So you made it through the HCG Protocol. YEA!
CONGRATULATE yourself for getting this far. Acknowledge yourself for getting here; it is quite an accomplishment. You rocked it! You may have lost 10-15 or even 20 pounds in a short time, which is amazing. Perhaps you have more to go in your next round, but do not concern yourself with that now. Simply appreciate how far you have come, and stay focused on each round, and on each phase that you are in. For NOW, it is time to learn how to do P3.
Most of us are scared when starting P3. No one wants to get this far just to gain their weight back, AGAIN. Get support. This would be a great time to get some therapy, join an exercise or fitness program, or join a 12 step group. Whatever you can do to support your new lifestyle and your changing relationship to your food and your body is great. It is important to deal with the core issues of emotional eating and addiction in order to maintain your new body for a lifetime.
In addition to getting support, my biggest and most important advice for P3 is this: BE REALLY REALLY STRICT. Super strict. Stricter. No cheating. These next 3-6 weeks will stabilize your weight. It is what makes HCG distinct from other diets, and what makes this a game changer. YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT very quickly in the first three weeks if you cheat!
You have changed and reset your metabolism. You have created a clean slate for yourself. SOLIDIFY the hard work you have done. GIVE yourself these next 6 weeks and more to really change your relationship to your weight permanently. Everything else in your life will be there when you complete, including all of your favorite foods, so keep making this your NUMBER ONE priority. P3 might be easier for you than VCLD was, but it still takes focus, discipline, assertiveness with friends, and constant vigilance. Just remember that it is not forever, and that the results can last a lifetime if you take on these behaviors, and if you follow the given structure and protocol.
Before you start P3
- Read all of the p3 information in Linda Prinster’s HCG Weight Loss Cure Guide and get your questions answered. The internet is a great resource! HCG Chica’s website is extremely helpful.
- Be sure to prepare yourself fully.
- Start a spreadsheet that you will use for P3 only.
- Track your weight everyday. Use your LIW weight, and keep track of if you are AT your LIW weight, if you are a half pound up or down, or 1 pound up or down etc.
- Make a list of ALL the P3 foods that you would likely eat and create columns. Column 1 should include allowed foods that will likely eat, Column 2, cautionary foods, and Column 3, should list the foods to avoid.
- Be sure to have some version of all of the above available on your phone so you can use it when eating out and about, and at others homes, etc.
- I highly recommend the iPhone program called ‘lose it’ but there are lots of programs out there for tracking what food you eat as well as for counting your calories.
- Carefully read all labels. Read the section in Prinster’s book that tells you how to identify sugars and starches; it is quite helpful. There is hidden sugar and starch in everything. Sugar has many names such as honey, agave, organic cane juice, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, etc, so be sure to read up on this first and do not consume food with added sugar.
- When you eat at restaurants, ask good questions. Be ruthless about asking for ingredients. Often, restaurants brush their steaks with sugar and butter! There is hidden honey, and starches in many foods. There is often sugar in salt packets. There is usually sugar in ketchup and mustard. Chicken is often breaded. Be sure to ask, and be conscientious about avoiding all starches and sugars.
- TRACK EVERY SINGLE THING you eat, so you can learn to distinguish which foods make you gain weight. For example, every time I have a teeny amount of honey I gain weight. But other sweeteners don’t effect me. White wine doesn’t effect me. Flax bread doesn’t effect me but corn tortillas do! Cream doesn’t effect me. Cheese does. (THESE are NOT p3 foods) I can eat peanuts with no effect, but not almonds. So start with beginner’s mind. You may be surprised at what you discover.
- Track your calories. I know. I know. This is a BIG PAIN. But it is not forever. Many studies show that people who track their calories and their weight after losing weight are much more likely to keep their it off. This will keep you honest, it gives you some accountability, and most importantly it will help you learn how much food and what foods you can eat to maintain your weight in the long run. I strongly recommend this for long term maintenance. Once you have learned how to maintain your weight, you will no longer need to do this. I recommend doing it for 6 months to a full year after HCG however, because most people do not have the discipline to maintain without some form of accountability, nor do they have any idea how much to eat for long term weight maintenance.
- I suggest that you rarely eat the cautionary foods during P3, and that you do not eat ANY of them the first week or two. If you choose to eat cautionary foods, do so very carefully after that. For many of you who are younger than I am, you may have no problem with it. Just be cautious and test individual foods in small amounts.
- The only P3 cautionary food I ate regularly on P3 was coconut in many forms, it had no negative effect on me, it helped my digestion and it is YUMMY! Fresh coconut daily is pure heaven.
- Only add one new food at a time and see what effect each food has.
Keep in mind that your only goal in P3 and P4 is to stabilize your weight. That is your mantra for the next 6 weeks. It is NOT to eat all the foods you want NOR is it to try to lose more weight.
The first two days after you stop taking HCG, stay on the VCLD. STAY STRICT and stick with the protocol. You WILL gain weight if you don’t. And remember, you might lose weight on those last two days, but that weight will very likely come right back when you start eating, so your LIW weight is the weight that you want to maintain.
Your weight might fluctuate often and alot in P3. This is OK. However, be very strict with it. If your weight hits that ‘2 pounds above LIW’ weight, do a steak day or an apple day THAT very day. DO NOT WAIT. I rarely do steak days because any time I reach 1.5 pounds above my LIW weight I do an ‘avoid a steak’ day. I wrote up some ideas on how to ‘avoid a steak day’ in another blog post on my site.
I do not recommend eating the full amount of calories on your first days in P3. My first attempt at P3 I ate a ‘normal’ portion of food, and I have seen others who did the same, and we all gained weight immediately. In addition, it didn’t feel good because I really wasn’t very hungry. I backed up, lowered my calorie intake, and then increased slowly. In this manner, I was able to maintain my weight exactly at my LIW throughout all of P3 & P4 and beyond.
YOU might be different! Keep in mind that what I offer here are just suggestions that have worked for me and some of the people that I have supported. Maintenance is definitely a process of trial and error, so keep exploring what works for you.
TIPS that works really well to keep your LIW solid:
- NO SUGARS & NO STARCHES of any kind during P3. Be sure to get clear regarding how sugars and starches are defined.
- Be very very careful. Your body is REALLY sensitive right now and WANTS to gain the weigh back.
- Don’t eat anything if you don’t know all of the ingredients!
- Do not eat ANY of the cautionary foods at first.
- Add foods slowly. At first just eat the same foods that you have been eating, but eat more food. Then slowly add new P3 approved meats and veggies, and non cautionary fruits while paying attention to your weight.
- Keep drinking at least as much fluid as you were drinking in P2 or more.
- Eat a minimum of 2 apples and 1 whole grapefruit every day to keep your metabolism high.
- Eat small amounts 6 times a day to keep your metabolism high. 3 meals and 3 small P3 approved food snacks work great. (*This was hard for me at first but I love it now)
Increase your calories slowly. I have found that this plan works well:
Day 1 & 2: 700-900 calories at most, eat to satisfy your hunger only. Do not fill up or overfill yourself. you might not be very hunger at all!
Day 3 & 4: 900 – 1100 calories at most (if you haven’t gained weight, if you have, eat less)
Day 5- 6: Build up to about 1200-1400 calories. (if you haven’t gained, if you have, eat less)
Day 7-10: Build up to an average of 1400-1800 calories, depending on your own metabolism and activity level.
I do not know what YOUR body can handle. I know that for me, an average of 1550 maintains my weight, however I am 56 and in menopause. You will likely be able to eat more. I have an occasional day of 1700 – 2000 calories or more, but then other days I eat about 1400 calories or so. Simply pay close attention to what does and doesn’t work for YOU, and just find that sweet spot.
On any day you gain weight, cut back a small amount the next day. Find the right amount of calories that you should average, in order to maintain your weight.
By the middle of week 2 you should have found the right amount of food to eat for maintenance. It is very important that you do NOT restrict your eating or you will get back into the same situation you were in that brought you to HCG in the first place. Starvation will cause your metabolism to slow down. Be conscientious about building up to a healthy amount of calories for your age and body type. Keep in mind that you are setting a template for yourself during this time period, so be sure to lay a good foundation.
In week 3, you might try adding 1 or 2 very safe cautionary foods, however, it is best to test foods by trying one serving of one food item in a day. Note which foods make you gain or lose weight. Be sure to alternate what you eat.
After awhile, you may decide that staying within 2 pounds of your LIW is too hard to maintain. You may decide to give yourself a bigger leeway, many HCGers do. But I suggest that at first you remain very close to your LIW. If after p3 and p4 you want more wiggle room, that is OK. In the beginning however, it is important to keep your body, your food intake, and your weight on a tight rein in order for to accept this huge change and to allow yourself to adapt to your new weight and metabolism.
Be sure to try lots of yummy P3 recipes. There is so much creative and yummy stuff to be found on the internet. Pinterest is the best, but there are wonderful recipes all over the web. Free! There is really no need to buy more books because you can find everything you need in digital format.
Good luck with P3! Enjoy the exploration, enjoy your new body, and enjoy the freedom you are creating for yourself in your relationship to food.