The "Los Angeles Times" explains that the HCG Diet was created in the 1950s by British doctor A.T.W. Simeons. The diet is especially popular because it promises weight loss of up to 3 lbs. per day. The diet is extremely limited and may present dangers to your health. Only certain artificial sweeteners can be used while on the HCG Diet, according to Simeons' HCG Diet protocol.
The HCG Diet protocol consists of a 500-calorie diet and daily administrations of HCG, a fertility compound known as human chorionic gonadotropin. Following Simeons' protocol, HCG is generally administered as a 125-IU intramuscular or subcutaneous injection. Other modified variations may substitute oral or sublingual HCG drops. The diet includes two 250-calorie solid food meals to be eaten for lunch and dinner. No solid food is allowed for breakfast. For breakfast and throughout the day you are allowed to have unlimited quantities of water, unsweetened tea and coffee. You are not allowed to add sugar to any beverages or foods. Only the artificial sweeteners, saccharin and stevia, may be used to sweeten foods and drinks while on Simeons' HCG Diet.
Saccharin is allowed as part of Simeons' HCG Diet. Saccharin is the artificial sweetener found in the familiar "pink packet" at restaurants and coffee shops. Saccharin is not to be confused with aspartame that is available in "blue packet" or sucralose that in available in the "yellow packet". Clinical nutrition specialist, Dr. Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., discusses saccharin in his book, "Living Low Carb." Saccharin was created more than a century ago. It was recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until the 1970s when clinical studies linked it to bladder cancer in rats. Bowden notes that these rats were fed an equivalent amount of saccharin to 800 cans of diet soda. He and the FDA say saccharin is safe in reasonable amounts.
Stevia is a relative newcomer to the United States, despite decades of a safe track record in other countries. According to the University of Florida, stevia appeared as a mainstream food additive in 2008, no longer classified as just a dietary supplement. Stevia was available in Britain in the 1950s when Simeons created the HCG Diet. In his manuscript of the diet, "Pounds and Inches," Simeons allows the use of stevia as a sweetener. Bowden explains that stevia is not an artificial sweetener such as saccharin, aspartame or sucralose. Stevia is a natural herb that appears to be completely free of potential side effects.
The HCG Diet is not recommended and highly discouraged because of the severe malnutrition dangers that come from eating just 500 calories a day. When the body does not get the nutrients it needs, including protein, it can scavenge tissue from vital organs, including the heart, for nutrients. This can lead to sudden death. These diets may also trigger or accelerate eating disorders.
- University of Idaho: Thinking About Slimming Down for the Holiday Season on HCG - Think Again
- CBSNEws.com: hCG Diet Fad Has Experts Worrying About the Risks
- "Los Angeles TImes": HCG Diet Was Largely Discredited Long Ago; Elena Conis - Nov. 2, 2009
- "Living Low Carb"; Dr. Jonny Bowden; 2008
- National Cancer Institute: Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
- HCG Diet Info: HCG DIet Protocol - 500 Calorie a Day Diet by Dr. Simeons
- HCG Info Online: Pounds & Inches: A New Approach to Obesity; A.T.W. Simeons M.D.
- "Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, Nutrasweet and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health"
- Arizona State College of Nursing and Health Innovation: The Newest Diet Fad is…. A Hormone?
- Andrea Chu/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.