hCG diet becoming big weight loss trend


J.D. McGraw wins a lot more at racquetball now that he's lost weight and has more energy.

McGraw lost 30 pounds in just six weeks and says he wasn't miserable.

"This isn't a program where you starve yourself to death," McGraw said.

Lee Ann Ashburn lost 50 pounds and 45 inches in six months.

"After the first week of seeing results then I was like I'm on fire, I'm gonna do it," Ashburn said.

They did it on the hCG diet. McGraw gives himself a shot of hCG once a week.

"It helped me strip off the fat," he said.

Ashburn takes an hCG pill.

"Even if I didn't lose weight one week, I lost inches," Ashburn said.

What is hCG? It's human chorionic gonadotropin -- a pregnancy hormone that when given in very low doses, is thought to cause the body to burn fat faster -- even in men!

The hCG diet is combined with a very low calorie diet of:

  • Protein twice a day
  • Two fruit servings but limited types of fruits
  • Unlimited non-starchy vegetables

"Ninety-nine percent of people will see the rapid weight loss," said board certified nurse practitioner Arlene Loeschen.

Loeschen works with weight loss patients and diabetics at the Wellness Associates of Katy. She says she has 1,000 patients on the hCG diet and 75 percent of them have lost weight.

"The hCG allows the body to get at stored body fat," Loeschen said.

Before giving it to her patients, she tested it herself.

"I did Atkins, I lost 40 pounds but it took year and half," Loeschen said. "The hCG was 20 pounds in five weeks."

hCG can get very complicated. It's not a human growth hormone, which is what some athletes are accused of using to enhance performance. It is also not FDA approved for weight loss so it can't be marketed that way. But it can be used off-label to help people lose.

Dr. Eric Wilson is a UTHealth bariatric surgeon, who says hCG may slightly increase the risk for blood clots.

"This is a hormone that's been studied in the past -- many, many years ago, and it didn't show any real results. And now it's being looked at all over again and we still don't have any strong results," he said.

But Ashburn is still losing weight.

"It makes me happy," she said.

The program is more than hCG and a diet. Ashburn says the weekly medical follow-ups have been part of her success.

"I feel more comfortable having someone monitor what I'm doing," Ashburn said.

The cost for the pharmaceutical grade hCG, blood work and medical visits is about $100 a week.

"You've got to scratch the whole word diet. It's got to be a lifestyle change," McGraw said.

McGraw has sent about a dozen friends to the clinic. He and Ashburn say hCG keeps them from feeling hungry, and with the fast weight loss it's made losing weight a little bit easier.

The diet doesn't end when you hit your goal. Foods are slowly added back and Loeschen calculates the calories, fat and carbs that you can eat and stay at your new weight so you don't have to lose the pounds all over again.

If you have questions about the hCG diet, contact the Wellness Associates of Katy at 281-647-9950.

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