The HCG diet is a very restrictive diet that harnesses the power of the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) hormone through oral drop or injections to promote fast weight loss. The HCG protocol requires that participants stick to consuming just 500 calories per day. Several types of foods are strictly off limits and mixing foods during meals is discouraged. If you can discipline yourself to follow the protocol without cheating, you can expect to lose 1 to 2 lbs. per day. Since weight loss is so sensitive to the types of foods consumed while on the HCG diet, many people have questions about what they can and cannot eat.
The HCG diet involves three phases in which not all foods are acceptable to consume for every phase. The loading phase is the first phase, which requires the dieter to “load up” on high-calorie foods for two days with a caloric limit of about 1,500 to 2,000. The maintenance phase is second and the most restrictive. It lasts for 21 to 40 days and the dieter is required to consume just 500 calories daily. During the third phase called the stabilization phase, the dieter stops taking HCG drops or injections and gradually increases his daily caloric intake to about 800, making sure to avoid sugar and starch. The stabilization period is recommended to last about 21 days.
Dairy foods are only recommended for consumption while on the second phase of the HCG diet (the maintenance phase). Dieters can enjoy milk, buttermilk, kefir, powdered skim milk, canned evaporated milk, goat’s milk, limited amounts of half-and-half cream and plain yogurt with no added sugar. All these dairy products must be low in fat to satisfy the HCG protocol for this phase. Phase two HCG dieters can also enjoy soy dairy as long as they do not contain any added sugar. No more than two cups (16 oz.) of dairy food products should be consumed daily.
Cheese is allowed on the second phase of maintenance only and must be low in fat at all times. Keep in mind that on the HCG diet, cheese is considered to be a source of protein, not dairy. Dieters can enjoy any reduced fat cheese varieties that are 2 percent fat, low fat or part skim. Types of cheese you can eat on the HCG diet include American, cheddar, feta, mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, cottage, ricotta, string, non-dairy cream cheese substitutes, goat’s milk cheese, sheep’s milk cheese and Laughing Cow Light cheese.
If you are unable to stick to the HCG protocol, you may experience side effects and have difficulty losing weight. The most common side effects include headaches and hunger pangs. Headaches occur because your body is detoxifying itself from the loading phase. If headaches last more than a couple of days during the maintenance phase, consult your physician.