Condition: New alternative to: HCG

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CONTENT: Gona-Max, 15000IU (3 vials of 5000IU each)

Has the HCG Diet Proved Safe and Effective?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD

No on both counts. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has advised consumers to steer clear of over-the-counter weight loss products that contain HCG. HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that is produced during pregnancy.

As a prescription medication, HCG is mainly used to treat fertility issues. HCG is not approved for over-the-counter use, nor has it been proven to work for weight loss. Companies that sell over-the-counter HCG weight loss products are breaking the law.

So why was there so much talk about the HCG diet? Maybe it is because the diet recommends severe calorie restriction? Usually only 500 to 800 calories a day. People who follow such a very low calorie diet are likely to lose weight, at least in the short term.

However, diets that severely restrict calories have risks, such as gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat, and an imbalance in electrolytes.

Side effects have also been reported with the HCG diet and include fatigue, irritability, restlessness, depression, fluid build-up (edema), and swelling of the breasts in boys and men (gynecomastia). Another serious concern is the risk of blood clots that form and block blood vessels (thromboembolism).

If weight loss is your goal, there are safer ways to lose weight. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how to make healthy changes that lead to permanent weight loss, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.