There’s the grapefruit diet, the vinegar diet, the cigarette diet, the whiskey diet – you name it there’s probably a fad diet built around it. In fact, bizarre diet crazes date back to the early 1800’s in the United States. One of those diet fads has been making a comeback in the past year or so: the pregnancy hormone diet.
Here’s the premise. Daily injections of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) a hormone produced in women during pregnancy, will free up stored fat and reprogram the set point for body weight in the hypothalamus. hCG is manufactured in the placenta of the expectant mother to unleash body fat to nourish the growing fetus. The theory is that when not pregnant, the presence of this hormone by injection would free up fat to be burned during normal activity. This idea was first proposed in 1954 by a British physician A.T.W. Simeons and proponents of the diet claim that successful results happen when following Dr. Simeons’ guidelines.
Here’s the catch. Dr. Simeons requires dieters to restrict their daily caloric intake to only 500 calories! Well it stands to reason that anyone who only eats 500 calories a day is going to lose weight! Remember that when calories expended exceeds calories consumed, the result is weight loss. But what people who love this diet claim is that the hCG injections curb their hunger pangs so that living on only 500 calories feels comfortable with no cravings. Sounds wonderful, right? Well the problem is that these anecdotal stories can’t be duplicated in any research of the diet.
Numerous research studies dating back to 1973 found no significant difference in weight loss, percent of weight lost, hip/waist circumference or reduction in hunger sensations from those on a 500 calorie diet with hCG injections and those on a 500 calorie diet with placebo injections. The injections just don’t seem connected to the weight-loss process. It’s got to be the calories.
While there doesn’t seem to be any proven side-effects of the hCG injections, some have reported increased mood swings, nausea and bloating. There is also increased risk of blood clots with any type of hormone therapy. Additionally, there is research linking the presence of hCA in the bloodstream with memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA has approved hCG for use in fertility treatment, but has not approved its use for weight loss. The agency has taken a strong stand against it, including requiring warning labels on the packaging of hCG against its use in weight loss treatment.
The bottom line is that our body weight and fat percentage is a reflection of our relationship to the food we eat and the world around us. Changing your body weight and fat percentage requires lifestyle changes. It’s a complex process that does not have a quick fix. While the calorie in/calorie out formula may address the physical component of energy consumption/energy storage, for those who continually struggle with being overweight despite their eating and exercise habits, the longer term solution may lie not in an injection, but in achieving a higher awareness of who they are in the world.