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- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: HCG Diet Products Are Illegal
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
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The approved use of HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is for fertility purposes: to stimulate ovulation and treat infertility in women and increase a man's sperm count. A number of homeopathic diet plans use HCG as the cornerstone of their weight-loss regimens and couple it with a dangerously low-calorie diet. In addition, HCG diets make unsupported claims about their potential and can have serious side effects, including nutrient deficiencies, pelvic pain, shortness of breath, swelling of the hands and feet and nausea.
Take HCG only if it's prescribed by your fertility doctor for approved purposes and limit vitamin supplementation, unless directed to take them by your doctor.
If you follow an extremely low-calorie diet to lose weight, you'll lose weight -- but it's not because of the HCG. Most of these diets suggest you consume about 500 calories per day, not the 2,000 calories per day recommended for the average person. When you have eaten 3,500 calories fewer than you burn, you lose a pound. The severe calorie restriction advised by HCG diets means you achieve that deficit quickly, but at a cost. With 500 calories per day, getting all the vitamins, minerals and protein you need daily is nearly impossible. Fast weight loss is rarely sustainable, so when you quit the diet and return to eating normally, any lost weight returns.
Should You Supplement?
To counteract the lack of nutrition you get on a HCG diet, you may turn to vitamin supplements. The best sources of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients are not pills, but rather, the whole foods in which they're found. Whole foods contain additional compounds, fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants that contribute to overall health. They're also better processed and absorbed by your body. Relying on a vitamin supplement for your nutrition, even if it's temporary, is not as wise as eating a whole-foods, balanced diet.
If you consume a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and lean proteins regularly, you shouldn't suffer from nutrient deficiencies and won't need supplementation.
Vitamin supplementation hasn't been shown to interact with HCG, but you shouldn't take either without the direction of your doctor. Women trying to get pregnant may be instructed to take prenatal vitamins while using HCG injections, for example.
If you're on an eating plan which is so nutritionally deficient that it requires you to consume pills to get the nutrients you need, you might want to reconsider the diet plan.
Cutting calories to lose weight makes sense, but drastic cuts aren't advised. Creating a deficit of about 500 to 1,000 calories per day will allow you to lose approximately 1 to 2 pounds per week, a safe, sustainable rate according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 5. Reducing portion sizes and choosing foods without lots of added sugars and saturated fats help you create this deficit. In addition, regular physical activity that burns calories helps support weight loss. Losing weight isn't easy, but gradual approaches mean you're more likely to keep it off in the long run.
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