HCG and Weight Loss: What is the HCG Diet Protocol - Doctablet®

HCG and Weight Loss: What is the HCG diet protocol?

Nutrition, Weight Loss

Many patients have seen their doctor for general checkups and have been advised to lose weight. But getting help losing weight is a different story. Doctors often don’t have the time to review diet and exercise plans at length, though they can refer you to a nutritionist or offer help with medications. Unfortunately, approved medications to help patients excel on a calorie-restricted diet are not very effective for long-term success. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that weight-loss medications help a patient lose at least 5% of their body weight to get approved. These medications not only have side effects, but also can be quite expensive, and many are not covered by insurance. Also, the proven amount of weight loss is quite small. For these reasons and others, many patients seek out alternative therapies and supplements for weight loss that might not be scientifically proven.

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What is HCG?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a naturally occurring hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy. The levels produced are very high and can be detected in the urine of pregnant females. That’s right! HCG is the same hormone that is measured by home pregnancy testing. HCG helps support a healthy environment for the unborn baby. HCG is also released — small amounts of it — by other tissues in both men and females that are not pregnant.

What is HCG? Human Chorionic Gonadotropic

Doctors can prescribe HCG at high doses to help patients with fertility issues, but it is also used in an “off-label” way for weight loss protocols. Off-label use of a prescription medication means that it is used for something that was not approved by the FDA.  This type of prescribing is very common and entirely legal.  In fact, approximately 20% of written prescriptions are considered to be off-label.

Does prescription HCG cause weight loss?

Whether or not prescription HCG causes weight loss requires a little background to answer. The original HCG diet protocol recommends a daily HCG injection in combination with severe calorie restriction: around 500 calories per day. The science suggests that people lose weight on the HCG diet because of the small amount of calories they eat, not because of the HCG injection! The FDA has reviewed all of the studies on the effectiveness of the HCG diet protocol. They have concluded there is NOT enough evidence to support that HCG given in addition to an intense diet works better than just diet alone.

The HCG diet Protocol: diet plus HCG is not better at weight loss than diet alone

What is the HCG diet protocol?

The HCG diet dates back to the 1950s, but has become popular over the last ten years. The initial work with HCG and diet was done by a famous British endocrinologist, Dr. Albert T.W. Simeons.  He first noticed that when HCG was injected into boys with low levels of the male hormone testosterone, the patients lost body fat. Dr. Simeons went on to study HCG and its effect on weight for many decades, later sharing his findings with the world in 1967 in a famous manuscript called “Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity.” 

What Dr. Simeons discovered is that at low doses, HCG mobilized fat breakdown. At the same time, HCG protected the patient from the muscle loss that often accompanies low-calorie diets. HCG also helps to suppress appetite and combat the decreasing energy levels that patients often feel while eating very few calories. Now, before we describe the original protocol in more detail, please remember that many studies done on HCG in the 1970s did not show that adding HCG to a strict diet helped patients to lose more weight. Please consult a medical professional to make sure a very low-calorie diet and HCG are safe for someone like you. This protocol was, and still is, designed to be used under medical supervision. As we mentioned, the original Simeons HCG protocol called for daily HCG injections in addition to a very low-calorie diet of approximately 500 calories. Compare that to the 4,500 calories an average American consumes on Thanksgiving day.

What can I eat on the HCG diet protocol?

During the diet protocol, most foods are removed — especially fatty and starchy ones. The diet participant eats the following:

  • 2 servings of lean meat per day

  • 2 servings of vegetables per day

  • 2 fruits per day

  • The option for 2 Italian Grissini breadsticks daily

  • Breakfast is typically replaced with a large glass of lemon water instead.

During the protocol, the dieter is also encouraged to avoid applying oil-based makeup and moisturizers. Depending upon the individual, the diet plan and injections last from a minimum of 21 days to a maximum of 40 days. We have described the original protocol, but today the menu plan has been modified many times to include different versions.

Where is the HCG used in the HCG protocol derived from?

Most of the HCG commercially available in the United States is actually extracted from the urine of pregnant females. These preparations are highly purified and free from bacteria. Alternatively, a single brand also produces HCG using recombinant DNA technology.

The HCG for the HCG Diet Protocol comes from the urine of pregnant women.

What about over-the-counter HCG and HCG diet drops? 


The FDA has taken a strong stance on over-the-counter homeopathic HCG products like oral pills, lozenges, drops and sprays that are marketed for weight loss. They have issued seven warnings to companies making false claims that their supplement causes weight loss. At this time, all drug products that include “homeopathic” HCG are considered by the FDA to be marketed illegally.

If you happened to purchase or start using “homeopathic” HCG, the FDA recommends you stop immediately and discard the product.

Vegetarians or vegans and the HCG protocol.

Vegetarians should expect about one-half the weight loss on the HCG protocol as compared to those who eat meat. Vegetarians on the HCG diet protocol must drink 500 milliliters of skim milk daily for protein intake, but milk has sugar, which the unaltered protocol is quite low in. Beans, wheat and nuts are not allowed on the HCG diet plan, so vegans cannot safely participate, as they would have too little protein intake.

What are the side effects of HCG (HCG diet protocol)?

Before we let you go, we need to leave you with one last warning. Like all medications, HCG has side effects. Those on the HCG protocol can also experience consequences from the very low-calorie diet itself. Side effects from the HCG diet protocol can include blood clotting, gallbladder stones and attacks, electrolyte problems, fatigue, and depression. If a blood clot travels to the lungs, a pulmonary embolism can occur, which can result in cardiac arrest and death.

Call your doctor to see if a very low calorie diet is safe for you

Again, please consult a medical professional to make sure a very low-calorie diet and HCG is safe for someone like you. In addition to the FDA’s warning, many medical institutions have published opinions discouraging patients from attempting such an aggressive diet.

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Last Modified: May 19, 2018 @ 11:06 pm
About the Author
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Chris Palmeiro D.O. M.Sc.

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Dr. Palmeiro is Chairman of Endocrinology at the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, he also serves patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Westchester Institute of Human Development in Valhalla, New York. He has a Masters of Science degree in clinical nutrition and is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. His interests within the realm of endocrinology include nutrition support, obesity counseling and the progressive management of diabetes.

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