HCG for Weight Loss

Modern society’s affinity for instant and painless results has led to a renewed interest in the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), not as a reproductive stimulant (which is its original medical application), but as a critical hormone in weight loss programs.  First discovered in 1954 by British physician Dr. Albert Simeons, its (controversial) popularity is mainly due to the impressive weight-loss results it achieves in record time.  It is quite common for dieters to lose up to 2 pounds a day on the hCG diet, thereby making possible a steep drop from size 12 to size 2 in time to wear that little black dress.

To truly understand why such rapid weight loss can occur, it is important to understand the nature of hCG in the context of pregnancy, and its systemic effect (minus the pregnancy) once introduced into a diet program.

The hormone gonadotropin is a staple in the field of infertility science, widely employed in assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination.  The hormone is used to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs in women who have irregular or absent menses.  In women who are expecting, hCG is the hormone that is checked by home testing kits; its presence means that a pregnancy is underway.  This is because a measurable level of it is produced by the fertilized embryo after conception to preserve the corpus luteum (that part of the ovaries where eggs are manufactured), which in turn secretes the hormone progesterone which thickens the lining of the uterus so it can support a growing fetus.

Further, the surge of hCG tells the hypothalamus – the seat of the brain that drives many autonomic functions, including metabolism – to release stored fat that has been safe-kept in the adipose tissue.  This is the body’s automatic override in case the pregnant mother irrationally decides to go on hunger strike.  This explains why women who can’t hold food down in the first trimester of their pregnancy go on to produce healthy babies despite the latter’s early-development deprivation.  (Interestingly, the role of stored fat is the reason why skinny women are less likely to get pregnant:  It is nature’s way of telling her she doesn’t have enough internal food stores for the continuation of her species.  In fact, archaeology tells us that ancient fertility goddesses were well-endowed, especially around the middle.)

By extension, the same processes are at work in people who are injected with hCG.  Without pregnancy, stubborn fat is released from the adipose to fuel the body’s basic metabolic processes.  But (rapid) weight loss only happens when calories burned are more than calories consumed; hence, the hCG diet is typically coupled with a nutrition plan that does not exceed consumption of more than 500 calories a day (low enough to put your body on starvation mode).  When the body does take in more, say the usual 2,000 calories a day, then the body has no need to unlock stored fat because presently, it has enough calories to burn.

The hCG proponents claim that this dieting is safe because the only fats burned are those that we do not need anyway.  So it is typical for a really obese hCG dieter to lose the muffin top, the beer belly, the flabby arms and the double chin, without looking haggard.

With these (largely) anecdotal results, it is understandable why many latch on to hCG as a miracle drug to banish problem areas that are tough to crack.  After all, who doesn’t want to look fabulous in a flash?  But despite the quick wonders that it confers, there is still unsettled controversy about the regulated use of hCG, even though it is currently practiced in a huge number of obesity clinics.  The scientific community feels that there is not enough solid evidence to back up the claim that the hormone is indeed safe to use in the weight loss context.  In fact, there have been research studies carried out at the cellular level, and those have negated the anecdotal references of the hCG diet program, particularly the claim that fat is mobilized from the tissues.  They argue that weight loss may have been due to restricted caloric intake, and not the hormonal workings of hCG.

As with any get-rich-quick schemes, lose-weight-fast programs should be viewed with skepticism, or approached with caution at the least.  Losing weight should be in drops, not in gallons; otherwise, your system may get drowned.