HCG Diet Protocol FAQ | How Does HCG Diet Work?

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Following the HCG diet protocol means sticking to a very low-calorie diet. You have to restrict your calorie consumption to 500 calories per day.

But is it safe? Is it even healthy?

In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about this weight-loss plan.

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The HCG Diet Protocol: 500-Calorie Intake per Day

Diet Healthy Eating Food and Weight Loss Concept | HCG Diet Protocol


What Is HCG?

Phrase HCG Written on Wooden Cubes | HCG Diet Protocol

HCG stands for “human chorionic gonadotropin”. It's a protein-based hormone that you can find both in men and women but only in small amounts.

However, HCG levels become elevated in a female body during the early stages of pregnancy. This is because when you're pregnant, your body produces more HCG than usual to aid in the development of the uterus and fetus. In fact, HCG is an indicator in home pregnancy test kits.

After the first trimester of pregnancy, HCG levels drop.

HCG also comes in the form of injections, sprays, oral drops, and tablets. At times, doctors prescribe this to treat hormone and fertility problems.

Aside from treating infertility, some individuals use HCG to lose weight. However, no study has proven that HCG is effective when it comes to shedding some pounds.

Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved this hormone for weight loss purposes.


Note: High levels of HCG may also be a sign of cancer.

What Is the HCG Diet Protocol?

Diet Food Concept | HCG Diet Protocol

The HCG diet was proposed as a weight loss program by Dr. Albert Simeons in the 1950s.

It's a very-low-fat and very-low-calorie diet. It's promoted as an approach to rapid and dramatic weight loss. This is why individuals seeking to lose weight quickly might find this measure appealing.

The HCG diet protocol consists of three parts.

Phase 1: Loading Phase

In this stage, you're preparing your body to severely restrict calories by binge eating all day long for two days. This way, you're building and maxing out your fat stores.

You begin taking HCG supplements, and you also consume as many carbs and fats as possible. For instance, think about bread, desserts, fried foods, and starches. You may satisfy your appetite!

This overloading stimulates your hypothalamus to release hormones that are responsible for metabolism, fat burning, and weight loss.

Phase 2: Weight Loss Phase

On the third day, you continue taking HCG supplements. But this time, you must follow a strict diet with only 500 calories each day for three to six weeks. You're allowed to eat only twice per day, preferably during lunch and dinner.

Phase 3: Maintenance Phase

Afterward, you gradually stop taking HCG supplements. You may slowly eat more, but you have to cut back on starch and sugar for three weeks.

You may repeat this cycle as desired.

However, studies have shown that the weight loss brought about by the HCG diet is due to extremely low-calorie consumption. The HCG hormone doesn't help you shed weight.

When Do You Start Losing Weight on HCG Diet?

Losing Weight | HCG Diet Protocol

The body's metabolism varies from person to person. Therefore, the number of pounds that you can lose may not be specific. But proponents claim that on average, you may lose around 1 lb per day doing the HCG diet.

Generally, the first week of the weight loss phase or phase two will yield the best results. It's possible that you lose anywhere between 8-15 lbs of actual fat. And in the second week, you may lose an additional 5 lbs.

Overall, you may shed up to 25 lbs after one cycle, given that you strictly follow the HCG diet protocol.

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What Can You Eat on HCG Diet?

1. Drinks

Pretty Brunette Drinking Water on Couch | HCG Diet Protocol

The following beverages are allowed on the HCG diet:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Coconut, cow, or almond milk (one tablespoon every day)

As you may notice, soft drinks, even diet sodas or those with aspartame, aren't permitted. This is because the artificial sweeteners and sodium content of these drinks may affect your weight loss rate.

Pro Tip: You may try sparkling flavored water, as long as it doesn't contain aspartame.

2. Sweeteners

White Sugar in Bag Sack with Fresh Green Sugar Cane | HCG Diet Protocol

On the HCG diet protocol, it's crucial to limit sweeteners, as they can cause metabolism disorder.

The sugars permitted are the following:

  • Saccharin
  • Stevia

Pro Tip: Don't forget to read the labels or ingredients list on your drinks to make sure that they don't contain any other type of sweeteners.

3. Lean Protein

Raw Meat Rosemary Salt Pepper Garlic Lemon Wood Background | HCG Diet Protocol

The HCG diet allows the following proteins:

  • Chicken breast
  • Crab
  • Beef
  • Lobster
  • Veal
  • White fish
  • Shrimp
  • Egg whites
  • Scallops
  • Bison
  • Non-fat cottage cheese

You may consume 100 grams of one protein for lunch and dinner. They must either be grilled or boiled.

As for the eggs, stick with the white part as much as possible.

In addition, avoid using sauces like butter, oils, or barbecue sauce on your proteins.

Pro Tip: Trim off all visible fat from meats.

4. Veggies

Healthy Eating Vegetarian Food Dieting and People Concept | HCG Diet Protocol

The HCG diet protocol doesn't allow the mixing of vegetables. Consume only one serving of any of the following:

  • Chicory
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Chard
  • Fennel
  • Cucumbers
  • Spinach
  • Beet greens
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli

Reminder: Don't use butter or salad dressings on your greens.

5. Fruits

Flying Slices of Fruit Apple Pear Orange | HCG Diet Protocol

You may consume one serving of any of the following fruits both at lunch and dinner:

  • Strawberries
  • Orange
  • Apple
  • Grapefruit

Alternatively, you may eat them between meals as “snacks” instead of having them with your lunch or dinner.

For your reference, one medium-sized apple is equivalent to one serving.

6. Bread

Grissini Crispy Italian Bread Sticks | HCG Diet Protocol

One serving of any of the following is permitted at lunch and dinner:

  • Breadstick
  • Melba Toast

However, ensure to check the labels, and avoid restaurant breadsticks as much as possible.

7. Herbs and Spices

Spices on Black Board | HCG Diet Protocol

Generally, seasonings are low in calories. Therefore, you may use these to add flavors to your HCG diet:

  • Vinegar
  • Sweet basil
  • Marjoram
  • Mustard powder
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Rosemary

What Is on the HCG Diet Menu?

Beautiful Young Woman is Preparing Vegetable Salad | HCG Diet Protocol

To help you plan your meals, here's a sample menu on the HCG diet:


  • Coffee or tea in any amount with allowed sweetener


  • 100 grams of protein
  • One serving of vegetable
  • One serving of fruit
  • One serving of bread


  • Same composition as lunch

What Are the Side Effects of HCG?

Young Guy Suffering from Headache | HCG Diet Protocol

Along with the weight-loss promises, the HCG diet also entails side effects, such as:

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Blood clots
  • Shortness of breath
  • Gallstone disease
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Electrolyte disorders
  • Irritability
  • Edema or fluid buildup
  • Gynecomastia or enlargement of men's breasts
  • Mood swings
  • Poor nutrition
  • Diabetes

These aftereffects are possible because you're almost starving yourself with this diet. If you experience any of these adverse effects while on the HCG diet, visit your healthcare provider immediately.

Check out this video by Sahargetsfit to get some meal ideas suitable for the HCG diet:

The HCG diet protocol identifies a particular list of food items to reduce your calorie intake. It also adds the use of injections or supplements to assist with your weight loss.

Many individuals find this diet's promise of fast weight loss tempting and captivating. Additionally, this diet may give you time to cleanse and remove unwanted chemicals from your body.

However, the HCG diet may not be fit for everyone. Because when you extremely limit your calorie intake, you may be starving yourself, which can pose serious risks for your health.

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration or FDA has considered this approach risky and unlawful. There's no sufficient evidence to support the claims of the usage of HCG hormone in weight loss.

Keep in mind that any type of diet with low-calorie consumption will definitely make you shave off some pounds. But the best approach to losing weight and sustaining it will always be the one that your doctor will recommend.

If you're really serious about losing some pounds, consult your dietitian or nutritionist. There may be healthier and more effective measures for you to reach your goal weight.

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