SACRAMENTO, CA - Imagine dropping up to 30 pounds in 30 days.
Thousands of people say you can with rapid weight loss drops. And judging by its recent surge in popularity, it has some satisfied customers.
The HCG diet consists of a person taking HCG drops, a pregnancy hormone believed to burn fat, and consuming only 500 calories, no fats, no dairy, no gluten and no sugar.
Many who have tried the program said it's a weight loss miracle, but doctors said it's a dangerous fraud.
"I didn't think it would work but it did," Sacramento resident Doug Loree said.
Loree weighed 470 pounds last year, until he started the HCG diet.
"I lost about 190 pounds in six months and feel great," Loree said.
However, weight loss physician Dr. Ed Hendricks calls HCG a fraud.
"It's a starvation diet, you lose muscle." Hendricks said. "It's not a good thing."
The HCG diet has prompted a warning from the FDA, which said the drops aren't necessarily dangerous, but their sale is deceptive with no good evidence that they work for weight loss.
"It's clear these are unapproved drugs," FDA's Dr. Elizabeth Miller said. "[But] firms continue to market them, and do so at their own peril."
The HCG diet is nothing new. In the 1950's, a British hospital doctor realized if he gave obese patients small doses of the hormone, it would help them lose fat. But only when coupled with that near starvation diet.
Some people have side effects, like terrible headaches.
But others like what HCG has done for them.
"Honestly, I feel 10 years younger," Loree said. "I have ridiculous amounts of energy now."