Is the HCG Diet Safe? How it Damages your Thyroid & Metabolism

Is the HCG Diet Safe? How it Damages your Thyroid & Metabolism

Are you thinking about doing the HCG diet for weight loss?

If so you are probably wondering…

Is the HCG Diet safe?

Will it harm my metabolism?

Will it cause thyroid damage or make my thyroid function worse?

​And you are right to ask these questions before you undergo the treatment!

The truth is that the HCG diet can cause damage to both your metabolism and your thyroid function and I will explain it in this post.

As a physician, I’ve had the advantage of treating patients before, during, and after undergoing the HCG diet.

​I know that so many of you out there are desperate to lose weight and you’ll basically do anything to get there, but let me tell you this:

There is a better way to lose weight and it has nothing to do with the HCG diet. I will explain more about this in this article as well.

Let’s dive in…​

Why You Shouldn’t do the HCG Diet if you want to Lose Weight

The problem with weight loss is that we are using a flawed model.

Our current paradigm says that in order to lose weight you must decrease the number of calories you consume and exercise more.

Doing this will allow your body to enter a state of energy balance which will result in calories and fat being burned in the process.

This all sounds well and good, the problem is that it just doesn’t work.

If you don’t believe me then just take a look at the success rate of calorie-restricted diets (of which the HCG diet is most certainly a part).

The data show that approximately 98% of people fail to maintain long-term weight loss on diets such as these.

So that means 1 of two things:

1. We either need to eat even less or exercise even more…

2. Or, just maybe we really don’t understand the real reason why we both gain and lose weight

​I tend to focus on the latter. 

In this model weight gain is primarily driven by hormonal abnormalities, NOT excessive consumption of calories.

Now, this doesn’t mean that food isn’t important.

On the contrary.

You see food and calories are considered information and they directly have an impact on your hormones themselves.

So let’s say you eat lots of refined carbohydrates, sugars, pasta, and pastries and you gain 20+ pounds.

Our current paradigm would suggest that this gain was due primarily to the increased amount of calories you consumed.

And while that is certainly part of the problem, it doesn’t explain everything.

In reality, the excess calories contributed to high insulin levels which sent the signal to your body to store excess energy as fat. 

​This hormonal dysregulation causes weight gain and hormone imbalances that directly lead to weight gain. 

So how does this apply to the HCG Diet?

Well, the problem is that simply reducing calories may temporarily result in weight loss, but it does nothing to fix the hormone imbalance.

So what happens?

You get hit with a double whammy:

Not only do you gain ALL the weight back you lost (because you didn’t treat the primary problem).

You have now also caused some further hormone imbalances (metabolic and thyroid damage) in the process.

​The bottom line?

If you are considering the HCG Diet you need to take a step back and read through the rest of this article so you have a better idea of WHY you are actually overweight in order to understand how to treat it. ​


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The HCG Diet vs HCG The Hormone

​Before we talk about how the HCG diet can damage several hormones in your body we need to distinguish between the HCG diet and HCG the hormone. 

The HCG Diet is a calorie-restricted diet (to various levels) plain and simple. During the calorie restriction, patients use the hormone HCG to help boost weight loss in “hard-to-reach” places.

​Now compare that to the hormone:

The hormone HCG (which stands for human chorionic gonadotropin (1)) is secreted by pregnant women. 

​Now here is where things get interesting and why we need to differentiate between the two:

The ​HCG Diet is a calorie-restricted diet that will cause metabolic and hormone damage. 

Much of the bad name that the HCG Diet brings is wrongly associated with the hormone and it isn’t really fair.


Because HCG by itself is actually quite helpful.

Studies have shown that HCG the hormone, can actually help stimulate thyroid function (2) and actually increase thyroid hormone release (3). 

So now we are in kind of a pickle.

I just said that the HCG diet harms your thyroid, but that the HCG hormone itself actually can increase thyroid function.

This may explain why SOME (a small minority of patients) can actually go through the HCG diet without suffering major metabolic and thyroid damage.

This also probably explains why anyone with some baseline thyroid disorder that goes through the HCG Diet is left devastated.

​The point is this:

The HCG hormone itself has some uses as long as it is not paired with a chronic calorie-restricted diet.

In fact, I’ve used HCG by itself (without the diet portion) to help patients lose weight by boosting thyroid function and improving estrogen/progesterone levels. 

HCG can also be used safely to help improve fertility in both men and women (4) and it is an important part of male testosterone replacement therapy (to prevent testicular atrophy).  

The HCG Diet and Your Thyroid

​So now you may be asking:

What will happen to my thyroid if I undergo the HCG Diet?

First, you need to understand what the thyroid does and why it is so important. 

Your thyroid controls your metabolism and the amount of energy that you consume and burn at rest.

This is sometimes referred to as the resting energy expenditure (5) or the resting metabolic rate.

text which outlines the wikipedia definition of resting energy expenditure.

​The resting energy expenditure is the single most important factor for determining if you will lose weight and if you will keep it off. 

This amount of energy consumed represents the MAJORITY of calories burned throughout the entire day.

And no – you can’t sit on a treadmill and seriously burn 1,000 calories, your body doesn’t work that way (if it did none of us would be overweight). 

So the amount of energy you burn on a daily basis just thinking, breathing and living is what really determines how and if you will lose weight.

And what you need to understand is that the HCG Diet actually REDUCES this number and this is how it damages both your thyroid function and your metabolism. ​

As little as 21 days of consistent calorie restriction is enough to reduce your metabolism by up to 40%. You can find the studies here (6). 

a study with text highlighted which describes the relationship between energy intake, exercise, and their effect on resting metabolic rate.

What’s crazy is that we have known this since the ’90s.

Calorie restriction reduces your energy expenditure and your resting metabolism is what is responsible for the majority of weight loss maintenance.

So in a way you are basically shooting yourself in the foot when you reduce your calories hoping to lose weight.

You will lose some weight initially, but you will damage your metabolism in the process and then the weight will come right back on once you start eating normally.

​Now imagine doing this over and over again, each time your metabolism slows just a little bit. 

You went from burning 2,000 calories at rest to 1,800 after your first diet, then 1,600 after your second diet, then 1,400, etc., etc.

Now you are burning 1,000 calories at rest and the only way to even maintain your current weight is to eat that amount of calories.

Does this sound familiar?

This isn’t in your head, and you can actually measure the number of calories you burn at rest with a device known as indirect calorimetry.

Unfortunately just knowing your metabolism is damaged doesn’t tell you how to fix it, but we will touch on that later. 

HCG Side Effects

So what kind of OTHER side effects should you expect after undergoing the HCG Diet?

​We mentioned a couple above and we will go into detail on the others below. 

Negative side effects of the HCG Diet: ​

  • Damaged metabolism and metabolic function
  • Lower resting metabolic rate or resting energy expenditure
  • Damaged thyroid function with high reverse T3 and low free T3
  • Reduced progesterone levels lead to estrogen dominance
  • Reduced basal body temperature
  • Cold hands/extremities
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Depression, anxiety, or other mood-related changes

​As you may have noticed many of these side effects mimic symptoms of hypothyroidism (you can see the full list in this post). 

​And that is definitely true. 

Metabolic damage and low thyroid tend to go hand in hand and share many of the same symptoms.

In addition, calorie restriction of any kind will lead to some very characteristic symptoms like changes in skin texture, hair loss, etc.

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These occur as your body attempts to conserve energy for the more vital functions in the body and ​takes energy away from things that are less important or considered “cosmetic”. 

Now it’s important to realize that many of these symptoms are caused by the calorie restriction component NOT the HCG hormone itself.

They tend to get lumped together because both the Diet and the hormone are used together, but in reality, the side effects are quite different. 

As an aside, if you are using sublingual HCG drops all of your symptoms are due to calorie restriction and starvation NOT the hormone. 

The reason is that the sublingual HCG drops don’t actually get absorbed, so in effect, they are more like a placebo than anything else. 

​Below I’ve included some symptoms of the HCG hormone itself. 

Side effects of the HCG hormone shot:

  • Mood changes like anxiety or depression
  • Feelings of irritability or restlessness
  • Swelling of the extremities (typically lower legs and ankles)
  • Headaches or migraines (although symptoms HCG will get rid of these symptoms as well)
  • Other symptoms that mimic PMS or PMDD

​Now you might notice that many of these symptoms mimic symptoms you may experience with or around your cycle. 

And you would be correct because of how HCG works in the body.

In females, it can actually help stimulate ovulation and thus it may alter estrogen/progesterone levels leading to many of the symptoms above.

​This is why it can also be used to help reverse some of these problems and to improve fertility in certain patients. 

The HCG Diet, Thyroid Function, and Reverse T3

So what if you’ve already done the HCG diet once, twice, or even three times? What if you are experiencing many of the symptoms I mentioned above?

​The good news is that many of these symptoms can be treated. 

The damage from the HCG Diet hits the thyroid particularly hard, but it can be reversed and treated – but you have to know what you are looking for.

I’ve had the advantage of treating patients immediately after the HCG diet, during the HCG diet and I’ve seen the long-term effects of multiple rounds of the HCG diet as it relates to thyroid function.

Typically after the HCG diet, patients may have some or all of the following thyroid lab changes:

Below is an example of a patient who just recently underwent the HCG diet (30+ days in a row)…

lab tests results from a hypothyroid patient with an abnormal reverse T3 level highlighted.
lab test results from a thyroid patient showing a low normal sex hormone binding globulin.

You can see from this example the reverse T3 is very high at 41.1 and the sex hormone-binding globulin is low at 25. 

This means that the cells and tissues aren’t getting enough thyroid hormone. Period. 

You can read more about how to interpret thyroid lab results in this post

​If you have labs similar to the ones above AND you have symptoms of hypothyroidism then there is a VERY high chance you are suffering from thyroid damage. 

How to Actually Lose Weight

This is all well and good, but knowing this how do you actually go about losing weight?

The truth is that you have to make sure you are attacking the RIGHT problem.

The majority of weight gain and weight loss resistance is from hormone imbalances.

In most patients, especially if they’ve done any calorie-restricted diet in their life (most of you have!) then you are most likely suffering from thyroid resistance to some degree.

In addition, as many as 50% of you (based on statistics) also have insulin resistance.

The combination of these two hormone imbalances causes most of the weight gain you may be experiencing. 

I’ve compiled step-by-step case studies that you can go over below. All of the patients have some degree of hypothyroidism as well as weight loss resistance:

​Use these case studies to help you understand HOW to lose weight and notice how each patient has their own set of hormone abnormalities leading to weight loss resistance. 

What you need to remember is that each of you is quite different – which means that no two treatment plans will be the same.

What to do if you’ve Already Done the HCG Diet Multiple Times

If you’ve already done the HCG diet and you’ve been reading through this article then you fall into a special situation. 

Unfortunately, most patients don’t get to me until they’ve done considerable damage to both their thyroid and their metabolism, and the longer you go untreated the more difficult it is to reverse the problem.

But that is the point:

These problems CAN be reversed.

I’ve actually been able to treat people during the HCG diet and by giving them pure T3 I’ve been able to reduce many of the symptoms and prevent the majority of weight gain that many patients experience.

The single best thing you can do is to find a practitioner that is both willing to work with you and understands how hormones function in the body.

You don’t necessarily have to use pure T3 but some combination of medications that contains T3 may be necessary depending on how high your reverse T3 levels are. ​

In addition, you will most likely need to be tested for leptin resistance and treated if present as well. 

The next (and more difficult part) comes in treating your metabolism.

You can find helpful hints and tips on how to do this here.

The most important part?

STOP doing the diet and STOP calorie-restricting your body!

That will go a long way to fixing the problem. ​

Wrapping it up

The bottom line:

The HCG Diet can harm your metabolism and your thyroid function, ultimately leading to weight gain once you stop the diet.

The bigger problem is that the damage to your thyroid and metabolism is long-term (at least up to 6 years based on the biggest loser study (7)) and can be difficult to reverse.

If you are thinking about undergoing the HCG diet please read the risks carefully before you proceed.

I would also recommend a full hormone panel to determine WHY your body is actually gaining weight and then treating and reversing those problems. ​

Now it’s your turn:

Is your metabolism damaged after the HCG Diet?

Is your reverse T3 elevated as a result of calorie-restricted dieting?

Did the HCG Diet work for you? Why or why not?

Leave a comment below!​








6 reasons to avoid the hcg diet pinterest image.

picture of westin childs D.O. standing

About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 6 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

P.S. Here are 4 ways you can get more help right now:

#1. Get my free thyroid downloads, resources, and PDFs here.

#2. Need better symptom control? Check out my thyroid supplements.

#3. Sign up to receive 20% off your first order.

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78 thoughts on “Is the HCG Diet Safe? How it Damages your Thyroid & Metabolism”

  1. I did HCG 3 times, last time about 6 yrs ago. I am 60, 25 lbs overweight and cannot lose a pound. How do I reset? What plan of action do I follow?

    • Hey Joy,

      Unfortunately, treating a damaged metabolism takes a lot of time. We know from studies like the biggest loser study that metabolic damage persists for at least 6+ years (and probably longer). In order to get treated properly, you will need to find someone who understands what I’m referring to and knows how to use certain hormones to reverse the condition. General doctors like endocrinologists and PCP’s will not be able to help you with this condition.

      You can also learn more here:

      • Dr Child’s

        I have recently done the HCG diet ( 500) .. I know I have done damage by cutting my calories so low on this diet and others in the past . I would like try reverse dieting and bring my calories back up to a normal / stainable level . Would it be okay to use HCG injections to control my appetite as I add 100 calories per week to daily intake until I reach a healthy amount of daily calories ?

        Thanks !

    • I spent several years rotating on the Hcg diet. I now have several nodules in my thyroid and am facing possible removal. I am 59, 13 pounds overweight and I workout 4 to 7 days a week with both cardio and weights. How can I find a doctor in my area who understands what you outlined?

      • Hi Nancie,

        I wish I could help but all of the info here was self-taught so you will probably have to do some digging to find someone who thinks the same way.

    • The problem is this information is all fine and good but I’ve purchased the in depth program but without a doctor helping you all you’ll experience is overwhelm.
      Dr. Child’s you say to find a doctor who understands these things – hormone imbalance/weight gain thyroid treatment etc. You yourself know this is nearly impossible. It’s not as if there is a plethora of doctors willing to study this information or even listen if you bring it to their attention. I buy your supplements and I paid for your program but it’s all done me little good. Yes, your protein powder tastes good and all your thyroid supplements might help a little but there is no change with the underlying issues and there is no loss of weight. At least with HCG I can be thin for awhile. I think it’s a pity that you closed your practice to focus on your website and these articles. I want you to know from the patient side of things it’s not as helpful as you probably believe it is. Do you have answers for thyroid patients? Probably, but it’s too much for us to try to wade through and I’m no stranger to research. Your program has tons of different things to try if one part doesn’t work but it would literally take years to try all the combinations you suggest and trying to figure out what blood tests need done when feels haphazard without the guidance of a knowledgeable doctor. Also trying to decipher our own blood results is headache inducing. It puts an even greater burden on the thyroid patient. Unfortunately your decision not to take patients leave a lot of us without viable options. I’m sure you know this but you figure your helping more people with the articles. It’s just too bad. For me although I know you mean well, the information is not helpful.
      Respectfully, C. Davis

      • Hi C.,

        I know it can be very difficult to find a doctor to help with these things. But it does sound like you have a particularly challenging case as most people respond to the therapies that you’ve listed here. I would guess that you have either significant metabolic damage, a history of an eating disorder, or a genetic predisposition to develop hormone imbalances which are impeding your ability to lose weight and these things put you in the very complex category.

        I know this information can be complex and challenging to understand but I’d rather put something out than nothing. Especially since I know it has the potential to be helpful to certain people.

        • Dr. Childs I love that you put this out here for me. I have been through hell since I was 12 yrs old with thyroid issues.
          Because of your research I have been able to keep searching and found a wonderful doctor here is Texas, finally and I do mean finally. I took all me research to my new doctor and she is very greatful and practices what you do. Her passion is finding the problem and actually fixing it. After the recall of WP thyroid I am on compounded T4 and T3 capsules. Only 3 wks into this combo and feel good. Now to get this weight OFF. Im 66 now and appreciate you very much. I would like to know what to add for weight loss? I eat Aktins way lots of water too. God Bless you

  2. Pingback: HCG DIET: How I Lost 12 Pounds (And Developed A Cyst)
  3. I’ did a few rounds of HCG diet via injection. My last being 5 years ago. I got pregnant almost immediately after. Gained all the weight back plus 50 with pregnancy. 4 years after giving birth. I weigh the exact same as I did st 9 mo. Prego. Been keto for a year and still can’t lose the weight. Diagnosed sub clinical hypo. Tried elevated t3 but it was only for 2 weeks. Then another 2 weeks. Did nothing lots of $ for nothing. Wasn’t until this week that I connected the dots to HCG. I mean DUH! Of course it damaged my thyroid….now what!?!

  4. Hello Dr. Child’s,
    I would appreciate a referral for a doctor close or within driving distance to Leesville LA. I am a former hCG dieter and current postpartum hypothyroidism patient. I have suspicions that I am suffering from Hashimotos but remain undiagnosed. I was able to achieve balance again after my first child but have struggled once again after my second child. I am a military wife living abroad but am moving to LA in a couple of months and need to take back control of my life. My tests appear normal with Synthroid, but I have been unable to achieve weight loss even with lots of excercise and eating healthy. I am desperate for a change and

    • Hey Laura,

      Unfortunately I don’t know any physicians to refer you to that practice the way I outline on this blog. All of this is self taught, there is no institution that provides this type of training so you will have to find a physician who has spent time researching on their own.

  5. Hi Doctor Childs,

    I am a 58-year old woman and have done 6 rounds of HCG over the last three years and weigh now exactly what I weighed when I started (25 pounds overweight). My metabolism is now broken. I gain 2-10 pounds a month, just eating normally, mostly whole foods with very few sweets or simple carbs. It all started when I went off a high dose of topamax for migraines I developed at age 45 and then gained 10 pounds immediately. I have also had a very low T3 levels for all this time and have been told that it is not relevant. I am on 2 grains of ND and still have low T3. I now believe I am unable to convert T4 to T3. So I guess I need to find a Naturopath who can treat me properly – one of them started me on the HCG! – most keep giving me adrenal support to address the T3, not administering T3. I would consider signing up for your program but am concerned that you will not be treating me. Also, have you had success with someone like me?

    • Hi Sheila,

      It’s definitely still possible for you to have weight loss but it will be slower than normal due to how much metabolic damage you are probably suffering from. I have definitely had success with patients in your position in the past but often you need to get aggressive with certain treatments and in patients such as yourself that does often include T3 medication.

  6. What do you define as a calorie restricted diet? Is it 500 or less or can you be doing damage eating 1000-1500 per day and trying to lose weight at a slow pace? What if you are exercising daily? Where is the line? Obviously what you consume plays a big role in weight gain- but when are you messing with your hormones vs eating right and dropping a few?

    • Hi Denise,

      If you are restricting your diet below whatever your normal metabolic rate is and you do that for 21 consecutive days then you will most likely experience some metabolic damage.

      The degree of metabolic damage likely depends on the degree of suppression. So if you are consuming 500 calories per day you will experience more damage than someone who consumes 1200 calories per day.

      Because it’s not easy to assess metabolic function as a patient (without expensive testing) it can be difficult to determine what your “metabolism” is at and how much damage you’ve already experienced. Most patients have some idea that it is there due to their symptoms, but it can be hard to quantify.

  7. Well, I guess I would be in between… I tried it first time for 9 days. I did lose a pound or so each day… couldn’t take it any more so took a break. Then after a few days I started again but didn’t last too long…. it’s super boring with hardly any fat in it and food! so I kept attempting it again but I’d cheat and eat some cheese or whatever…. so I”ve lost about 16 lbs, but am not doing it right now, so maybe my weight is up, I have not weighed in 2 days. I saw this article and got scared. I still would like to lose more weight,30-40 lbs ideally. I try to be healthy,,, but I sometimes wonder what is going on my body that I am fat and I see some skinny people eat crap, like fast food and soda. I do not eat those and I don’t eat packaged food.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Each time you do the HCG diet you harm your metabolism a little bit more. Healing your metabolism may take years.

  8. Dr. Childs,
    I have kept off about 13-14 lbs. And not sure if I really lost 16 or not, you know scales vary day to day….I wanted to try the diet again, I lost 1 lb a day, some days 2 lbs.
    My sister did it off and on and lost about 45 lbs. She feels it helped her reset her metabolism. She said now she doesn’t gain weight back easily and has maintained her loss. I was thinking that too for me. I have never lost weight that easily and I’m not gaining it back….
    I don’t know what to think. How do I know? should I get the serum tests done first? I liked the diet. I have had stomach problems and am used to not eating a lot on some days, I would go all day without food because food made me feel worse, so eating so lightly was fairly easy at first but later I just wanted something with some fat or sugar!
    How am I to know what to do? I have tried other diets and I am not a fan of them.
    You say it harms us and others say it’s okay, like the guy who started it, the Italian doctor, I’m forgetting his name. I felt my metabolism was not great anyways, like maybe I was insulin resistant.
    How do I know who or what to believe? How do I know I didn’t do harm all these years with my stomach issues. I saw 5 doctors for my stomach, 4 of them stomach specialists and it took the 4th one to question my gallbladder, which turned out to be functioning low, so they removed it and I still had a lot of bloating, so that was not solved, now pain in the surgery area! ugh, I will never have another surgery if it’s not emergency.

    • Hi Kelly,

      The choice to undergo the diet is certainly up to you. My experience suggests that most people who do it will experience metabolic damage but there will always be SOME patients who it works very well for. These patients are usually the ones urging other people to do it which is why the diet has been around for so long – at least that is my theory.

      You may be one of the lucky few that it works for, but in my opinion there are great ways to lose weight that don’t carry the same risk so I recommend those options to patients.

  9. Dr. Childs, I meant to ask you , shall I ask my doctor to test for all the things you mention in your blog? I mean, we would need to know which imbalances I have right?

    thank you

      • What about protein shake diet to shock the metabolism total calorie per day 600 . ,after age 58 female with synthroud medication? Does that damage metabolism?

  10. Dear Dr. Childs,
    I was very glad to come across your forum. Like all the other readers here, I did about 3 rounds of hcg in 2011, 2012 and 2013. I had to quit because maintaining the weigt loss became an unhealthy obsession. It consumed me. I was going crazy about not gaining more than 2 lbs that I completely stopped eating with other people so I will not get tempted. And if I do eat, I immediately fasted the day after. I decided to stop using hcg and gained back the 30 lbs I lost. Now, I can’t lose weight, my belly is huge and hanging and I gain weight so fast even if I watch what I eat and exercise. I know you don’t make recommendations but surely you can tell me what kind of doctor to look for so I could get help. Should I gp to a naturopath? If you were here in Georgia (near Atlanta) I’d see you tomorrow but you’re not here. Where will I get help?

    • Hi Faye,

      I honestly don’t have anyone to refer you to or I would happily do so. The issue is that what you are experiencing is not recognized (despite it being obvious and real) by conventional physicians and not in their training, so as a result the only way to find someone who understands how to treat the problem is to find someone who has spent the time and research to teach themselves (this is quite rare).

  11. I did the HCG 500 calorie diet with my Dr for 9 months in 2010-2011. I lost 100 pounds. After 30 years I quit smoking cold turkey with untreated anxiety. I was 4 weeks into maintenance not the 6 weeks. I began to eat like crazy and gained it back. I started back to yoga and zumba 5 x’s a week but soon I had too many aches and pains to continue. It took several years to get any answers. It started with high white blood count for the first 3 years or so. Now I am dignosed with severe sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic dry eye, sinus and ear problems besides the chronic bronchitis and allergies I already had. My daughter did the 21 day twice. She has developed food sensitivity and has unexplained seizures. My husband believes the diet messed up both up.

    • Hi Dana,

      I can’t think of a mechanism whereby the HCG diet would lead to seizures, but the HCG diet certainly leads to metabolic damage which may result in weight gain and other symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  12. Hi there,I was on the hcg diet for 12 weeks 4 years ago,dropped from 82 kg to 62 in 12 weeks……a couple of months after stopping I felt tired,suicidal and just ready to die! After numerous doctors they found out I had Hashimotos and as a result,hypothyroidism….
    I am now on levothyroxin 100ug daily and my weight keeps going up.
    Is this because of the hcg diet that I am now hypo? I still have hair loss,low libido,slugish and my overall well being is not as it should be…..I am from South Africa and all they do is take a TSH bloodtest,if it is in range,you are fine,nevermind the way I feel….I need help seeing as I want to feel human again….( Ps…the HCG diet was free in a contest a slimming clinic held,they choose participants and never told us about the dangers,just how good it works for loosing weight)

    • Hi Deidre,

      The HCG diet may impair thyroid function through the mechanisms mentioned in this article, but I am unaware of a link to Hashimoto’s.

  13. HI Dr. Childs,

    Can you name the tests you are talking about so I can ask m ydoctor to run these tests? Also, what about the use of metformin to loose weight?

  14. Finally someone saying what I’ve known and had to conclude on my own over the past 2 years! I did the HCG diet 3 years ago for my wedding. I lost about 40 pounds and kept it off for half of a year by basically not eating. When I finally got tired of starving, I gained not only the 40 back, but an extra 20 with it, without eating excessively. I exercise several times a week, eat a decent, not perfect, diet. But nothing that warrants 190 pounds. I just recently got my hormones checked and am getting on track, but I definitely blame my decision to partake in the HCG diet for my current weight predicament.

    • Hi Kristin,

      I’m glad you are figuring things out for yourself! You are in a great position as a PA to help others as well, since most patients will be blown off by conventional physicians. Good luck in your journey and keep us updated.

    • These are my words exactly . Like 90% of these posts I’ve experienced the same disbelief and frustration and confusion about the return weight gain despite eating clean and exercising religiously . My HCG experience came about the same time I had gained 30 lbs with the arrival of premenopause and menopause , a course of about 2 years …without even realizing what had happened. HCG was the only thing that worked and like magic . But I was always dumbfounded when the weight steadily came back on at the same fast rate it had come off . It wasn’t until moving to I left the USA and moved to Europe that I learned it’s not sold here and customs intercepts such things that I had to go without this “miracle “ of HCG. I figured my body would need the break anyway and return to normal . It’s been 2.5 years of careful organic miserly eating and long forest hikes , but i gained more than another 20lbs. On top of The regained 35 lbs I had previously lost with HCG . Had my thyroid tested with ultrasound by an endocrinology specialist and found two nodules – which he insists is not the culprit of my weight gain . I’ve since spent the past few months researching natural remedies for hormone imbalance ( from HCG and menopause ) and discontinued my Biodentical hormone creams which exacerbated the problem with weight . Then I discovered Maca root powder from Peru which supports your adrenals so they in turn can help balance the hormones . I also joined a gym again with focus on circuit training . I’m careful not to do the strenuous stuff like I did in the old days which raises cortisol levels . I also take natural antinflammatories like fresh ginger root and turmeric capsules and avoid dairy ( except goat cheese and kefir ). Things are turning around already . This article by dr . Childs is a turning point for me which I only stumbled upon while searching for HCG ! Now I am convinced the problems were not in my head and I won’t take it anymore . My advice is to eat clean and do more weight training geared exercise of not more than 45 minutes to an hour 4 x a week and research Maca root from Peru and try it along with ashwanghanda and other things to balance hormones . Google is amazing – you just need to ask the right questions and keep ok it and try to still enjoy life while you are going thru this difficult “recovery “ period .

  15. Dear Dr Childs,

    I want to visit your office please, is your office in LA?, about 4 years ago, I had the HGC then after a year I took it again, I lost about 30 pounds, but after 6 months I was diagnosed with Calcium Cells in my breast that have cancer cells, then was removed by surgery following mild radiation.
    I am not sure if the hoc has the cause of the calcium cell, so I stopped taking it again. In your opinion, can I take the HGC again or is there other diets bills that can help me shed some of the deposit fat?,

    Please advise!



  16. I am glad I came across this post. I was actually using hcg drops to help in weight loss but more importantly level out my hormone roller coaster.
    I an supposed to get my thyroid tested now due to some issues with my period and that I am struggling to keep from gaining weight. I am also tired all the time and noticed a decrease in my sex drive. I live in Lancaster, pa and am wondering if you can recommend any one for me in the area.

    • Hi Nichole,

      Unfortunately I don’t know anyone in that area. I do think it’s a good idea to get your thyroid evaluated after the HCG diet, however.

  17. What if someone I know who is already with hypothyroidism, has her thyroid completely removed and undergoing HCG diet along with HCG drops. What most likely will happen to her?

    • Hi JC,

      This person would most likely make their thyroid function worse, and make losing weight in the future very difficult. It’s also worth pointing out that HCG drops don’t work because they aren’t actually absorbed, so taking the drops is akin to taking placebo.

  18. Dr. Westin,

    Is it true that by taking synthetic T3 only, it can create too much of a chance of overriding endogenous regulatory mechanism (negative feedback). Possibly having to be on it always? Is NDT better?

    • Hi Antionette,

      I’ve never seen anyone suppress their TSH to the point that it doesn’t rebound back after stopping medication (assuming they have some native thyroid function to begin with), but I certainly wouldn’t recommend using very high doses for weight loss as that will cause problems.

      If you use the medication intelligently then you shouldn’t have those issues.

  19. Thank you for this article. After finding it, I read your blog posts and watched your videos. I have long-thought I have had metabolic damage but have had no proof other than I am gaining weight no matter what I do. I have done the hcg diet 5 times, but that was only because despite perfectly following any given diet, I could not lose, and I lost every time on hcg. I know the hcg diet is not the answer, so I have not done the hcg diet in 2 1/2 years, but, as I feared, I have to date gained 40# and there is no end in sight. I have done my own research, seen so many dr’s, conventional and functional, spent way too much money, and still have no answers.
    My blood tests show my t3 and t4 at the bottom end of the normal range (according to your standards, TSH is not abnormal, Rt3 is not high, and SHBG is actually high, not low). I test my own blood sugar at home often and it is always between 80-95. The only thing I do not know is my leptin level. In the past I did try cytomel and synthroid (natural thyroid did not work) which brought my t3 and t4 numbers back in the top of the range, but no change in symptoms, plus I was jittery, so I know thyroid isn’t the heart of the issue. Currently I’m on mo meds, just a ton of supplements, which I’m sick of. I’ve perfectly followed every diet and exercise protocol I’ve tried and I’m to the point now where the thought of trying yet another plan is exhausting. I’ve been fervently trying to find the answer for years now and I just want hope. Do you have any suggestions?

  20. Doctor,

    I was told by my endocrinologist to begin the HCG diet. My mother, too. She has been fine but I am very hesitant about beginning. Is my doctor wrong?

  21. Hi Dr Childs

    I am concerned about my friend who has been losing a lot of weight from the HCG diet. She looked skin and bone when I saw her recently. She doesn’t want to eat when I meet her for lunch. She only drinks a short black coffee and a pot of tea because of the diet. She now weights 55kg. I thought she has a eating disorder when I saw her but I cannot tell her that.

    I have been looking up the HCG diet on the internet and I am not impressed by this diet.

    She tells me that she will exercise a lot and eat healthy as long as the clothes still fit her.

    How can the metabolism be reversed?

  22. Hi Dr. Childs – Can you recommend a place to go to get treated? I have done the HCG diet 5 times (3 times 5 years ago, and 2 times last year). I am now 50 pounds over my starting weight (and 80 pounds over my ideal weight). Wow, those numbers!! I’m in Minneapolis, MN, and have no idea where to start. Thank you so much.

  23. I have used HCG with great success. I felt better than ever while using it. I have always had a “slow” metabolism. The only time I was able to manage my weight was while I was pregnant (last time was 27 years ago). I am keeping the weight off by daily weigh in and maintaining a very low carbohydrate, not too much fat diet.

    • Hi Marilyn,

      HCG is different from the HCG diet. I do agree that HCG can be used very effectively, but it can become damaging when calorie restriction is added.

  24. I am 58 and just started the Hcg shots 9 days ago. After reading all the posts etc, I am now a little scared to stay on the shots, but everyone tells me not to suddenly just stop in the middle. SO what do I do now? Continue for another 2 weeks w/ the 500 calorie diet or go into Phase 3 today? I only wanted to lose 12 lbs and already lost 8 1/2.
    Please advise me as soon as you can. Thank you so much.

  25. I’m in the same situation and have been terrified. I have done the HCG diet through a plastic surgeon’s office 4 times in the past 6 years. Each time I lose about 25-30 pounds and I’m very happy, but I always gain it back due to returning to bad habits. Last February I did the HCG diet again and went from 155 lbs down to about 122 lbs. I then completely changed my entire lifestyle and eating habits. I went all organic, very low-fat, low low carbs, lots of fat-free Greek yogurt, grain-free granola and pure stevia. I have been so dedicated and kept the weight off for nearly a year. Then suddenly about 4 months ago I started gaining without making any diet changes. I have now gained and am back up to 148 lbs. I’m scared and don’t know what to do next. Help!

  26. I had bariatric surgery 7 years ago. I just started HCG diet and injections. I am scared after reading about the dangers.I am only on day 3 should I stop or continue? I return to doctors in 4 days. Please advise as soon as possible Thank you.

    • Hi Donna,

      I can’t give you medical advice but I can tell you that I wouldn’t recommend the HCG diet to anyone in my family.

  27. Dr. Childs,
    I was just about to order HCG.
    My doctor recommended it to me however I was not planning to do the calorie restriction, just the hormone. Do you think that would be helpful to lose weight? I have Hashimotos, and Leptin Resistance, but as far as I can tell not insulin resistance (insulin and glucose tests are always normal). I practically begged my doctor for Saxenda, but he won’t prescribe it and recommended HCG. I know Leptin is my problem (probably along with perimenopausal hormone changes). I’m on the “Leptin Diet” (3 meals/day, no snacking, protein breakfast, no eating after dinner, etc…)
    I just can’t lose weight, and I have about 50 lbs that need to go!
    Do you think just taking the HCG hormone would be helpful in any way, or am I wasting my money and hope?

  28. Can HCG hormones help to lose weight independently from the calorie restricted diet? My diet is very good, and overeating and hunger are not problems for me. I have hashimotos, and leptin resistance, and I’m in perimenopause… the trifecta of fat. I’m on AIP for the hashi, trying to follow an eating plan for the leptin (protein breakfast, no snacking, etc) but I need help to jumpstart my system to lose weight. Wondering if HCG is it… Or MIC??? I also had someone suggest that to me.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Adel,

      Attempting to lose weight with calorie restriction will always damage your metabolism and lead to weight gain. Hcg has other properties that may potentially help some people with weight loss if used correctly (without ‘dieting’).

      • Well, I tried the HCG, without the calorie restriction. It did nothing.
        I tried it for a few days with calorie restriction and I lost a couple of pounds, although I was starving!
        I didn’t feel good. I went back to eating normally. I refuse to believe that I just have to live like this. I wish there were real help.

        • Hi Adel,

          You need the calorie restriction but the way I recommend it is not the traditional calorie restriction of 500-1,000 calories per day. There is real help, it’s just vastly different from what most people think and takes time, energy, and some trial and error. HCG can definitely help but there are MUCH better weight loss therapies available. Also, most people who have done the HCG diet in the past have severe metabolic damage which takes months to years to correct. Each time you calorie restrict (the wrong way) you cause metabolic damage which makes future weight loss very difficult. That’s why I write these articles to try and help people prevent the damage from occurring.

  29. Hi I have started the HCG diet last Wednesday. All good until today. I am feeling very strange and scary for few seconds like I am going to faint and I have no energy in the body at all. Very scary. Should I stop this diet??? I am 61 year old and did this diet before without this total loss of energy and scary feeling for few seconds
    Your advice???

    • Hi Antonija,

      Unfortunately, I can’t give you medical advice but you should discuss that with the doctor who started you on the HCG. I don’t recommend the HCG diet because it can damage your thyroid gland and other hormones in your body.

  30. I have been reading All of the information you have written about hypothyroidism, reverse T3, and leptin. Sadly I did the HCG diet cyclically over 8 years, several times per year as I was assured by the prescribing naturopath that it was harmless and I could do it as much as I wanted. Fast forward to today… I have a leptin level of 3, normal Tsh, normal t4 low t3… I cannot lose weight despite exercise and meal plan that was implemented by a trainer who knows what she is doing. Her recommendation was to find an endo which I did only to be dismissed.. saying nothing can be done about leptin, refused to rx Cytomel, sent me out with 25mcg levothyroxine… I need some serious help because I just continue to gain weight unless I eat around 1300 cal or less a day… I am trying to find a functional medicine Md … I am in a tough spot and need some guidance. I am taking the recommended supplements, hoping to get my MD to order a reverse t3 and then …. go it alone with trying to buy Cytomel online and figure out dosing..if my t3 and reverse t3 conversion is off… feeling desperate to fix this after 2 years off the diet…thoughts?

  31. So, if I purchase your program will you tell me how to use the HCG correctly?
    I believe my doctor will allow me to get a prescription, but I have gained about 16 lbs in the last year with rT3 high….we have gotten that down by using only T3, but I haven’t lost any weight and still feel very tired in the afternoon. I have always lifted weights, but back off the aerobics and I have a clean diet. I have also been taking LDN for the past 3 weeks 3mcg, but I’m allowed to go up to 4.5

    • Hi Tracey,

      Yes, the program includes advanced information including dosing for hCG and other medications which can be used for weight loss. If you have a doctor willing to work with you (and several hours/days to dig into the information yourself) then you should be in a good spot.

  32. I have a comment and a question as I was recently tempted to began a HCG diet. After being diagnosed with DCIS I abruptly stopped my HRT and within a year despite being slim, I am developing a flabby belly like I never had before. I have not changed my caloric intake and have only gained about 5 pounds–so far. This rapid change is very upsetting and when I see it I think about apple shaped old ladies and I do not want to become like one of them.

    I do not have diabetes and try to get at least an hour of moderate exercise daily. I’m euthyroid with Hasimotos too and am awaiting the results of a saliva cortisol test.

    I also have been taking your berberine with no results. So what should I do next?

    • Hi Nancy,

      I would look at your thyroid lab tests to make sure they are optimal with emphasis on free T3 and total T3. I would also check your leptin level and estrogen/progesterone levels. You will most likely find your problem in those places.

      • Thank you Dr. Childs, I so appreciate the little medical hints as I am not quite getting similar from my conventional doctors!

        Now regarding estrogen/progesterone levels; my DCIS is near 100% ER+, PR+ and so my oncologist probably wants both to be as low as possible. I know my estrogen is very low because I am having horrible problems with day and night sweats. I’m in menopause if you haven’t already guessed. I turned down aromatase inhibitors and can’t take Tamoxifen (Leiden V Factor), so is there another way to balance them? Or just write them off ?

        As far as leptin levels go, I doubt I can convince my doc to order the test and I looked up ways to lower it and I seem to be doing all of the recommended things (clean diet, exercise, fiber, lowering triglycerides, higher protein etc.). Only my sleep with night sweats is suffering. I’ve looked up all the drugs used to treat it, but have found they are not so effective, or come with lots of side effects and I’m VERY predisposed to side effects. Anyway, I prefer to do it ‘naturally’ if possible. Any suggestions for what else may help with leptin regulation?

        That leaves T3. I have recently switched from levothyroxine to NP Thyroid (to see if I could get some T3 into my system), but must begin titrating again and so my current dose is very low. My endocrinologist is disinclined to order anything excepting a TSH now–no T4 with NP use. Regardless, I too suspect it might be conversion problems. (Unknowingly) I have cobbled together a collection of supplements which fairly closely resembles you T3 conversion product.

        Now, my biggest problem is ongoing fatigue. Just got my cortisol tests back, two night saliva tests and both are well within the normal range (30 and 60 with reference being under 100).

        Besides being born with Ehlers-Danlos and all its issues, the symptom which bothers me the most is fatigue–unrelenting fatigue. Even the mighty Stanford can’t figure it out!

        I’m sorry that I’m kind of picking your brain, but I think you have a lot of experience in dealing with people like me and have offered up places to look where no one else has. I realize that you cannot diagnose people from e-mails, but do you have any other ideas on where I might look to help my fatigue? I already have checked the low hanging fruit (anemias, diabetes, depression, etc. and all seem to be O.K.) So what now?

        Any crumbs are appreciated so thank you in advance…

    • Hi Barbara,

      Intermittent fasting, if done correctly, is amazing 🙂 There are a ton of wrong and unhelpful ways to do it, though, which can render it ineffective for thyroid patients.

  33. Hi, I haven’t done the HCG diet, but what I did follow was a very low calorie restricted shakes diet (soya based). I lost a lot of weight at the time but it resulted in thyroid damage. I am now on thyroxine and my levels are always on the high side but I have symptoms of low thyroid, weight gain, feeling cold, tired, hair loss etc. but cannot get anything out of my GP as my TSH and T4 are always okay. I have now put on over 30lbs recently and cannot lose it, no matter how hard I try. Reading your article on the HCG diet makes me think I have the same problem. Is there anything I can do?


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