Conventional nutritional wisdom holds that you should never began a weight-loss campaign without first discussing the plan with your primary care physician.
That wisdom goes double for a diet currently being touted in women’s magazines as a “miracle” solution for quick and painless weight loss. The diet makes use of a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG for short. This chemical substance is produced by pregnant women’s placenta.
Despite the boasts in articles that HCG is natural and, therefore, safe, it is anything but. Administering the chemcial is in fact downright danerous, which may explain why it has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
According to Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel, co-authors of a new book titled TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust, the problem with HCG is that there is no evidence that it will cause a “normal” distribution of fat, accelerate fat loss, or decrease hunger associated with decreasing calories. Says author Griesel:
There’s a reason the FDA and clinical trials exist. Both protect our health. Although not always perfect, the FDA has helped prevent us from being hurt by products touting unsubstantiated claims.
In the case of HCG, the FDA has done its job. The agency reports that among the side effects of HCG are an increase in testosterone, which in turn can cause acne, excess hair, ovarian cysts, and infertility. On top of that, women who attempt to get pregnant while on the diet are likely to get false positive readings.
Another problem of the “diet,” according to Tom Griesel is that much of what is lost on this particular diet is muscle and water, and possibly bone mass. A diet that reduces muscle or bone mass is a recipe for disaster. In this particular case, moreover, once the diet ends, fat accumulates quickly.
If the risks are not enough to get would be dieters to rethink HCG as a weight-loss silver bullet, the excessive cost might. An HCG regimen runs between $750 and $1,250 for a 21 to 45 day supply. The hormone, moreover, is administered by means of self-performed daily injections along with B-12 shots three times weekly.
Finally, there is the simple matter that the diet doesn’t work. This opinion is borne out by a peer-reviewed study, in which researchers placed a group of obese women on a 500 calorie-per-day diet. Half the group was given HCG, the other half a placebo. After 30 days, the average weight loss between the two groups was nearly identical.
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