The HCG diet protocol is a weight loss method that has been popular for a number of years. It states that it can help a patient to lose as much as one to two pounds daily. The HCG diet protocol also says that it can help to curb hunger. Since hunger and appetite are a major factor regarding why diets fail, this is an important element for reducing calorie consumption. The FDA has approved this hormone as a medication for other health issues.

What is Human Chorionic Gonadotropin?

HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Once an embryo implants after conception, HCG is produced by the placenta. This prompts the release of progesterone and estrogen. HCG has multiple functions in pregnant women, including burning fat so that the developing fetus has the energy it requires.

The FDA has approved HCG as a medication for infertility. When used as a medication for this purpose, it works to aid women to conceive and maintain their pregnancy.

Shedding Pounds

While the FDA has not approved HCG as a weight loss medication or protocol component, this is a relatively popular use for the hormone. Those who promote the HCG diet protocol state that it can help with losing weight due to boosting your metabolism. It is also said to reduce hunger.

Body Composition Improvement

How the HCG diet protocol changes the body composition of a patient is heavily debated. Some state that it can cause a reduction in muscle mass due to the significant caloric restriction. However, others say that the HCG diet protocol only causes people to lose fat and not muscle.

There are other claims associated with the HCG diet protocol and its affect on weight and body composition. It is said that HCG can help to boost metabolism, elevate certain other hormones and cause an anabolic state.


The HCG diet involves food limitations to help to reduce the caloric intake a patient is consuming each day. It was in 1954 that HCG was proposed as a diet that could help to promote weight loss. Dr. Albert Simeons introduced the protocol.

At that time, there were two primary elements of the HCG diet protocol for weight loss:

  • Eating a diet approximately 500 calories daily
  • Injections of HCG hormones

The Three Phases

There are typically three phases associated with the HCG diet. These include:

  • Loading phase: For two days, eat a lot of food high in calories and fat. Start taking HCG.
  • Weight loss phase: This is the longest phase of the HCG method. Continue taking HCG. For three to six weeks, only eat 500 calories daily.
  • Maintenance phase: For about three weeks, avoid starch and sugar, but gradually increase your calorie intake. Stop using HCG.

The Premise

The premise of the HCG diet protocol is to eat foods very low in calories and fat to lose weight. Compared to 1954, it is a bit easier to follow the HCG protocol since there are viable food substitutions for many items people cannot eat on this diet. For example, there are sugar substitutes to replace sugar. This all helps those on the HCG protocol to enjoy a more varied and fulfilling diet.

Proteins are okay to eat as long as the fat is removed, and the cuts are lean. All meats should be grass-fed and free from all hormones when following the HCG protocol. It is also acceptable to eat chicken breast, veal, lobster, shrimp, canned tuna in water, crab and fresh white fish.

The HCG method encourages a lot of vegetables. You should stick to the following vegetables:

  • Green salad
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Beet-greens
  • Fennel
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Chicory
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Red radishes
  • Cabbage

The fruit choices on the HCG protocol are limited. They include:

  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Apples
  • Oranges

If you have space for a snack on the HCG diet, it is recommended that you stick to either two grissini sticks or pieces of melba toast.

Side Effects and Safety

It is important for every patient considering the HCG diet protocol to learn more about the safety and side effects. This is especially important for any patient who takes a medication. The FDA does not promote the HCG diet protocol.

The restricted calorie intake that is part of the HCG method will typically promote weight loss, but it may also contribute to depression, headaches and fatigue. Any patient considering weight loss help with the HCG diet should talk to their doctor about the potential for blood clots. While the cases are limited, experts have found a possible link between the HCG diet protocol and blood clots.

The HCG diet is not approved by the FDA. The HCG diet may help a patient to tackle weight loss. The caloric restriction and other elements of the HCG protocol are relatively easy to follow. What is important is that patients talk to their doctor before using the HCG diet for weight loss, especially if they take any medication. This ensures they are making an informed choice.