HCG diets growing in popularity, but do they work?

KENNEWICK, Wash. --  Weight loss is a constant battle for many people.  The newest HCG diet has become very popular and clinics offering the diet are popping up all over the country, including the Tri-Cities.

HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) hormone can come in the form of drops or injections.  "it is a hormone produced by the body when the body perceives there's a survival of the species issue. That is  the normal time it's produced. So if you were a prisoner of war, and you used up all the emergency sources of energy in your body, and there was nothing else left then your body would kick in this hormone to start burning off the fat," says Jean Kimberling the manager at HCG Options in Kennewick.

Both men and women naturally make HCG, but it is more commonly seen in pregnant women.  Injections, coupled with a 500 calorie diet usually result in dramatic weight loss for many patients.

Kimberling, who has been running the Kennewick clinic for almost a year says she's seen about 1,000 patients and they have an 85% success rate.  "My average female loses about 25 pounds in five weeks, and my average male about 40 in six weeks," says Kimberling.

The program at HCG Options begins with two days of hormone injections plus eating 4,000 calories.  After that, you drop to 500 calories for the remainder of the diet.  The diet is very strict consisting of protein, vegetables and fruit.  There is no bread, no sugar, no starch, no fat.

She says people stick to it because the injections make them not hungry.

"You can't meet your nutrient needs on 500 calories a day. it's inducing a state of malnutrition," says Nancy Krupin, a Registered Dietician for Kadlec Regional Medical Center, and a certified Diabetes Counselor.

Krupin says there are not enough studies indicating the hormone even works.  FDA has not approved HCG for weight loss use.  It is currently used to treat fertility issues in women.  But Kimberling says many doctors send her patients who have tried other methods to lose weight and failed.

"I was 220 (pounds) and I'm 180 now, and so much more energy and feel so much better," says Svetalana Novitskaia.  She's been getting injections on and off for seven months.

She got on it when doctors put her on high blood pressure medication. "It is hard, especially first two weeks, the first week is really hard because of sugar drop," says Novitskaia who loves desert.

Kimberling says the most beneficial part of the diet is finding out why you eat certain foods.  She says when you take the physical craving away, people discover much of their addiction to food is mental.  This diet helps those people "start-over."

She says you do not need to be on the hormone permanently to lose weight, and that once you get to your goal weight, you slowly ease back foods, but then you know how to eat in a better manner.

However, not everyone agrees.   "I realize it's only supposed to be temporary like 20 days or 40 days, but I'd like to hear about what happens to people when they go off of it.," says Krupin.

The diet first came out in the 1950's, and was done mostly in Europe.  It has gained much popularity in recent years.


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