What Is the HCG Diet Plan?

Tamsen Butler
Young woman sitting in front of plate with single asparagus

The hCG diet requires dangerously low calories daily in addition to the intake of hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin), a hormone produced by women during pregnancy. While it's true that 500 calories a day will result in temporary weight loss, it's unclear whether the hCG actually has anything to do with it.

Basics of the hCG Diet

Dieters following this diet experience drastically reduced calories daily. Depending on the version of the diet, dieters will either consume 500, 800, or 1200 calories a day, which are all generally inadequate for adults to function at their best. In addition to the reduced calories, dieters take hCG via pill or injection; injections are only available through medical professionals. Dieters are given a specific menu to eat each day of the diet, which lasts up to six weeks with different phases.

  • Phase 1: The loading phase of the diet requires higher protein and fat intake. Some people call it the "gorging phase," as it's the last opportunity on the diet to eat a good deal of food. This phase is when dieters start taking hCG.
  • Phase 2: The very low calorie phase of the hCG diet is when calorie restriction begins. Specific foods are prescribed during this phase of the diet, which lasts around a month (the timeline can vary based on the version of the diet.
  • Phase 3: The stabilization phase of the diet begins three days after the dieter's final ingestion of hCG. Dieters slowly bring their calorie intake back up in this phase, but follow a specific way to do so based on their plan.

Origins of the hCG Diet

There are now dozens of variations of the HCG diet plan built upon the original plan outlined in Dr. Simeon's manuscript, Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity. Modified versions of the plan include organic and vegan HCG diets, while newer developments of oral hCG drops are marketed as a homeopathic diet plan. Alternatively, there are hCG diet pills and creams as well. Overall, injections are becoming a rare method of administering hCG, though many clinics purporting to be medically-based still offer the injections.

Diet Variations

Almost 50 years later, after Dr. Simeon's controversial diet plan was theorized, Kevin Trudeau came out with a book published in 2007: The Weight Loss Cure; a modified version of the diet that follows most of Dr. Simeon's original protocol. Kevin Trudeau's modified plan consists of an additional phase of detoxification before starting hCG hormones, as well as contemporary protocols, such as dieting with organic foods, supplementation and an extended list of acceptable foods to plan HCG meals with.

Chicken and Veggie Dinner

Does It Work?

The low calorie allowance of this diet prompts the body to lose weight, but research suggests hCG doesn't help prompt weight loss, contrary to claims that it "boosts metabolism." It's also important to note that the weight loss is likely not just fat - muscle mass is also lost. Though the weight loss may be impressive, the hCG diet isn't sustainable for long periods of time. In other words, dieters are bound to gain the weight back and more eventually. Repeated bouts of dieting can wreak havoc on metabolism and make it more difficult to lose weight in future attempts.

Use Caution

Any diet requiring extremely low calories should only be partaken when under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. Micronutrients and macronutrients help the body stay healthy and fuel the activities of daily living. Any diet requiring sparse calories and little to no exercise does not have long-term health in mind and should be avoided.

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What Is the HCG Diet Plan?