HCG Diet = Pregnant Pee + Skinny Me?

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scaleThe HCG Diet has been getting quite a bit of buzz in the weight loss world as of late. While a lot of wacky-sounding diets have popped up over the years promising alternatives to the boring old eat-less-exercise-more mantra, this one sounds a little wackier than most. You see, the HCG part -- that comes from a  pregnant woman's urine.

So yes, there's a bit of a gross-out factor for sure, but when it promises weight loss of up to a pound a day, I think I could get past that. And according to an article in The New York Times today, plenty of women across the country have, and they're racing to clinics and doctors' offices to get their own supply of pregnant pee.

While you can buy drops and pills containing HCG, the real deal comes via injections according to most proponents. Ouch, yes, but no pain, no gain, right? Or rather, no pain, no loss in this case, and at least you don't have to drink it to get results.

Proponents say that by combining the injections with a 500-calorie-a-day diet, fat flies off. And not just any fat (like in your big toe, where most of my weight loss seems to occur), but the fat in places we most want it gone -- like arms, stomach, and thighs. Oh my!

Yes, there is that little matter of the very little matter you get to eat -- just 500 calories a day! But participants swear they don't feel hungry at all while on the diet. Think of all the money you could save on groceries and time cooking! 

There are a couple of downers when it comes to the diet, or else I would already be injecting myself daily. The first is the cost -- as much as $1,000 a month. That I might be able to justify with the grocery savings and all, but the bigger issue is that the FDA hasn't approved it for weight loss yet. It's considered "off-label" for weight loss. But it is approved for other uses, like fertility treatment, so it can't be that harmful right?

The FDA does say it could increase the risk for things like blood clots, depression, headaches, and breast tenderness or enlargement, but those factors can be monitored by doctors (and some would add breast enlargement to the benefits). There's also the matter of asking your body to function on just 500 calories a day, which some say is dangerous. Others, however, tout very low-calorie diets as the key to longevity, and there are plenty of dangers to being overweight as well.

One of the biggest risks seems to be that people are risking their money on something that doesn't really work. Some medical professionals think results come from a placebo effect, that the injections just make people think they're not hungry while eating such a restricted diet. But hey, if it works, it works. Of course, there's also the question of how long it works; one can't live on 500 calories a day forever.

So no, it's not a panacea at this point, and I'm not so sold that I'm going to go out and sign up today. But the more I read about the HCG diet, the more promising it sounds. Hopefully more tests and research will prove the power of pregnant pee -- imagine the extra cash pregnant women could rake in just by peeing if they do.

Would you try the HCG Diet?


Image via alancleaver_2000/Flickr

body image, weight loss