healthier too!


  1. says

    BIG FAT YES!!! to this issue. I couldn’t believe what I found out about HCG when I researched it. Someone in my area is building an entire wellness center around the HCG drops. I’ve educated all of my clients and bootcampers about this quackery.


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