What Is the HCG Diet Protocol?

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  • Written By: Nicole Etolen
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 06 February 2020
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The HCG diet protocol combines the use of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) with a diet that severely restricts caloric intake. Those on the diet either take HCG supplements or receive it through injections. The protocol was developed by the late Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, during the 1950s, but it didn’t catch on as a mainstream diet until nearly over half a century later.

HCG is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in males and females. It is also produced by the cells in the placenta during pregnancy, and may be used to help treat fertility problems. While observing women in poor countries with limited food resources, Dr. Simeons found that despite starving conditions, many women were still able to give birth to healthy babies because the developing fetuses used a biological process involving the use of naturally occurring HCG to maintain adequate nutrition. Simeons later discovered that the hormone released abnormal fat storage pockets in the body, allowing them to be burned for fuel; this led him to develop his HCG diet protocol.


Each round of treatment on the HCG diet protocol lasts between 26 and 43 days. HCG injections or supplements are given every day throughout the cycle except for the last three days, which allow the hormone to cycle out of the body before resuming a normal diet. Dr. Simeons found that after 40 days, the body becomes immune to the HCG and requires a six-week break to recover. No more than four treatment cycles, including resting periods, are recommended for any person.

Proponents of the diet claim that HCG helps them lose weight and reduce body fat in the abdominal and buttocks region. In order for the diet to be successful, users must follow a very strict protocol. Any deviation from the protocol can reduce the chances of success. The most controversial aspect of the HCG diet protocol is the severe restriction of caloric intake.

Every function in the human body requires the use of energy, and the majority of that energy comes from calories taken in through food and beverages. While the average calorie needs vary depending on age, weight, and amount of physical activity, they typically range between 2,000-3,000 per day. The HCG diet protocol developed by Dr. Simeons recommends taking in just 500 calories per day, although adjustments have been made allowing up to 800 calories per day.

Consuming fewer than 1,000 calories per day can cause serious health problems, especially when such a diet is maintained for a long period. While the body does break down fat cells to burn for fuel, it also breaks down muscle tissue and even the organs to provide more energy. Low calorie diets also cause electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to nerve damage and heart-related complications. Long-term effects include osteoporosis, anemia, and depression.

Rapid weight loss programs like the HCG diet protocol can be used safely, but only under strict monitoring by a medical professional. HCG injections and supplements should be provided only by physicians. Purchasing supplements or injections from non-medical sources can be dangerous, as there are no guarantees regarding dosage and ingredients.



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