Side Effects of the HCG diet
How the HCG Diet Almost Destroyed my Body
Do you have 10 pounds to lose? 15 pounds? 25 pounds? Almost every woman I have ever met talks about those extra 10, 15 or 20 pounds they wish they could lose. We are bombarded daily by social media on fast weight loss plans, without the exercise. Over the years, I couldn’t count on both hands how many lose weight fast schemes I have seen, and maybe, tried.
Lately, the diet fad that has been blowing up on my social media account is the HCG Diet. Every person that has seemed to try the HCG Diet has had wonderful results, losing 10 or more pounds in just the first week. I had been struggling with 20 pounds I just couldn’t seem to lose and with all these testimonials, I gave in and contacted a distributor for Ominitrition’s Omni Drops. Omni Drops is a homeopathic, low dosage, HCG liquid drop. When taken, up to six times a day, at 10 drops at a time, it was supposed to help me lose the weight I couldn’t seem to lose.
The HCG Diet basically takes the HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone and combines it with a very restrictive low-calorie diet plan. The HCG hormone is the hormone which increases exponentially during pregnancy. It is the hormone that at-home pregnancy tests use to tell you if you are pregnant.
The HCG Diet promises to produce fast weight loss without losing muscle mass. HCG Diet websites claim that the HCG hormone eases the typical symptoms of a very low-calorie diet by relieving the normal hunger, headaches, and fatigue associated with low-calorie diets. What they don’t tell you, are the horrific side effects that the HCG Diet causes. For me, these were worse than any typical low-calorie diet plan would have caused. After I started having side effects, I learned during my research, there were many other dieters with similar stories to mine.
PHASE ONE OF THE HCG DIET
The HCG diet is broken into phases. During the first phase you eat, and you eat a lot. I was told to eat anything and everything I wanted. Gaining weight is encouraged in this phase. I have tried many diets and have learned a little about nutrition along the way. I figured during this phase, I would gain water weight which is easily lost.
I don’t typically eat a lot of sugar and my sodium intake is already restricted, but I do love salty foods. I ended up gaining about three pounds during the ‘loading’ phase. I read a lot of stories after my experience of individuals who gorged themselves until they were sick during this phase. Maybe, encouraging individuals who already have a hard time maintaining control of their eating habits are not the best nutritional advice for a diet plan.
In the first month of this diet, all in all, I lost 15 pounds. If you subtract the three pounds I gained, I really only lost a total of twelve whole pounds in the first thirty days. Honestly, I lost most of that weight in the first two weeks. During weeks one and two I lost 10 pounds. Weeks three and four, as you can see, I only lost another two pounds. For being a miraculously fast weight loss plan, this plan wasn’t holding up to the hype. When the South Beach Diet was popular, I lost twelve pounds in my first two weeks and kept it off for quite some time after. I also tried Weight Watchers, with similar success. After the birth of my son, I wanted to lose twenty pounds of ‘baby’ weight. On Weight Watchers, I lost those pounds in about six weeks.
But, this story isn’t about my weight loss experience. The weight loss on this diet plan was no better than other plans I have tried. The difference with the HCG Diet plan was the side effects. My personal experience with the HCG Diet plan is this was the worst decision I have ever made for myself and my body. I am writing this to encourage you not to make the same mistake and harm your body the way I did mine.
SIDE EFFECTS OF THE HCG DIET
The HCG Diet plan promises quick weight loss, on a low-calorie diet, with no side effects. For a diet plan that has no side effects, I experienced some of the worst side effects I have ever experienced on a diet plan.
After starting Omnitrition’s HCG Omni Drops, my menstrual cycle was early for the first time since the onset of puberty. My next menstrual cycle was less than four weeks later. The early cycles were easier to handle than the extremely heavy bleeding. My cycle was so heavy I filled heavy flow pads every hour. I became dizzy and lightheaded. At times I thought I would pass out. I had severe cramps on one side of my stomach. I was in so much pain.
Ferritin is the chemical that labs report to determine your iron level. I am anemic and receive iron infusions at the local cancer center. The month before I started the HCG Diet I had iron infusions. After the infusions, my blood iron was normal. With all the blood loss from my heavy cycles and the fatigue, I felt I needed to have my iron levels checked again. When the doctor and nurse reviewed my lab work, they were stunned to see that my iron level was almost nonexistent. Had I not just had an iron infusion, who knows what could have happened to me. I have read some people online stating this diet is actually good for iron levels. I need to say to you, again, the HCG Diet was so dangerous for me. I don’t want to see other people put their lives at risk, just to lose weight.
With the blood loss, intense cramps and the need for more iron infusions, I became depressed. I was so overwhelmed by all the ill effects that were happening to my body. I was emotionally drained and exhausted.
As with any low-calorie diet, one would expect to be hungry. I was very hungry. The HCG Diet claims that the HCG drops will alleviate the hunger sensation from such a restrictive low-calorie diet. I didn’t have that experience. I was hungry until my body got used to having such a small amount of calories. Eventually, my body went into starvation mode.
At times when my body has been extremely anemic, I have experienced my heart racing. At the time I started this diet, I had just had iron infusions. My anemia was under control and my iron levels were normal. Before I had my first heavy menstrual cycle on this diet, I began experiencing my heart racing. Not only did I feel like my heart was racing faster than normal, it felt erratic. This happened so much it would wake me up in the middle of the night with my heart feeling it was going to beat right out of my chest. I was so scared, I couldn’t sleep at night. I was afraid I would end up having a heart attack. Between this, the menstrual cycles and every other side effect I have shared with you, I went to my doctor. This was too much for me. I had never had these kinds of experiences before and I had to make sure I was okay.
At the onset of the side effects, I contacted my distributor and shared my symptoms. The response I received was unsettling. I was told there was no need to discuss these symptoms with my doctor. A friend of mine, who recently became a distributor for the company told me that I should contact my personal distributor and see what products they may have to help alleviate the side effects. Instead of directing me to a medical professional, they wanted to sell me more products. I could not believe how little concern they had for the well-being of their clients. This was the last red flag I needed to finally realize this was not right and I wasn’t going to do this any longer. I disregarded their suggestion to discuss my symptoms with my distributor and not my doctor and I went to my doctor. The side effects I began having started within the first month of starting the HCG Diet plan. Though I do believe that a restrictive calorie only plan can have very poor side effects, I believe this diet is extremely dangerous. If you feel you have to try this diet, I strongly recommend close monitoring by a health professional. But, I more strongly recommend not doing this diet at all.
Dr. Charlie Seltzer specializes in medically guided weight loss and nutrition In Philadelphia. He states that if the HCG Diet worked for weight loss, you would not need to restrict the calories of the diet program so drastically. He goes on to say that the extremely low-calorie portion of the plan creates the weight loss, but that this type of weight loss is always followed by a rebound of weight gain. Though you may lose weight, Dr. Seltzer says, you could end up with side effects such as loss of menstrual cycle, injuries if exercising on minimal calories and nutrient deficiencies.
THE HCG DIET PLAN
The HCG Diet plan limits the types of protein, fruit, and vegetables you eat. They provide a list of allowable items and quantities. Below is the list I received, broken up by food group. I have read online of varying differences between the food allowances. This is the plan I was given.
Meats (4 ounces at lunch and dinner):
Vegetables (4 ounces at lunch and dinner):
Fruit (2 servings):
½ Cup of strawberries
2 slices of Melba Toast
2 Grissini breadsticks
2 Wasa Crackers
Spices were allowed for seasoning. Braggs amino acids, mustard and Franks Original hot sauce were allowed. Herbal tea and coffee were the only allowable drinks besides water and stevia was the only allowable sweetener.
I was also told not to exercise, due to the limited calories in the diet. With this Diet plan, as you can see, anyone would lose weight even without the HCG drops.
With all the success stories I kept seeing on social media, I bought into the idea of losing the weight I couldn’t lose, fast and without exercise. People who have fought with weight and/or obesity their whole life get seduced by these advertisements all the time. The reward always feels to outweigh the risk and they are desperate to do anything if it changes their appearance so they can feel good about themselves again. I did not have a lot to lose, but I still wanted to lose it.
I spent a long time reading the success stories and watching the media hype. When I decided to give it a try, I asked a lot of questions. I didn’t want to do this without feeling 100% comfortable. The more questions I asked, the fewer answers they had, but I was already convinced. In my mind, I was already twenty pounds lighter and wearing my size 10 jeans again.
I chose Ominitricion’s Omni Drops. The drops cost $79 plus shipping and handling. I was notified by email with instructions by a distributor on how the drops worked and how to use them. The email states that the HCG drops need to be kept out of direct sunlight but do not need to be refrigerated. You apply 10 drops under your tongue three times a day. You must not eat or drink fifteen minutes before or after you apply the drops. Hold the drops under your tongue for thirty seconds before swallowing. If you begin to feel hungry during the day, I was told you can increase the number of times you take the drops to a maximum of six times per day.
On the first two days of the plan, you eat everything and anything you want. This is supposed to prepare your body to burn your stored fat. I ate every taboo food that I could. On the third day, you start your food plan. You follow the first phase of the food plan for a minimum of 21 days and up to 45 days. During this time you are taking the HCG drops at least three times a day. After the first phase of the plan, they have a maintenance period that you follow for another twenty-one days. They suggested buying a food scale to weigh out your portions and also drink a gallon of water.
Though the distributor I ordered the Omni Drops from could not answer many of my questions and concerns about how safe the diet was, she provided me a link to their Facebook support page. On this page, I found post after post of success stories. I found out a little too late that most of these “success” stories were from distributors. But, in the midst of all the hype and pressure, this page made the HCG diet plan look like a dream come true. You know the saying, “If something is too good to be true, it probably is.” The few negative posts I viewed on their support page seemed to be removed almost as quickly as they arrived. Warning bells kept going off inside my head, but by this time I had already ordered the drops and was anxiously awaiting my miracle cure for weight loss.
HCG HORMONE AND THE HCG DROPS
The FDA has banned the medical community from claiming that HCG can help with weight loss. In fact, the FDA requires HCG medications to notate on the bottle that it is not a weight loss aid. Medicinal HCG is only prescribed to patients to help with fertility issues. Any company that is selling over the counter HCG weight loss products are in fact, breaking the law.
The FDA does not govern homeopathic medicines. With that in mind, there are many homeopathic HCG weight loss treatments to choose from. According to the Mayo Clinic’s web page, there has been research documenting that has linked the HCG weight loss products to an increase in certain cancers. There seems to be a correlation with HCG products and an increase in androgen cells which cause growth of certain types of cancers.
Discovery Health has also provided a list of some of the serious side effects of the HCG diet plan. Side effects they have seen include blood clots, headaches, muscle cramps in your legs, restlessness, constipation, thinning hair, depression and increase in fatty breast tissue in women and men. Women have also experienced ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in rare cases, this can lead to severe illness or death. I have read posts on other side effects that dieters have experienced such as gallstones, dizziness, kidney and bladder infections.
The FDA is and has been advising HCG diet plan consumers to stop the diet plan. They have also requested that anyone that has followed any of the HCG diet plans and had any negative side effects to contact the FDA by phone at 800-FDA-1088 (800-332-1088). If you are currently on an HCG diet plan and noticing negative side effects, you need to contact your medical professional and schedule an appointment. Your safety and the health of your body is more important than any weight loss plan.
Not only is there a link between cancer growth and HCG, since the FDA cannot regulate homeopathic medicines, but you also do not truly know how much HCG you are receiving. HCG liquid drops use a diluted version of the HCG hormone. So, how do you know how much HCG is being put into your body? In the ingredient section of the label on your bottle it may say HCG 3x, 6x, 30x, etc. From what I have been able to decipher online, the number by the X signifies the number of zeroes. This then relates to how many many molecules of HCG per X number of water molecules you are receiving in each dose. Example, if your bottle says HCG 3x, this means your dose has 1 molecule of HCG per 1,000 molecules of water. If this is truly what the number and X relate to, you really are not receiving any HCG at all.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY EXPERIENCE
My experience may not have been the same as yours or someone else’s, but too many people who have tried this diet have experienced some truly terrible side effects. After my doctor visit for the side effects I was experiencing I learned my health wasn’t worth losing. A true weight loss plan will provide you with enough calories to sustain optimal health. It will also include an exercise plan to keep your heart healthy. Individuals who eat 1,200 to 1,300 calories a day can lose the same as the 500 calories per day diet plan I attempted, but their health won’t suffer.
I can say one positive thing about working the HCG diet plan. Having to weigh out my portions and limit my caloric intake, I learned a little bit more about how to control my portion sizes. True weight loss comes from expending a few more calories than you are eating each day. I am a little more conscious now of how much and what I eat.
This doesn’t change how I feel about the plan. It was dangerous to me. It was and is dangerous to many others. I am writing this solely that you may have a true dieter’s experience before you choose to accept this weight loss plan. I urge you please, don’t do it.