HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a hormone made by the cells which surround a developing embryo during pregnancy (1).
In recent times, HCG has emerged as a famous supplement to promote weight loss.
The fact that it is available in many forms, like pills, powder, gels, and injections, alongside being cost-effective, has made it popular in the past few years.
Let us take a closer look at this pivotal hormone, its role, and evaluate the claims of its effects.
What is HCG?
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is a glycoprotein hormone made of 237 amino acids in a human body (2).
Though it is found in both males and females, high levels of HCG are found amongst pregnant women as it helps in the early stages of pregnancy.
HCG is produced by the cells that surround the developing embryo and it eventually forms the placenta once the embryo is embedded in the uterus.
HCG is also used to treat fertility-related issues in both men and women (3).
Studies, however, also show that high levels of HCG could also be the reason for cancer in the body, especially cancer of ovaries or testes (4).
Summary: HCG is a hormone found in the early stages of pregnancy and is used to treat fertility-related issues in both men and women.
Of late, HCG supplements are being promoted as a substance that supports weight loss.
They are available in the form of drops, sprays, pellets or injections, etc. The drops and injections have gained immense popularity amongst those looking to lose weight in a short time frame.
Let us look at the two most popular forms of the HCG available and find out if HCG drops or injections are better.
The proponents of the HCG diet widely recommend HCG drops for quick weight loss.
- HCG drops are also preferred by many as they are considered to be a safe and convenient method of including the HCG in the daily diet.
- They are available as both i.e., pharmaceutical preparation, which requires a doctor’s prescription and also as an OTC (over-the-counter) product.
- Manufacturers of the HCG drops promote it as a homeopathic OTC product that does not require any medical prescription.
- They stress on the fact that HCG drops are taken orally by putting some drops under the tongue, thus making them enter the bloodstream directly.
- They further assert the drops expedite weight loss as they metabolize the body fat without losing the body’s lean mass.
- It is commonly advised to avoid eating anything for approximately 30 minutes before and after having these drops.
However, all these affirmations of HCG drops aiding weight loss are not supported by medical research.
It is pertinent to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA has said that OTC products which have HCG are “fraudulent” and “ineffective for weight loss”.
Further, HCG supplements do not enjoy the protection of other homeopathic drugs either. They are considered illegal substances by the FDA and manufacturers selling them have also been penalized in the past (8).
Summary: HCG drops easy-to-use OTC supplements that are usually recommended as a part of the HCG weight-loss diet. However, there is no evidence that the supplement or the diet is effective in shedding weight and the FDA has even banned HCG supplements.
HCG injections are used for treating fertility issues in men and women (9).
- These injections can only be availed after a doctor’s prescription and recommendation.
- Since HCG plays a vital role in the initial stages of pregnancy, HCG injections are usually used for women who face difficulties in conceiving.
- HCG injections are also used in IVF treatments to help the body maintain optimal HCG levels to prevent miscarriages.
- In men, HCG injections are used to boost the production of testosterone and increase sperm count.
- However, apart from treating issues related to fertility, HCG injections are also used by many for weight loss.
- Many presume that since HCG is directly injected in the bloodstream, it becomes easier to assimilate into the body, and thus, is more effective.
- HCG injections are given on the fat layer under the skin, making it less painful.
Though a popular method for losing weight, there are no significant studies to authenticate HCG injections’ benefits for weight loss.
Summary: HCG injections are administered to individuals with fertility-related health problems. Although they are promoted as weight loss supplements as well, the FDA has said otherwise and even restricted the use of HCG supplements.
Which is Better: HCG Drops or Injections?
The advocates of HCG drops cite the ease of using, e.g., the flexibility of diet, painless, lower prices, etc. as the benefits of using the drops.
Those using injections promote it as a preferred option due to better results that it provides owing to the complete absorption.
Furthermore, injections do not have any restrictions on eating before or after taking HCG, as is the case with drops.
An important point to note here is that the FDA has deemed homeopathic HCG supplements for weight loss as illegal (12).
This calls into question the actual merits of taking HCG supplements, drops or injections.
It should also be observed that there is no substantial proof emphasizing the benefits of HCG injections for weight loss.
Hence, you should not consider taking HCG supplements for weight loss without undergoing a proper examination and discussion with your doctor.
Summary: HCG supplements, drops or injections, must be taken only on the recommendation of qualified medical experts. The FDA has made all HCG supplements for weight loss illegal, and hence, they should not be consumed without medical advice.
FAQs on HCG Drops and Injections
What is the HCG Diet?
HCG Diet, which was proposed by Albert Simeons in 1954, is primarily based on two factors; one, limiting the calorie intake to 500 calories a day and two, injecting the HCG hormone in the body.
Advocates of the diet claim that it not only helps you lose weight, but also doesn’t make you feel hungry as it improves the rate of metabolism in the body.
These claims have been debunked by studies, which say that abnormally lower calorie consumption (or starvation) happens to be the reason for rapid weight loss in HCG diets.
Does the HCG Diet Aid Weight Loss?
Although it has many followers, there is no evidence that shows HCG diet supports weight loss (15).
Research conducted on the subjects who were administered HCG injections and dietary restrictions did not show any significant results of weight loss or reduced hunger, as compared to the control group (16).
Therefore, it can be said that the HCG diet is not a useful method for weight loss.
What are the Side Effects of Following the HCG Diet and Consuming HCG Supplements?
Some of the side effects of following the HCG diet and taking the supplements are as follows:
Breast enlargement in males
The Final Note
HCG drops and injections are being frequently used for weight loss by many people.
Although it has proven beneficial in cases of infertility, there is not much evidence to establish the benefits of HCG towards promoting weight loss.
Further, looking at the many side effects, it would be best if you consult your doctor before taking any HCG supplement in any form.
Thus, in-depth research is required to determine the use of HCG for weight loss among humans. Until then, the consumption of HCG supplements for the purposes of weight loss must be restricted and regulated.