While the HCG diet requires you to take injections or drops of the human choriogonadotropin hormone, the weight you lose may be primarily due to the severe caloric restriction required when following the plan (see reference 1 under Background para 1, under Diet and Exercise para 1). This 500-calorie diet also limits your intake to certain foods and food products, including low-glycemic vegetables, lean proteins, specific fruits and melba toast (reference 1 under Diet and Exercise bullet points). If considering the HCG diet for weight loss, talk to your doctor first to discuss pros and cons.
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The hCG hormone is a hormone women produce during their first trimester of pregnancy that moves fat and nutrients from cells to the placenta (see reference 1 under Background para 1,2). Theoretically, it is believed that these hormones may be able to promote weight loss in the same fashion by moving fat out of your cells (see reference 1 under Background para 3). However, there is no evidence to support these claims, according to Diets in Review (see reference 1 under Background para 3), and the hormones may cause side effects such as depression, blood clots and headaches (see reference 1 under Background para 3). During the first two days of injections, you can eat whatever you want, but starting on day three, you need to limit your intake to the allowed foods (see reference 1 under Diet and Exercise para 2).
Coffee or Tea for Breakfast
At breakfast you are only allowed to drink coffee or tea when following the low-calorie part of the HCG diet plan. You don't have to drink your coffee or tea black, however. On the plan, you are allowed to add 1 tablespoon of milk to your hot beverage, along with artificial sweetener (see reference 1 under Diet and Exercise bullet point 1).
The glycemic index is a tool that measures the effects carb-containing foods have on blood sugar (see reference 2 para 1). Low-glycemic carbs keep blood sugar levels even, which may help control hunger. Non-starchy vegetables are low-glycemic vegetables, and include options such as broccoli, carrots, green beans, celery, lettuce greens, spinach and green peppers (see reference 2 under Low GI Foods, reference 3 pg 4 under Vegetables). You are allowed one serving of a low-glycemic vegetable at lunch and dinner on the HCG diet plan. One serving is typically equal to 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked (see reference 3 pg 4 under Vegetables).
Fruit and Melba Toast
In addition to the low-glycemic vegetables, you are also allowed to eat a serving of fruit and melba toast, which is a type of cracker, at both lunch and dinner (see reference 1 under Diet and Exercise bullet points). However, you're not allowed to eat very sweet fruit, including fruits with a higher glycemic index such as watermelon, bananas and grapes (see reference 1 under Diet and Exercise para 2, reference 4 under Fruit). Instead, enjoy apples, grapefruit, oranges or pears (see reference 1 under Diet and Exercise bullet points, reference 4 under Fruits).
Lean Meat Options
Lean meats are also a safe food you can consume while following the HCG diet plan. Options include poultry, fish and lean meat (see reference 1 under Diet and Exercise bullet point 1). You are allowed a 3.5-ounce portion of a lean meat at both lunch and dinner (see reference 1 under Diet and Exercise bullet point 1).