Following the HCG diet is very easy and simple. All you need is the HCG hormone and a low-cal diet and you’re good to go. With information on HCG diet abound, it can sometimes get confusing to pinpoint the exact protocol you need to tread when it comes to starting and maintaining an HCG weight-loss routine.
The following information is compiled to act as a useful primer for beginners who’re just starting on this wonderful weight loss tool. Have a read and arm yourself with information that will not only make you more confident about taking your diet decisions, it will also equip you to guide others regarding what an HCG diet is really all about.
What is HCG?
HCG is the acronym for a hormone produced in the human body, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. The body produces this hormone when a woman is pregnant in order to provide essential nutrition to the fetus. Scientists extract the HCG hormone from the body during this phase and use it to create HCG-based products for various uses.
The discovery that HCG can help in weight loss was first made by a British physician, Dr. A.T.W. Simeons. The good doctor experimented with injecting his obesity patients with the HCG hormone and found that it gave positive results.
This was over six decades ago, and today HCG is available in the form of easy-to-consume pills and drops that consumers can self-administer.
The Essential 26-Day HCG Diet Protocol
Dr. Simeons provided a detailed HCG protocol in his book, Pounds & Inches, published in 1954. However, the steps included administering HCG injections, which is not as relevant today. So the protocol has seen major modifications to suit the modern-day lifestyle.
The 26-day diet plan involves taking a set dosage of the hormone every day along with a daily diet of 500 calories only. To give you an authentic insight, here is what Dr. Simeon’s’ original protocol looked like:
- Take 125 I.U. (International Units) of HCG every day (but avoid when menstruating). Or take the same dosage of the hormone in sublingual (placed under the tongue) or other form. Weigh yourself each morning without fail.
- Two days of feasting: Eat any and all types of fatty foods to your full capacity (i.e., as much as you can) on the first 2 days of the HCG protocol.
- VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet): From day 3 onward, bring down your daily calorie intake to 500 calories. Strictly avoid oil, sugar and butter in any form.
- Next 3 weeks should be dedicated to eating all and any foods you like, barring the foods that contain sugar or starch.
- In the final 3 days of the HCG program, stop taking HCG injections but continue to be on the 500-calorie diet.
- When this period is over, start with consuming foods with small amounts of starch. This is a part of the Maintenance Diet that you will follow for the next 3 weeks. You can start consuming more calories and stick with a meal plan that’s high in protein but low in carbs.
- Continue to have 8 glasses of water per day.
- Devise a meal plan that has the three usual meals plus two snacks. Also supplement your diet with a good multivitamin.
- Remember to not exceed your daily calorie target for the maintenance period, which should ideally be 500 calories less than the total calories you burn in a day.
Foods You Can Have While Following the HCG Diet
- You can consume lean proteins sans the fat. You can take lean beef (as long as you’re sure it was not reared on hormones), egg whites, chicken breast, and seafood (crab, scallops, lobster, shrimp, white fish and tuna). The catch is that you must limit your protein intake to only 100 grams a meal, and to no more than 200 grams a day.
- Have plenty of vegetables, in particular salad greens, fennel, broccoli, shallots, cucumber, cabbage, tomatoes, celery, beet greens, onions, chard, spinach, radish, and asparagus.
- You are allowed to have only certain fruits, which include apples, blueberries, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, raspberries, and strawberries.
- It’s only Melba toast (rusk) or grissini (soup sticks) for snacking, and these, too, should be consumed sparingly. The idea is to do as little off-time snacking as possible.
- No oil, dressing or condiments should be added to meals.
An Easy-to-Follow HCG Diet Meal Plan
Breakfast: Take only tea or coffee (without sugar, but add Stevia if you like). Take a serving of any of the fruits listed above.
Lunch: Take any of the protein foods listed above (remember to limit the serving size to 100 grams). Eat one vegetable, one fruit and one starchy food item.
Dinner: Take any of the approved protein sources (again, serving size should not exceed 100 grams). Also take one vegetable, one fruit and one starchy food.
Other Important Points
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
- Women should ideally begin the HCG diet right after their period.
- Use oil-free and fat-free body creams, lotions, lip balms, soaps, etc.
- Refrain from indulging in rigorous exercise; take short walks if desired.
- Avoid sun exposure as tanning is associated with water retention, which impedes weight loss.
- Watch out for physical symptoms such as headache, likely caused by the sudden lack of sugar in your diet.
To help you stick to this diet till the time you have accomplished your weight-loss goal, follow these 9 Tips That Will Help You Succeed On The HCG Diet.
Dr. Simeons was a well-respected endocrinologist of his time and was not looking to invent a fad diet that would magically help people lose weight. His research on the weight loss benefits of HCG is well-documented in his books and publications. While the original foods that made the list in his HCG protocol may have given way to present-day foods that are relevant and available today, the principles remain the same and must be followed if you want to see tangible results from your HCG weight-loss program.