I thought this one would just go away and I’d not have to address it.  A few clients asked me about the HCG Diet and I’m concerned about its growing popularity.

Since some folks will try anything to lose fat (except for proper nutrition and some exercise!) the market is always ripe with suckers for fad diets.  The quick fix is part of the American Phyche.  We like instant gratification and we like it a lot.  It’s something Fitness Professionals must address in a methodical, professional matter and do what we can to educate those who will listen.

So, I’ll lay out the some of the facts for ya…

This new diet craze hits the the mainstream just in time for pool season…  like they always do.  This new diet promises the world by way of weight loss.  All fad diets use caloric restriction to get fat loss results, but with all fad diets, there’s a gimmick.  In this one’s case, it’s HCG.  Or, Human Chorionic Gonatropin.  Let’s take a minute, and educate ourselves about HCG and weather or not it the “HCG Diet” does any of the things it claims.

Human Chorionic Gonatropin, or HCG, is produced while a woman is pregnant, at first by the new embryo, and later in the terms by the placenta.  It helps in many portions of fetus’s development.  Most interesting to me, is it helps defend the new embryo against the mother’s own immune system.  In other words, it keeps the mother’s body from attacking the new baby as though it were a disease.   Because of this, HCG levels directly influences the severity of  morning sickness.  All this is fairly irrelevant to non pregnant folks wanting to lose weight. Though the Diet refers to HCG as a “pregnancy hormone” many times, I do not understand exactly why.  It almost goes without saying people wanting to lose fat, might not want to induce the same hormonal environment as a pregnant women.  Pregnancy makes the carrying mother hungry to support the new life she has growing inside.  Again, not good for fat loss.  Duh.

In women who are not pregnant, HCG can stimulate the ovaries and increase the production of eggs.  Though HCG is not typically prescribed for fertility enhancement.  Again, this one doesn’t help the Diet’s case either.

In males, HCG, because of its link to and ability to stimulate Luteinizing Hormone (LH), signals the testes to produce testosterone (T).  It also does so, in very limited amounts, in females by stimulating the ovaries to produce testosterone.  This is where the HCG Diet gets its claims of protecting lean body mass.  Though, again, any increase in test would also kick off an increase in appetite.  The Diet claims appetite suppression, the opposite.

The HCG Diet began as a diet with MDs prescribing injectable (IM or SC types)  HCG.  To get HCG, you have to have a script from a Doctor.  The only form HCG is Rx’ed is IM or SC injectable.  HCG has never been approved by the FDA for weightloss!  But now it’s sold as either pills taken orally or sublingual (under the tongue) drops.  Here’s where we can really tear apart the HCG Diet.

HCG is a peptide hormone.  Like all bonded peptides, it is destroyed by the gut and GI tract.  So unless injected, HCG never makes it into the body.  Also, it’s no secret there is little to no actual HCG hormone in the drops or pills.  That would be illegal…  just like selling any other prescription medication.  How do they get away with it?  The companies can claim whatever they want.  They add the word Homeopathic to their product labeling and marketing and it usually does the trick.  If the FDA has their product tested and there’s no readable amounts of HCG, they company is only guilty of selling a false product.  That’s not a concern for the FDA.

The FDA has, however, denounced the HCG Diet.  Read USA Today’s, January 23rd article on the topic.  Just Google it and you’ll see, it’s a scam.  But you’ll also find many sites that promote the HCG Diet and state it does wonderful things.  Yeah… they’re the sites that sell it.

So how do people loss weight on the HCG Diet?  It’s all, and only, because you eat 500 calories a day.  Any time you eat less calories than you expend, you body releases Uncoupling Protein-3 (UCP3), the hormone signals fat lypolysis…  the body burning fat for energy.  Glucagon, the transport hormone (opposing of Insulin) also increases.  Both increase directly respective to how little you eat and long you go on that way.  That’s a sumation… there’s alot more to starvation and what metabolic processes it causes.  But yeah, if you’re only eating 500 cal a day, you’re starving yourself.  It doesn’t matter how healthy of food you eat for the 500 calories, you are still going to become malnourished.

So you lose the weight.  10lbs in seven days or like one of the HCG Diet websites (yes, there are more than one. Many actually.) claims, 26lbs in eighteen days.  Then you go back to eating the excess and junk you were to get fat in the first place and…  YOU GET FAT again.  Duh.  But, you get slim for the pool season!  And you also get dumber for doing it.  500 cal a day will cause some brain damage and if this type of dieting is your choice for weight loss, you need all the brain you can get.  Just sayin’.

As always, there’s a healthy way to lose weight.  It is through caloric restriction.  The HCG and most all fad diets are just too extreme in whatever they’re promoting.  Unless you’re only 100lbs of lean body mass, there’s no reason to drop below 1,000 calories a day of quality, clean foods.

If you’re interested in losing weight or tightening up your diet, see our nutrition counseling page.  CFW offers a five week counseling program with once a week counseling sessions to line out your diet and caloric requirements.  It gives you all the information needed to get on track and an easy to follow set of guidelines that we guarantee will lead to success.  All with old fashioned honesty and accountability.  Interested? Contact me at: tony@crossfitwilmington.com

Eat well and lift heavy stuff…  quickly,

Everyone preparing for bear crawls at the CCB WOD Saturday. We had great turnouts from CrossFit Wilmington, Port City CrossFit, and CrossFit Carolina Beach. Thanks to CFCB and Brock for hosting such a fun event. Each month the CrossFits in and around Wilmington will have a workout at one of the affiliates so the community can get to know each other and have fun doing the fitness we all enjoy. The next get together is here at CFW, this Saturday for the March Madness Comp. All Crossfitters, no matter your affiliate, are welcome to come and have fun.


4 x 20/10 (20 sec work and 10 sec recovery) intervals of each…
Wall Ball Shots (20/14)
Sumo Deadlift High Pull (95/65)
Double Unders
*Score for each movement is lowest number of reps completed in an interval

Jerk – Work Up to a heavy single
Snatch Grip Shrug Pull – 3 x 8
Bench Press – 5 x 4
Bent Over Row – 5 x 4
Reverse Hypers – 10 x 4

8 thoughts on “HCG Diet a Farse

  1. josh says:

    Great job Am crew! I’m not able to come in as much as I would like to in the AM, but when I can it’s alway’s great to see you guys rocking it.

  2. Sensei says:

    By the Way! I’ve copied and pasted Tonys wisdom / rant to a new website my friend and I created:


    Log on and become part of a new blog supporting and requesting support on reaching goals in whatever part of your life you need!

    From increasing you deadlift, to cutting out sugar, to saving more money. We are all in this together and this site is a way for all of us to be part of the solution!


  3. Albert says:

    My permission slip has been signed for Saturday. I will have my name in the hat as Albert “bye week” Steed. Happy picking for whoever gets me. 😉

  4. Drew says:

    On top of this, anything labeled Homeopathic, is complete and utter garbage. The whole theory behind it is that they take a drug that works, and dilute it down with water so that it works “better” through having a “memory” of the substance. They say the more diluted it is, the better it works.

    With this logic, you can safely assume almost all fresh water on earth has at some point come in touch with all medications (during processing, in sewers, in water plants). Therefore if you just buy a bottle of water, it will have so many parts per million of everything, so therefore, what’s the need for the individual homeopathic remedies?

    I really feel bad that people fall for this stuff. Here is a bit by James Randi on the fraud that is homeopathy: http://www.ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

  5. TD says:

    Awesome guys. Just wrapped up a website for an HCG company (will not list it) and while websites pay the bills, and I pretty much will do anything besides the obvious, I learned a lot about HCG and the people who buy into it. Like Tony said, there’s no discipline behind it. Just a fast and easy way to temporarily drop weight. Without proper diet training and re-training your brain and body, you WILL get fat again. And you’ll blame the diet or the website or the fad. The reason I stay with you freaks at Crossfit is, like “Sensei” said, there are no fn excuses. We train. We train our minds, as well as our bodies. We are not slaves to them. We don’t give in to their fickle demands for gluttony and sloth.

    The other thing I noticed about the HCG Diet is they actually ENCOURAGE you to eat a bunch of fattening foods before you go on the diet!! Really? Red flag right there.

    So, thanks Tony. You got me ranting again. I think I might just do today’s workout again. (Not really)

  6. Jill P says:

    this looks fun:
    Complete a total of 200 kettlebell swings 24/16kg. A the top of each minute do 20 double-unders.
    Modifications: If you suck at DU do 10, if you can not do them at all complete 60 singles.

  7. Buy diet says:

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