HCG Diet Side Effects
HCG is a hormone produced by the female body during pregnancy to help the fetus grow.
Health practitioners sometimes recommend HCG injections to treat fertility problems in women and hormonal issues such as hypogonadism in men.
The HCG diet is a very low-calorie diet combined with injections of the outlawed supplement called HCG.
HCG is an abbreviation for human chorionic gonadotrophin, a hormone produced by the placenta. Keep in mind that the HCG diet is in no way related to pregnancy.
The HCG diet first became common in the 50s. Its sponsors claimed that HCG injections could cut the feeling of hunger and promote weight loss by restructuring body fat from the hips, stomach, and thighs.
However, as with any extreme regimen that considerably limits calories or food group, the HCD diet is not prescribed as a healthy approach for weight loss.
In fact, evidence indicates that HCG injections don’t result in additional weight loss beyond what’s achieved by calorie restriction.
In addition, this regimen can cause a couple of side effects that you should know about if you’re considering it.
Side Effects of the HCG Diet
If you’re considering the HCG diet, you need to understand that it’s not a safe diet.
This diet is often accompanied by some very grave side effects that could be detrimental to your overall wellbeing. Some of the side effects of this regimen include:
1. Blood Clots
Blood clots can block blood vessels in the human body leading to severe health issues such as pulmonary embolism.
As per reports from the Mayo Clinic, a case study reported a 64-year-old person who contracted DVT (deep vein thrombosis) 14 days after commencing the HCG Diet.
2. Breast Enlargement and Tenderness
Not only does this diet boost testosterone levels, but it also causes more testosterone to be transformed into estrogen.
Excessive amounts of estrogen in the body can cause gynecomastia (breast growth) in individuals.
In addition, excessive amounts of estrogen can sometimes make the breast tissue feel very tender when touched.
3. Central Nervous System Complications
According to researchers, a couple of symptoms allied to the HCG diet are connected to the CNS (central nervous system).
These complications include fatigue, headache, irritability, and restlessness. Some people have even complained about depression and hostile behavior.
4. False-Positive Pregnancy Tests
As per a report by the Cleveland Clinic, HCG is present in a pregnant woman’s urine. Self-pregnancy tests depend on this hormone to determine if a woman is pregnant or not.
As a result, the HCG diet can cause false-positive pregnancy tests.
5. Fast Weight Loss
Although fast weight loss due to extreme calorie reduction is part of why individuals follow the HCG diet, weight loss that happens too quickly has more negative effects than positive ones.
Rapid and excessive weight loss is rarely sustainable; as a result, any weight that’s lost will most likely be regained after a short while.
Weight-loss diets are very unreliable. In a study that reviewed 29 long-term weight loss studies, over half of the respondents who lost weight regained it within 24 months, and 80% of the weight lost was recovered in 5 years.
The extreme calorie restriction recommended by the HCG diet would make it even more unreliable.
Extremely low-calorie meal plans such as the HCG diet put you at advanced risk of contracting gallstones, both asymptomatic and symptomatic.
The risk of contracting symptomatic gallstones that need cholecystectomy or hospitalization is multiplied by three in comparison to a more reasonably reduced-calorie diet.
Experts believe the reason may be a lack of dietary fats.
Extremely low-calorie diets can cause hunger and sometimes starvation.
Eating well below your entire daily energy expenditure causes hormonal shifts in ghrelin, insulin, leptin, peptide, etc. These hormones are liable for feelings of hunger and satisfaction.
The regularity and size of your portions can change the amounts of these hormones, thereby causing hunger.
This is your body trying to warn you of low-calorie consumption to stop the harmful effects of malnutrition.
8. Irregular Heart Beat
The HCG diet can cause protein loss from the heart muscle. This loss, as well as mineral deficits due to lack of proper nutrition, can cause asymmetrical heartbeats.
Irritation of the heart, which causes ventricular tachycardia (heartbeat anomalies), is risky. Consult a health practitioner immediately if you experience this symptom.
9. Multiple Pregnancies
When done incorrectly, injecting HCG can trigger the ovaries, causing them to release more than one egg at a go, leading to the birth of twins, triplets, or quadruplets.
10. Poor Sleep Quality and Quantity
People following the HCG diet may suffer from poor sleep quality and quantity.
In fact, studies show that having trouble sleeping (insomnia) and waking up during the night (nocturia) are regularly reported by people on this diet.
Some people on the HCG diet are reporting water retention, otherwise known as edema. In addition, there is another kind of swelling that can occur, particularly in males, known as gynecomastia which is the enlargement of the breast tissue.
Other Side Effects
Apart from the side effects illustrated above, which are specific to the HCG diet, there are other ones allied to other extremely-low calorie diets. These side effects include:
- Bad breath
- Low blood sugar
- Muscle loss
What Precautions Can You Take?
The HCG diet is not prescribed or safe for anybody. However, it’s particularly significant to avoid this diet if you’re taking drugs for diabetes.
This is because a low-calorie diet such as this one will also reduce carbs, thereby affecting insulin.
Breastfeeding or expectant women shouldn’t’ be on a low-calorie diet or take HCG.
In addition, kids and older adults can also be considerably affected by this diet. Mineral inadequacies and inequities can cause grave symptoms for anybody, especially kids and older adults.
What’s more, there is some evidence indicating that the HCG diet can increase the risk of contracting certain cancers.
However, if you have a family or personal history of cancer, it’s more imperative that you stay away from low-calorie diets.
Experts from leading medical agencies such as the Endocrine Society and FDA highlight that nobody should even attempt the HCG diet for weight loss. Not only can the HCG hormone be unsafe, but this extremely-low calorie diet has plenty of health risks on its own.
Damla Sengul, a seasoned Food Editor at Dietsmealplan.com, boasts a 5-year worth of expertise as a digital editor, with a specific focus on authentic recipe content. Her expertise extends to various crucial aspects of the cookery world, including in-depth research on renowned chefs worldwide and innovative recipe development. Additionally, Damla is an enthusiastic baker who dedicates part of her time crafting delightful celebration cakes for her friends.