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The HCG Diet Actually Works

I imagine diet books began appearing worldwide shortly after the Gutenberg Bible hit the shelves. And ever since, physicians, nutritionists, alchemists, personal trainers, and others have attempted to convince us that their diet is the one that will change everything.

All diets fail for the same reason, an assertion I base on my experience both as a practicing physician and as an overweight practicing physician. You obediently start a program and lose weight. You’re ecstatic. You continue enthusiastically and lose still more weight and soon you’re a proselytizer, a weight-loss born-again, buying copies of the sacred text for your chunky friends. Then one morning you simply cannot stand another mouthful of whatever food the book extols.

(Decades after the Scarsdale diet, I still can’t stomach ground round or cottage cheese and, frankly, was almost happy when the cardiologist author was shot by his mistress.)

And therein your doom. Within six months, your weight is generally back where you started. Statistically, your chances of permanent weight loss after dieting are less than 5%.

But this changes with the HCG weight-loss program
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman, whose purpose is to protect the developing fertilized egg. A typical pregnancy test looks for the presence of HCG in blood or urine, and once it was synthesized in the lab it was found to be helpful in boosting fertility. High doses are a routine part of treatment at fertility centers for women and even some men. In those with pituitary deficiencies, HCG increases sperm production.

British endocrinologist Albert T.W. Simeons, MD, first reported that extremely small amounts of HCG, when combined with a very restrictive 500-calorie diet, forced the body to flush out abnormal fat accumulations. It’s important to appreciate what Simeons meant by abnormal fat: pot bellies, mega-buttocks, thunder thighs, and triple chins. Physiologists call this “adipose tissue,” in contrast to the healthy structural fat that cushions and protects organs.

Every one of you with abnormal fat understands that no matter how diligent your diet and exercise efforts, this fat remains. With HCG and calorie restriction, the areas of abnormal fat are “tapped,” the HCG releasing 1,500 to 4,000 calories daily into the bloodstream, where they’re promptly burned as fuel. This incredible mobilization of fat stores is why when using HCG you can tolerate an otherwise intolerable 500-calorie-per-day eating program. And yes, by limiting fat loss to these adipose storehouses, HCG actually re-sculpts your body. You don’t develop the unfortunate Shar Pei rolls of loose skin that later require extensive (and expensive) plastic surgery to tighten up.

Dr Simeons operated a weight-loss clinic in Rome until his death in 1970, turning away more than a few potential patients because their perceptions of being overweight didn’t align with the adiposity of abnormal fat storage. He focused on body fat percentage rather than actual poundage.

HCG story shape-shifts
Sadly, after Simeons’ death HCG took a wrong turn. An HCG diet was publicized by Kevin Trudeau, the self-styled and utterly untrained popular nutritional guru and infomercial salesman (and also a convicted felon in trouble with both the FDA and FTC). Trudeau marketed and promoted different forms of ineffective, non-prescription HCG only to be banned by the FDA as consumer fraud.

By the late 1990s, HCG diets had been relegated to the ever-expanding Museum of Failed Weight Loss Treatments.

But then Mark Mandel, a Doctor of Pharmacology, resurrected the original Simeons protocol from the 1950s and, working with a variety of physicians, began seeing some pretty spectacular results. Now, after some 40,000 users nationwide, I’ll share the basics of his plan:

  1. You eat a nominal amount (500 calories) while using HCG, lose weight, and aren’t hungry because compensatory calories are being released from adipose tissue.
  2. You lose abnormal fat rather than necessary subcutaneous, organ-cushioning fat.
  3. The weight generally stays off if you’re honest about following the 1500-calorie low-carb diet that follows. If weight starts returning, you start another HCG cycle.
  4. What’s most exciting is that your health risks plummet. With weight loss, down come cholesterol, blood pressure, and predispositions to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.

HCG can be administered by injection, nasal spray, or sublingual (under the tongue) lozenge. We use the lozenge. It’s available by prescription only from a compounding pharmacy like Mark Drugs, but because it’s not FDA-approved for weight loss it isn’t covered by health insurance. I personally think it’s reasonably priced (just over $115 per 40-day course), though I’ve learned that some medical centers are charging considerably more.

WholeHealth Chicago’s HCG program follows the Simeons-Mandel protocol
There are three phases:

  • First, detoxification. If you’re a WholeHealth Chicago patient, schedule with one of our nutritionists, Marla Feingold or Seanna Tully. Otherwise you’ll need a short appointment with either me or my associate Casey Kelley, MD, to review your health history, after which we’ll refer you to our nutritionist for detox. Conventional physicians know detoxification only in terms of drug or alcohol rehab. In integrative medicine, detoxing means clearing accumulated environmental and dietary toxins, stored deep in adipose tissue. If you suddenly started flushing out this tissue, the toxins would be released into your system during your initial weeks of HCG, which would likely make you feel quite uncomfortable, sort of like you’d been poisoned.
  • Second, once detoxed you start a 40-day HCG cycle. For the first few days there’s a fat-loading period where we encourage you to store up on healthy fats to stave off hunger. For the remainder of the diet, you’ll learn how to put together a 500-calorie eating day and actually enjoy it. The food is mainly lean protein with a few vegetable and fruit servings. There are virtually no fats, starches, or sugars allowed during this cycle, to the extent you’ll be switching to oil-free moisturizers, cosmetics, and sunscreens.
  • Third, you slowly reintroduce fats first, then starches and sugars, maintaining at about 1,500 calories a day. If you’re happy with your new weight, fine. We’ll teach you how to keep it off. If you need to lose more, you’ll start another HCG/low-calorie cycle with adjustments made based on your activity level.

Let me add that although HCG is not FDA-approved for weight loss (and since it’s in the public domain probably never will be because Big Pharma can’t profit from it), this form of weight loss is not considered alternative medicine. I recently had a conversation with an eminent orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint replacement surgery. He mentioned he simply doesn’t perform surgery on obese patients because the failure rate is so high. I asked what he did to help these patients lose weight.

“I outsource them to Northwestern. They’re using HCG and the results are pretty astonishing.”

Be well,

David Edelberg, MD



Leave a Comment

  1. Marie Griffith says:

    I am on your natural Fibro Plan re your New book. Book is Excellent. I would like to lose 20 lbs. I have detoxed in various ways over the past few years. How can I get guidance on any further needed detox before I take the new diet drug you recommend.

  2. CAROL says:

    I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to see your post this morning. I live in NYC, have done 2 rounds of hGH injections with Corinne Furnari, PA, and lost 22 pounds, going from 148 to 122 (I am 5’3″ and very fine-boned). As someone who exercises daily and already ate a low-calorie, healthy diet, it was the only way I could lose weight that I gained — because of hormonal changes or 10 years of undiagnosed Lyme (I am 69). To me it is a miracle as I haven’t gained the weight back but even better, it helped so much with my mobility, so impaired with the Lyme. I think hCG is not only safe, it has has incredible possibilities for mitigating auto-immune symptoms that have not yet been explored. The only thing I’d add is that the 23-day cycle works fine–and would recommend it for people like me who need to lose some weight but are not obese. The diet is tedious–but then so is being fat! It is the one of the best things that ever happened to me.

  3. Linda J. Renda says:

    How does someone in Michigan get on this Program? Do you have any Sources in this State? 48329 is my Zip Code.

  4. Kaye Johnston says:

    How does someone in the KC area of the midwest get onto this program without visiting you in Chicago?

  5. nancy strasser says:

    Hi…found this very interesting. Do you know of any negatives with using the HCG? Cancer promoting? More issues with men using this than women….since it is not a natural for men to produce? In other words….risks??

  6. Christy Origer says:

    Is anyone eligible for this HCG diet? I would like to lose 10 – 15 lbs. can I benefit from this diet?

  7. Joanne says:

    This is a ray of hope for me! I’ve been over-weight, no, honestly obese, since I was a preschooler. You know you’re “chubby” when Santa won’t let you sit on his lap! (True story.) I’ve done the weight loss surgery and have dropped about 150lbs and have kept it off for over 20 years but struggle to get below 150 lbs. I’m only 5’3″ and my BMI is still too high because of the fat on my back, arms and belly. I work out on a total gym and my legs are skinny and strong … but the other stuff won’t budge! I even have a dowager’s hump which is actually a fat deposit. Now I need to convince my Doc that this diet is a good option for me! I wonder if a skinny 30 something female Doc will step off the conventional medical train (wreck) and write the script for a round 50 something female that has tried absolutely EVERYTHING to be average, not even skinny!

  8. Dr E says:

    For interested patients outside our area, I suggest contacting
    They fill prescriptions from doctors all over the country and may be able to direct you to someone in your area

  9. Dr E says:

    HCG is quite safe, especially in the small doses used for weight loss. There is no known cancer link with HCG. However, people do confuse HCG with HGH (Human Growth Hormone) which for awhile was popular as an ‘anti-aging’ treatment. There is a known cancer link with HGH

  10. Kaye Johnston says:

    Thank you Dr. Edelberg for the resources! I have contacted Mark Drugs to see who in my area does this program.

  11. Esmeralda de la Torre says:

    Great article! Can someone on meds for Fibro start this program?

  12. Jude Mathews says:

    As a long-time student of weight-loss controversies, I feel compelled to raise a few questions. Most people have the will power to manage diets for several months, even if they’re hard to do. But the hardest part is keeping the weight off permanently. Is there any data that supports the idea that HCG helps with long-term maintenance? Also, the health benefits of weight loss are far smaller in the long run than the benefits of regular exercise and other stress-reducing activities. Frankly, I’m surprised that Whole Health is plugging a weight-loss diet, albeit one that has some good selling points. We live in a diet-crazy world, where most people are already obsessed with achieving thinness to a ridiculous degree, and I’m wondering why you encourage this mentality. It just doesn’t seem healthy.

  13. Christine says:

    Let me know if you need any participants for research. 🙂

  14. Daniela says:

    My experience with sub lingual HCG was spectacular,but fat accumulated at alarming rate after 6 month. Maybe I did not follow prescribed protocol of second and third phase.

    I would like to try again if obtained from your clinic.

    I live Upstate NY
    Thanks, Daniela

  15. Dr. R says:

    Hi Daniela. Our protocol require patient visits in our center during treatment.

  16. CEP says:

    I did two rounds of HCG in the last 5 years and did, indeed, have great results. Unfortunately, the weight did eventually come back. It came back after the first, which led to my second round. I stayed low/”smart” carb for a few months after the second,and not as much came back quickly. Over a couple of years, all but 5 lbs did come back. My experience is that – just like any other diet & resulting weight loss – without a permanent change, the weight will come back. I would simply suggest that one be 100% psychologically ready to make the permanent changes necessary to keep it off. This, of course, is always the most difficult challenge of any permanent weight loss plan. One of my best friend’s sister-in-laws did it one or two times as well, which was part of my inspiration. She got really into exercise and nutrition. I asked my friend recently if her SIL had kept all the weight off. Unfortunately, she had not.

  17. dr russell desmarais says:

    I would like to know the dosage and name of the HCG compound that works best for my compounding pharmacy to make up for me.


    Dr Russell

  18. Dr E says:

    Hi Dr Russell;
    Just go to http://www.markdrugs.com, call the 800#, tell them your a doctor and you’d like to speak with Mark Mandel. Tell him I referred you and he’ll be happy to send you a package of information

  19. Toya says:

    Information regarding health.

  20. Dr. R says:

    Hi Toya. Not certain what kind of information you are seeking. Please be more specific.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "The HCG Diet Actually Works"
  1. […] My high was 238 (did I say that out loud?!) I lost 15 pounds through hCG a year and half ago.  And before you jump  into the “that’s quackery” bandwagon, I did this through a very well respected physician and nutritionist who modified the program to be healthy.  I detoxed before starting and my fat loading wasn’t oreos and fried chicken but rather avocados, nuts and other healthy fats.  Check out this article:  http://wholehealthchicago.com/2012/08/27/the-hcg-diet-actually-works/ […]

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