Last Week’s Question was so vigorously debated that it took time to follow the threads through the emails that make up the expert commentary we bring to you each week.  Here is what we asked and the information about a product that is in all the headlines right now, completely unedited and as it came into to us.

The hCG Diet is making a lot of headlines in the news. Some people are calling it a weight loss miracle, while others are calling it a scam. Where do you stand on the hCG Diet?

Are there any other products, good or bad that may have claims you want to endorse or discredit?

Tracy Gramer March 14 at 4:34pm
I actually have a client who’s been on this for less than two weeks and has lost 10lbs. Honestly! For me to say that, as a trainer, it’s absolutely true. Doesn’t help my business! You have to eat a very strict diet and watch your caloric burning amount. Yes, that means burn less calories for once in our lives! 🙂 I’m sure the diet has a little to do with the weight loss, because it’s so strict, but I can clearly see just bodyfat coming off…and fast! I would say a good kick start supplement, but don’t stay on anything too long unless you know EXACTLY what you’re doing. Even then, cycle your supplements properly – click here for info.
Bonnie Talley Pfiester March 14 at 6:04pm

Personally, although I only have a few clients that have done this diet and I am not a promoter myself, I am concerned when someone is limited to 500 calories a day (see link to the HCG page). Don’t get me wrong, I know very little about this diet, but the little my clients did tell me raised red flags and one of my client’s doctor made her go off it (and I agreed).

People are impatient, which is the first problem. There is no room for impatience in the world of health, diet and fitness.
Yes, I do not doubt people are losing weight, but I’d rather someone lose body fat slowly, but permanently, than have someone lose, which hCG says you should expect as, 1-2lbs a day. That’s scary.

Also, when someone eats this few of calories, they tend to lose muscle mass, which could result in a flabby skinnier person. We have a machine that tracks this very accurately so I know for a fact when people lose muscle while dieting. I’d rather use those extra calories to help sculpt and tone muscle while losing body fat by reducing calories by allowing 1200-1500 calories a day (for a female) which is industry standards for most brand name diets.

According to this page diet (link below) seems to give you 4 choices of foods for lunch and dinner. When we teach people how to eat healthy and lose weight in our BCx Boot Camp program, we give people a caloric budget and they get to eat the foods they like as long as it fits their budget. This type of lifestyle can be maintained for life – but when someone has limited options and is on an extreme diet, in my opinion, it sets them up for getting completely tired of it and bingeing.

Although I don’t believe it is promoted to do for life, I have found when clients get on strict diets they are either “OFF” or “ON” that diet and never learn how to MAINTAIN. We teach people how to eat so they are never really on or off – it’s just a new way of life. This comes with a lot of education, which most people don’t want to go through because it takes thought, time and energy. BUT, they no longer have to rely on diet fads, a list of dos and don’ts or supplements to get results. They are now relying on the foundation of knowledge – and that lasts forever.


ABC affiliate KSPR recently interviewed a Springfield, Missouri doctor who cautioned “It’s a way to lose weight; you do dramatically reduce weight,” BUUUUUUUUT Dr. James Bonucchi explains, “not because of the hormone-because you’re STARVING YOURSELF and paying the price for the rest of your life… (there are) problems with hair loss, some irreversible hair-loss. Now, I need some hair loss prevention treatment to address my problem. I see in my clinic problems with thyroid function tests being abnormal,” Bonucchi says the hormone is not only ineffective- “HCG does not replace any nutrients in the body”- he also says it’s dangerous. “Outside of pregnancy it can alter thyroid function, it can alter a woman’s ovulatory cycle. In a man it can alter testosterone production which will eventually lead to the use of Low T gel.”

All in all, in my personal opinion, it is advised you see your family practice doctor and get their input on whether this diet is for you – and don’t rely on your trainer’s advise or some sales pitch alone.

Bonnie 🙂
The original hCG Diet Protocol including an overview of the 500 calorie a day diet by Dr. Simeons – Pounds and Inches
Yogini Valarie Devi March 14 at 6:50pm

HCG is “human chorionic gonadotropin” which is a hormone produced in pregnancy, made by the developing embryo.

Other than the idea of ingesting such a substance, it was originally meant to treat endocrine disorders.

Because its an endocrine medicine, the ingredients in the hCG weight loss products are greatly diluted, amounting to a homeophathic dose – and the more reputably products will list it as “homeopathic hCG”. Or, it only contains trace amounts of hCG, so is mostly some other herb or chemical to create bulk.

Again, if this is not bad enough, the ONLY way for this embryo hormone to work is that one eats a 500 calorie a day diet. As such, why buy a pill to voluntarily starve yourself? Which is what one is doing on the ‘diet’ .. starving themselves .. because studies have already shown that hCG does NOT promote weight loss or fat redistribution or reduce hunger pangs.

Then, the recommended diet here is a “high protein, low-carbohydrate/fat” one, which is the same as the Atkins Diet – whose founder, notably, died of a heart attack. Eating a pound of bacon a day is not a weight loss method.

Otherwise, I do not advocate any DIET. They are pointless and, as in the case above, dangerous.

Lifestyle change is the only way to effectively lose weight, get in shape, and stay that way. Yet, too few want to actually change their life or their style, so diets are what they try time and again. Think about it, why is the word “yo-yo” often used to describe what happens on a “diet”?

Change your thoughts about who you are and what you want to accomplish, which begins with a bodytype analysis to determine the best foods for you. Then, exercise every day, eat wholesome food, drink pure water, laugh and love .. these are the keys to lifelong health and fitness.

Be Well!
Yogini Valarie Devi

Tracy Gramer March 14 at 7:07pm
I agree completely! I never advise my clients to do anything so drastic. I don’t even go that low in calories for my fitness shows. I figured the caloric intake had a lot to do with her results. I also know that I can tell them what to do and recommend things until I’m blue in the face…and they may just do what they want anyways. Better I know, than behind my back. Then I’m stuck with someone passing out on me! UGH! It’s like taking water pills….you’ll lose that water (and possibly up to 10+ pounds pretty quick) but you’ll gain it back faster than you can say bloated as soon as you’re drinking your daily intake again and without the diuretic’s support….and if you bring sodium back in, forget about it! LOL! I was sharing what I’ve seen with this first hand. It works, but you need to be on a regular fitness and nutrition program, consistantly, to have a successful healthy lifestyle:)
Tracy Gramer March 14 at 7:46pm
I’m sorry Bonnie, but I believe that people CAN ask their trainers for advise. Doctors are great…but trainers these days know a tremendous amount as well. I believe that some doctors don’t understand protein intake as used to produce more muscle. I get the whole Atkin’s downfall…I do, and I’m not talking about ALL protein…but I do know that a certain amount of grams are needed for an individual with a goal to gain lean muscle mass. There’s no getting around it. Not all of we trainers want to, or need to, “sell” anything by using a pitch either. This is obviously not the healthiest route AT ALL…but again, people ARE going to try it, and hopefully see for themselves that it’s not the best option. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and as much as I’d like to have all my client’s in amazing shape, following everything I tell them, hit and exceed all their weekly goals, etc, etc, etc….it’s not realistic for everyone. Some….but not all. Not that I don’t do my job… I literally unlock doors, decode alarms, and wake people up at their house to get them going. Changing their babies and all! So I understand their lazy, can’t even dress themselves sometimes, want it now mentality like no other. LOL! Oh boy, do I know! My point is…when asked how this supplement works, I’m going to share what I’ve seen and heard, because no matter what health risks we share and warn/scare the crap out of them with, they’re going to do it anyways just to see. All I can do is keep instilling and practicing good habits with them….AND if THEY choose to use a supplement against my wishes….then I’m sure as hell going to make sure they use it properly. Sounds hypocritical to some…I call it working with different characters that sometimes need to see things for themselves and realize it’s not worth it. I warn women about thyroid issues more than I wash my hands….and they still continue to destroy it through supplementation or ignoring it all together when it could be working against their bodies. In addition to the hCG, let’s just say my client is not feeling a lot of energy (think a week out from competition during carb depletion)….so I’m positive she won’t be doing this again. Then I get to hear those magic words…..”You were right”. Sorry if we have different opinions…I respect fellow trainers much more than the average trainer respects each other. Lots of egos in this line of work, and I believe we all have something to offer. I guess that makes me the trainer that will work with extreme cases if need be. Thanks for all the education as well. You seem like very intelligent people. I’m no genius, but I do know how to work well with my clients and keep them consistant:)
Shari Fitness March 14 at 9:00pm

Well, you know where I stand on this issue with regard to the VLOG I did on this with Will Brink.

Keeping this in its most simplistic terms, the hCG is nothing more than the latest weight loss scam in the industry and has unfortunately, been legitimized by a recent show Dr. Oz did on this subject. Dr. Oz was “called out” by Yoni Freedhoff in a recent article ( and rightly so.

This industry has its ugly side where it prays on people’s weight loss frustrations and the instant gratification society we have become. There are many intelligent people who consciously “know better”, yet, it is the subconscious mind wanting the quick fix that takes over common sense.

We’ve all been preaching the same message. Health and fitness is a lifestyle and when you live a healthy lifestyle (which includes nourishing your body with foods that contribute to your health along with regular exercise), you will, over time, lose weight, improve your health, look great and feel great. The problem is, people expect everything to happen overnight.

I always tell people “You didn’t wake up one morning to discover that over night you gained weight, yet, you expect to wake up tomorrow morning expecting to be 20 pounds lighter over night”.

The subliminal message that is fed to people day in, day out is that you can lose weight, look great, and feel great over night just by hitting the “easy” button. We all know it doesn’t work that way, but the subconscious mind takes over leading people to make irrational decisions.

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff”s obesity medicine take on health, weight loss and life in general
Tracy Gramer March 14 at 9:26pm
You are so right about the industry preying on people’s weight loss frustrations. One of my client’s and I have discussed how nice it would be if all the money that fads made were put into parks, trails, tennis courts, etc. THAT’S what we need to make the “fad” for us and our kids. Good ole’ exercise!
Bonnie Talley Pfiester March 15 at 8:14am

Oh Tracy, I’m sorry if it looked like I was going against your input. …and I do agree that clients can ask their trainers – IF THEY ARE LIKE YOU. The problem is, most trainers are not that knowledgeable, and sadly, even more really don’t care. I think all of us here care more than the average or we wouldn’t be volunteering our time to answer questions like this to help more people. Personally, even with my 16 years of experience, I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving my client advise on a physician diet as I don’t feel even I am qualified. I can give my personal opinion, but like I normally do, I tell them to see their personal physician first so they can weigh the risks and options.

I was just writing to the general public (as a response to the question) because as you well know, many trainers go to a weekend course and act like they know more than a doctor.

And I TOTally agree with you about many doctors not having a CLUE about fitness. I had a plastic surgeon once tell me there was nothing you could do about cellulite. haha! I’ve got a few hundred clients could tell them exactly how to lose it! ha! 🙂

Thanks to all of you who are so helpful in getting people fit. We are all in this together! 🙂


Bonnie Talley Pfiester March 15 at 8:16am
SHARI – by the way it’s good to see ya!! :)) I so agree with you. We are such impatient people and there is just no room for impatience in diet and fitness – and big & companies rely on our impatience to sell their products. One thing I’ve found is every person who tries a fad diet, always comes back to the basics. It’s only human nature to try the shortcuts first. My mom did it! She tried pills, acupuncture, all diet fads, etc ….and FINALLY decided to do it right and lost 100lbs the slowly but surely way! :)))
Heather Frey March 15 at 1:56pm

Absolutely agree with you Shari. A scam preying on desperation.

– (My short answer) –

When people ask me about this, or any other “diet” or “lose weight fast!” scheme, I ask them, “Does it teach you how to eat? Does it teach you how to workout? Because that’s what got you in here in the first place.” These schemes are unrealistic, unsustainable and often dangerous. Can you lose weight? Sure, you’re restricting calories. But the second you go back to real food and real life, so does the weight. There is no *fast*, and no magic to health and fitness. It’s food and movement. Period.

Shari Fitness March 15 at 7:27pm
Hi Bonnie
Good to see you too! I’ve been contributing to this series since week 1 and have been enjoying it. 


Yes, people are very impatient. Not just with weight loss, but with everything. It’s all part of the instant world we live in and people have become conditioned to instantly having everything at their finger tips. At the end of the day, it’s not rocket science. Eat real foods that are nutrient rich, exercise consistently, don’t smoke, etc…

Don’t know if you all caught the VLOG I did with Will Brink, but I can tell you that it has certainly gotten a lot of views and got quite a conversation happening on Facebook.

Honestly, I think it’s great that we’re all talking about this and that Damon will be providing our collective opinions on this topic.

Bonnie Talley Pfiester March 15 at 7:41pm
I’ll have to go check it out!! It’s great to see you & to stay connected Shari! :))
Debbie Barker March 15 at 8:51pm
Looks like all of you have covered this subject very nicely! I don’t have a thing to add!! It’s so true that everyone wants a quick fix instead of trying to make lasting health changes in what they eat & how active they need to be. I once had a client that drank 6 cokes a day. I asked her to drink 5 cokes & 1 water each day. She & I considered it a success when she did that for 30 days. I like helping people do one step at a time & feel successful.
Susie Torres says:
That is where I stand…For Long Term weight loss, it has to be viewed as a LIFESTYLE.  Sure, quick fad diets work for the short-term, however, as soon as you return to your old eating habits, the weight comes back plus MORE!
Don’t give in.  Good nutrition and a sound exercise plan is key.  Consistency is KING!
Susie Torres
Dream IT, Believe IT, ACHIEVE IT!!!
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