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Confusion, Dizziness, Heart Rate and Back Pain on the HCG Diet

By Melissa Hopkins ; Updated July 18, 2017

The HCG Diet is a popular fad diet that encourages dieters to consume an extremely-low-calorie diet while taking oral supplements or receiving injections of the hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is quite expensive, and has not been proven to help with weight loss. Following the HCG Diet may cause uncomfortable or even dangerous side effects, including confusion, dizziness, heart rate fluctuations and back pain. The HCG Diet has not been proven effective for healthy weight management over the long term.

HCG Diet

HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy that physicians may prescribe to address fertility problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires a warning label on HCG prescriptions stating that it has no been proven effective at burning fat, redistributing fat or alleviating the hunger pains of a very-low-calorie diet, according to the March 2001 “U.S. News and World Report” article, “HCG Diet Dangers - Is Fast Weight Loss Worth the Risk?” The HCG Diet restricts followers to a caloric intake of 500 calories per day, although nutrition experts say you should consume at least 1,200 calories per day.

Back Pain

People on the HCG Diet should take note of back pain that may indicate a kidney problem. Kidney pain is a persistent ache on one side of your upper back, frequently accompanied by fever or urinary problems. Individuals following an HCG Diet may be at higher risk for kidney problems. HCG diet plans frequently involve severely restricted caloric intake, which can cause malnutrition. Organ damage, particularly to the kidneys, heart and liver, is a potential side effect of malnutrition, according to the Merck Manual. In addition, use of HCG increases your risk of developing blood clots. Blood clots in your kidneys can cause kidney pain, and can be potentially fatal.

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Confusion and Dizziness

Some HCG-based diets advise reducing or eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, including sources of healthy carbohydrates, such as beans, sweet potatoes and whole-grain foods. Healthy carbohydrates play an important role in regulating your blood sugar for a steady release of glucose, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. Fluctuations in your blood sugar levels can make you feel dizzy and nauseated. Confusion, dizziness and even loss of consciousness can also be side effects of inadequate caloric intake.

Heart Rate

Acute malnutrition may cause your heart rate to slow and your blood pressure to drop significantly, which can increase your risk of permanent organ damage. Extremely restrictive diets, such as the HCG Diet, may cause your body to consume lean tissue for energy, such as muscle and organ tissue. In addition, inadequate caloric intake can cause abnormalities in your heart rate, heart rhythm and blood pressure, which can trigger a potentially fatal cardiac event, warns the Merck Manual.

Additional Considerations

Very-low-calorie diets, such as the HCG Diet, can cause muscle deterioration, which may also contribute to back pain, soreness and fatigue or muscle weakness. Consult a physician if you are experiencing confusion, dizziness, back pain or heart rate fluctuations. These can be symptoms of a serious medical condition and should be assessed by a medical professional at once. Ask your doctor to help you find healthy and effective methods for losing weight.

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