The hCG diet combines a pregnancy hormone with very low calories. Here's a tour of the menu
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The hCG diet has touched off a fiery debate. Devotees say it's the key to fast weight loss; medical experts contend it could be dangerous because it limits dieters to 500 calories a day, less than a third of the amount recommended by the government for both men and women. "Restricting your intake to 500 calories a day isn't healthy," says Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The other part of the diet is daily drops or injections of the pregnancy hormone hCG, which supposedly accelerates weight loss by suppressing appetite and "blasting" fat. Nutrition specialists are skeptical. They question whether the hCG hormone shuts down hunger pangs or whether weight loss is simply the result of an extremely restrictive diet. "If you don't eat, you'll lose weight," says Cohen, "but it's not a practical, sustainable, or safe method." The usual menu is the one outlined in 1954 by the diet's creator, A.T.W. Simeons, in Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity. Here's a peek at what breakfast, lunch, and dinner look like on the hCG diet.