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HCG Diet For Weight Loss: Meal Plans, Recipes And Side Effects

As of today, there are an approximate of 2.1 billion overweight people in the world - that is 30% of the world's population. With obesity and excess weight posing extreme danger, the need to adopt necessary steps have become imperative. The principal approach to regulating the problem of excess weight is the adoption of a healthy lifestyle [1] . And that is where the deluge of diet plans come into the picture. Call it a necessary status symbol in today's time, but the affluence of benefits embraced by the diet plans will make you want to adopt a healthy life.

From Mediterranean and vegan to ketogenic and paleo diet, the types of diets curated for your every need are in plenty [2] . And the most number of diets curated are for weight loss; pointing at the soaring need to lose weight. For years, low-fat diets have been followed as a cure to excess weight. But time and again it has been revealed that adopting low-fat diets are not the answer due to the fact that the carbohydrates often take the place of the fat [3] .

This provoked the need to carefully create diets that helps in losing and maintaining weight. One such effective diet plan is the HCG diet.

What Is The HCG Diet?

The HCG diet plan has been in existence for over 60 years. The HCG in the diet stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, a hormone produced in the placenta during pregnancy. The hormone has been used for treating fertility issues in both men and women as well. With the hormone being introduced as an optimum measure for weight loss, the HCG diet was developed [4] .

The HCG diet requires you to undergo a low-calorie diet (500-800 calories) and taking HCG injections or HCG droplets, pellets or sprays. The diet limits your intake of calories, fat and starch - basically anything that causes your body to gain weight [5] .

The idea of the HCG diet is that the hormone found developed during pregnancy provides the women with the required energy [6] . Because the nausea and fatigue during the time cause women to lose their appetite, causing the lack of proper nutrition intake. The HCG hormone helps the situation by facilitating the required amount of energy; the mechanism accorded it to the HCG diet.

The diet has been termed as being the most effective diet to lose weight, in a short period of time. It promotes the loss of up to one pound [7] per day (0.45 kg).

Weight Loss Through The HCG Diet

Limiting your calorie intake alone is extremely beneficial in losing weight. And that is exactly what the HCG diet demands, along with the application of the HCG hormone. The 500 calories per day by the HCG diet aids in resetting your metabolism and eating patterns. By limiting the calorie intake for 8 weeks, along with the application of the HCG hormone, your body gets used to limited intake of food [8] .

The diet helps reduce weight by boosting your metabolism, which causes the burning of fats. Due to the appetite suppressant nature of the hormone, you can lose weight without feeling hungry. Various studies have been conducted to explore the impact of the diet on losing weight, and the results have suggested that it is due to lack of calories, your body is losing weight. Due to the lack of calories, your body will burn the existing fat in your body into energy - thereby initiating the weight loss process [9] , [10] .

As aforementioned, the proposed ability of the HCG hormone to elevate other hormones in your body results in boosting your metabolism, which causes the burning of fat. It converts the stubborn fat present in your body, thereby leaving no excess fat. The consumption of HCG supposedly causes the stimulation of the hypothalamus, which in turn produces the chemicals that will initiate the release of the excess fat stored in your body [11] .

The lack of calorie caused by the diet is thus balanced by the hormone, using the stored fat. As calorie deficiency is high, the metabolism of the fat in your body is equally high. Therefore, all the extra fat in your is converted into energy with the application of the HCG hormone, even when there is a lack of everyday necessary nutrition [10] . In order to undergo the HCG diet, you need to have a BMI (Body Mass Index) above 20.

The HCG diet is carried out in different phases, where it will involve preparing your body for the shift in the food intake.

Phases Of The HCG Diet

The miracle diet is divided into three parts, depending upon the number of days you will be undergoing the diet. The HCG diet has a 26 day kit, 40 day kit and a mini kit (13 days), and you can adopt the desired according to how much weight you want to lose [12] .

Phase 1 - The loading phase

This phase is from day 1 to day 2 and is the same in every kit. In the first two days, start by taking the HCG drops three times a day - before the three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Do not drink or eat anything 15 minutes before and after you take the drops.

Using the oral syringe, drop 0.38 ml of HCG under your tongue and hold it there for 15 seconds before ingesting it. In the next 48 hours, you will be required to eat foods that are high in fat. Eat the food in full portions. You can eat butter, eggs, avocados, nuts, dairy, yoghurt etc.

The loading phase is a crucial one in the diet and helps stock up the normal fat cells and prepare your body to undergo the unusual or abnormal fat burning which results in the extreme weight loss [12] .

Phase 2 - The diet phase

In the 26 day kit, this is from day 3-23; in the 40 day kit, day 3-37; and in the mini kit, days 3-13.

After bulking up on the foods with high fat content, it is time to move on to the healthier part of the diet. On consuming the HCG drops, you will come to understand the appetite suppressant nature of it. Continue taking the HCG drops, three times a day. And begin the 500 calorie diet.

Days 24-26 (26 day kit), 38-40 (40 day kit)or 14-16 (mini kit) are the last three days of the diet where you will continue the 500 calorie diet. During this phase, you can stop taking the HCG drops. It will take three days for the HCG drops to leave your body.

Phase 3 - The maintenance phase

This is the most critical part of the diet, as it plays a central role in maintaining the new weight. Once you reach the maintenance phase, your body would be used to the habit of consuming no-fat, no-sugar foods [13] .

The maintenance phase will train your body to maintain your new weight and not gain any extra pounds. Because it is natural for the human body to jump back into its previous weight once the diet is done. The phase will include the reintroduction of starches into your diet.

This phase will require you to have a maximum of 1500 calories per day.

The HCG Diet Meal Plan

Below is a sample of the dietary requirements you need to carry out the HCG diet (daily basis) [14] .

Loading phase

This phase involves high-calorie and high-fat foods for two days. And then the HCG will be taken.

Breakfast at 8:00 am can be comprised of 2 boiled eggs, 1 cup warm milk and 4 almonds.

Lunch at 12:30 pm can include 1 cup tuna or mushroom salad.

Snack at 4:00 pm include 10 in-shell pistachios and 1 cup green tea.

Dinner at 7:00 pm can include 1 medium cup lentil soup and 1 cup grilled veggies.

Weight loss phase

During this phase, you will be required to consume 500 calories and three meals. And take HCG for a period of 3 to 5 weeks [14] .

Breakfast at 8:00 am can be comprised of 1 boiled egg, 1 cup green tea or 1 banana and 1 cup black coffee.

Lunch at 12:30 pm can include 1 cup lentil soup or 2 oz grilled fish, ½ cup blanched broccoli, carrot, and French beans.

Dinner at 7:00 pm can include ½ cup boiled beans and 1 cup mixed greens.

Maintenance phase

Under this phase, you will be required to incorporate high-calorie food in the diet, avoid sugar or starch for 3 weeks. Also, you can stop taking HCG.

Breakfast at 8:00 am can be comprised of banana oatmeal and 1 cup black coffee or green tea.

Lunch at 12:30 pm can be comprised of 1 bowl of salad or soup and 1 cup curd.

Snack at 4:00 pm can be comprised of 1 cup green tea and 1 digestive biscuit.

Dinner at 7:00 pm can be comprised of ½ cup kidney bean chilli, 1 flatbread and 1 cup blanched veggies.

Or grilled chicken, 1 cup veggies and 1 cup warm milk before bed.

Foods To Eat

While following the HCG diet, you have to be extremely cautious of the types of food you incorporate into your daily diet. The types of food you can include in your diet are as follows [15] .

  • Fruits such as apple, pineapple, watermelon, peach, pear, plum, pomegranate, papaya, grapefruit, banana, lime, lemon, tangerine, avocado, musk melon, and mandarin.
  • Vegetables such as kale, radish, pepper, bok choy, beetroot, cabbage, arugula, chard, tomato, cucumber, bell gourd, spinach, squash, eggplant, carrot, and rhubarb [16] .
  • Grains such as black rice, oats, red rice, brown rice, and broken wheat.
  • Protein such as salmon, eggs, turkey, tuna, mackerel, haddock, soy chunks, basa, tofu, beans, and legumes [17] .
  • Dairy products such as milk and buttermilk.
  • Nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, flax seeds, walnut, almonds, pistachios, and melon seeds [18] .
  • Fats and oils like avocado oil, olive oil, and fish oil [19] .
  • Herbs and spices such as cardamom, fennel, coriander, nutmeg, garlic powder, chilli flakes, ginger powder, pepper, turmeric, clove, mint, basil, oregano, cumin, dill, cinnamon, saffron, curry leaves, mace, star anise, and mustard.

Foods To Avoid

As the HCG diet requires you to actually watch what you eat, there are various foods that are to be avoided [20] .

  • Red meat
  • White potato
  • Jackfruit and mango
  • White rice and corn
  • Vegetable oil, hemp seed oil, nut butter and canola oil
  • Margarine and cheese [21]
  • Junk foods such as fried chicken, chips, ketchup, pastries, wafers etc.
  • Beverages such as alcohol, packaged vegetable and fruit juices, and energy drinks.

Healthy HCG Diet Recipes [22]

1. Lemon chicken soup


  • 100 g cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cups homemade broth
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground white pepper, to taste
  • chopped spinach


  • Heat the saucepan over medium heat.
  • Combine all the ingredients and boil it.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes, and serve.

2. Green apple salad


  • ½ cup green apple, chopped
  • ½ cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  • Mix all the ingredients together.
  • Toss lightly and enjoy.

3. Curry shrimp


  • 100 g shrimp
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/8 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  • Heat the pan over medium heat.
  • Cook the garlic and onion until it becomes light brown.
  • Add the shrimp and remaining ingredients.
  • Add water, mix and stir fry for 10 minutes.

Side Effects Of The HCG Diet

Everything that comes with fascinating benefits is bound to have some disadvantages along with it. The HCG diet has been scrutinized for the sudden reduction of weight it causes, with nutritionists pointing out that this extreme measures to lose weight can cause severe damage to your body. However, it is not entirely true because, different body types react differently to the HCG diet, like any other diet plan [23] .

The HCG hormone can cause some side effects such as [24]

  • restlessness,
  • lack of energy and fatigue,
  • irritability,
  • blood clots, known as thromboembolism,
  • enlarged breasts in males, known as gynecomastia,
  • a build-up of fluid in body tissues, known medically as oedema, and
  • depression.

As the diet requires you to undergo severe calorie restriction, it can lead to [25]

  • muscle loss,
  • vitamin and mineral deficiency,
  • risk of gallstones,
  • imbalance in electrolytes, and
  • irregular heartbeat.

One of the other things to be taken into notice while undergoing the HCG diet is that, if you have or have had any of the following conditions, you will not be able to undergo the diet.

  • Heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Unstable angina [26]
  • Stroke
  • Mini stroke
  • Tumours
  • Kidney problems [27]
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorder

Pregnant and nursing women should also stay away from the diet [28] .

To Conclude....

With varying perceptions about the HCG diet, one can only understand its effectiveness by undergoing it. Any diet that has low calories will definitely help you in losing weight, and the HCG diet is a strong one at that. Cutting down almost all calorie content, the hormones are asserted to burn the fat content in your body and use it as a means on energy. However, before adopting the diet, it is best if you consult a dietician because not everybody can undergo the HCG diet. With a number of restrictions and possible side effects, it is necessary that you make sure that your body has the right BMI and other characteristics to undergo the HCG diet for a quick weight loss.

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Story first published: Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 16:15 [IST]