There is a new trend in weight loss that many people have been asking me about at the clinic over the past year. The usual conversation starts out with something like, "I have this co-worker that has been getting these hormone shots from their doctor that has helped them lose a lot of weight recently. Do you think I should try it too?"
Many of you know that I am always skeptical about new trends that have very little research behind big claims. I was especially skeptical about men trying to lose weight by injecting hormones that are produced by pregnant women. You don't have to be a doctor to think that this might not be safe. In the past few years I have discouraged people from trying these shots, which are Human Chorionic Gonadotropin injections (hCG). Well, a research study has now been conducted by Harvard University that indicates that hCG does not cause weight loss.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a hormone that is produced by pregnant women that promotes progesterone release. The origin of this "new" weight loss trend actually originated in 1950 by a British endocrinologist by the name of Albert Simeons. He was conducting experiments that combined a 500 calorie diet and low doses of hCG. His theory was based on the observation that Indian women were able to maintain muscle mass on a low calorie diet during pregnancy. This low calorie diet combined with hCG injections has surfaced periodically since his research.
A meta-analysis study recently reviewed 24 studies that were conducted in the late 1990's. After reviewing all these studies, it was concluded that hCG did not have any effect on weight loss and the reduction in body weight was only due to the 500 calorie diet. In fact, the American Medical Association is now warning people that hCG is dangerous and not effective for weight loss. (Harvard Women's Health Watch, May 2010)
So, save your money and skip the hCG injections. A pill or injection for safe and effective weight loss still has not been found.
-Josh Kernen, PT, DPT, CSCS