The ugly truth about the HCG diet in 2018

The HCG diet has been around for decades, but does it work and is it safe?

I’m not going to mince words: I’m calling the HCG diet yet another gimmicky, too-good-to-be-true, quick-fix diet which will leave you lighter in the wallet and less healthy in the long run.

The diet regained popularity between 2010 and 2013 but has since lost momentum as we come into 2018. Nevertheless, it is still being sold on the internet despite the preponderance of scientific evidence showing that it has no effect on fat loss beyond that which can be accomplished by a healthy lifestyle.

Also check out my related review articles on SkinnyMint TeatoxSkinny Teatox, and Fit Tea products

What is the HCG diet?

HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin and is the hormone produced by women during pregnancy.

In the 1950s, British physician Dr. Albert T. Simeons used HCG injections for the treatment of obesity.

He suggested that the addition of HCG to a reduced-calorie diet might help dieters stay on track (adherence), reduce hunger cravings during food restriction, and promote fat loss.

The Simeons HCG protocol entailed daily injections of 125 international units (IU) six times per week for a total of 40 injections.  The diet component consisted of 500 calories per day broken up into two daily meals.

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HCG advertising

You can easily buy HCG online in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

The internet is littered with commercial websites promoting HCG as a weight loss panacea.

The sites are egregiously biased to sell product and do a masterful job of overcoming objections and giving visitors that sliver of hope that it “might” work (even though the boloney detector says no).

Unfortunately, these websites also crowd out reliable unbiased sites that aim to protect consumers.

Even more reputable sites like Amazon let a lot of “woo” slip through the cracks.  Check out Amazon and you can see for yourself how outlandish and misleading the claims are (i.e., “Lose a pound a day.” Yep, maybe a pound of muscle, carbohydrate, and body water, but it certainly won’t be a pound of fat).

False and misleading HCG claims

In the image below, you can see the types of deceptive tactics used by HCG sellers. I note that this advert refers to the HCG drops and not the injections which would need to be administered by a medical professional.

hcg diet review

  • “No prescription required” capitalises on the notion that it’s not a “poisonous pharmaceutical”
  • The claim of “natural weight loss” doesn’t really mean much but it plays on consumer fears of “chemicals”
  • The claim you can lose 1-2 pounds (~0.5 to 1 kg) per day is deceptive and misleading. It is not physiologically possible to lose this much fat in 24 hours. Crash diets are unhealthy and can set you back in the long-term.
  • The claim that homeopathic HCG is safe is likely due to the fact that it has no effect in the body, but the claim that it’s effective is false.
  • “Same results as in an HCG clinic” is competition bashing meant to lower your guard and make you think it’s easy to lose weight without the hassle of going to a clinic.
  • “Proven to increase your energy levels” is a false claim. No scientific evidence supports this.
  • “HCG converts fat into nutrients without loss of muscle” is a false claim. Converts fat into what nutrients?

Legal action against HCG marketers

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came down on several HCG marketers for making false claims exactly like those in the above image. Even more disturbing is that they sold their products through major retail outlets like GNC, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. This is particularly concerning since consumers might assume the products are safe and effective since they are sold in reputable pharmacies.

The FTC maintains that Kevin Write and his companies, HCG Platinum and Right Way Nutrition, LLC, promise consumers that HCG Platinum liquid drops will cause fast and significant weight loss similar to that of the endorsers in their advertisements.

Dr Oz HCG diet stamp of approval

The HCG diet even made the rounds on the Dr Oz show. This might sound like the stamp of approval you’re looking for, but before you get too excited, let’s not forget Dr Oz has copped a lot of heat in recent years for peddling bogus weight loss remedies. Many high ranking doctors and academics have even called for his resignation from Columbia University for his promotion of quackery.

In one of his segments, he gave airtime to a woman who is pushing her own rebranded version of the HCG diet.  She claims to have conducted “research” but, in fact, this was nothing more than an impromptu “study” she pulled together that was not reviewed by other scientists (called “peer-review”). The only “evidence” she has for her diet is that she was on the Dr Oz show, and that’s no evidence at all.

HCG diet research

In the early to mid 1970s, HCG diet studies started surfacing in peer-reviewed medical journals. A 1973 study by Asher and Harper showed positive results but was later slammed for poor methodology, with subsequent studies consistently debunking its use as ineffective for weight loss.

1983 HCG review article

A 1983 report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reviewed all evidence up to that point and concluded that:

  • “HCG has no known effect on fat mobilization, appetite, or sense of hunger, or body fat distribution.
  • HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy for obesity.
  • There is no evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction.
  • There is no evidence that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat.
  • There is no evidence that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.
  • Adverse effects may include headache, irritability, restlessness, depression, fatigue, edema, precocious puberty, gynecomastia, pain at injection site.

1995 HCG meta-analysis

A 1995 meta-analysis (a combined statistical analysis) published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology evaluated 8 uncontrolled and 16 controlled research reports. The authors concluded:

  • Most studies were of poor methodological quality (scores ranged from 16 to 73 points baed on a 100 point scale. Higher points meant better quality)
  • Of the 12 studies that scored 50 or more points, only one reported that HCG was useful
  • There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity
  • HCG does not bring about weight loss or fat redistribution
  • HCG does not reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being

For a more detailed breakdown of the evidence, you can read Joe Cannon’s HCG research review here.

HCG injections vs. sublingual HCG drops

One of the most blatantly obvious holes in the HCG diet marketing armor is the fact that they trump up the outdated claims by Dr. Simeons and conveniently neglect to mention that all early research was based upon HCG injections.

As of this writing, there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that sublingual HCG (under the tongue) has any effect on fat loss and preservation of muscle.

In the image below, the advertiser falsely claims that HCG drops are “clinically proven” (which means nothing) and are effective for inducing ridiculously large amounts of daily weight loss (not fat loss). They also take liberties by making it look like it has been approved by the FDA.

hcg diet drops

Deceptive HCG drops advertisement. Click to enlarge.

A promotional website for oral HCG has links for additional “research and information” but when I visited the page and examined the references, it was obvious that nearly all the studies were just general obesity papers that had little or no bearing whatsoever on the usefulness of sublingual HCG drops.

500 calorie HCG diet

Though HCG diet advertisers spout off the benefits of their sublingual drops, they neglect to mention that this is simply a very low 500 calorie diet. There is no question that weight loss will occur on such an irresponsibly low and unsupervised regimen, but I would question the extent to which HCG diet drops play a role in this weight loss.

This tactic is nothing new. Other questionable products such as Calorad have banked on this technique by duping consumers into eating a low-calorie diet and then hoodwinking them into thinking the weight loss was a result of the product.

Is the HCG diet easy?

At 500 calories per day, the HCG diet is anything but easy. At such a low energy intake, you are likely to find it difficult to comply with the diet. You are also unlikely to meet your basic nutrition needs (i.e., carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals) unless you’re supplementing.

There are, however, extreme cases where a doctor might put a morbidly obese person on a strictly-supervised very low calorie diet (VLCD). But these are extreme cases where the goal is to shed weight as quickly as possible to reduce disease risk.

How much does the HCG diet cost?

The HCG diet isn’t cheap. Because it’s not covered by insurance, you’d be personally liable for all doctor’s visits and injections. In initial consultation could set you back between $100 and $200, plus another $10 to $15 for each HCG injection. Depending on how much weight you lose (or don’t lose), you may incur additional costs for ongoing office visits and injections.

HCG diet limitations and warnings

1) Muscle loss

A VERY important drawback to low-calorie regimens like the HCG diet is the fact that not only will you lose fat, but your body will break down valuable muscle necessary to stoke the flames of your metabolism.

Such a low calorie regimen cannot be realistically maintained for an extended period of time and, when you go back to eating normally, your reduced muscle mass (lower metabolism) will leave you more susceptible to weight regain (yo-yo dieting).

2) Safety

A 500 calorie diet is very low energy and ideally should be supervised by a responsible bariatric physician or university-qualified dietitian (not a self-styled “nutritionist”). Generally speaking, a diet of less than 1200 calories is likely to be nutritionally deficient in terms of the main macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat) and vitamins and minerals.

I see that the HCG promoters include a B-complex vitamin, but this is like brining a band-aid to a train crash. This should not lull you into a false sense of safety. If you have underlying health issues such as poorly controlled diabetes or other metabolic conditions, you should first visit your doctor for guidance.

3) Unrealistic weight loss

Promotional materials for the HCG diet tout that you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) per day. Responsible health practitioners recommend a safe and healthy weight loss of approximately 1-2 pounds per week, NOT per day.

Any rapid weight loss, particularly that induced by such a drastically low-calorie regimen, will activate the body’s famine response which will reduce your metabolism and make your body more resistant to giving up its fat stores.

4) Hallmark signs of quackery

One website promotes “the HCG diet is considered one of the fastest and safest ways to lose weight and keep it off.”

There is no legitimate, independent scientific evidence to corroborate this claim. There is no such thing as both “fast” and “safe” weight loss. As I stated above, healthy weight loss should fall in the range of 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) of fat per week. See my article on 13 ways to keep fat off for life.

The claim that HCG will help you “keep it off” is completely misguided. After coming off a 500 calorie diet, you’re likely to not only gain back the lost weight, but will probably end up fatter than before you started the diet.

5) Doctor recommended

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to selling hokey diets and nostrums.  The world loves to slam doctors for knowing nothing about nutrition, yet the minute a doctor puts out a diet book or hawks a miracle weight loss product, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to shell out their hard earned cash.

So what’s it going to be?  You can’t have both.

In the case of the HCG diet, as I said, this is a very low calorie regimen and really SHOULD be supervised by a responsible physician.   But save your money on the HCG portion, as its use is not supported by the preponderance of peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

6) Homeopathic HCG diet

It was only a matter of time until the homeopathy camp jumped on the bandwagon to get their share of the pie.  As with sublingual HCG drops, there is no objective evidence that a homeopathic version would have any impact on weight loss.  In fact, because it is diluted to the point that the original active ingredient no longer exists, it is unlikely to exert any effect in the body.

Have a read of Joe Cannon’s unbiased homeopathic HCG drops review for more information.

Does the HCG diet work?

I wish there was such thing as magic weight loss drops, but unfortunately the HCG diet is unlikely to result in any lasting weight loss  (losing weight is easy, keeping it off is difficult).

Bear in mind these final take home points:

  • The scientific evidence strongly refutes popular marketing claims and any weight loss experienced is  attributable to the extreme reduction in caloric intake.
  • Outdated “evidence” used to promote the product has since been discredited by the mainstream scientific community.
  • HCG marketing is egregiously false and deceptive and does more to confuse consumers than genuinely inform. Federal action has been taken against HCG sellers for such false claims.

I recommend avoiding HCG diet, as it is yet another unsubstantiated quick-fix diet which is unlikely to result in long-term weight loss and weight loss maintenance.


  1. Asher WL, Harper HW.
    Am J Clin Nutr. 1973 Feb;26(2):211-8.
    Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger, and feeling of well-being.
  2. Ballin JC, White PL.
    JAMA. 1974 Nov 4;230(5):693-4.
    Fallacy and hazard. Human chorionic gonadotropin-500-calorie diet and weight reduction.
  3. Young RL, Fuchs RJ, Woltjen MJ.
    JAMA. 1976 Nov 29;236(22):2495-7.
    Chorionic gonadotropin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study.
  4. Birmingham CL, Smith KC.
    Can Med Assoc J. 1983 May 15;128(10):1156-7.
    Human chorionic gonadotropin is of no value in the management of obesity.
  5. G K Lijesen, I Theeuwen, W J Assendelft, and G Van Der Wal
    Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 September; 40(3): 237–243.
    The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis.
  6. Harvard Womens Health Watch
    What Do You Know About the HCG Diet?


  1. Dr Naomi

    THANKYOU!! This was on my list of diets to consider

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      Thanks Dr. Naomi. Please share this article and take a stand for responsible health and integrity in advertising!

      • Tai.

        Hi Bill. Tai from Porirua Wellington. How are you? Awesome website! How did I come across it? Not sure!
        Texted KEn to tell him I came across your website and said he has been trying to find out
        where you are based these days. Hope to hear from you soon

        Great work you are doing!
        Bless you!

    • Renee Courtney

      I found my way here out of sheer aggravation. A local hospital (St. Joseph’s in Buckhannon WV is promoting this 500 calorie HCG scam of a diet program under the leadership of a “Nurse Practitioner” by the name of Amanda Jones. She has named the program “Clean Living Weight Loss” and is calling it as many do a medically supervised program. It sickens me that many people will not only throw their hard earned money away but also risk their health due to an egregious breech of public trust this woman is being allowed to portray. She is in my opinion breaking the first code of medical ethics “Primum non nocere” (First do no harm).

      It is one thing to weigh the risks of a medication when necessary, but when promoted in a way that it not only is optional but used in conjunction with a dangerously low calorie diet to produce likely negative effects on a body which would greatly outweigh any slim chance of positive and using a medical establishment and the phrase “medically supervised” to promote it to the public is grossly negligent.

      According to my research which was done in a few minutes online, in order to provide nutrition related service, as defined in the West Virginia Code, to clients in West Virginia, you must be licensed by the West Virginia Board of Licensed Dietitians. I certainly think that this 500 calorie “medically supervised” weight loss program that utilizes a highly controversial drug not approved by the FDA for weight loss would constitute as a nutrition related service.

      I can only hope that the administration of this hospital recognize the huge mistep and negative light the poor judgement of this staff member shines on their facility and shuts this program down immediately!

    • Gracy Mason

      I have done the HCG diet 3 times now and the first time I did it I lost 30 pounds in 2 months and gained it all back in 2 months so I did it again and the first time it cost me $350.00 for 2 months then the next time it cost $450.00 and I didn’t lose any weight but I have gained so much weight this past year I got my tax check and decided to try one more time! I need to lose 50 pounds before May because I’m turning 60 and I want to get healthy! I went in and it was going to cost $450.00 but I said I couldn’t afford it so he give 2 months worth for $500.00 and this is going Eve my last time to get the shots,so I pray it works?? I think I thought I’m taking these shots every day in my stomach and the cost made me loss the weight.

      • Dr Bill Sukala

        Hi Gracy, In the long-run, the HCG diet is a low-calorie diet that is unsustainable for most people. I would suggest having a read of my article on chasing the golden unicorn of health: You would be far better served by spending that money on hiring a university qualified dietitian and exercise physiologist who can put you on track for both feeling great and losing stored body fat (as opposed to just “losing weight”) over the long-term. The HCG diet is, in many ways, like wrapping tape around a leaky pipe. It might appear to work up front, but will eventually start leaking again once the tape wears out. Far better to replace the pipe and fix the problem rather than prolonging it. Hope this helps. Kind regards

  2. Joe Cannon

    I can concur 100% with your findings Bill. I also reviewed the research on HCG and likewise found no good proof for weight loss.

    The Asher and Harper study you mentioned should be viewed with skepticism because the researcher who handled the data collection had an HCG weight loss clinic. As you know, this opens up all sorts of issues relating to the scientific method.

    The point about homeopathic HCG ads is also valid – they base their “proof” on the work done on HCG injections (which as you also point out, has been repeatedly been shown not to work).

    The research clearly shows that it’s the 500 calories per day that people eat, that causes weight loss – not HCG injections or HCG supplements.

    One of my rules of science is that when faced with 2 answers to a question, it’s usually the simple answer that is the correct answer.

    The simple answer here is that people lose with on the HCG diet because they are only eating 500 calories per day.

    Researchers have given people HCG injections and 500 calories per day and compared them to people who only got 500 calories per day (no HCG). They lose the same amount of weight.

    If anyone reading these words uses HCG to help weight loss, ask the person who sells you the HCG this question “can you show me a published study that HCG helps weight loss?”.

    There is no good proof that it helps anyone lose weight.

    This is especially true for people who sell homeopathic HCG drops. There is zero proof for oral HCG supplements and weight loss.

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      What more can I say Joe? Couldn’t agree more. The HCG Diet is a classic case of deception by omission. It’s not what their marketing literature is telling you, rather what it’s NOT telling you. The real smoking gun here is that HCG injections have been shown ineffective. Period. Yet all the products being hawked to consumers are oral HCG drops for which there is no body of evidence to support their use. I can only hope consumers are not duped by hokey websites run by people only interested in profit and not the genuine health and well-being of their customers.

      • maria

        I did hcg 2 years ago using injections
        I found the weight came off as advertised
        I found that the hcg made me feel ‘full’
        I found the hcg solved a problem that NO other diet could solve for me
        I find this type of criticism a little too aggresive and if you read the original protocol by DR Simeons you might ‘go easy’ on this form of diet
        I get the sense that the critics are more about interfering with direct online purchases than the essence of why people do this diet
        If you are fat then you need to do something about if for the sake of your health
        There are Thousands of medical practicioners who incorporate HCG in their practices
        I note that several of them charge up to USD $1200 for what can indeed be purchased for 1/10th of this online
        Now if you buy direct and talk to your own medical practioner about the risks then it is possible to lose weight.
        I lost 10 kilograms and Ive kept it off
        Ive recommended 5 people do the same and 4 of these people have kept it off

        • Jacqueline

          Thank You,
          I lost 40lbs (2 round), 1 long ,I short (242) in Jan 2018 and have kept it off. I tried lots of other diets and this worked the best for me . I started my third round (206) jan2019 with the goal of losing 15lbs. My final goal is 165lbs.

  3. Sharyn Wright

    Hey Dr Bill, yet again another well written expose on a fad diet that does not have an ounce of scientific evidence behind it!

    I love your no nonsense approach to reviewing such products and will be sharing this with all my clients and friends. I totally agree that there should be some regulatory body that insists all ‘diets’ are backed up with scientific evidence.

    Keep them coming and thanks for caring and sharing!

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      Thanks Shaz, while I do like to be a bit more diplomatic in my approach, I find that a bit more of an emotion-charged debunking may be what resonates with consumers. People have said, “oh your article is biased” but I see this more from the perspective of providing a balancing out of egregiously lopsided marketing. No question HCG Diet marketing materials are borderline illegal, if not downright deceptive and devoid of all ethical obligations. Sigh….

  4. Emma Stirling APD

    Thanks Bill for the excellent write up on the warnings of the HCG diet. As a dietitian I’m worried that people will want to trial this medically sounding diet. We have also written about the warnings here on my blog: The Scoop on Nutrition.

  5. Paul Taylor

    Nice one, Dr Bill. Good to see you removing the smoke and mirrors from yet another piece of marketing rubbish… keep up the good work. PT

  6. Joe Cannon

    Emma, thanks for posting your site! I was not aware of you until now thanks 🙂

  7. Carolyn

    This is all very interesting, I do agree with the information around homeopathic treatments. It does not explain however why i’m currently on the HCG diet, as prescribed by my doctor, and are not experiencing crippling hunger pains. I’m not hungry and if I do feel hungry shortly after using the product I am no longer hungry. I have not been able to lose weight due to a medical condition and now it’s falling off, and trust me I know how to diet and exercise. On one day I ate more than my calorie allotment and actually put on weight. Your article also does not explain why every single one of the nurses at my doctors office have used the diet, lost weight and have kept off the weight once resuming a normal diet. Perhaps you need to research this better yourself rather than relying on third party information?

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      Hi Carolyn,
      Thank you for your comment. The cause of obesity is multifactorial and treatments can be just as varied. Individual responses to a given treatment may differ from person to person, where others may experience hunger pangs, it appears that you do not. I have absolutely no doubt that the weight is falling off at a recommended intake of 500 calories per day. This was never in question at all. The crux of my argument is that from an objective, science-based perspective, there is no substantive body of empirical evidence to support the use of HCG drops for weight loss. This is a case where one must separate cause and effect from coincidence. The cause and effect is that you’re consuming a very low number of calories each day and weight loss is the only logical outcome. However, I would venture to say that it is coincidence that this weight loss happens to be occurring in tandem with your use of sublingual HCG (and you’d probably be losing the exact same amount of weight without HCG drops).

      Regarding the nurses in your doctor’s office, as with your experience on this diet, I have no doubt that they’re losing weight on such a low energy intake, but because their story is coming to me as an anecdotal reference, I could not comment without being fully informed of their entire clinical picture. As I’ve written in numerous articles and blog posts in the past, “losing weight” is not the particularly difficult part, rather keeping it off over the long-term (3-5 years out) is difficult. While many popular diets boast numerous weight loss successes, they would hold more practical value if put into a proper long-term context.

      Regarding your reference to relying on third party information, I specifically cited scientific peer-reviewed journal articles because it undergoes rigorous evaluation by independent scientists. Third party anecdotal testimonials like the the reference to the nurses are not scientific and would not be relied upon in any scientific forum as evidence of efficacy. BUT, I do think it’s noteworthy to mention that testimonials, if compelling enough, can certainly serve as an impetus for creating research hypotheses. All scientific theories must be viewed in a tentative light until new research challenges those theories and may perhaps topple them in due time. Thanks again for your contribution.

      • Trudie

        I still think that maybe you should actually try the diet before debunking it though. The HCG does reduce the hunger pangs. So while yes, we’ll lose weight when only eating 500 calories, it’s a heck of a lot easier if you don’t feel like you’re starving. In fact, I have a lot more energy. Of course, I’m a believer in everything in moderation. I used the plan to jump start my diet and immediately after was able to resume my regular exercise workout and finally was able to go back to my healthy eating (which I had stopped for 3 years after my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer).

    • Angela

      Yes, I also have used the Drops and lost 7kg in the 3 weeks I participated. I have kept the weight off and eat a more healthier diet thanks to the knowledge I have gained. I had not side affects and feel so much more fitter and energetic.

      • Famae

        Eu também perdi quase 30 quilos com a dieta e nunca mais os recuperei. Me sinto outra pessoa. Tem gente que quer desanimar os obesos, assim fica mais fácil manipulá-los a gastar dinheiro com coisas que não valem nada para quem está super acima do peso.

    • Lynny

      I agree Carolyn I used the Hcg injections and was not hungry during the 6 weeks and lost 17 kg in those 6 weeks, the weight came off all the areas I carried the weight mostly hips thighs butt and tummy. I continued on with the maintenance program for 3 the weeks. Once finished the program I looked healthy felt fabulous and started walking as I had lots of energy and began naturally choosing a healthy eating habit and first time ever had increased energy. Keeping in mind I have previously tried most diets that I could not sustain, the Hcg injection diet for me was very successful. Unfortunately 4 years after maintaining my new weight I had to have an major operation ( un related to Hcg diet) and I have since put on weight due to being bed ridden while recovering

  8. Joe Cannon

    First off, I am very glad you are losing weight! I must concur with what Bill has already said, namely that there is no good proof that HCG drops + 500 calories per day work any better for weight loss than just eating 500 calories per day. There is likewise no good proof that HCG injections + 500 calories per day are any better than only eating 500 calories.

    I did my own research review on sublingual HCG for weight loss and I couldn’t find any studies on it either.

    I’ll be the first to admit that, a lack of evidence is not the proof that something does not work, but if we look at the studies that have been done on HCG injections, the research is clear that HCG injections + 500 calories per day are no better for weight loss than only eating 500 calories per day.

    I would think that since HCG is injected, that it would (in theory) be much more powerful for weight loss than HCG given in sub lingual solution taken by mouth. But, if that really were true, how is it that the more powerful way (injections) does not work?

    Carolyn, again I’m really glad you are losing weight. Can you please do me a personal favor and ask your doctor this question: “How can sub-lingual HCG help weight loss when 99% the research on HCG injections shows HCG injections dont help weight loss?”

    I have never had the chance to ask a doctor who uses HCG this question and I really want to understand their reasoning. If you could help me with this, I would be eternally grateful to you!

    • Trudie

      Try the diet. There’s a huge difference between eating 500 calories/day or eating 500 calories/day while using the HCG. I personally used the injections and not the drops or pills and saw my doctor regularly. I really don’t understand why other doctors are so quick to put something down, especially when they haven’t tried it themselves, or at least talk with a doctor who does prescribe it and ask them for more information. People who use the diet to quickly lose weight and don’t make lifestyle changes will put the weight back on I’m sure. But those of us who chose to live better lifestyles by eating healthier than before and workout on a consistent basis end up keeping the weight off. Keep an open mind, please! We really depend on doctors to help us out when nothing else works, or at least be willing to let us try something under their supervision and if problems arise then immediately terminate the program.

      • Dr Bill Sukala

        Dear Trudie,
        Thank you for your comment. People who use any diet to lose weight quickly and don’t make lifestyle changes will put the weight back on, not just the HCG diet. Working out on a consistent basis and maintaining a healthy way of eating (in general, not just with the HCG diet), will help with weight maintenance.

  9. Anonymous


    Thanks for a great blog. I was able to get the information that I had been looking for. Thanks once again!

  10. Carolyn

    Can you explain to me why I am not experiencing the hunger pains and the dizziness that is associated with a VLCD? I’ve tried to cut my intact down to 1200 calories in the past have experienced a large range of symptoms including dizziness and hunger not to mention the extreme crankiness. I have none of these on less calories. I should also mention i’ve lost none of the “fun” bits of my shape which includes my breasts, they are the same size but i’ve lost all of the thyroid weight I put on including that around my back. I have been unable to lose any weight previous to this experience, i’ve tried everything and I exercise each day and eat very very well.

    I’m sure people who are fat due to laziness or lack of knowledge may not have this success and I would not recommend it to them. but for someone who has suffered weight gain due to medical conditions I would strongly recommend trying.

  11. betty


  12. Kyle

    Dr Bill –
    I’m a nutritionist, a health radio host, and a chronic guinea pig for all things nutrition. I have taken a stance similar to yours regarding HCG for all the reasons you stated, and also because of my distaste for the widespread overuse of hormone products for every variety of condition.

    A physician I’ve worked with asked me to reconsider my feelings on this, offering me the results of his own use, as well as those of his patients, (who granted permission for him to show me their records). He kept meticulous notes, including bodyfat-to-muscle ratios. He and I also have experience working with people who have gone on prolonged fasts, as well as extreme hypocaloric diets like this one, and we’ve looked at the differences in what those people tend to experience vs what they experience on HCG.

    Much to my chagrin, it is obvious that something is going on here apart from mere weight loss due to low calories. Muscle mass has been retained, for example, which is something we never see in fasting patients. Fat loss is extraordinary and far exceeds either fasting or mere low calorie dieting. And while the results are more pronounced in those folks who use injections rather than drops, even those using drops have results that exceed anything either of us have seen in the past.

    No, there’s no way you can verify what I’m saying, which makes it anecdotal and not credible by scientific standards. I should tell you that I’m still not in favor of using HCG because of my concerns about the possible hormone disruption that could occur. But I have to admit that what I’m seeing is remarkable and is qualitatively quite different from anything I’ve seen either with fasting or with extremely low-calorie dieting.

    As for the studies you cite, I think they should be weighed heavily in the minds of physicians who prescribe this regimen. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t relay my memories of the 80’s when I first entered nutrition research. I was struck by a plethora of studies which tried to prove that anabolic steroids did nothing to enhance body mass or performance. This corresponded to a concerted effort to try to stop the increasing interest by young men to use these drugs for sports and bodybuilding. Two decades later, steroids are routinely prescribed to middle aged men (albeit, in sane amounts) for the very reasons that young men in the 80’s were taking them, and today it would be laughable to suggest that steroids don’t do what everyone always knew they did. The studies may have tried to convince us otherwise, but professional athletes have a way of doing what works – even if it’s at the expense of their health.

    My feeling is that based on what my eyes are telling me, HCG is working – perhaps at the expense of people’s long-term health. Maybe we’ll see a couple of decades pass and a more sane HCG approach is discovered, much like steroids. I don’t know. But while I cannot recommend HCG or ridiculous anabolic steroid use, neither can I deny what is plainly there in each of those cases, regardless of what the studies are asking me not to see in patient after patient after patient.
    Best to you and thanks for your work.

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      Thanks for your comments Kyle. As you mentioned, anecdotal testimonials are not scientific in nature and are therefore not conclusive evidence of efficacy. There are cases where people “believe” that a product is working for them because they “want” it to work for them (i.e., placebo effect). However, it may be that there is still no demonstrable improvement in any clinical markers. For this reason, we still need to see proper clinical trials conducted with the results published in the peer-reviewed medical literature. I do recognize that this may sound rigid, but to not do so is to let hokey diet promoters continue to sell the public something with no credible support.

      Is it possible that the HCG diet is doing something good in the body? As with any diet, pill, or exercise gadget, there is a theoretical, albeit small, possibility that anything could have a beneficial effect in the body. But what really matters is what the preponderance of evidence has to say. Many years ago, a friend of mine was a health/science editor at one of the top-selling muscle magazines in the entire United States. He has legitimate credentials (a PhD) but, when writing about dietary supplements (or diets), upper management told him to view every supplement from the perspective of “if there’s even a 1% chance that the pill could work, then isn’t that enough?” He resigned in disgust and refuse to sell out his credentials. The financial success of all those “muscle comics” are hinged upon selling useless supplements with little to nil scientific support. Flip through the advertising and this much is obvious. The business is money and the storefront is fitness, diets, pills, etc.

      Regarding HCG, sure, there’s a chance that it “could” work, but the preponderance of evidence says otherwise. The testimonials you mention certainly could give rise to future studies which may eventually go on to prove its efficacy. But as of this conversation, the HCG diet is sadly still being sold via deceptive marketing.

      Thanks again for visiting the site and for your comment. Cheers,

  13. Christallin

    I have been trying to get objective information about this supplement for months. So glad to find I don’t need to waste my money.
    I am also disturbed by the ethics of promoting products that one knows to be ineffective and/or unsafe, unsuitable for certain populations etc. I personally will not promote any product that I research and find to be lacking what the company claims it’s supposed to have or do. I also don’t like misleading people for profit.

  14. Kim

    Hi Bill! Thanks for your words of wisdom. I go to your site to read on many different topics before trying or purchasing a number of products. I understand your view on the HCG drops and homeopathic versions of HCG, but I must say, I have had the same experience as Carolyn, Betty, and Kyle. Sure it makes sense that you will lose weight on a VLCD, however, like the others, it has reshaped my body and I did NOT feel any hunger during the protocol. I was fortunate not to have experienced the headaches and fatigue that some have experienced. I just felt invigorated and happy all of the time. And that I am sure is because I was started to look good and healthy again. The protocol has helped me to learn portion control and awareness on the “good” foods to eat. Healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats, organic vs. chemically induced foods, addiction to sugars, etc. I also hope that in the future Doctors find that HCG is healthy for all of us whom have tried it! After-all, why would our bodies produce HCG during pregnancies if in fact it would be harmful to a human fetus? My research is strictly researching articles by professionals like yourself and I know that everybody has an opinion and facts, however it does amaze me that those “facts” are often unjustified. I can only hope that in the end my experience with HCG continues to help me make proper decisions regarding nutrition and enthused with the quality of a healthy, happy, long life!

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      Hi Kim,
      Thank you for taking time out to write such a thoughtful comment. I wish to commend you on your success and hope this carries on for the long-term. I don’t think anyone questions that weight loss occurs in tandem with the HCG diet due to the low calorie nature of the regimen. However, I remain skeptical that the results are a direct result of any physiological effect of oral HCG administration. HCG is a protein structure ( which, if taken orally, would likely be broken down by stomach acid and digested/absorbed in much the same way as an egg or piece of chicken. This is usually an inherent limitation of taking any protein containing substance (friendly bacteria etc).

      You should also be aware that my main intention was to report on the scientific evidence behind the HCG diet and, as of this writing, there is no conclusive evidence that it does what promoters say. The onus should be on them to make sure they are selling something that actually has evidence of efficacy before going to market. Unfortunately, many consumers willingly spend their money on wishful shrinking when, in most cases, it is really just a clever way to get people to reduce their energy intake. Another great example of this is my post on Calorad which, similar to the HCG diet, is a protein-based substance that would unlikely survive the digestive tract intact.

      Again, I am happy that you have achieved the results you were looking for, but I also think you should take more credit for your results than you’re giving to the supplement. I would suggest that you do a little experiment where you continue with what you’re eating but without the HCG and see if your results continue on the same path. The thing is, while personal experience may be real to each of us, it can also be misleading in that we may not consider all the confounding variables which might explain why we got the results we did. Also consider if supplements contain other ingredients which could actually have contributed to the results instead of the main ingredient.

      Going back to the scientific evidence for HCG, you have to remember that a scientific study tries to eliminate the confounding variables and discern whether or not those results stemmed from the supplement or other factors. I am just the messenger in this case and, for what it’s worth, I would like to see more scientific studies come out which would shed more light on this. But until then, oral HCG still appears to be just another too-good-to-be-true regimen with no independent scientific support.

      Yours in health,

  15. Kim

    Thanks Bill for your response. Gosh, you are one intelligent man! I will continue to follow your site. VERY informative! I just wanted to mention that I have the same thoughts on oral HCG as well. I chose the injections because my Doctor also agrees with you regarding the oral “homeopathic” drops. It just didn’t make sense to me to ingest tiny drops that have to go through the digestive tract process, not to mention the quality of them… are they real, or fake? I felt the injections went “right to the source”, and from a good Pharmacy Compounding source. Perhaps it is silly, and thank you for your vote of confidence. I will consider some of the supplements I had been taking as a variable. Have you got any suggestions as to what supplements are helpful with weight loss? I just can’t keep up with Dr. Oz! Seems he endorses many weight loss methods, and then retracts his statements made on his show at a later time (via the internet). I brought up several of products talked about on the show, and my Doctor just kindly smiled and said, “Yes, a lady asked me about that the other day. I’ve never heard of such a thing.” Things that make you go… hmmm. Well, I do believe in supplements, but the factors and the quantities are so very confusing! As with everything, there are many different views and advise on each and everyone of them. Ugh. Perhaps I’ll spend the morning studying your site. I’m sure I’ll find many things to enlighten me! Thank you again for your words of wisdom. I really appreciate you!

    Great day!


    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      Hi Kim,
      Again, thanks for writing such a thoughtful message and for the kind words. I assure you, I don’t live just to spend my days slamming dietary supplements. When it all comes down to it, I’m ok with people spending money on products and experimenting on themselves provided there are no clearly defined health risks. Assuming no imminent danger, then by all means indulge. However, on a different level, when I see products being trumped up with more hype and fancy marketing than legitimate scientific support, then I deem it to be economic deception (i.e., don’t let the truth get in the way of a good sales strategy). I’ve also been accused of being “biased” but I think this is unfair. Where slick marketing is explicitly lopsided and biased, conveniently omitting inconvenient truths, then it’s my duty to categorically take them to task and provide the balance to those slick marketing claims. So if that makes me biased, then so be it, but my aim is to simply provide consumers with the other side of the story.

      As for supplements which are helpful for weight loss, I think it’s important to note that even if a supplement does increase metabolic rate a little bit (herbal uppers, etc), it is not likely to increase it to the extent that it results in massive increases in calorie expenditure. I believe consumers expect something along the lines of a Pink Floyd laser light show when in fact the difference is not quite as much as people would expect. It is far more prudent to take up moderate to high-intensity exercise to stimulate the metabolic rate. Supplements like ma huang (ephedrine) and guarana (caffeine) will induce a mild increase in metabolic rate but there are still defined health risks and the increase isn’t really all that much. In short, lifestyle changes maintained over the long-haul will result in a more sustainable healthy weight. Not quite the sexy recommendation that supplement companies promise, but I’ve been in this biz for 22 years while most of them have since folded once the profits dried up.

      As for Dr. Oz, you make an interesting observation. He is a legitimate doctor though my fear is that his show’s been hijacked by sponsors and other vested interests. Some of the quacks and garbage he provides a platform for are absolutely insidious and do more harm to public health than good. From the sounds of it, your doctor seems to share similar views. I think some of Dr. Oz’s general health recommendations are good, though he has gone a bit fringe and, now more than ever, I believe it’s important to be more skeptical of the things highlighted on his show.

      Sorry to sound like I’m pissing on the parade, but I guess I’ve just seen so many things come and go over the years that it’s easy to see history repeat itself. The same sales strategies that were used in the early to mid 90s to hawk products (with little to no objective scientific evidence) are still just as effective today (sadly). As I mentioned above, my main concerns are two-fold: 1) I want to know something is safe and unlikely to result in long-term health problems; and 2) that it is not an economic fraud (legitimate scientific evidence). Beyond that, I’m not bothered by people spending their hard-earned money on something that may or may not work. I know it sounds cliche, but the placebo effect is still alive and well. Intention can play a strong role in one’s expectation of improvement. If you go to the doctor, you have an expectation of improving….and likely will even if they don’t do much for you. Similarly, taking a supplement with the intention that it will strip off the fat might subliminally push you to keep up with your healthy eating and exercise. So you have to ask if it’s a case of cause and effect (supplement did it) or coincidence that you just so happened to be taking a supplement while you were putting in the hard effort and doing your time in the gym and eating right.

      Thanks again for your comment, Kim. Really great to see you taking the time out to leave a carefully considered comment.
      Yours in health,

  16. Drew

    This article is well written but doesn’t seem to be a “no strings attached” kind of article. Any nutritionist will tell you that cutting out 500 calories a day will result in 1 pound of weight lost per week. Even if the average caloric intake was 3500 calories a day that would only be 5 pounds a week. How do you explain all of these people losing 1-2 pounds a day even on a restricted diet?

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      It is likely that people losing up to 2 pounds (1 kg) of scale weight per day are losing water weight, lean mass (muscle), fat, and exhausting their glycogen stores. But it’s highly unlikely that anyone is losing 2 pounds of stored body fat in a 24 hour period (i.e., 7000 calories).

  17. bill

    In 1975 I went on the “shots” diet and lost 40 pounds in 30 days. I don’t know about anyone else but, this sight seems like a sight set-up to ditch hCG. I kept the weight off for three years then 1. I got married, 2. Moved to Bakersfield from Sacrmento and 3. Started a practice all in one month. The stress help me regain some of the weight. But, I did kept it off for three years.

    If you talk about the homeopathic remedies, as far as hCG it is much less effective but, it does work. I have tried it. Stress seems to be the major factor in my own case.

    • Wanda

      I agree with you. I find it really difficult to believe in what other’s write or say about subjects when they have ZERO personal experience to back up their comments.

  18. Wanda

    After quitting smoking in my mid 40’s I gained 40 lbs. and was unable to lose it. I tried just about everything to lose weight and my weight wouldn’t budge. I tried the HCG Protocol and lost 20 lbs. in 41 days and felt great. I also kept the weight off for well over a year and then “let” myself overeat and gained half of it back. Yes, you will lose weight on a VLCD, however, you will feel as though you are starving. On the HCG my hunger was manageable and the fat loss was from the right places. I felt really good on it and will do another round and hope that this time I will have learned my lesson and will not regain what I lost.

    My advice – speaking from personal experience – if you really want to lose and have been unsucessful, give it a try. It changes your mindset about food, especially processed food (which you won’t want anymore) and that helps you to make the right food choices when you’re not following the protocol. If you gain weight back that’s plain old overindulging like I did, not the protocol’s fault.

  19. Kay

    I wish I could say that I “wish” I had read your article two months ago but, knowing me, I would have tried the diet anyway. The anectodal evidence was just pulling me to try this. Wish I hadn’t. Ended up having some rather serious side effects. My heart was beating erratically and would race at night. It changed my cycle and my second period only three weeks after my first on this was so heavy that I really thought I was going to pass out. As for hunger pains, well, I’ve done other diets in the past and I know with all certainty that once your body adjusts, it tends to go away. That was the same case here. My only question though is that after reading that hCG is not really absorbed under the tongue and is rendered useless when swallowed, why did this affect my cycle so? By the way, I did lost a bit of weight but once I stopped, even while not overdoing it, I was gaining again. I’ve put a stop to it and am losing by doing this diet without the drops. Let me say though, when say I’m doing this diet, I’m really saying that I’m eating all the healthy foods but more of them and adding breakfast. I’m probably getting between 1200 to 1300 calories right now a day and have been losing just as quickly as while taking the hormone.

    • Bill Sukala,PhD

      Hi Kay,
      Thank you for your comment. In answer to your question regarding why you had side effects, it is difficult to say without you having been checked out by your doc and knowing something about your clinical lab values (blood). One of the things about this diet is that it is a very low calorie diet. I can’t be certain that it wasn’t the dramatic reduction in energy intake, but even this would seem to be an odd side effect.

      It doesn’t surprise me that you’re continuing to lose weight eating around 1300 calories. That is still reasonably low and you would not want to go much lower without having it sanctioned by a responsible health practitioner like a bariatric physician or registered dietitian. You run the risk of nutritional inadequacy by eating too little.

      I think another point you raise which should be a story others can learn from is that even without the HCG drops, you are continuing with a low calorie regimen and losing weight. I maintain that the predominant reason for weight loss is likely due to the low calorie nature of the HCG diet. Use the drops or not, if you’re eating less, you should be losing weight (or maintaining weight loss). Consider someone who went from eating, say, 4000 calories per day comprised of fish and chips, burgers, 2-liter bottles of Coke down to eating less than 1000 calories per day virtually overnight. It is a MASSIVE shock to the system to cut 3000 calories out of the picture.

      Anyway, keep up the good work and, if you become symptomatic again, I would suggest getting a proper work up with blood tests etc to see what’s happening on the inside. Knowledge is power!


  20. Kay

    Hi Bill and thanks so much for your response! Yes, I do have an appointment with my hemotologist. I have no doubt whatsoever that any female who has issues with iron and anemia should NOT do this diet. Thankfully I had just had iron infusions before beginning this or I have no doubt this would have been much worse for me. I am also making at appointment with my OB-GYN.

    So, I am really skeptical now about what is in this bottle of hCG drops. Of course, under ingredients, it only says ‘propietary blend 120ml’. I’ve actually read that this is possibly just some unsafe appetite suppressants. It does list under active ingredients ‘hCG 3x,6x,12x,30x,60x’. Do you have any idea what that means? What I would give to get these ingredients tested. I had a friend in the Army who developed serious heart issues because he took Fen Phen.

    I’ll leave you updated on my non-hCG hCG diet. I know from doing Weight Watchers after the birth of my son that this is more calories a day than I was doing on that program! By the way, Weight Watchers worked and I kept off all that weight until I had my daughter. I only really want to lose another 10 lbs or so so not sure how much longer I’ll be trying this experiment.

    Thanks again. Really appreciate the feedback because this diet really concerns me now.

    • Bill Sukala,PhD

      Hi Kay,
      Regarding HCG drops, there is no compelling evidence that it would even make it past the stomach acid and to the target cells. I’ve not seen any legitimate evidence that oral HCG does anything. The anecdotal testimonials are likely a direct result of drastically cutting calories and not much to do with the drops.

      However, if the company is shifty and unethical, then they could plausibly be selling an adulterated product over the internet. It’s easier to be amorphous so if people do end up sick or die from the product, then they cannot be easily located.

      HCG injection are another option I’ve seen but, rest assured, screwing around with your hormones can be a very risky proposition. I strongly urge people to talk to a responsible doctor (not some new age wackjob selling you fairy dust) before tinkering with hormones.

      Those numbers you are referring to appear to be referring to dilutions. I do not know if this is a homeopathic remedy, but it may be the amount the product has been diluted. While some people swear by their homeopathic remedies, we really don’t have any evidence that the HCG version does anything more than the pills.

      Let us know how you go with your doctor and lab values.
      Kind regards,

  21. Kay

    Oh, one more question for you. The brand of hCG drops I’ve used is Omnitrition. They *claim* this is pharmaceutical grade hCG. If that were true, could they be selling it via the internet?

    • Bill Sukala,PhD

      Hi Kay, I strongly urge people to be careful what they buy over the internet. For example, a diet pill called Maxiloss was found to be adulterated with a prescription drug Subtramine! Of course it worked. It had a drug in it! It was labeled a supplement and sold over the counter so people are none the wiser. It is very much a case of buyer beware. There are far too many unscrupulous criminals out there selling things that are adulterated and, until someone has a reaction and ends up in the hospital (or dies), then they get away with their scam.

      As for Omnitrition (add a .com for the site), I have reviewed their website and it looks like a low-budget operation. If you look at their website you will see that they used a cheap template which still has the words “this is a short description” next to the main categories. It basically means they needed to slap something up on the internet but were not meticulous enough to even care about the finer details. Not a good sign.

      I can’t be sure they’re doing anything illegal like selling adulterated products, but using the words “pharmaceutical grade” is very misleading and unethical.

      • Kay

        That report is scary. I’ve developed yet another issue due to these drops. This was such a huge mistake on my part. I am looking into getting the bottle of hCG drops evaluated. It really will depend upon how expensive it is to do so. Omnitrition hCG drops are really making the rounds on Facebook. They delete any comments of serious side effect or complaints on their forum so a very one-sided view is presented.

        Thank you so much for your time with this. I really appreciate it.

  22. Kathleen Pierce

    I have done the HCG diet by Dr. Simeons sublingual and lost 35 pounds in 30 days. ait does in fact work.

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Physiologically, it’s unlikely you lost just over a pound of FAT per day on the HCG diet. You clearly lost scale weight but I would question the composition of that weight loss. I’d venture to say you lost a fair amount of muscle and water in addition to a bit of fat. However, when you realise you can’t sustain a diet of 500 calories per day indefinitely, that’s when you start to put the weight back on again, at which time your body begins to buffer against further weight loss attempts. Better to stick to a nutrient rich, healthy diet with adequate calories.

  23. Yvonne

    Well, if there is no proof, how did I manage to lose 31.8kgs and 186 centimetres all over my body, predominantly over my problem areas…..ON HCG?….

    True anyone will lose weight on a 500calorie diet, but the addition of HCG helps your body to burn the abnormal fat…and the protocol clearly states that the maintenance period is what is most important….. it is not about the diet, it is about how willing you are to change the way you think and feel about food, and that can be said about any diet…..

    before using HCG I was grossly obese…. unhealthy and at risk of my cancer returning because of me being obese…. Now I am at goal weight, healthy and happy….. If you have not tried it, don’t slam it….It works, if a person is willing to put everything into it

    Ohhh and did I mention? I hardly have any loose skin except for some bingo wings because I chose to do toning exercises all the way through the process….

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Dear Yvonne, your comments have been noted. Thank you for sharing your experience. Kind regards

  24. Valerie van niekerk

    Hi Yvonne were you on hte drops or injections?

  25. Shane

    What a great article on the HCG diet! What a scam! You appear very committed to your subject, which is a refreshing change of pace. I bet your content will soon get picked up by a major syndicate. Thank you for bringing this information out and showing the world that HCG is a rip-off. It’s much appreciated!

  26. Sandra dayce

    I have been on this diet in the seventies in Cape Town SA under the supervision of dr sacks. He was running clinics with workshops and the results were amazing. We were loosing weight and we all looked great but like all these diets we all picked up this weight again. It was later discovered by the university of Cape Town that one could follow the diet without the injection and still loose the same amount of weight as when using the hormone. I can still remember the diet by heart. The only thing I can’t remember was the maintenance programme which I don’t think I followed religiously

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      You “lose weight” but you’re not losing as much fat as you might think. You’re also losing muscle due to it being a very low calorie diet, pretty much a starvation diet. With your famine response activated, it’s no wonder you and your friends gained back the weight and then some.

  27. Andy Smith

    Totally agree, these fad diets generally don’t work. They might work short term, but it’s not addressing the issue: Your lifestyle needs to change to make long term changes, and they need to change in a manner you’re happy to keep with for life. It’s a shame the media gets more attention with their rubbish than Doctors do with scientific research!

  28. Tumi

    The worst diet injection I have ever bought, used the injection for a month and I gain all my weight. As if someone is injecting me with fat every day. It has messed up my hormones, I cannot loose weight anymore. Used the injection for 1 month and 3 months later, unstoppable weight gain.

  29. william m. fernandez

    i want to know more about hcg drops.

    • Levi Mattner

      Hcg 2.0 diet drops helps your body access your abnormal stored fat and triggers the body to break down fat cells which are then burned off and use as the body’s energy. This process puts anywhere from 1500 to 4000 calories per day. it gives a feeling of fullness and you won’t feel hungry.

      • Dr Bill Sukala

        Sounds like good marketing, but there’s no scientific evidence that supports your points. Most of the marketing is just wishful shrinking and unfortunately many people fall for this pseudoscientific nonsense because of a desire to lose weight quickly and without the effort. You “lose weight” on the HCG diet because it’s very low calorie, not because the HCG drops actually do anything (that much we know from the research). A classic case of cause and effect versus coincidence. Put on your critical thinking hats people!

  30. Erin Burke

    I think you are wrong. I lost 7.5 kgs (26 days programme) the first time I did it and after, for the first time in my life, I could eat three meals a day like normal people, without gaining weight. After two years I had gained back the 7.5 kgs but that was doing almosty no exercise and eating/drinking whatever I felt like. If I had done that before the diet I would have been the size of a house. I think it is a fabulous diet. Not only do you drop the weight on the scales but it comes off all the right places that you need it to come off. I only took measurements twice during the diet, one week apart. In one week lost: 1 cm off boobs, 3 cms off waist, 1 cm of stomach, 3 cm off each thigh, 1 cm off each of the flabby bits top of arms. That was all in just 7 days between end of week 1 and end of week 2. Two and a half years later I am doing it again, on day 4 and have lost 2 kgs.

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Erin,
      I appreciate your enthusiasm for the HCG diet. What you have demonstrated is that by severely reducing calories as indicated by the HCG diet, you will lose scale “weight” but I would question the composition of such weight loss.

      In clinical practice, when I perform DEXA scans on clients on the HCG diet and similar very low calorie diets, I often see that they have lost a little bit of fat, but most of the weight is in the form of muscle and the glycogen and water. Scale weight is not a good indicator of change unless it is corroborated by a DEXA scan.

      On average, healthy fat loss (notice I did not say “weight loss”) is approximately 0.5 to 1kg of fat per week. If you’re losing a lot of weight quickly on a very low calorie diet (i.e., 500 calories or so), you will likely do more to sabotage your long term weight management by losing muscle. For many people, simply reducing processed food, fizzy drinks, etc and increasing fruit and veggie intake will result in more gradual and sustainable fat loss without all the same risks as the HCG diet. Have a look at this recent article which discusses some of these themes:

      Right now would be a good time to have a full body DEXA scan for body composition. Based on your IP address, you appear to be based around Tauranga, NZ. I found a place in Auckland which might be able to accommodate you: if you’re in the big smoke. I wasn’t able to find a DEXA operator in the Bay of Plenty region.

      Hope you find this helpful.
      Kind regards,

      • Erin Burke

        No thanks Bill

        I do not want a DEXA scan or anything else. Lost 6 kgs the second time on HCG diet, have not gained it back and feel great. Following the diet have been doing daily exericse (power walking 6km per day) and have built up and toned muscle. The diet works and I have no products to sell or any other reason to promote it in a biased manner.
        It just works and that is that. Everyone I know who has done it and stuck to it has found the same.

        • Dr Bill Sukala

          Hi Erin,
          No one is arguing that you lost weight. I’m simply letting you know that it’s physiologically impossible to lose massive amounts of stored body fat in a short period of time. Diets such as the HCG diet are very low in calories. With or without the HCG, if you eat 500 calories per day whilst working out then there is zero doubt that you will lose weight, but the composition of that weight loss is in question. I have run a LOT of DEXA scans over the years and have seen first hand the exact composition of weight loss (a lot of muscle and a little bit of fat) from these types of diets. You’re more than welcome to convince yourself of whatever you want to believe since that seems to be the trend these days (i.e., “do your own research = pick whatever online meme or YouTube video confirms your pre-existing beliefs). In your post above, you state you lost 2 kg in 4 days. I believe you lost that amount of weight, but if you think it’s all in the form of stored body fat, then you’re misleading yourself. If your goal is to simply lose weight on the scale, any weight, no matter if it’s fat, muscle, water, or glycogen (stored carbohydrate in the muscle), then yes, mission accomplished. But the caveat of this is that very low calorie diets like the HCG diet change your body and make it a fat-storing machine, so if you ever go back to eating more than 500 calories, it’s easier to pack on body fat as a protection against the next dieting attempt (famine response). Kind regards

  31. Maria

    Hi Dr. Bill,
    I am on the uncertain ground of making a decision towards the HCG injections as I am feeling desperate now. I know few people who tried them and lost considerable amounts of weight without having loose skin. They are off for several months and didn’t get any weight back. I am not sure what to believe but how otherwise you would loose fat if you can’t exercise much and can’t control your cravings?

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Maria,
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. If you’re eating 500 calories as this diet indicates, you will absolutely lose weight due to the drastic calorie deficit. I would suggest visiting a qualified professional such as an Accredited Practising Dietitian who can provide you with evidence-based recommendations unique to your situation. If you go to your GP, you should even be able to get what’s called an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) Medicare referral to a dietitian for as many as 5 sessions (I think it’s 5). No out of pocket expenses. Find someone who has been a dietitian for a number of years, particularly one with clinical hospital experience. Feel free to send me an email if you have any further questions. Warm regards, Bill

  32. Teresa

    I will disagree with your scientific findings soundly! I am one to say, “Diet and Exercise” my butt!! I have always weighed between 130 and 135, until I hit 50. Then the weight piled on, Even when I was working out 5 days a week, with 40 minutes cardio, and 20-30 minutes weights alternating 3 days and focus areas. I ate an extremely healthy diet to fuel my body (absolutely no processed foods or refined sugars) mostly chicken, fish and tofu. Lots of vegetables and fruits (low in fructose.) and daily supplements. I began limiting my caloric intake to 1800 – 1500 per day…..Not 1 ounce lost and occasionally I would gain!! Then I amped up the excercise, the extra 1 pound I gained dropped, but not more than this over months!! Dropped calorie intake to 1300 – 1500, Not 1 Ounce dropped over Months!!
    FRUSTRATED as can be! I went to my doctor and had my bloodwork done to rule out any hidden problems, it came back normal and at healthy levels. I was even more frustrated! My doctor suggested a 12 week plan on HCG with B12 shots and still taking my supplements.

    I am nearing the 3/4 mark of the program.
    No problems with hunger pangs At All!!
    Still wor out by walking 30-40 minutes 5 days a week and still lift light weights to keep toned. (I will resume my harder work outs after I reach my goal) I dropped 10 lbs first 8 days. I have continued to lose about 3 – 5 lbs a week. I am almost back to my regular weight. I still consume 12 -14 glasses of water daily. I don’t feel dehydrated or fatigued at ALL! This program has produced the Results I needed to see!!
    I did everything I was supposed to and weight kept climbing on, and I felt terrible as more weight kept coming even though I was eating healthy and excersising.
    This ProgramWorks…PERIOD!! I challenge your scientific findings! I did all that your “Scientific” studies said should be done, AND That was what Didn’t Work!
    I am EXTREMELY satisfied and I know my body needed something to boost the weight loss and HCG Was It!!

    • Erin

      Well done Teresa! Yes, I and everyone I know who has been on this diet and stuck with the programme has had the same result. At the end of the day, others can say what they like but the HCG diet works!

  33. Dave Holyoke

    You didn’t mention a lot of things about this diet that work, I have been on it 4 times and have went from 309 lbs to 260 lbs, and kept it off, The diet is 4 stages , not one.

    1. Loading and activation Stage,
    2. Diet Stage,
    3. Maintenance Stage,
    4. Bring back Carbs in Stage.

    The idea that this diet was based on the fact that malnutritioned woman in Africa were having healthy babies because the mothers were producing HCG in large quantities that accessed the fat stores in the body to feed the babies while in the womb. That is what HCG does, because of this your body burns its own fat at approximately 3000 calories a day, one of the reasons you are not hungry. This high level metobilisation boots your metabolism in Stage 2, and fools your hypothalamus into resetting your metabolism at a higher set point, making it harder for you to gain the weight back. If you do Stage 3 properly and cut out Starches and sugars for three weeks while consuming 2500 calories or more to match the burn during Stage 2 your body will reset your set weight and burn more efficiently . In Stage 4 you carefully bring back carbs and starches while watching you weight, one carb per meal at first and the going to 2, testing how your body reacts. I have found out alot about my self and my body doing this diet, white rice and beer both put weight on me quick, I cant consume them and get away with it. I use the prescription from my doctor and do injections. I dont think it is fair the way you have colored this article just to look negative, my guess it that you didnt even read the original Protocol and you are just a skinny guy promoting fear.

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi David,
      Thank you for sharing your views. Congratulations on losing 49 lbs. Have you tried following all the protocols you’ve listed without the HCG injections? Doing everything you mentioned even without HCG would also result in weight loss. Kind regards

      • Trudie

        Have YOU ever tried it Bill? Without the HCG and then with? Try it, it may just change your mind. You are literally just being stubborn and have to be right, it appears.

        • Dr Bill Sukala

          Hi Trudie,
          There is a disproportionate amount of marketing information for the HCG littered across the internet which is biased and meant to do one thing: sell injections or HCG pills. The purpose of this article is to address the research behind the diet and provide consumers with both sides of the issue to make an educated decision. I am aware there are plenty of people, including yourself, who have already made up their minds, and no opposing views are going to sway you. That’s fine. If you feel like the HCG diet is something you want to try and you believe in it, then that’s your prerogative. For every person who swears by the HCG diet and the great results they got, there are equally as many people who reduced energy intake, ate more fruits and veggies, and exercised regularly to both reduce body fat and keep it off long-term (without HCG). The belief that something works can be a very powerful motivator for success and the marketing for HCG does an excellent job of dangling that carrot in front of consumers. So does it work? Yes, it works in that it’s a very low calorie diet, but it remains to be seen whether or not HCG itself is the critical factor.

        • Erin Burke

          Careful Trudi, when I said “there is no point trying to tell Bill” he labelled me “verbally abusive.” Hardly!

          • Dr Bill Sukala

            Dear Erin,
            You did not read my former reply to you correctly (or you failed to understand it) so I will clarify:

            1) you will note that I have allowed your comments on this article as a gesture of good faith, even if they do not agree with mine.

            2) if you read my reply again, I wrote: “I do not, however, permit verbally abusive comments from anyone no matter what their position on the diet.”

            To be clear and leave this in no uncertain terms, I do not think you were being verbally abusive. If I had labelled you “verbally abusive,” your comments would not have been approved at all. A verbally abusive comment looks something like “hey you motherf*****g bleep bleep bleep. You’re a f*****g bleep bleep bleep.”

            So my question to you is: have you left any comments on this article that I did not approve? I rest my case.

    • Erin

      Congratulations David….there is no point trying to tell Bill. You can see above that others, who have in fact followed the diet with great success, have tried without succcess. If it were merely a matter of cutting your calories downt to 500 a day, then why when I was doing that in desperation, did my body stubbonly hold on the weight, and then skyrocket as soon as I started eating “normally” which would have been still less than most. He has published that its nonsense and if he went back on that now it would harm his credibility. Just hope enough have read the comments above from those who have actually done it, with great success, where nothing had worked previously, and are encouraged to at least give it a go.

      • Dr Bill Sukala

        Erin, I have no issue with people sharing their experiences on this diet, and you will note I have been diplomatic in allowing comments on this article as a way to generate a healthy dialogue on this matter. I do not, however, permit verbally abusive comments from anyone no matter what their position on the diet. As I pointed out, there is no doubt people “lose weight,” much the same way they’d lose weight on the 500 calorie pigs feet and mayonnaise diet. But from a scientific perspective, when the diet claims are evaluated systematically and methodically, they do not stand up to scrutiny. If one day there was compelling evidence from randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, I’d be happy to reevaluate my position. That is the very nature of science – being systematic and methodical.

        In the words of Yale professor Steven Novella: “What do you think science is? There’s nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. Which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?”

  34. LeAnn Ladd

    Thank you so much for this article and publishing the comments. I was on the fence about starting the HCG diet and now I know for sure that I will. The comments from those that actually did the diet are incredible. First hand experience always trumps “There is no scientific proof” I especially liked the steroid example. Remember the Flint, Michigan water disaster — all government agencies stated “There is no scientific proof” that the water was unfit to drink. Well, guess what? It was unfit. If you are waiting on scientific proof — good luck!

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      You’re free to do as you wish. You will definitely lose weight on the HCG diet, no doubt about that, but whether or not HCG itself has anything to do with it, still remains to be seen. Kind regards

  35. Joan

    I just like to say I was on this diet 2ce (shots) and it actually works as advertised (done it at the doc office no internet) and no yoyo, I have gotten pregnant twice months And years after so the weight come back becouse of pregnancy. No other diet removed fat from problematic areas as hcg, and I have done a lot of them, including 2 week only juicing (Great felt good no big weight loss) I can’t speak if the diet is healthy or unhealthy but if you stick with it it really works like nothing else I tried.

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Joan,
      Thanks for your comment. Research actually confirms that the biggest predictor of long-term weight maintenance is not actually the diet itself, but the extent to which it can be adhered to and sustained. The biggest concern with the HCG diet is that it is extremely low in energy intake, so low that it does not meet a person’t basal energy needs. When I run DEXA body composition scans on people eating extremely low calorie (i.e., 500 calories like the HCG diet), I see that they lose a lot of muscle along the way. It’s not uncommon to lose a little muscle as a cost of doing business, but losing a lot of muscle is not desirable. To that end, this is an unhealthy aspect of the HCG diet. It is good to be supervised by a qualified medical doctor (as you did) to make sure that your lab values are not moving into dangerous territory. Wishing you all the best, Bill

  36. Art Campbell

    I cannot speak to the pills or sublingual drops. But I have lost 35 and 25 lbs on the injections on 2 occasions. my musculature did not suffer at all and the moderate steriodal effect spring boarded my weight regimen at the end of my diet. I dont think you spoke to folks that took the injections for your research. Cardiologists and Bariatric Surgeons are referring it in New Jersey USA also.

  37. Famae

    olá, moro no Brasil e fiz a dieta por 60 dias. Foram os melhores dias da minha vida. Emagreci 25 quilos, sem me sentir mal ou qualquer alteração de humor. Fiz com acompanhamento médico. Há 4 meses terminei o tratamento, e estou me alimentando de forma saudável, pratico esportes e sou feliz. Houveram dias que exagerei na comida, mas nenhum grama a mais, pelo contrário nesses quatro meses emagreci mais 3 quilos. Hoje não como frituras, evito o carbo no período noturno, como frutas, legumes e verduras, incluí muito peixe na minha dieta e produtos naturais sem adição de industrializados. Acho melhor rever o fato de que não resolve nada o tratamento. Não vai resolver para quem não muda seus hábitos, e quer emagrecer comendo errado todos os dias. Conheço muita gente que faz tudo errado e depois coloca a culpa no hormonio, no shake no chá no médico. Ser magro e saudável é estilo de vida. Vou recomendar sim o HCG e vou incentivar quem precisa, porque ser magro e ficar dando pitaco é bem fácil. Gente magra não sabe o que é entrar em várias lojas e não achar uma roupa que sirva. Gente magra não sente fome e come sim cerca de 500 calorias por dia, aí fica fácil dizer que “gordo” não consegue viver com 500 calorias por dia.

  38. Paul

    Do you want to sell your kidney for the sum of $800,000 please do contact our surgical doctor

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      You mean 800,000 Indian Rupees? Seriously mate, your spam comments will do you no good on this website. Please do not come back. You’re not welcome here.

      • Deniese Wilcox

        Maybe he would like to buy some excess fat? I would give that away for free! 🙂

  39. Ashu Rai

    It’s actually a great and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  40. Lesley Keane

    I have done the homeopathic HCG drops diet with my Naturopath and could not disagree with you more. I had a pre diabetes blood test result. Since I did the program, I lost 12 kilos, have kept it off due to what I learnt on the program as far as eating is concerned, and 2 years down the track have never been so healthy. Yes, I have changed my way of eating, but only after learning through the program so much more about a healthy diet. In conjunction with my Naturopath, who insisited on liver health tablets, probiotics and detox, wihtin 2 months my bloods were back to a level I have not experienced for 20 years. You can debunk it all you like. I have had so many friends who have followed in my path, all of who are so much healthier now. If you havent tried it, then, as the other people above have said…….. By the way, I would never have the “real” HCG but the homeopathic drops…work wonders.

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Lesley, Thank you for your comment. Healthy eating has a mountain of scientific evidence that supports its role in weight loss, weight loss maintenance, and improved overall health biomarkers. Homeopathic HCG drops on the other hand are a more faith-based treatment that “works” only if you believe it does. However, as you acknowledged, your change in eating habits is a critical factor. If you start eating healthy while standing on one leg and only eating with your left hand, that doesn’t mean that your improved health is a result of standing on one leg and eating only with your left hand. But if that’s something that you’re intent on believing, then go right ahead.

  41. Cat

    Hi Dr Bill

    I successfully lost weight on hcg drops through naturopath going down to size 8,(prebaby weight).
    Unfortunately,after the diet, i didnt realise that a small bit of sugar, cheeze etc was enough to make my weight go up to a size 12, brang back heavy periods and fluid retention.
    I did a delayed steak day, and now my weight is fixed on soze 12.
    If i go on weight watchers to lose the remaining weight and enjoy a healthier lifetime maintenance program where all foods are allowed, will my body lose weight??

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Cat,
      Thanks for your comment. As I mentioned in my article, one of the dirty “secrets” hiding in plain view with the HCG diet is that it is extremely low in energy (only 500 calories). This is low enough that it will not even meet your basic energy needs (called your basal metabolism). In this case, your body goes into a perceived “famine response mode” and, while yes you are “losing weight,” inside your body is just trying to survive and is gearing up to store fat the moment it has the chance to get some real food again. Unfortunately, when you go off the diet, your body is a fat storing machine that will do everything in its power to store fat and protect itself against future weight loss attempts (i.e., induced artificial famine).

      As I look at the phrasing of your comment, I see you went on the HCG drops, and then you mentioned “after the diet.” Did you have the intention of doing the HCG drops and diet for a limited time, lose the weight, and then go off them? The reason I ask this is that when it comes to many of these sorts of diets and diet drops (or whatever health marketers are selling), in 99% of the cases, they are simply not sustainable long-term. Your body will only tolerate 500 calories a day for so long until it’s unbearable and you have to go back to eating real food again. In the nearly 3 decades I’ve been in this profession, I do not know ONE SINGLE PERSON, either personally or professionally, who started one of these types of diets 20 years ago and is still on it. They are programmed to fail you in the long run (though you might erroneously walk away feeling like it was you that failed).

      As for Weight Watchers, you will have an opportunity to learn healthy eating habits that will last you a lifetime. If you are increasing your intake of fruits and veggies, it is virtually impossible to overeat, plus you are getting lots of nutrients packed into those few calories (called nutrient density).

      You will lose weight and keep it off if you are willing to forget the short-term quick fixes and focus on feeling good with body weight as a byproduct of this. Too many people get tunnel vision and focus ONLY on losing weight with no consideration for the composition of that body weight. The HCG diet/drops will cause you to “lose weight” but the dirty secret of that weight loss is that you’ve also lost a fair bit of valuable metabolism-stoking muscle and a little bit of fat (that combination makes you an efficient fat storing machine). Doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.

      Here are a few other articles on my site which might be of interest to you:

      I cover a lot of these concepts there and am hopeful they will help provide you with a solid foundation to keep you from getting sucked into the void with the quick fix diets (remember, they didn’t work 30 years ago and they still don’t work now for long-term weight loss and weight loss maintenance).

      Feel free to stop back and leave another comment as you go through your journey. As a final word of encouragement, focus on eating lots of fruits and veggies and getting lots of activity and you will not only lose body fat but you’ll feel great too.

      Warm regards

      • Cat

        Hi Dr Bil thankyou for replying.
        I committed to the program for the entire 40days / 3 phases.
        I lost weight but have put some back on after phase 3.
        My understanding was that by the end of the program, it helps you lose weight and resets your metabolism.

        Hence I was worried that if I started weight watchers, i would probably put more weight on because you are eating foods that you would not be able to eat on hcg diet and you are eating more food;
        Eg. On WW, you can eat everything in moderation without your weight dramatically going up overnight
        But on hcg, even tiny quantities of dairy, carbs, starches or sugar is enough to raise your weight to over 1kg very quickely and then you have to do a steak day to compensate!

        Everyone will experience similar or different results but i was clearly told that while I could include everything in tiny moderation after phase 3, its best to cut those things out to avoid the weight coming back on, which happens just as fast as it came off!

        So back to my question, to help me lose weight and keep it off, do you think its possible that weight watchers could achieve this even though …
        you are eating more foods and
        you are eating foods that you would have had to previously avoid in order to “maintain” the weight loss long term under the hcg program.??

        • Dr Bill Sukala

          Hi Cat,
          One important thing to remember is that by eating a little bit of carbohydrate (in the form of starch or refined sugar), this might cause ‘weight gain’ on the scale due to your replenishing your glycogen (carbohydrate stored in your muscles and liver). This should not be confused with gaining fat.

          One of the dirty tricks of the trade diet pushers use is to cut carbohydrate in order to quickly reduce ‘weight’ on a scale to fool people into thinking they’ve lost a lot of fat. This is why it’s important for you to get a DEXA scan to determine how much fat and muscle you had before and after the fad diet.

          Healthy eating, on the other hand, will not cause drastic glycogen depletion so, while up front you might not lose as much “weight” on the scale as you would from a fad diet, the weight you are losing is more likely to be body fat. And the changes that do occur will happen slowly and be more sustainable over the long-term.

          In short, when you make reference to “weight loss,” ask yourself what is the composition of that weight loss? What “weight” did you lose exactly and how do you know? As I pointed out in my other articles (for which I provided links in a previous response), losing “weight” is easy if you starve yourself, deplete your glycogen stores, and lose valuable muscle, but LOSING STORED BODY FAT in a safe and healthy way over the long-term is not so glamorous and doesn’t occur so drastically. The fad diet industry has been taking advantage of people for so many years through such deceptive tactics, but if any of these fad diets actually worked (meaning over the long-term), then we wouldn’t have the obesity problems we currently do in the world.

          Bottom line: best case scenario is to focus on healthy eating (mainly fruits, veggies, lean cuts of fish, chicken, meat, healthy fats) and regular physical activity look towards feeling better both inside and out. The weight loss will be in the form of stored body fat, you’ll conserve your valuable metabolism-stoking muscle, and it’ll be sustainable over time. These tenets of healthy fat loss hold true over time, but fad diets like the HCG diet only serve to undermine healthy fat loss efforts. You’re finding this out first hand by the rapid weight regain (i.e., quick replenishment of your glycogen and water weight bound to it).

          Feel free to stop back and leave another comment if you have any questions.
          Warm regards

  42. Ginny

    Interesting article. I have used HCG and lost 15 pounds and KEPT it off for 4 years until my thyroid went nuts. After many doctors and tests, and medicines, I was finally adjusted to the right balance with my thyroid, so i tried HCG again to lose the 20 pounds I had gained. It worked and I have kept it off for another 4 years.
    I don’t really care how it works or what research or proof people have. IF it works, it works and people who haven’t tried it, shouldn’t be saying it won’t work.


    Wondering… after a two week recommended break and 35 lb weight loss using hcg injections, how do I restart my injections again to lose remaining desired 40 lbs? Do I resume the same units as when I temporarily stopped? Thank You! Susan Barrett

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Susan,
      If you’re working with a medical practitioner who is overseeing your care, then that would be the best person to answer your question. He/she will be most familiar with your specific medical history. Do not trust anyone who gives you medical advice on the internet without knowing anything about your medical history.
      Kind regards, Bill

  44. Chasity Grice

    I have done several rounds of the hcg diet before and I lost over 40 pounds, but as years have passed I have gained it all back plus about 10 more! I can’t seen to lose weight no matter what diet and exercise program I try to do from weight watchers to low carb even had my physician give me bontril nothing!! Has helped my metabolism I have had blood work done and all my levels are normal. Did the HCG hormone screw my metabolism up so bad that I may never lose weight or will it eventually kick in again??? It has been about 4 years since I have taken HCG. I’m about the point of doing the diet again but st the same time I am afraid.

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Chasity, Thanks for leaving a comment. Without knowing your full medical history, I couldn’t say exactly what’s going on. In my article, I point out that scientific evidence shows that HCG with a low-calorie diet is no more effective than a low-calorie diet without HCG. In general, when you are on diets that force you to eat VERY few calories, your body goes into something of a “starvation mode” that fights back against the fat loss. You might initially lose weight in the form of water, stored carbohydrate (called glycogen), and muscle which could fool you into thinking you’re losing fat. The real damage is in losing your valuable metabolism-stoking muscle. Muscle is like your metabolic motor that helps you burn off the calories you eat. In the majority of cases, all these types of diets (including the HCG diet) trick you into starving yourself at such a low calorie intake that you are not eating enough calories just to meet your underlying daily calorie needs (called your basal metabolism). In the end, you wind up slowing down your metabolism and, when you eventually fall off the wagon, as is the case with all these extreme low-calorie diets, you will gain back what you lost and then some (as a means of protecting against the next simulated “famine”).

      Let me assure you, it is not YOU that is failing the diet, but it’s the DIET that is failing you. The majority of bulls*t diets are created by marketers with a greater interest in making money than helping people lose weight. The dirty trick is that they all “work” in the beginning (see explanation above), but eventually the diet will fail you. It’s like having a leaky pipe in your kitchen that you keep trying to fix with tape. It might work in the short term but will eventually spring a leak and leave you right back where you were before you started, and maybe with more damage.

      I would encourage you to spend some time reading my other articles around fat loss which will give you a bit more insight into healthy weight management:

      In closing, I would strongly recommend that you look into a Mediterranean style of eating. It is not a “diet” that you go on for a limited time just to lose weight but is instead a way of eating. There are decades of good quality research studies which show that a nutrient-dense way of eating is not only healthy for you but, when combined with regular exercise such as walking, can really translate to long-term fat loss and maintenance.

      Bottom line: the so-called “health food” or “diet” industry is massively full of sh*t and they have been for decades. If all these miracle diets worked in the first place, we wouldn’t have the growing obesity epidemic we currently do. You’ll hear arguments that the government food recommendations are keeping us fat, but that is also bullish*t because people haven’t been following the guidelines instead opting for KFC and McDonalds. Anyway, rest assured that if you’re open to just being nice to yourself and making small little changes you can live with, then you will truly have found the safest path to long-term good health and weight control.

      Kind regards,

  45. Melissa

    I’m disappointed to see all of the claims debunking the HCG Diet as fake and bad for you. If you read Simeons research “Pounds and Inches” it makes sense metabolically. How do babies get proper nutrition when the mom doesn’t eat for 3 months when morning sick or choose not to eat any extra calories for the baby. There must be a mechanism in place to keep the body and baby sustained during that time. Hence HCG makes this switch to change fat into calories the body can use. I had to try this as I was in metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetic, liver and adrenal distress 190 lbs.
    My first 2 rounds on drops sustained a 30lb. Weight loss that lasted for 5 years. A back injury, and finally job related stress added about 10lbs back. Subsequent rounds not as successful because of my own willpower, stress and sugar addiction, probably bad drops that were hard to get at the time. You can lose 5-10 lbs in a week which is impossible any other way. I see it as a way to cleanse and lose fat in a magical way. Easy it is not, you are detoxing a lot of junk. Hard at first, then easy, but small variation in food plan throw it off drastically. How else can you explain such a thing? Stick with it using reputable HCG ( i got through online dr. But my own Dr. was amazed at the health change) AND FOLLOW THE PLAN especially the maintenance phase, as this is where you reset the hypothalamus to a certain weight and function. When you gradually add back in the healthy fats, carbs, limited sugar, it keeps that weight quite stable!! Sustained by a healthier normal diet style. Believe me I have tried 500 calories without HCG and it’s devastating. But read Simeons book before you determine that the VLC with HCG Is dangerous. Although not good for all people. He explains it all! And anyone who has done it correctly will testify it works wonders!

    • Dr Bill Sukala

      Hi Melissa,
      First and foremost, I am happy that you were able to progress onto a healthier diet with limited sugar. While you might think it “makes sense metabolically,” I think you might be coming to certain conclusions based on misinformation promoted by diets like the HCG diet.

      As I point out in my article, there is no question that you will “lose weight” on the HCG diet because it is so extremely low in calories.

      I would be curious to know if you had a DEXA scan after losing all this weight to determine the composition of your weight loss (You should be able to find a DEXA machine near where you live in Atlanta).

      “Losing weight” is the easiest thing in the world when you do it by any means possible, but that does not always mean it’s a sound and healthy way to do so. When people talk about “losing weight,” they are actually stating that they want to lose stored body fat.

      But what if I told you that losing 5-10 pounds of “weight” in a week is possible, but not 5-10 pounds of stored body fat. There is a difference. In many cases, when you do these types of starvation diets, you lose glycogen stores, the water bound to it, and valuable metabolism-stoking muscle.

      Then, when you can no longer sustain the diet, you will rebound and gain back the weight but will be worse off due to the loss of muscle tissue. It’s like climbing the ladder two rungs and then sliding back three, then repeat over and over again.

      I should also add that you point the finger of blame at yourself for not succeeding. The truth is, these types of diets fail you, not the other way around. I find it very disheartening when I see good people like yourself accepting blame, which can erode confidence and self-esteem, when in fact it’s actually the unsafe and scientifically unsound diet.

      These diets are not “cleansing” you nor causing you to lose fat in a “magical way.” There is no magic in any of this. It’s basic human physiology and the built-in starvation response that is elicited from fad diets like the HCG diet.

      In reading the final part of your post, it seems to give me the impression that you were able to wean yourself off of the diet and onto a healthier normal diet style. This is something that would be wise to do from the start, without the HCG diet.

      Do I think you’re lying? Absolutely not. I absolutely believe you when it comes to your convictions in your beliefs, but you may very well be mistaken. If you want to give credit to anyone or anything, it should not be to Simeon or the HCG diet. It should be a big pat on the back to yourself for your hard work in transitioning to a healthier way of eating (which you never needed the HCG diet for in the first place).

      Here are some articles on healthy fat loss principles:

  46. Raymond Hague

    Thank you for sharing to us what really is HCG diet. This article also is very helpful to be more aware of what it is HCG Diet and how does it work.

  47. Susan M Barrett

    I MUST COMPLETELY agree with Melissa! I am a doctoral prepared nurse and see a nurse practitoner for HCG. i have had heated debates with fellow doctors. However, at 58 years old, after trying probably every diet on the plan my entire life, this is a miracle! Only “treatment” that has ever worked for me! Not for everyone, but I am happy I tried this, and will soon be off the hormone, but will retain a calorie restricted diet, since I think Americans cosume way too many calories despite “healthy” guidelines. And for me, a low calorie-nutrition-dense diet works best! Thank you for your post Melissa!

  48. Tina V.

    I wish I had done more research before trying this diet out of sheer frustration and desperation. I am a Masters prepared nurse and really should have known better. I lost 14 lbs in the first 3 weeks, so I was encouraged, but then the next couple weigh ins were only 1-2 lbs down on the scale. By this time, I was getting depressed from not being able to eat with my family or enjoy social events. I was constantly lying about why I couldn’t go somewhere or why I wasn’t eating. I was tired all the time. I never saw a physician at my weight loss clinic, the only time I saw an NP was to get my prescriptions, they didn’t even weigh me when I came for my consultation! They just asked me how much I weighed and I guessed based on my last known weight, which was from a month prior at a routine doctor’s appointment. The person who reviewed my food journals and gave me nutritional counseling were medical assistants. I was a medical assistant 30 years ago and I know this is not within their scope of practice. After my initial consult, I wanted to leave and talk to my husband about it. The sales pitch was so high pressure, I felt like they were trying to sell me a time share! They even tried to recruit my spouse, who had no interest at all! Bottom line, I am ashamed and embarrassed that I fell for this and that I spent 700 of my hard earned dollars for basically nothing. Live and learn, I suppose.

  49. Patricia A Buckner

    Hello. Four (4) years ago I tried Dr. Simeon’s weight loss protocol (the HCG diet) and had great success. I loss 28 lbs in 30 days, and have been able to keep it off for the most part. I did the injections which is what the protocol requires. When done exactly as instructed, you will lose the weight and keep it off. Dr. Sukala you’re right, consuming 500 calories a day will cause anyone to lose weight. The different with the protocol is that, the HGC injections keeps away the hunger pangs, and keeps you from losing muscle. Also, there are four (4) stages to the protocol. You must follow all the steps. As with anything that gives instructions, i.e. baking a cake for instance, if you do not follow the instructions, your get a different result. This protocol requires discipline. Personally, I know other people that have tried to follow the protocol, and was not successful because they felt they did not have to follow the necessary steps. You can’t do your own thing here.

    My advice to anyone considering the protocol, be prepared to follow the required instruction. Talk with someone who has done it. First hand knowledge is always best. You’ll be happy you did.

    As with scientific proof… Hey, that’s just my take.


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