hCG Diet For Quick Weight Loss – Does It Work, Safety, And Efficacy

Medically reviewed by Dr. Geeta Dharmatti, RD Dr. Geeta Dharmatti Dr. Geeta DharmattiRD linkedin_icon
Written by MomJunction • 

The hCG diet is a fad diet that can help you lose 30 pounds in just a month. This very low-calorie diet (VLCD) allows the dieters to consume about 500-800 calories per day, along with hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone) droplets, pellets, or sprays.

Many believe that hCG helps control hunger. But there’s no sufficient scientific research to confirm it. Hence, the FDA and the scientific community do not support the hCG diet.

If you have been thinking of getting on the hCG diet for quick weight loss, you must know the pros and cons of this diet. This article gives you a clear and detailed picture of the hCG diet. Take a look before you decide.

What Is hCG?

hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is a hormone that is found in elevated levels during the initial phase of pregnancy (1). hCG is also used in at-home pregnancy test kits and to treat infertility in both men and women (2), (3), (4).

The hCG diet, the brainchild of Dr. Albert Simeons, was created in 1954. And he proposed two components of the diet:

  1. Go on a very low-calorie diet (500-800 calories).
  2. Get hCG injections or take over-the-counter hCG droplets, sprays, or pellets.

Now, before we go into the details of this diet and understand if hCG has any role to play, let’s see what this pregnancy hormone does to your body.

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What Does hCG Do To Your Body?

What Does hCG Do To Your Body
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The hCG hormone helps establish and maintain pregnancy in the first trimester. It aids embryo development and placentation (5).

It also aids the growth and differentiation of the baby’s organs and suppresses the mother’s myometrial contractions to prevent premature pregnancy termination. hCG also induces new blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) in the baby and regulates immune tolerance (1).

After three months, the hCG levels drop. But when it comes to weight loss, how does the extra dose of hCG help? Scroll down to find out.

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Does The hCG Diet Aid Weight Loss?

Does The hCG Diet Aid Weight Loss
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Yes, the hCG diet aids weight loss. The creators and supporters of the hCG diet believe that hCG helps suppress hunger and boost metabolism, thereby helping to shed a lot of fat. BUT various scientific studies have confirmed that hCG plays no role in aiding weight loss.

It is due to a low-carb and a very low-calorie diet that the dieters lose weight (6), (7), (8), (9). One study compared the weight loss with and without hCG and found that hCG injections had no added advantage (10).

So, you may lose weight with the hCG diet, but not due to hCG injections or sprays/pellets/drops. It’s because you will be on a very, very restricted diet. But does that guarantee an improvement in body composition (reduced fat)? Here’s what you should know.

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Can The hCG Diet Improve Body Composition?

Yes, the hCG diet can help improve your body composition.

In a study, the scientists experimented with diets along with supplements, such as hCG, vitamins, probiotics, etc. The lipid profile of each patient was evaluated. And the scientists found that the patients’ fat mass had reduced, and their lipid profiles had improved (11).

There is no other research evidence that shows similar results. In fact, being on a very low-cal diet for too long can have a reverse effect. Meaning, your body will switch to the “famine mode” and start storing calories as fat. And that can result in increased fat mass.

Decreased muscle mass is the common side effect of weight loss, and it is common in diets like the hCG diet that severely restricts calorie intake. This may push your body into thinking that it is starving and reduce the number of calories it burns to conserve energy (12).

But hey! Don’t jump to conclusions yet. Take a look at the hCG diet phases, what to eat, and how long to continue it before you take a decision. Scroll down.

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How To Follow The hCG Diet

To follow the hCG diet, you have to go through the following phases:

  • Loading Phase – In this phase, you will consume high-calorie and high-fat foods for two days and take hCG.
  • Weight Loss Phase – You will consume 500 calories and three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and take hCG for 3-5 weeks.
  • Maintenance Phase – You will gradually include high-cal food in your diet, avoid sugar or starch for 3 weeks, and stop taking hCG.

Take a look at the following diet plans for each phase to understand what your diet should look like.

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The hCG Diet Menu

  • Loading Phase 
MealsWhat To Eat
Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)2 boiled eggs + 1 cup warm milk + 4 almonds
Lunch (12:30 p.m.)1 cup tuna or mushroom salad
Snack (4:00 p.m.)10 in-shell pistachios + 1 cup green tea
Dinner (7:00 p.m.)1 medium cup lentil soup + 1 cup grilled veggies
  • Weight Loss Phase (500 calories)
MealsWhat To Eat
Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)1 boiled egg + 1 cup green tea


1 banana + 1 cup black coffee

Lunch (12:30 p.m.)1 cup lentil soup or 2 oz grilled fish  + ½ cup blanched broccoli, carrot, and French beans
Dinner (7:00 p.m.)½ cup boiled beans + 1 cup mixed greens
  • Maintenance Phase
MealsWhat To Eat
Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)Banana oatmeal + 1 cup black coffee or green tea
Lunch (12:30 p.m.)1 bowl of salad or soup + 1 cup curd
Snack (4:00 p.m.)1 cup green tea + 1 digestive biscuit
Dinner (7:00 p.m.)½ cup kidney bean chili + 1 flatbread + 1 cup blanched veggies


Grilled chicken + 1 cup veggies + 1 cup warm milk before bed

Now, apart from the foods mentioned in the diet chart, here’s a list of foods you can consume.

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Foods To Eat On The HCG Diet

Foods To Eat On The HCG Diet
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  • Veggies Spinach, kale, radish, carrot, beetroot, arugula, bok choy, chard, tomato, cucumber, cabbage, bell pepper, gourd, squash, eggplant, and rhubarb.
  • Fruits – Apple, banana, avocado, pineapple, watermelon, muskmelon, peach, pear, plum, pluot, papaya, pomegranate, grapefruit, lime, lemon, tangerine, and mandarin.
  • Protein Eggs, salmon, turkey, tuna, haddock, basa, mackerel, tofu, soy chunks, beans, and legumes.
  • Grains Red rice, black rice, brown rice, oats, and broken wheat.
  • Dairy – Milk and buttermilk.
  • Fats And Oils – Olive oil, avocado oil, and fish oil.
  • Nuts And Seeds Almonds, flax seeds, pistachios, walnut, sunflower seeds, and melon seeds.
  • Herbs And Spices Coriander, cumin, garlic powder, ginger powder, pepper, turmeric, chili flakes, clove, cardamom, basil, oregano, dill, fennel, star anise, cinnamon, saffron, mint, curry leaves, mace, nutmeg, and mustard.

Now, take a look at the list of foods that you should avoid while you are on the hCG diet.

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Foods To Avoid On The hCG Diet

Foods To Avoid On The hCG Diet
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  • Veggies – White potato
  • Fruits Mango, sapodilla, and jackfruit.
  • Proteins Red meat
  • Grains – Cron and white rice.
  • Dairy Cheese, butter, and margarine.
  • Fats And Oils Vegetable oil, nut butter, hemp seed oil, and canola oil.
  • Junk Foods – Processed meat, fries, fried chicken, ketchup, ranch, mayonnaise, chips, wafers, cakes, pastries, and bread.
  • Beverages Energy drinks, packaged fruit and vegetable juices, and alcohol.

You will eliminate all the unhealthy foods from your diet and consume nutrient-dense foods that will help you shed the pounds. Now, let’s talk about hCG products as hCG is a part of this diet.

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About hCG Products

hCG is available over the counter in the form of sprays, pellets, or droplets. However, the injection form is the most effective in raising the hCG levels in the blood. And these injections are only available through a doctor’s prescription. The “homeopathic’ hCGs sold over-the-counter have a negligent amount of hCG.

And now, let me discuss the most important question – is hCG safe to use for weight loss?

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The hCG Diet – Safety And Side Effects

The hCG Diet – Safety And Side Effects
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The FDA does not approve of the hCG diet as there is not enough scientific data that proves that hCG is the reason behind the weight loss of the dieters (13).

Over-the-counter hCG is marketed and makes false promises of weight loss. You can just be on a low-cal diet and lose the weight. Moreover, there are many other safety concerns and side effects of the hCG diet. They are:

  • Breast enlargement in men
  • Risk of cancer development
  • Edema
  • Blood clot formation, leading to blocked blood vessels
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression

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The hCG diet may help you lose weight, but it also comes with a host of health complications. I recommend you follow the 1200 calorie diet, exercise, and change your lifestyle to lose the weight and sustain it. If you are willing to spend money on the so-called hCG miracle pills, save it and use it to get a fitness training membership and pump some “feel-good” hormones instead of injecting a pregnancy hormone into your body. Makes sense?

Take care! 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you have eggs on the hCG diet?

Yes, you can have eggs if you do decide to follow the hCG diet.

Can you drink alcohol while on the hCG diet?

No, avoid alcohol while you are on the hCG diet.

Can hCG lead to cancer?

Yes, excessive usage of hCG for weight loss can lead to cancer development.

Should I follow the hCG diet for weight loss?

Read the article and decide for yourself. But we strongly recommend that you try a low-cal/low-carb diet, eat clean, and workout regularly to lose weight.

12 sources

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Dr. Geeta Dharmatti is the Director and Founder of Geeta Nutriheal Consultancy (Nutrition Services Consultancy) and an Executive Member of the Indian Dietetic Association. She has done her Masters in Nutrition and PhD in Clinical Nutrition
Read full bio of Dr. Geeta Dharmatti

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