If you've successfully made it past Phase 2 of the HCG diet with minimal or no cheating, you should definitely be congratulated as this is no simple task. But once you've finished with the VLCD the next most difficult part of the diet begins - weight maintenance and adding foods back into your diet during Phase 3. This is arguable the most important Phase of the diet because this is where people slip up. It is all too easy to revert back to old unhealthy eating habits once your reach this critical phase of the diet, but you need to be just as vigilant about what you eat and how much of it you are eating as you were during Phase 2 of the diet.
Start adding foods back slowly
After you have finished Phase 2 of the diet, you've likely lost anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds or more, and you know that you are pretty much safe sticking to the foods on the HCG diet food list. If you aren't sure what foods may cause weight gain during Phase 3, you should basically stick mostly to the Phase 2 food list while increasing your portion sizes and calories per day to your daily maintenance level. Don't start adding a bunch of foods back into your diet right away - space the foods out because if you start gaining weight again you will the exact food that is causing you trouble.
Document what you eat
Although it isn't a requirement of the diet by any means, you should try to document what you eat every day, regardless of what you eat. You are required to document your daily weight as a part of the diet, so if you can include your daily meals it will help you keep a much better record of your weight gain. Again, when you know the foods that are leading to weight gain you can easily eliminate them from your diet. Also keep in mind that every person's metabolism is different, and there are plenty of natural foods that one person may be able to tolerate without weight gain but you may struggle with those same foods.
Stick to the foods that you know don't cause weight gain
If you can come up with a list of foods that you know won't lead to weight gain, and you stick to that list, you are much more likely to have long term success with the diet. On the HCG diet you will already have a great starting point, because you will have a list of Phase 2 foods that you can build from. If you can come up with a core list of foods that you know for sure won't lead to weight gain, you will know exactly what is causing you to gain weight in the future even if you deviate from the list. Even if you have to repeat the HCG diet, try to always have a central list of healthy foods that you know work well with your metabolic type.
Continue to avoid wheat and unhealthy "health foods" during Phase 3 and afterward
Part of the reason why people struggle with weight gain after diets is because they are continuing to eat foods that may be thought of as "healthy" but are actually major culprits for weight gain. Wheat products in particular may contribute to immune problems and other long term health problems. Some of these foods include whole grains, pasta, bread, granola, dried fruit, muffins, juice, etc. If you know a bit about nutrition, these foods cause weight gain because they have a high glycemic index and carbohydrate content, and they are converted to fat if you eat a large enough quantity of them.
Wheat is thought to be one of the biggest culprits for weight gain and insulin resistance, and that includes whole wheat products, so you should pretty much avoid these foods unless you happen to be one of the few who can tolerate them without allergies. Wheat allergies or gluten allergies or sensitivities are also thought to affect a large portion of the population, and the chronic inflammation that these foods can trigger can lead you to even more weight gain due to adrenal fatigue and other immune issues. Dr. Simeons knew long before many other medical professionals that grains and wheat products were potentially dangerous, and not only should they be avoided during the HCG diet, they should pretty much be avoided after the diet is finished.
Avoid unhealthy fats during Phase 3 and afterward
There are plenty of good fats that you should be eating during Phase 3 which will help you stave off hunger. Good fats include the monounsaturated fatty acids found in coconut oil, omega 3 fatty acids found in extra virgin olive oil and fatty fish, and the fats found in avocados and nuts. These are all great sources of healthy fat that can reduce your cardiovascular disease risk, and when they are consumed in moderation they can definitely help you maintain a healthy weight. If you stick to these fats, and use olive oil or coconut oil for cooking, you really can't go wrong during Phase 3, but if you notice weight gain and are otherwise eating healthy (which is unlikely but possible), you reduce your consumption of natural fats and your overall calorie intake.
The type of fats that can lead to weight gain during Phase 3 include fats from dairy products such as cheese, butter and cream, fats from any processed food and trans fats, margarine, commercial baked foods, deep fried foods, candy, and vegetable shortening. These foods should obviously be avoided during Phase 3 and the fats in these foods can definitely cause rapid weight gain, especially if they are eaten in combination with grain foods, which Dr. Simeons especially warned against. These fats should always be avoided even long after the diet is finished because they can definitely increase your risk of heart disease and they should basically be replaced by as many healthy fats as possible.
One caveat is with dairy fats - some nutritionists and health experts will mention that the fats found in dairy products from grass fed, antiobiotic and hormone free cows are higher in healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. This is important to note, and with dairy it usually comes down to individual tolerance. Many people can tolerate natural dairy foods quite well and won't gain weight even with full fat dairy products, but in most cases the consumption of full fat dairy should be kept to a minimum because these foods will almost always lead to weight gain when too much of them are eaten, regardless of a person's tolerance.
The HCG diet is a perfect way for you to get back on the path of a healthy lifestyle, and both Phase 2 and 3 can easily be managed and successfully completed with the right preparation. At Nu Image Medical you will have support for Phase 3 of the HCG diet and beyond, and our medical professionals can help you come up with a food list that is very likely to work with your unique metabolic type. We give you a detailed protocol and help you through the most challenging parts of the diet, and you can always contact a medical provider at Nu Image if you have any concerns or if you start gaining weight unexpectedly. To get more information about the diet or to speak with a medical provider today about getting started, click here.