What is the hCG Diet

In 1954, British doctor, A.T.W. Simeons, developed a dieting method in which a person would eat no more than 500 calories per day and they would be injected with a hormone called hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), which is produced during pregnancy in humans.  Previously, hCG was extracted from urine, but science has since been able to produce it in a lab setting.  Dr. Simeons came to the conclusion that hCG promoted weight loss.

How the hCG Diet works

Those following the hCG diet, traditionally, would go to their doctor and receive injections of hCG.  In conjunction with the injections, they would follow a very low calorie diet plan that typically consists of no more than 500 calories per day.  In recent years, hCG drops and capsules have become available for people to follow hCG at home without the need to visit a doctor for injections.

The traditional hCG diet has a menu plan of 500 calories per day, but some newer plans recommend 800 calories or 1200 calories per day.  The hCG is purported to affect the hypothalamus gland which, in turn, affects the adrenals, how the body stores fat, the thyroid, and a person’s overall metabolism.  The idea is that the hCG (either injected or taken orally) would stimulate the hypothalamus and thereby increase the effectiveness of the body in dealing with fat storage.

Basically, the hCG is supposed to cause the body’s stored fat to release and nourish the body on the nutrients that come out during the process.  By doing this, the body is supposed to avoid the usual side effect of muscle tissue loss which occurs on a very low calorie eating diet. This process is the reason hCG diets are said to be safe for prolonged use while a person is losing weight and eating only 500 calories per day.  The idea is that the body is, by using the stored fat as energy, consuming a couple thousand calories each day.

The typical eating plan for an hCG diet, while no more than 500 calories per day, is usually a high protein, low carb, low fat type of eating plan.  Because of the limited amount of calories, it is deemed safer for a person to be sure to get the essential amino acids via protein.  Protein also has the natural side effect of appetite suppression, which can be helpful for a person who is eating very little to control hunger.

What Experts Say about the hCG Diet

There have been many studies done over the years on the hCG Diet and whether or not hCG affects weight loss in any way. The overwhelming conclusion has been that it doesn’t do anything at all.  Studies, going as far back as 1976, that used the method where one group of dieters were given the hCG and another group were given a placebo showed, across the board, that there was no difference in weight loss between each group and that it was certain that all weight that was lost was due to the very low calories being consumed by the dieter.

It has been concluded that anyone eating only 500 calories per day will lose weight and generally within the 1 to 2 pound per day range.  With the exception of the very obese, under direct physician supervision and care, a very low calorie diet is not recommended.  An adult eating only 500 calories per day who is not overweight or obese for prolonged periods of time runs the risk of developing deficiencies and illnesses associated with starvation.  These health risks include severe dehydration, muscle atrophy, dry and cracked skin, malnutrition, fatigue, irregular menstruation in women, and reduced immune response, to name a few.

In addition to this, weight regain once a person goes back to normal eating right away is almost guaranteed without careful maintenance procedures following the weight loss period.  After the weight loss phase, it is recommended that regular foods should be re-added to the diet gradually so the dieter can avoid a sudden regain of all the pounds that had been lost.  As far as the claim that it is safe for a dieter to eat only 500 calories per day while losing weight because the stored fat makes up for all the lost nutrients, calorie deficit, and mineral consumption is not wholly correct.  Yes, the body uses the stored fat to make up for the calorie deficit, but the dieter may still have to consume vitamins and minerals to make up for what isn’t stored in the fat cells.

Sample hCG Diet Meal Plan

Most hCG Diets follow a high protein, low carb, low fat eating plan.  For this reason, the dieter will likely feel full for longer and be able to avoid any hunger issues.  The first step in following an hCG menu is to get the hCG injection from a medical doctor or to purchase hCG capsules/drops from a vendor.  The doctor will advise the dieter when it is time for the next shot and the dosage instructions on the capsules/drops will advise when these should be taken.  The hCG dieter should also be sure to drink plenty of water since very low calorie plans can be dehydrating.


  • Coffee or Green Tea


  • 200g Prawns (jumbo shrimp), grilled or sautéed with 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 8 Strawberries, artificial sweetener to taste, crushed ice, and water blended
  • 5 Asparagus spears, grilled with salt and pepper


  • 1 Grissini Breadstick (special hCG product)


  • 100g Chicken breast, prepared with garlic, basil, thyme, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Serve chicken either cubed in a bowl with spinach as a salad or serve the chicken on a bed of steamed spinach.
Last Updated: Friday, October 14, 2011