There are a number of weight loss programs that have appeared lately that have attracted their fair share of controversy because of the methods or non-mainstream ingredients used in the process.

The HCG Diet is one such program that many wonder how many pounds you can lose on.

Let's take a look at this program and determine if it is as spectacular as the hype that surrounds it suggests and how much weight can be lost through its undertaking.

What is the HCG Diet?

The HCG Diet is probably one of the most controversial though potentially effective weight loss regimens in history. In December 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to several companies marketing this diet as being homeopathic.

HCG is short for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, which is a hormone that is found in the urine of pregnant women. The key behind the almost-magical weight loss from including HCG in a low calorie diet is to ingest this hormone, usually sold through supplements. It is also possible, as many dieters have found, to inject the hormone.

Is It Safe?

Some people are probably ready to stop reading at this moment. Injections are a frightening concept to many people, especially the injection of hormones found in a pregnant woman's urine

Like any other body weight reduction regimen, including the use of FDA-approved prescription drugs such as Xenical or Adipex, the HCG Diet carries some significant risks. However, the potential benefit is in being able to lose as much as 30 pounds in one month.

People who are significantly obese when getting started could lose as much as 50 pounds, perhaps even 60. Actual figures will vary from person to person, so please do not expect the previous statement to be exact in your own personal case.

What Else Must You Be Doing?

However, just injecting or otherwise ingesting HCG will not help you experience a dramatic reduction in body mass. You must eat about 500 calories per day of mostly unprocessed organic, wholesome foods.

Supposedly the best results come when people are willing to inject the hormone rather than take the drops under their tongues. The hormone purportedly curbs a dieter's appetite and increases the body's ability to use fat for fuel.

This diet method should be followed for at least 45 days to be effective. This is according to the literature accompanying most supplements and diet plans associated with the hormone.

What Are the Dangers/Side Effects

Some health experts say that the this particular diet is potentially dangerous and amounts to little more than a starvation plan with possible medical quackery. The FDA as well as the Federal Trade Commission have sanctioned some companies for aggressively marketing HCG as a risk-free weight management remedy.

However, since use of the hormone for weight loss has been around since the 1950s, it is likely not disappearing any time soon. After all, even though the FDA outright banned ephedra and ephedrine appetite suppressants some determined dieters can still purchase those supplements online.

Taking this particular dieting route can be effective, but you should do so only under a doctor's supervision. The injections should be administered in the thigh. Also, be aware that dairy products, carbohydrates and sugar are all completely off limits.

You probably need the willpower of iron steel to really succeed on an HCG-enhanced dieting program. Far more than would be needed on one of the best diet food delivery programs such as Nutrisystem for example.

However, even the FDA will not come out and say using HCG is dangerous, just that it is potentially ineffective. So, there is strong evidence to suggest that it is possible to lose a lot of weight following the program if you have the proper medical assistance.

Final word: Be sensible, seek medical advice and only proceed if all other avenues of losing weight have failed.