Hive Health Media

Urine Injections for New Weight Loss Fad?

hcg diet reviewIf you think you’ve heard it all before, you just might be surprised by the recent buzz in the news about a new diet plan that involves urine injections…  That’s right, urine!

First reports of a woman named Sheryl Paloni’s weight loss on an unorthodoxed diet surfaced at The Boston Channel and the story was later picked up by the respected, Globe and Mail among other news outlets.  Apparently, Ms. Paloni lost a whopping 43 lbs and 30 inches since June of this year.

How did she do it?  This ‘new’ diet fad involves daily injections of urine from pregnant women alone with a radical 500 calorie per day diet.

“I thought, ‘My goodness, you could lose a pound a day just taking a shot? I’m going to find out about this,’” Sheryl Paloni told The Boston Channel.

At the Boston Channel, Iris McCarthy of Success Weight Loss System attributed the diet’s success due to the “human coriogonic gotrophin.”  Don’t worry if you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what “human coriogonic gotrophin” is because it appears that someone doesn’t know how to spell, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG).

What Is the hCG Diet?

Though there’s been some recent buzz surrounding this proposed weight loss agent, its use has been popular since before 1990.  Even back then, people were using intramuscular injections of HCG despite the lack of evidence for its effectiveness [1-3].  The HCG diet itself has apparently been around for over 60 years, but has experienced a resurgence in popularity following the release of one of Kevin Trudeau’s books, (“The Weight Loss Cure They don’t Want You to Know About.”)

Does the hCG Diet Work?

In the same original story, Dr. Barry Ramos, a cardiologist offered his opinion:

“The HCG doesn’t have anything to do with the weight loss…  The fact is if you go on a 500 calorie-a-day diet, you lose weight. The bottom line is, it’s potentially dangerous because you don’t know what you’re injecting in your body. The best way to lose weight is diet and exercise.”

How much are people willing to pay for a diet method that’s potentially unsafe as well as ineffective? [1-3]  HCG products are available online and this particular program apparently costs between $300 – $565 US for the 6 week program.

More traditional uses for human chorionic gonadotrophin include treating certain fertility disorders in premenopausal women as well as certain testicular development problems. In short, the HCG Diet is just an old fad that’s resurfaced and is not a new phenomenon.

References:

  1. S Afr Med J. 1990 Feb 17;77(4):185-9.
  2. West J Med. 1977 Dec;127(6):461-3.
  3. Am J Clin Nutr. 1976 Sep;29(9):940-8.

22 Comments

  1. LeAnna Cook

    February 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Well, it sure has made me feel amazing. I have a lot more energy I would recommend this diet to anyone….

  2. [email protected] Workouts

    December 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    That’s really funny, as I was reading the article I was thinking it sounded a lot what I had read in Kevin Trudeau’s book a few years back. And yes, any calorie restricted diet will help you lose weight. When the concept behind weight loss is so simple (eat less, move more) I still can’t figure out why people don’t understand it, or go to extreme circumstances to achieve it.

    • Matt

      December 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      No offense, but that is probably because you have never had problems losing weight, so you cannot understand the problem.

      There is more and more proof coming out that some genetics do not respond to “eat less move more” like the rest of the population. I referenced one such research result above, but here it is again:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Search&db=pubmed&term=12917707

      How would you feel if you spent the past 5 years trying to get down to a more ideal weight but only having limited successes while other people continually tell you “Stupid, it’s just eat less and move more!!” when that is obviously not true???

      It is not right to assume that just because one way of losing weight works for 80% of the people that it will work for 100%. It is also not right to assume the remaining 20% are stupid or lazy or whatever other judgments have been laid upon them.

  3. [email protected] Health Pilgrim

    December 5, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I can’t believe there are people going into these extremes in losing diet. Can’t people just take it simple these days? Just the other day, I was watching a TV program on swallowing tapeworms to help lose weight. While it is going to be effective, those tapeworms will eventually find its way to your brain and cause a whole host of problems besides helping you to lose weight.

    I think the media is to blame for all these body image and diet fad problems!

  4. Nancy

    December 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I have met a few women who defend their use of this diet with real anger against it’s critics. It’s a topic that really does seem to elicit quite an emotional response, but that may be because of the severe hormonal imbalance, I’m not sure. I believe the way the diet is sold, you’re told that 500 calories of food is plenty because the injections are nutrient rich enough to sustain you. Also, the big gimmick is that it’s supervised by a doctor– one is who paid huge amounts of money to explicitly dole out this one product, sadly. When I asked a friend (I asked kindly, btw) why she didn’t want to just diet and exercise normally and lose 1-2 lbs a week, her response was, “you don’t know what it’s like to never be able to lose weight. My metabolism is slow, my genetics are messed up. I’ve dieted, I exercise all the time.” Sigh. I didn’t say anything, but thats when I realized the appeal of HCG: it takes the responsibility out of the individuals hands. If weight loss doesn’t happen, it’s because the doctor screwed up, not because she failed.

  5. Health Votes

    December 5, 2010 at 8:30 am

    A 500 calorie diet is never sustainable, it is unhealthy to even consider. The injection thing sounds very unsafe to me, and moreover the fact that it is easily available on the internet is even more worrying. You don’t even know who’s urine you are injecting, God only know what infections and diseases might come along. People sometimes gets desperate when they don’t see much progress in their weight loss goals, and such companies coming up with these unhealthy diets makes the most out of it.

    The only thing good that i found in this article is the little quote from Dr. Barry Ramos, proper exercise and diet is the only way to go, keep at it and the results will follow. Patience and persistence is the key.

  6. Matt

    December 4, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I don’t want to keep posting on this subject so just one last post here.

    If you’re on 500 calories and you lose weight that means you’re in a deficit of some sort (otherwise you would not be losing weight), therefore if you go off the diet you have that deficit worth of calories to eat plus whatever you were eating before you should start to gain weight.

    For example:

    Your losing 5lbs a week on a 500 calorie daily diet – that is a daily caloric deficit of 2500 calories per day (5lbs x 3500 calories = 17500 calorie deficit per week, 17500 / 7 days = 2500 calories). Theoretically you could go off this 500 calorie diet and eat 3000 calories a day and not gain weight. That should be your maintenance plan, 3000 calories a day, but more realistically you it would probably be around 2500 calories because the math is never that clean with human physiology. Of course this is just one example and it will vary (sometimes wildly) from person to person. Also once your body stops burning as much fat for fuel it will start to want to store fat so some adjustments may need to be made further down the road.

    I think if you remove the statement that HCG comes from urine; it becomes much less dramatic where it comes from because anyone that has had to have a blood infusion is using someone else’s bodily fluids. Also about sharing body fluids, they pull the HCG out of the urine similar to what happens when you donate blood plasma, they pull out what they need and get rid of the rest and yes it’s all very sterile.

    Again I am not defending the use of HCG in this diet, I am just making a point that HCG by itself is not totally out of the realm of possibilities of something that could assist with health or weight loss, as it’s already being used for other health concerns.

    I am also not completely defending the use of 500 calorie diets, but merely stating they may not be as detrimental as people seem to think. Our physiology has had to withstand a lot more then missing a meal or two over the course of time, we are much hardier then that or else we would have failed as a species shortly after we appeared on the scene. In fact even the less hardy of us out there should be able to go 2 weeks without food, with the most hardy easily capable of 40+ days (although you do need water). I have personally been intermittent fasting for about a month now, I don’t eat for 16 hours out of the day and its usually a lot more than that, I have not felt this good in a long time and I am having the best workouts of my life (in my fasted state none-the-less). Eating 6 times a day made me feel a lot worse, I think because my blood sugar and hormones were up and down constantly due to food plus my body’s energy was constantly tied up with digestion. I am so glad to have found this way of eating for this reason alone and it is not even that hard to manage. I have lost 11lbs this way, but that was mostly in the first two weeks and the past two weeks have not shown anything on the scales other then my normal day to day fluctuations (I work out a lot so water weight bounces me around a lot), although my strength and cardio performance has risen substantially. Maybe I am recomping or maybe I am just already on a plateau, I already eat healthy about 75% of the time and of course that means there is room for improvement but I think I will need to lock down my diet in terms of calories as well to get to my final goals. I don’t see myself doing 500 calories, but I might be tempted to do 1k again, but most likely I will probably try to start out at 1.5k and work from there. If I were older and not active 500 calories might be a better choice.

    Again I am not defending the HCG diet, but just remember to keep an open mind about aspects of the diet because the world used to be flat and everyone absolutely knew it was.

    • Jon Pearlstone

      December 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      Matt

      My entire world is based on the concept that there is no need to create a caloric deficit to produce weight loss.

      Instead, my plan, The EET Fitness Plan, focuses on every possible way to IMPROVE YOUR METABOLISM, which will create the caloric deficit you seek by IMPROVING YOUR METABOLISM, thus allowing you to eat more calories and still meet your weight loss and fitness goals.

      I love your analogy of the world being seen as flat–I have written on many many occasions that those who think dieting should be based on a daily, or even a weekly caloric deficit by cutting food (and slowing metabolism) are the folks that see the world as flat.

      I personally am eating 500 to 1000 calories more PER DAY on average than I did when I wieghed 30-35 pounds MORE than I do today, I also exercise less than 1/2 the amount of time I used to — THE DIFFERENCE IS EATING AND EXERCISE TIMING — coordinating my eating and exercise to maximuze my metabolism — works beautifully — and I intend ot prove it can work for almost everyone who will learn and follow EET’s guidelines — that’s why I started EET Fitness and tested it in trials for over a year before going public with it–to teach others how to do this and we have many success stories that are eating more and losing weight.

      So HCG followers are not the pioneers of the next wave of how to lose weight and keep it off — they are going backwards in terms of the best way for sustainable weight loss–at least that’s EET’s take on it and we have some compelling evidence to back that view that you can eat what you love–not count calories and meet your weight loss and fitness goals–in other words–that the world is ROUND!

      Good luck to you in your weight loss efforts.

      Jon
      EET Fitness
      http://www.eetfit.com

      • Matt

        December 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm

        Jon,

        I don’t know about your program, I think most likely it’s based around eating your junk meals around workout times (pre and post), and eating healthy outside those times. If that is true I have done this type of plan before and only had a little success with it, and the times I had the most success was when I was still counting calories and putting myself in a known deficit. Without doing this, I end up over eating because junk food triggers me to eat more junk without me consciously noticing, tracking calories keeps me honest and thinking about food…but that is another problem I have, the more often I have to think about what to eat the more stress I have and the more likely I will blow any diet. In the past I have literally spent 3hrs trying to find something I could eat that is healthy, fast, and that I would have at least a little bit of enjoyment eating.

        Again I am not attacking your plan at all, but I honestly don’t think that you kill your metabolism with fasting or being in a calorie deficit because I am doing phenomenally right now in terms of performance and energy levels and I am in a fast for 16hrs a day. I am definitely not wasting away as you can see in my workouts over the past month; I have done nothing but improve in all areas of fitness. In fact the two times when I have felt really great are now with IF, and previously with the medically supervised diet (1k calories), of which both of them I was obviously forced to burn fat for fuel more often than not. I think this is the key, burn fat for fuel. I also don’t know how one can prove you can boost your metabolism without extensive university level investigation over long periods of time, even the effects of known metabolism boosters such as caffeine fade away without a constant change in the dosage.

        Also how do you know how many calories a person is really burning? I am starting to think there may be other factors outside of the “metabolism” of the food, such as the absorption of foods that can cause the wide variance in caloric intakes among people. For example if a person A absorbs 80% of the food they eat and person B only absorbs 70%, that is a net difference in 10% in the “metabolism” of the foods because person B will appear to have a 10% higher metabolism. In this same regard if the spectrum was a wider variance such as 80% versus 40%, person A could effectively eat ½ of what person B could eat. To person B it would appear that person A is “starving themselves to death” but the reality may be that person A is perfectly healthy. I tend to think our “metabolism” is not so different between person to person, I think there must be other factors that have perhaps not been investigated.

        I have tried various straight caloric deficit diets, calorie zig zag diets, low carb, carb timing, high protein, medically supervised (1k calorie with supplements), Paleo type diets (but never for probably long enough), extreme exercise, very little exercise, and everything in between. In my experience some of them worked better than others but the only times I have truly lost weight was when I was in a known deficit, I say known because it’s not easy to know you are actually in a deficit unless it is an extreme enough deficit – or you weigh, measure, and carry around a portable calorimeter with you every step of your day. Even if you eat the same thing day in and day out, foods can vary between crops, animals, and processing and everyone’s body may respond differently to foods and even differently under the circumstances (stressed, sick, activity level, etc…).

        Again my entire point is not to defend the HCG diet; I still don’t know anything about it more then what has been posted on this page already, but to simply state that some methods work for some, while they may not work for ALL. Before anyone judges another person’s weight loss methods, they should consider how different our bodies respond to stimulus. We are all different and science is not at the point where we fully understand weight loss enough to simply proclaim “eat less, move more!” for everyone.

        Also Jon, I may look into your plan eventually, I actually almost went your route before I found intermittent fasting. I am having so much more energy and focus right now on IF that I don’t really want to change until I find out where I can go with it for weight loss (at the least I think it’s a performance diet for my physiology, if that translates into fat loss I will stick with it). But I think, as with all my other diet attempts, I will have to start tracking calories to make it work but there may be some efficiencies with IF that will allow me to have an easier time at it.

        • Jon Pearlstone

          December 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm

          Matt

          you might find it interesting that on many days I fast for 16 hours too! I am not against IF at all — think about it —

          Intermittent Fasting = eating the right foods (or no food) at the right times – in other words EATING TIMING!

          That’s what EET is all about–we just figured out what you are supposed to be eating the rest of the time too.

          I think you have been very reasonable in your approach to trying to find an answer that works for you — that’s what I did and just like IF — TIMING can work the rest of the day in ways you cannot imagine – and for most EETers we eat real food and can live a normal life which means we have FUN with our eating too which no other diet plan can match.

          While our success rate is WAY higher than most plans, EET has not worked for every person who has tried it–some just don’t want to alter the timing of their meals or don’t stick with it long enough to learn how EET can overcome cravings and additions.

          But almost everyone has lost weight while following the timing guidelines and it’s a far better approach than eating less or injecting urine imho.

          Email me (eetf[email protected]) if you want any further input – no charge – You seem like someone who is committed to finding the answers that will work for you for the long haul, and that is all I do here for EET members–every day, all day. So maybe EET has a strategy or two you can combo with your efforts that will be helpful.

          In any case– I was serious in wishing you the best of luck — this stuff is not easy for anyone — so it makes sense to keep searching until you find a sustainable plan that works for you.

          • Dawn @ Probiotics LoveThatBug

            December 6, 2010 at 9:13 pm

            I’m someone who follows the EET plan.

            Can I just add, Matt, that I found that Jon helps you fit the EET plan with any other considerations you may have.

            For me, I’m staunchly probiotic – got to have my fresh raw fruit, my yogurts and kefirs. Jon worked with all of that to help balance my eating and create a system that works for me.

            So rest assured you won’t have any food preferences or “must haves” rejected or laughed at, or insisted that you must change. EET is very flexible.

  7. Dawn @ Probiotics LoveThatBug

    December 4, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    My concern with a 500 calorie diet is what does the person do after they’ve reached their ideal weight. Even if they managed to avoid any deficiencies by taking vitamin and mineral supplements during the diet phase, they are not learning to eat in a way that is sustainable in the future.

    And I’m not sure that injections of urine sound like a very good idea. No science to back up my feeling but the sharing of body fluids has lead to so much disease and suffering over the years. Now obviously, it will be sterilized etc but maybe there are things that we don’t know about yet.

    How many times has medical studies taken what looked like a leap forward only to find they needed to quickly reverse as some unexpected health problem occurred.

    This is not a diet plan I would follow.

    • Jarret Morrow

      December 4, 2010 at 7:04 pm

      Dawn, it’s certainly not a diet plan that I would recommend at all!

  8. [email protected]

    December 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Hi Jarret

    Interesting article. I have always eaten healthy and done regular exercise.I have never had to diet so I can’t relate to people doing extreme measures. Maybe they have tried all else and are desperate to try something that maybe will work this time around.

    The sad thing is someone makes heaps of money from these people and usually these extreme diets don’t work! 500 calories would have anyone getting thinner I would imagine but not to be recommended.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Jarret Morrow

      December 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      Patricia, a 500 calorie diet does sounds extremely unhealthy for a number of reasons.

  9. Matt

    December 4, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    John,

    I am not defending HCG as I said, I am just saying sometimes things don’t work like everyone says they do, and it’s a bit annoying when people keep insisting something is true 100% of the time when it may only be true 80% of the time.

    How can you go on any diet to lose weight without having some starvation? You have to eat less to lose weight, and if your still eating and you have excess fat to burn your technically not starving your just burning up your fat reserves. There have been lots of tests on the “starvation response” and it does not occur just because you skip a meal or two, you could probably skip 4 days worth of meals before the real starvation response will even get close to kicking in. Besides you are not skipping every meal for several days anyways, you are still eating some calories daily and basically encouraging your body to use fat for fuel.

    HCG has been used for fertility in men for years, and more recently as T replacement or as a supplement to T therapy since artificial T shuts down your testes which causes “cosmetic” issues if you understand what I am saying. It’s not a new chemical produced in a lab but derived from a biological source; it may be that they are using it in a new way but I don’t think that makes it necessarily a scary prospect.

    When I was on my 1k calorie diet (not HCG), I did not regain my weight immediately after I went off of the diet. In fact it took me 3 months to regain 5lbs and I was eating A LOT more food than 1k calories because at the time the only source of relief I had from work was food. Their maintenance plan was around 2k calories of lower carb based foods (including lots of vegetables) but I was not able to adhere to that due to work. Now after that ~3 month point I regained a lot but you have to consider my life situation through all of this as well. I went off the supervised diet because I had to go out of country for work and I also changed from 40-45hr weeks at work, to 60-80wks with intermittent scheduling (nights, days, evenings) so basically all I was able to do was work and eat. When I started to gain the most weight was right after I had other issues at work with my management, in short terms my stress levels went up 10,000% so it is no wonder my weight did.

    Again I am not defending the specifics of the HCG plan and I don’t even know the specifics of the plan, just stating that parts of it may be justified or rational in some situations. Not everyone can remove 500 calories a day and lose a pound of fat a week; they may need to remove 1000 calories a day or even 1500 calories to achieve that same result. This sounds really unfair, maybe it is, but maybe those same people could also survive famines or other harsh environmental standards if they are ever called upon to do so – maybe there is a flip side that isn’t the greatest thing these days with mass food availability.

    It is not always about doing it FAST as much as it is just being able to even achieve it. I have been trying to do the “slow and healthy” way for like 4 years with the exception of my ~3 weeks on the medically supervised diet. It is just not working like that, people keep saying relax, loosen up, give it time but WTH does that mean? I am 32 now and at this rate I will be 65 before I get to a more ideal weight. There is only so much patience and struggle a person can deal with, it is not instant gratification I am looking for I am just looking for some success that is tangible. Watching the scale move back and forth 5lbs day to day isn’t doing it, especially when the overall curve is flat.

    I also have another theory that I am wondering if the resistance to weight loss is also tied with a resistance to weight gain, meaning some people may need to go to extremes to lose the weight but may have a lot more freedom once they do and thus that is part of the maintenance plan. I know in my case I seem to be able to maintain weight fairly easy, it is just moving the scale downward that is really hard.

  10. Jon

    December 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Let’s review

    1. Starvation diet – will ultimately slow metabolism making a normal caloric diet virtually impossible in the future

    2. Take shots of HCG, urine or whatever you want to call it which is unclear how it effects your body/metabolism both short and longer term.

    3. No maintenance plan, no provisions for how to live a normal life at times like eating out for dinner, vacations or holidays

    4. Pay a bunch of money for the privilege of following this plan

    Hmmm, sounds like a really sustainable diet plan for life to me….

    Why even consider such a plan when there are so many other ways proven to lose weight– what good does it do to lose it FAST if you are on a plan there’s no way you can stay with and in the case of this particular plan no way you would want to???

    Jon
    The EET Fitness Plan
    http://www.eetfit.com

    • Jarret Morrow

      December 4, 2010 at 7:02 pm

      Jon, I agree with you. People often let emotions get in the way of rational decision making when it comes to trying products for weight loss.

  11. Matt

    December 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Interesting, I keep seeing “HCG diet” all over the place but never looked into it. It only sparked my interest because HCG is sometimes used to treat low testosterone because it acts like Luteinizing Hormone.

    In terms of the HCG part of this diet, I don’t know if this is necessary or safe, however it is a viable low T treatment and it’s actually something I may end up exploring if I am not able to cure my own low T naturally with diet. I think it’s a better way to boost T because it’s closer to “normal” because it is your body creating the T, you’re not adding T to the system artificially.

    In terms of the 500 calories a day, I would never recommend anyone try that low of calories, however from my personal experience it may be “ok” as long as you have supplements to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. I went on a 1k calorie medically supervised diet, I was working out nearly as hard as I am now and I felt fine after about 3-4 days of my body shifting over to fat burning. I lost 16lbs in 18 days and less then 1lb of that was muscle it was almost pure fat. That is like having a 22k calorie deficit weekly, my blood work also improved dramatically as well going from borderline in several areas to normal with nothing showing a negative result other then my calcium level went up higher then desired (most likely from supplementation).

    My point is not to say the HCG diet is ok, I am just saying under the right supervision it may not be terrible. I have been battling weight for many years now and not having the successes I want to have, in the end I may need to go back to a very low calorie (not 500) diet as other means have thus far not proven as effective or dependable at eliminating fat. I feel great right now, I have tons of energy, I am very strong and active and can keep up with anyone else in my chosen activities even if they are not “fat” like me, but I just can’t seem to get the darn fat off without what seems to be extreme measures.

    Maybe others have this same issue, I have noticed there are some genetic research that indicates some people do not respond to reduced calories and increased activities in terms of weight loss:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Search&db=pubmed&term=12917707

    In these situations maybe extreme measures such as this is the only way for them to achieve the desired results. I know everyone says eat less and move more and that is all it takes, but we need to be careful in how we see/judge others because I think some of us may need to be eating EXTREME diets and having EXTREME workouts to achieve the same things. It is not fair but what in life is?

    • Jarret Morrow

      December 4, 2010 at 7:00 pm

      Hey Matt, to me there’s a big difference between medicinal uses of HCG using pharmaceutical preparations under the observation of a physician compared to ordering a product over the Internet for an ineffective diet regime.

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