An introduction to the HCG Diet Protocol
What is HCG?
HCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a hormone that our bodies produce naturally. During the early stages of pregnancy, women’s HCG levels will increase to nearly 2000 times the standard HCG dosage for the HCG Diet.
HCG and the Hypothalamus
Our bodies have a regulatory system that helps to control our body weight. At the core of this system is a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus receives signals from the body through the use of hormones to help determine if weight loss or gain is necessary. The hypothalamus has many functions, including:
- Control of hunger and appetite
- Regulation of body temperature
- Storage and burning of fat
Obesity: A Growing Problem
Eating habits and activity levels have changed dramatically over the last 50 years. The availability and ease of calorie dense foods with few nutrients is a key factor, but sedentary lifestyles are also playing a huge role. The human body is designed to store extra calories in preparation for a possible calorie famine. Once a person is overweight or obese, additional problems arise, and weight loss becomes considerably difficult.
Can the HCG Diet Help You Lose Weight?
The HCG Diet utilizes a VLCD or Very Low Calorie Diet in conjunction with HCG hormone injections. A very low calorie diet will cause anyone to lose weight, but in the case of the HCG Diet, the HCG hormone helps to preserve muscle mass in what would be a very catabolic state, normally. So the short answer is yes, the HCG diet can help you lose weight, but it isn’t easy. Dieters will still get hungry and struggle at times.
Before You Start the HCG Diet
Weighing yourself is important for you to see progress and to provide feedback on how your body is responding. Most doctors recommend weighing yourself every day. From time to time, weight will shift up and down without warning. This is perfectly normal as water weight increases and decreases.
Taking body measurements is a better indicator of progress. Weight loss will often slow down, stop, reverse, or speed up without warning. Measuring will give you a more consistent indicator of success and help ease your nerves if weight loss stalls for a time.
Goals are an essential part of any weight loss plan. It might be helpful to also set milestones, or smaller goals that lead up to the larger goal.
Set a Goal Date or Event
In addition to measuring progress, you will need to have a specific date that will motivate you to achieve your goal. This date can be adjusted during the diet to better motivate you, rather than discourage you.
Personal accountability may be the most important step after setting goals. If you keep your goals a secret, it becomes easy to give up later. The most successful individuals are those who follow the diet with a friend or family member.
Rewards can be very helpful. Most dieters decide to set rewards based on how much weight they lose, but there will be times when you are following the diet closely without seeing changes. It is important to reward yourself based on adherence to the diet protocol. Find ways to reward yourself, without using food as the reward.
HCG Diet Phase 1: Loading
During the Loading Phase you will take HCG each morning and eat a lot of food for two full days.
Before the Loading Phase
Here are a few precautions to think about before starting the loading phase.
- If you are sick prior to starting the loading phase, please make sure you have completely recovered.
- Women Only: Prior to starting the diet, make sure you have at least 5 days before your next period starts, and no sooner than 2 days after your last period ended.
Two Day Loading Phase
The loading phase lasts for two days. During these two days you will take HCG injections each morning, and eat to stay full all day.
- Take 150 IU’s of HCG in the morning on both days (15 mark on syringe). If you are using sublingual HCG, follow the pharmacy label instructions.
- Load up on calories both days, and keep yourself full
- Eat calorie dense foods, and try to get a lot of carbohydrate rich foods
- Start weighing yourself each morning
After the loading phase, you will begin Phase 2, and continue taking daily HCG injections.
Phase 2: Very Low Calorie Diet
Phase 2 is a 3-6 week Low Calorie Diet which can be repeated after phase 3 as many times as needed, until you have reached your goal. Phase 2 requires you to follow a low calorie diet while eating from a strict list of foods. Also, continue taking 150iu’s (15 mark) of HCG every morning.
Very Low Calorie Diet
Immediately after the loading phase, dieters are to follow the low calorie diet outlined below.
Minimum Amount of Time on the HCG Diet
After starting the HCG Diet Protocol, Dr. Simeon noted that a person must follow the diet for a minimum of 3 weeks in order to adapt to burning fat as a primary fuel.
Maximum Amount of Time on the HCG Diet
Dieters will often get excited about the rapid changes in body weight and shape, and try to overextend the duration of the Low Calorie Diet. In the long run, this will most likely cause a reduced metabolic rate. In order to maximize results over time and guard against rebounding, follow this set of guidelines:
- Don’t exceed 6 weeks on the HCG diet.
- Follow Phase 3 after every 3-6 week round of HCG.
The HCG Diet Plan (800 Calories)
|Protein||1 Serving||1 Serving||1 Serving|
|Vegetable||1 Serving||1 Serving|
|Fruit||1 Serving||1 Serving|
|MCT/Coconut Oil||1-2 tbsp||1-2 tbsp|
|Water||2-3 cups||2-3 cups||2-3 cups|
HCG Diet Phase 2 Food List
|Ground Beef (93% Lean)||Shrimp|
|Pork||Eggs – 2 whole|
|Fish||Cottage Cheese – 1 cup low-fat|
|Cauliflower||Lettuce – as much as desired|
|Peppers – as much as desired||Fennel Root|
|Hot Peppers – as much as desired||Chard|
|Green Beans||Celery – as much as desired|
|Spinach – as much as desired||Cucumbers – as much as desired|
|Asparagus – as much as desired||Zucchini|
|Cabbage – as much as desired||Yellow Squash|
|Onions – as much as desired||Artichoke|
|Field Greens – as much as desired|
|Apple – medium||Cantaloupe – 1 cup|
|Orange – medium||Honeydew Melon – 1 cup|
|Grapefruit – half||Banana – 1/2|
|Strawberries – handful||Grapes – 1 cup|
|Blueberries – handful||Kiwi – 2 Kiwi Fruits|
|Raspberries – handful||Tomato – 1 tomato|
|Blackberries – handful||Peach – 1 medium|
|Huckleberries – handful||Pear – 1 medium|
Additional Phase 2 Instructions
Water: Try to drink at least 8 cups of water each day. Water is an essential element in the weight loss process. You should drink enough water to have at least 3-5 clear urinations per day.
Calorie Counting: Don’t worry about counting calories during Phase 2. Just eat foods from the list in the quantities allotted.
Coffee and Tea: Black coffee and tea are permissible in the morning. If you would like, you may flavor coffee or tea with stevia and/or almond milk (40 calories/serving).
Diet Soda: While diet soda won’t cause the diet to fail, you should not exchange it for any of your water servings. You still need to drink at least 8 cups of water in addition to any diet soda you drink.
Crystal Light and other Calorie Free Beverages: Other non-caloric drinks that you are accustomed to drinking should be handled like diet soda.
MCT Oil or Coconut Oil: MCT, or Medium Chain Triglycerides are fats that are derived from Coconut Oil. MCT works great for low carbohydrate and low calorie diets because it supports ketosis, provides energy, and guards against constipation. MCT Oil can be used for lunch or dinner as a salad dressing ingredient, mixed with any combination of salt, vinegar, and seasonings. Also, you should use it as your cooking oil.
Salad Dressing: There are a few options for salad dressings. The first is MCT Oil. MCT Oil is a perfect complement to the low calorie diet. You can mix it as mentioned above to make a dressing. Walden Farms offers calorie free salad dressing and condiments that are okay to use on the HCG Diet as well.
Protein Shakes: Some protein shakes are okay to use on the HCG Diet for a protein serving, although whole foods tend to keep you fuller for longer. Choose shakes with very little carbohydrates and fats.
Seasonings: Any calorie free seasoning is permissible on the HCG Diet. Be sure to check labels.
Sweeteners: We recommend using Stevia, Splenda or Sucralose to sweeten your foods.
Plateaus on the HCG Diet
The human metabolism is adapted to maintain homeostasis (a state of balance). This means the body fights against weight loss.
Rate of Fat Loss on the HCG Diet
It is important to understand how fast you should be losing weight on a weight loss program, and have realistic expectations. Most clients can lose up to 1 pound per day, but it isn’t the same for everyone. The larger you are, the faster you lose. Women who only weigh 120-150 lbs will probably not lose a pound a day, but a man who weighs 300 lbs probably will lose a pound a day for a time.
Water Retention on the HCG Diet
Fluctuations in water weight happen at the beginning and end of all low carbohydrate diets. Generally, this water fluctuation can account for somewhere between 2-5 lbs. Do not panic if you experience these rapid changes in weight because they are not related to fat loss or gain.
Combating Hunger on the HCG Diet
Hunger is an extremely complicated subject that is affected by both physiological and psychological reasons. Most of the time hunger is a combination of the two.
Vegetables and Fiber Effect Hunger: Fiber can help with hunger in at least two ways. The physical stretching of the stomach is one signal of how much food has been consumed; when the stomach is stretched the brain thinks you’re full. High fiber/high volume foods (e.g. foods that have a lot of volume/few calories) accomplish this most effectively. Additionally, fiber slows gastric emptying, or the rate at which food leaves the stomach. A high fiber intake keeps us feeling full by keeping foods in the digestive system longer. Always eat your vegetables.
Hormonal Hunger: Hormonal hunger is hard to control. Often women will notice that during their period, hunger dramatically changes. Also, when we don’t eat for extended periods of time, our brains and intestines start releasing powerful hormones that cause us to feel very hungry. By that time, our hormones are often too strong, and it causes us to binge. Be sure to at least have a small breakfast each day to help control this. Also keep in mind that this hunger will pass.
Carb/Sugar/Starch: When starting a low carbohydrate diet you may feel cravings for carbohydrates, especially for the first few days. This will pass as your body converts to fat as its primary source of fuel.
Dehydration: Mild dehydration is often masked as feelings of hunger, when the body simply needs water. The confusion starts in the hypothalamus, where hunger and thirst are both regulated. Diet drinks don’t hydrate well, so make sure to get at least a gallon of water per day. Less than a gallon per day is known to slow weight loss.
Salty Foods: There are a couple of different reasons that a person may be craving more salt. Dehydration: occurs when you aren’t getting enough minerals/electrolytes and water. Adrenal exhaustion: often occurs when a patient has a history of using stimulants; coffee, energy drinks, etc. This can also occur when you have a lot of stress.
High Fat Foods: Most often fatty foods are comfort foods. This is usually a psychological matter, and a matter of habit. Be aware of physical or emotional cues that may cause your desire for high fat foods.
HCG Diet Phase 3: Diet Break
Phase 3 will provide an immediate increase in calories which will boost the metabolic rate, and provide you with a break. Phase 3 should be thought of as a practice round to see how well you can maintain your weight after a rapid weight loss stint.
3 Week Diet Break
The Diet Break will last 3 weeks. During this 3 week break, the goal is to increase calories, and allow the body to reload glycogen stores and allow the metabolic rate to recover. If you don’t increase calories, it may set you up for failure for the next round.
Introduction of More Carbohydrates
When you start your diet break, you will likely gain 3-5 pounds immediately, but don’t be alarmed. After following a low carbohydrate diet for an extended period of time, you will be depleted of glycogen (sugar). When your body stores glycogen in muscle tissue, water is also stored; this can account for a few pounds.
Increasing Calories (Reverse Dieting)
Phase 3 increases calories to the amount needed to maintain body weight. This amount of calories will differ from person to person. Your goal is to eat enough to maintain your weight. If you are gaining weight, reduce calories. If you are losing weight, increase calories. It’s that simple.
Phase 3 is a perfect time to start learning how to be more aware of macronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients that contain calories. The macronutrients are:
- Protein: (4 calories/gram) – start with around 1gram per pound of bodyweight
- Carbohydrates: (4 calories/gram)
- Fat: (9 calories/gram)
MyFitnessPal We recommend MyFitnessPal on your smart phone to track your calories. By tracking your macronutrients, you will begin to have a much better idea of what you eat daily, and what foods contain the most calories. Only use this app during Phase 3, Phase 4, and afterwards to track calories.
HCG Diet Phase 4: Transition and Maintenance
Phase 4 increases calories to the amount needed to maintain body weight. This amount of calories will differ from person to person. Your goal is to eat enough to maintain your weight. If you are gaining weight, reduce calories. If you are losing weight, increase calories. It’s that simple.
FINDING YOUR MAINTENANCE CALORIES
Maintenance calories is going to be different for each person. There are a number of factors that affect how many calories you should be eating, which include:
- Activity Level
IMPORTANCE OF PROTEIN
Protein is the basic building block for most tissues in the body. It is also the most effective macronutrient for maintaining a healthy body composition. Protein satisfies hunger very well, supports lean body mass, increases metabolism, and tastes good.
Note: The maintenance phase provides only a basic guideline for maintenance dieting, and should be adjusted based on individual needs as time moves on. We recommend using an application such as MyFitnessPal.com to track calories for a few weeks after the diet. This will help you get a better understanding of what you are eating, and how many calories your body burns.
Weight Loss Tracking
- Weigh yourself in the morning
- Make sure that your daily habits before weigh-in are consistent (i.e. empty bladder first, don’t drink water, dressed or undressed)
- Use the scale as your only method of tracking success
- Weigh too often (1x/day max)
Body Measurement Guide
Body measurements are one of the most accurate ways to monitor changes. While the scale can indicate slowed weight loss, body measurements can tell a different story!
Why? Keeping track of a few key measurements will keep you motivated and be a voice of reason when the scale is not reflecting what you want to see. A happy dieter is a more successful dieter!
Where? The key areas for measurement are as follows:
- Chest (under armpits)
- For Women: Waist (smallest part of waist)
- For Men: Largest part of belly
- Hips (largest part around buttocks for women, Belt-Line for Men)
- Thigh (upper thigh)
When? The body fluctuates during the day. Pick a time where you will be relaxed and stay consistent on the time of day. We recommend that this measurement be done weekly.
How to Get Started on the HCG Diet
If you are want to start the HCG Diet, we have made it easy for you. We have made a list of all the best HCG Diet Providers that you can visit online to Buy HCG Injections from the comfort of your own home.