Evan Stewart is being extremely careful about what he eats. Lunch is 3 ½ ounces of protein, one vegetable, one fruit, and a cracker. Dinner will be the same; a total of 500 calories for the day.
“You should have at least two liters of water daily,” Stewart says. For breakfast, Stewart has an injection of the pregnancy hormone HCG.
HCG, or human chorionic gonadotrophin, is a hormone produced by a developing embryo. It can be extracted from the urine of pregnant women to create a fertility drug. Many doctors are prescribing it to women and men for weight loss. If it sounds crazy at first to you, you’re not alone.
“I agree with you. If you had caught me five years ago, I would have said the same thing. In fact, I did say the same thing,” says Dr. Ben Gonzalez of Atlantis Medical Wellness Center. “I spent a lot of months looking at this. A lot of months and a lot of patient time in looking at this, and it took me a while to get over myself. I couldn’t ignore the people who said it worked for them.”
Kathryn Bell is a patient, who happens to be a nurse. “Yes, it absolutely worked for me. It is the best thing that I have ever done,” Bell says. She lost 37 pounds on the HCG protocol. She says it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t cheap, but it changed her life. “It made me very aware of the type of foods that I eat. I don’t eat junk food at all anymore, none.”
Some say HCG is hardly the magic bullet so many have been seeking. “It’s a product which has been touted for efficacy in weight management for over 30 years, and it’s been well established to be useless all that time,” says Dr. Arthur Frank, medical director of George Washington University’s weight management program. Dr. Frank says it’s the very structured diet that’s doing the work.
“There’s an enormous placebo effect with the injection and the complications in the structure of a program like this,” Dr. Frank says. “The controlling factor is the 500 calorie diet. If you put people on a low, very low calorie diet, 500 calories, they will lose weight.”
Dr. Gonzalez believes it’s more than that. “But how do you feel? You feel horrible if you’re in a starvation state and you’re on 500 calories by itself. You feel better, and you don’t get that starvation state, you don’t get that muscle wasting when you’re on the HCG.”
The Food and Drug Administration warns HCG does not work for weight loss, and requires package inserts to specifically say that. There are also warnings and adverse reactions for those who use it for medical reasons, including:
-enlarged breasts in men
-a few reports of testicular tumors
“FDA’s approved dose for fertility is almost ten times the amount we use for HCG, so it’s very safe. About 10 to 15 percent of what’s FDA approved. Very safe. Not one issue, not one, associated with HCG,” Dr. Gonzalez says.
Evan Stewart says he’s not worried. He’s lost 50 pounds and is thinking about doing a second HCG protocol with Dr. Gonzalez. “You want to be around and be able to spend time with your family, play with your children, enjoy your time with them and not be overly concerned about your health,” Stewart says.
Kathryn Bell has no reservations either, now that she’s actually below her wedding weight, “Maybe there’s some more questions out there than there are answers at the moment, but I can say I’m thrilled 110% that I did it,” Bell says.
Despite studies saying HCG doesn’t work for weight loss, it keeps coming back in popularity. That’s either a testament to its power, or the power of suggestion.