IS THE HCG DIET A SAFE, healthy and effective way to drop pounds? Or is it a gimmicky, unhealthy and even unsafe regimen that doesn’t help its followers achieve long-term weight loss? Many experts think poorly of the hCG diet – which combines an extremely low daily calorie intake with ingestion of the hormone hCG – as an effective way to lose weight. “The hCG diet is almost the quintessential fad diet,” says Mike Israetel, chief sports scientist for Renaissance Periodization, which provides online dieting and training templates and coaching. There are no clinical studies suggesting using hCG helps with weight loss.