I have been getting a lot of questions regarding the "latest, greatest" fad-diet called the ATW Ultra-Low Calorie hCG diet. While I'm not here to get on a soapbox or try to tell people what they should or shouldn't do I do feel obligated to obtain facts and offer insights into this so-called diet. As always, I recommend my clients or readers to consult with their medical practitioner before beginning any diet regiment or nutrtion program.
Here's what we know:
What is hCG?
hCG stands for humn chorionic gonadotropin, a glycoprotein produced in the placent that promotes the growth of the corpus luteum and secretion of estrogrens and progesterone of the corpus luteum. Estrogen promotes the growth of the mother's sex organs and tissues of the fetus during pregnancy...progesterone promotes the special development of the uterine endometrium in advance of implementation of the fertilized ovum; progesterone also promotes fetal tissue and organ development as well as the mother's breasts. During pregnancy hCG also prevents menstruation and could affect those not pregnant.
hCG is collected from pregnant women's urine or genetically modified. It is used for tumor markings (identification) as hCG is produced by tumors, as well as fertility (ovulation inducer) and the now-controversial ATW ultra-low calorie diet (less than 500 calories a day).
The Diet itself
The theory behind the diet is that hCG promotes fat loss rather than lean tissue and muscle loss in order to protect the developing fetus byway of consuming and mobilizing abnormal, excessive adipose (fat) deposits. The diet was originally studied with a 125 IU daily injection of hCG with less than 500 calorie diet of high protein and low fat/carbs.
Recently the Journal of American Medical Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition both spoke out against the ATW hCG diet as being "neither safe nor effective".
The most common form of the diet is the homeopathic version but typically the administration is oral (not injected) and contains obscure ingredients not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); typically the homeopathic version has little to no hCG in it and is often substituted with derivatives of ephedra.
Again, I recommend talking to your doctor before beginning any diet or nutrition program but my findings on this hCG diet are staggering. First, where it is obtained and how it is administered is not regulated and can be extremely unsafe. Also, the low amount of calories consumed is not safe. If you're goal is to "lose weight" aren't there better ways (like exercise and portion control???). I'm vary wary of fad diets to begin with because they do not teach a person how to eat properly and maintain a proper fitness program throughout life. The side effects are not ultimately known (testicular shrinkage, menstruation issues, liver and kidney damange, etc.)--is that something we want to put into out bodies??? There has to be a better way.