Dr. Oz’s HCG Diet Controversy – A Year Later
Last year, Dr. Oz aired a show about the controversial HCG Diet. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (or HCG) is a hormone that is naturally produced in a pregnant woman’s placenta, and is essential for keeping a fetus healthy and growing. Sheri Emma, MD., a leading Weight Loss Expert, appeared on the show and discussed her successes with having patients on this diet. Unconvinced, Dr. Oz asked Dr. Emma to come back to the show in a years time, with evidence supporting her claims about HCG. A year later, Dr. Emma has returned with her preliminary findings.
Dr. Emma’s study showed that people using the HCG injections were losing 41% less muscle than if they had been dieting on their own. Those on the HCG diet were able to lose half a pound to a pound per day, and keep the weight off after the course of injections had stopped. A group of Dr. Emma’s patients were invited to the show, and a couple of them answered questions regarding their experiences with the HCG diet. They confirmed that they did not feel hungry while on the diet, and that they also were not really feeling difficulty in keeping the weight off, even years later.
HCG acts as an appetite suppressant, and it changes the way that your body is programmed. Using HCG causes your body to initially burn fat, rather than muscle, when you are losing weight. The idea behind the HCG regimen is that the reduced caloric intake is what drives the weight loss, with the HCG dictating how that weight is lost on the body. With normal diets, people end up losing vital muscle mass and even though this shows as a good weight loss on the scale, it isn’t necessarily good for the body.
New HCG Diet Vs. Old HCG Diet
The controversy involving HCG is not a new one — HCG has been viewed as a weight loss secret since the 1950’s. However, the structure of the diet has recently changed, and is proving to be more effective. The old HCG diets administered injections with lower doses (that were standard for everyone) and the caloric limit was a strict 500 calories a day. The new HCG diets have a higher dosage that is specifically calculated for the individual based on their gender and size. The caloric limit is factored in the same way, and can now range from 500-1200 calories a day. Another key difference in the diets is the exercise. The old diet had no exercise component at all, and the new one stresses the importance of regular exercise and strongly encourages it.
Dr. Oz also invited Craig Primack, MD., an Obesity Specialist, to join the discussion on the show. Dr. Primack stated that while the study did initially show small amounts of muscle loss in patients, there needed to be further study conducted, on a larger group. He also explained that the new HCG diets have protein and exercise added to their regimen, which would lead to muscle retention and longer term weight loss even without the injection. He also expressed concern regarding the low calories being consumed on the diet, and pointed out that the weight loss could be attributed to this alone. It is hard for a body to get the nutrition that it needs with only 500 calories a day, and he suggests that 800-1200 calories a day is a much safer idea. He suggested that a healthy diet shouldn’t be reliant on a calorie count, but on nutrition, with the body getting the protein, fat, and nutrients that it needs. In regards to the claim that HCG suppresses hunger, Dr. Primack explained that low calorie diets are devoid of carbohydrates and sugar, which have been found to be the triggers for “cravings” and feelings of hunger.
HCG Injections and Gastric Bypass Surgery
Dr. Oz questioned Dr. Emma about surgery as a weight loss option, specifically asking about gastric bypass surgery. Dr. Emma pointed out that a surgery like that is far more invasive than an injection, and forces a diet down to sometimes less than 500 calories a day. It also doesn’t protect the muscle mass, so perhaps HCG injections should be considered before looking at gastric bypass surgery.
The FDA warns against the use of HCG, but Dr. Emma is quick to point out that no prescription medication is without some side effects. She also stresses that the side effects reported to the FDA came from having HCG in high doses, and the doses given in the HCG diet are not only lower, but they can be reduced if the patient is feeling nausea or other side effects.
Also invited to the Dr. Oz show was Chef Donatella Arpaia. Chef Arpaia has been on the HCG diet, so has first-hand experience with the strict calorie limitations. She provided an example of a 560 calorie a day diet, and has taken some of Dr. Emma’s recipes and made them more appealing and flavorful. Breakfast was 100 calories (white egg omelet with ham, cherry tomatoes and basil), lunch was 110 calories (baked shrimp and steamed broccoli), dinner was 250 calories (baked chicken and mashed cauliflower), and there was even a 90 calorie desert (pumpkin mousse with coconut whipped cream).
Dr. Oz: HCG Study Conclusion
Dr. Oz ended the program by saying that the study did show that there was a trend for long term weight loss associated with the use of HCG injections. So many people struggle with weight loss issues and spend their lives fluctuating in weight, so it is important to find them a solution. He cautioned that the diet has to be done correctly, and that those interested in starting the diet should go to a doctor with experience with the injections. Also, the doctors needed to be tracking their patients, so that clear progress could be shown, and so those on the diet could help science in continuing to investigate the benefits of the diet. Until enough studies are done, and enough data gathered, we only have clues as to the benefits of these types of injections.