HCG Diet: Benefits, Foods, and Rules

The human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) diet is a fad diet that started in 1967 to help with weight reduction. It uses a hormone supplement often given to women to cause unnatural weight loss when paired with an extremely low-calorie diet. This diet is illegal in the United States since HCG is not FDA-approved. 

Although the HCG diet causes weight loss, it is not recommended by the FDA because it’s dangerous and has led to malnutrition and even death. Those considering the HCG diet for fast results should look for alternative and healthier ways to lose weight. 

What Is HCG Diet? 

An endocrinologist created the HCG diet in 1967. Albert T. W. Simeons wrote a book after he observed the weight loss caused by women on HCG medication. HCG was commonly prescribed to assist with fertility issues but caused an unnatural slimming effect in certain patients. 

Since then, several companies have taken this supplement and sold it, despite the FDA issuing several warnings against the drug. Along with a strict diet, the HCG medication is supposed to help the user lose several pounds in a short period. 

HCG is an expensive and strenuous diet to follow because the rules are extremely strict, and the medication can cost upwards of $100 a month, depending on the company. The official HCG diet company charges this much for products on sale. 

How Does HCG Diet Work? 

The HCG diet works by pairing a dangerous medicine with a perilously small amount of food. There are three phases, and each of them is difficult and stressful for the user. Despite the advertising, this diet is not an easy or quick way to lose weight.

What Are the Phases of the HCG Diet? 

Each HCG diet user is encouraged to complete three steps. These steps encourage the body to lose weight in an unhealthy manner, whether or not the illegal drug is involved. Here are the phases of the HCG diet. 

  • Phase 1: preloading for several days on the high calorie/fat food to “prepare” the body for the diet
  • Phase 2: beginning HCG supplements and a very low-calorie diet (3-6 weeks depending on weight loss goals)
  • Phase 3: gradually eat more food while staying on the approved food list, and stop taking the HCG supplements

What Are the Health Benefits of HCG Diet? 

Unfortunately, there are no health benefits associated with the HCG diet. The medicine itself, human chorionic gonadotropin, naturally occurs in the placenta of pregnant women. It can be prescribed to treat infertility or low testosterone but is not an over-the-counter medication. 

HCG has no scientific effect on weight loss. Those claiming that it does often pair it with a very low-calorie diet, which causes rapid weight loss. However, that rapid weight loss is unhealthy and can lead to several health risks and conditions. 

What Are the Health Risks of HCG Diet? 

The number one risk of the HCG diet is malnutrition. Anyone eating less than 500 calories a day is not likely to sustain a healthy weight loss. Instead, muscles and tissue will decay, causing emaciation and other health risks, including near starvation and even death. 

Those who don’t eat enough food can suffer from these symptoms and worse.

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Depression 
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Each of these symptoms is alarming, but a body in near-starvation mode will likely experience several of them simultaneously. Those following an HCG diet might see weight loss, but they will not feel well or be healthy. 

How To Do HCG Diet? 

To do the HCG diet properly, you’ll need a list of allowed foods and the HCG supplement. However, as that’s illegal and difficult to find, you’ll probably have to order it online or go to a health foods store. The diet consists of three phases, with the second phase being the longest. 

In each phase, you will eat certain foods and inject yourself with a syringe full of HCG diet injections. Some companies sell HCG as a diluted oral supplement instead of an injection, but they all claim that the medicine will quell appetite and increase weight loss. It must be taken once or twice a day, half an hour before eating. 

In the first phase of the HCG diet, there’s no need to watch what you eat. Instead, the diet encourages you to eat fat and calorie-heavy foods to prepare your body for the diet. Doing this primes your body for losing weight fast and can cause a body to go into shock once the next phase begins. 

In the second phase, the true diet begins. You must take the HCG supplements daily and are only allowed to eat two meals a day. The total between those two meals must not exceed 500 calories. Each meal must have a lean protein, a carb, a vegetable, and a fruit serving, which lasts for at least three weeks, but often more. 

After 3-6 weeks, a dieter moves on to phase three. By spending several weeks gradually upping food intake and decreasing the medication, the body will supposedly even out and not be hungry or gain weight. However, it simply holds the body in a starvation state. 

What Foods Can Be Eaten on HCG Diet? 

The list of HCG-friendly foods is very healthy. It focuses on lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits, and limits unhealthy foods like excessive carbohydrates and sugar. On the surface, it’s a very healthy diet. However, the serving sizes are much too small. 

Here is a list of the foods that you can eat on the HCG diet.

  • Lean meats (without visible fat)
  • Select vegetables 
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Half a grapefruit
  • Most herbs and spices
  • One tablespoon of milk a day 
  • Stevia, saccharine, or another natural sweetener (not cane sugar)
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Again, it’s not the food itself that is unhealthy. Eating a low-carb diet is an excellent way to become healthier and lose weight. However, it’s not healthy to eat it in portions of 250 calories a meal. No one should have that few calories in a day, even if they need to lose weight. 

What Foods Cannot be Eaten on HCG Diet?

Of course, there is an even longer list of food that you cannot eat on the HCG diet plan. In addition to sugar or fat, skim milk is limited. Here are the low-fat meats, fruits, and vegetables that are forbidden.

  • Salmon 
  • Eel
  • Tuna
  • Herring
  • Most fruits
  • Many other vegetables
  • Any dairy products
  • Any meat products
  • Anything with fat

The larger controlling part of the HCG diet is not the diet itself, although that is very limiting. Instead, it’s the amount of food available. At 250 calories per meal, it’s difficult to get more than a few bites of food. 

What Are the Scam Products of the HCG Diet? 

Unfortunately, the selling point of the HCG diet – HCG itself – is a scam. According to the FDA, it’s not only a scam, but it’s a dangerous and illegal one. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that HCG improves weight loss at all. 

What is helping the dieters lose weight is that they’re not eating enough food. By telling them to starve themselves and take this medication, the companies are tricking and scamming customers into buying their products. However, it’s not just unethical business. It’s illegal and can be deadly. 

What Is the Cost of Following an HCG Diet? 

The diet has several subscription and purchase options, depending on where you buy your medicine. The official HCG diet website includes options for $99, $139, and $299 depending on length. Each box gives the user enough HCG for a certain amount of time. 

The amount of HCG sold varies depending on how much weight one needs to lose. For those struggling with obesity, a larger amount will be sold, and the diet will last longer. Unfortunately, this is the same group that tends to look for quick diet solutions. Losing weight so quickly will put anyone at risk for shock and starvation. 

What Are the Facts About HCG Diet? 

Dietary experts don’t recommend the HCG diet plan. Additionally, People from the Mayo Clinic, the FDA, and many other hospitals and professional organizations encourage dieters to try a healthier and safer way to lose weight. 

What Are the Facts About HCG Diet
What are the Facts About HCG Diet?

The FDA considers HCG to be a dangerous scam. The companies selling HCG as a dietary supplement or health aide are not selling anything of value. Instead, they are taking money from the people they actively harm by promoting a very low-calorie diet and Low-carb diet. 

Diets of less than 1,000 calories a day are considered dangerous unless specifically prescribed and monitored by a healthcare professional. No matter what supplements and medicines are available, it’s not safe to consume 500 calories a day for an extended period. 

How Effective Is HCG Diet for Weight Loss? 

HCG itself isn’t effective for weight loss. If it was a miracle tool, there would be no need for a diet so low in calories to accompany it. The drug was adapted from the first-trimester placenta to assist women struggling with infertility, not to cause weight loss. It does nothing to help people lose weight. 

However, those following the HCG diet plan do get results. These results aren’t from the HCG itself – as established, that has nothing to do with weight loss or gain. Instead, it’s from the restrictive diet that the proponents of this diet encourage. Eating only 500 calories a day will help you lose weight, but it won’t be in a healthy way. 

How Easy Is HCG Diet to Follow? 

Although the website and advertisements claim that HCG is easy to follow and you will lose weight quickly without being hungry, it’s difficult. Like many healthier restriction diets, HCG is taking away many of the foods you already eat. If your body is used to a certain eating style, it will be difficult to take that away. 

Eventually, your body can adjust to various diets, and it’s not impossible to break a sugar or caffeine habit. However, eating tiny amounts of food is incredibly difficult and unhealthy. A body needs more than that to survive, and the person following the diet will be hungry all the time. 

What Are the Best Practices To Follow HCG Diet? 

The best practices for the HCG diet are to avoid it entirely. Several other diets limit food intake to two meals and lower calories without being dangerous to the body. No one should follow the HCG diet.

The best way to lose weight is to lower calorie intake and exercise more. As long as you keep your calorie intake within a healthy amount for your body, you can lower it and continue to work out. But it’s essential to provide healthy fuel so that your body can function well and lose fat instead of muscle. 

Is HCG Diet Low Carb? 

The HCG diet is not low carb. Although there aren’t too many carbs on the allowed food list, the user is allowed a piece of bread, breadstick, or another major carb for each meal. Because of this, the diet isn’t considered a low-carb diet

HCG is also not considered gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian-friendly. The list of approved foods is very small, and it would be nearly impossible to properly feed anyone with dietary restrictions on the calorie amount per day. 

Who Should Do HCG Diet? 

HCG diet fans say that anyone can do the HCG diet plan and benefit from it. However, the FDA and other health authorities recommend that no one partakes in this diet. It has caused many cases of eating disorders, malnutrition, and even death among its members. 

No one should partake of this diet, even though it promises quick weight loss with very little effort. In reality, the diet is difficult to manage, and the medicine is expensive. Neither will help you healthily lose weight, and it could cause your body irreparable harm. 

What Are the Best Recipes for HCG Diet? 

Although you shouldn’t follow the HCG diet, you can use the food for easy diets to follow. Without the medicine and ridiculously small portion sizes, the diet portion itself can be healthy for specific people. 

What Are the Best Recipes for HCG Diet
What Are the Best Recipes for HCG Diet?

A recipe that follows the HCG diet might include turkey meatballs, a breadstick, sauteed broccoli, and a small serving of strawberries. Recipes that follow the HCG diet menu are simple because the foods allowed are minimal, without much spice or flavoring. It’s possible to make complicated recipes, but it is mostly basic proteins, vegetables, and fruits. 

What Is a Sample Menu for HCG Diet? 

For an HCG diet menu, the user would eat two meals a day and take the HCG supplements or syringes. These meals can only total under 500 calories, a small fraction of what a healthy person should be eating. A menu involves two 250-calorie meals a day, with unlimited tea or coffee. 

Each meal would involve a few different foods but have to have protein, a carb, and a vegetable. Although it seems rounded, the amount of food available for the HCG diet plan is too restrictive for anyone’s health. Instead, it’s possible to eat the same types of food but increase the allowances. 

Athletic Insight

Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.