Some of the first hCG diet results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1959. This is solid research, devoid of marketing hype. The results are more realistic than those wild marketing claims about losing 1-2 pounds per day. Here’s what one of the first scientific studies showed.
HCG Diet – How Much Can You Really Lose?
This is the most important question regarding weight loss, aside from any other results. The original book by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons suggested that losing a pound per day can be expected. To quote the 1971 revised edition of his book, ‘Pounds and Inches’, “…we find that the injection of only 125 units per day is ample to reduce weight at the rate of roughly one pound per day, even in a colossus weighing 400 pounds, when associated with a 500-Calorie diet.”
The two important variables to consider in this statement are: 1) 125 units (IU) of hCG injected per day; 2) a 500-Calorie diet. Now let’s look at one of the first scientific studies of the protocol, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 7, pp. 514-518, 1959, “A Forty-Day–550 Calorie Diet in the Treatment of Obese Outpatients,” by Ezra Sohar, M.D., Dept. of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Tel-Hashomer Hospital, Tel Aviv, Israel).
If you are feeling really technical and want to read the entire study for yourself, AJCN has made it available for free to the public. I have put a copy for download here: Sohar 1959. It may seem a little geeky to read this article, although my view is that it is a fascinating peek at some good old-time science.
Core Results from Sohar 1959
The details may seem overwhelming in the original full table of results, since Sohar included data on 53 patients, including their initials, about sex, height, percentage overweight, days of diet (not all patients completed 40 days) and weight loss per day. The table below is modified to reduce the complexity and focus on the main information of interest. Specifically, it includes only results from patients who completed the full 40 days of the protocol. I have some comments about this table below the table itself.
Note that ‘weight’ is expressed in kilograms (conversion is 2.2 lbs per kg).
Now take a look and see what the core results were:
The Actual Average Weight Loss
If you look at only the patients who completed all 40 days of the protocol, the average loss is 8.9 kg (19.6 lbs), or about a half a pound per day. This is a remarkable rate. However, the top end shows what is possible: a 53 year old man dropped 23.3 kg (52 lbs)! Or, almost 1.3 lbs per day!
It is interesting to note that only 4 of the 34 hCG-treated patients and 2 of the 12 control (non-hCG treated) patients were men. Sohar also remarked that 5 of the treated patients and 1 of the control patients were ‘not successful’, based on a weight loss of less than 150 grams per day. By removing these from the table of results, the average loss of the hCG-treated patients increases to 9.7 kg (21.2 lbs) and of the control group to 9.2 kg (20.3 lbs).
Can You Lose WEIGHT Fast Without hCG? – Yes!
IF YOU WANT TO STARVE!The most important missing concepts from this abbreviated peek into the research are: 1) presence or absence of starvation; and, 2) change in body fat composition. The observation that the control group lost the same amount of weight as the hCG-treated group shows that you can, indeed, lose weight fast on a purely starvation diet. Starvation does not occur with the hCG treatment because ‘missing’ calories from the diet are harvested from abnormal fat.
Can You Lose FAT Fast Without hCG? – No!
This is the most important missing piece of this research. Weight loss is no different whether you use hCG or not and consume the 500-Calorie diet prescribed by Simeons. Most studies (or maybe all), and most dieters, fail to consider the key aspect of the Simeons protocol: loss of abnormal fat. Results of treatment with hCG should provide at least a 0.3 percent drop in body fat composition for every pound of weight loss. In my own case, this was a drop for 8 percent body fat with a weight loss of 25 lbs. A starvation diet will not specifically direct your body to metabolize fat. Indeed, it will lead to significant loss of lean body mass (muscle).
How can you tell the difference? The easiest way is to measure body fat composition is with an inexpensive impedance device, which come with bathroom scales now. One of the best results of the Simeons protocol, however, is skin tightening. Loss of abnormal body fat leads prevents the skin sag that otherwise accompanies fast weight loss by starvation. You can see what I mean about skin sag if you ever see someone who has had weight loss surgery that limits caloric intake (lab band, stomach stapling). It is gross.
More hCG Diet Research
This brief review here entails one of the early published studies of the Simeons protocol. Others had different results – some better and some worse. It is interesting to dig into these and see how the views of this protocol in modern medicine have changed over the years. I will have more posts about this research later, with my comments on how it may or may not apply to you.
If you want to get ahead on what the overall body of research – good and bad – is on the Simeons protocol, and modifications of it, in the scientific research literature, you can see a summary and perspective in my book on the hCG diet here: HCG DIET- THE NEW DEFINITIVE GUIDE.
With notes about hCG diet research,