The HCG diet plan has been popular for decades. It is a very effective method of weight loss. It takes discipline, hard work, and dedication, but the results are worth it. However, it doesn't have to be so hard all the time. Here, we'll take you through some meal prep hacks to make your days on the HCG diet a bit easier.
These tips will make it easier to plan your meals and eat things you actually enjoy.
What is the HCG Diet?
First, let's start with the basics. You must have a good understanding of what you're getting into to know how to effectively meal prep for the HCG diet.
The HCG diet has a set of rules and procedures that nearly guarantee weight loss. It's a program that uses both Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HGC) injections or ingestions and calorie restrictions. You'll stick to a limit of 500 calories each day for the bulk of the HCG diet.
Although not everyone does the HCG diet the same way, it is generally broken down into three phases:
The first HCG diet phase is typically referred to as the "gorging" or "loading" phase. You can usually eat as much as you want during this phase while introducing the HCG hormone into your system. This phase lasts for two days, during which your body becomes familiar with the HCG hormone so that you can burn off the fat stores in Phase 2.
Phase 2 is generally known as the "weight loss" phase. Because this is considered the most difficult part of the process to stick to, this is where the majority of our meal planning advice will come into play.
During Phase 2, you will take HCG drops or an HCG injection while sticking to a daily 500-calorie diet. Depending on the HCG plan, it will typically last between 27 and 40 days.
The HCG diet is not only strict in how many calories you consume but when and how you consume them. There will be an HCG meal plan you will need to follow. There is also a strict list of approved foods. For a breakdown of a sample day on the Phase 2 diet, as well as a comprehensive list of approved foods, check out our list here. You will find a list of approved proteins, fruits, vegetables, and other items (although note that it does differ slightly depending on the diet plan).
Of course, it is important to note that not everyone does the HCG diet the same way, so you may notice some variance in terms of how different people schedule their days.
Phase 3 consists of the three weeks after Phase 2. In Phase 3, you are essentially easing normal foods back into your diet. You also taper off the HCG. Phase 3 is all about gradually reintroducing foods so that your metabolism can adjust to your new weight. This phase involves gradually upping your calorie intake to 1,500 per day.
There are many more approved foods for Phase 3, including all meats. However, you still need to stay away from carbs, starches, and sugars, although you can gradually re-add dairy products and healthy oils.
Once again, check out our diet info page for a more comprehensive understanding of the overall process.
HCG Meal Prepping Hacks
Now that we understand what you will be working with on the HCG diet, let's check out some meal prepping hacks to make the whole process a lot more tolerable. In this section, we're looking at methods to help you through Phase 2, where your diet is very restricted in terms of calories and options. However, many of these tips could be adapted to any phase of the diet.
Prepping meals is one of the most effective ways to stick to a diet plan because you eliminate a lot of the guesswork from what you are going to eat.
It’s All About Planning
Effective meal prep starts at the planning stage. Because HCG is such a restrictive diet, effective planning is a must. Planning your meals is an easy way to ensure that each is in accordance with the overall diet plan and that you meet your daily dietary goals.
Planning your meals ahead of time allows you to visualize each day as a whole, rather than trying to mix and match each meal to fit your plan.
We recommend making a schedule. Break down each day of the week by meal, and then place your choices into each slot. This is a much easier way of ensuring that each meal meets the requirements set out in the HCG diet. You'll have a full outline of what you intend to eat and you can use the visual to plan each day.
Once you have your plan ready, you need to break it down based on the ingredients you need. This allows you to make a comprehensive list of what's needed so you can hit the grocery store and knock out your entire list in one go. It's all about expediting the process as much as possible.
After you've got the plan and ingredients, all that's left is prepping.
Schedule the Prepping
Planning and prepping go hand-in-hand, and the HCG diet is no exception. In fact, once you figure it out, HCG prepping is easier than some other diets. This is because there isn't much to prep.
Use the plan that you developed above and pick a time that works best for you. Most people choose a day they know they'll have free time, such as Sunday. Choose a day where you can carefully prep many of the meals on your meal plan.
Then, all that's left to do is prep. With HCG meal prep, you want to carefully measure each portion to ensure you aren't surpassing any nutritional or caloric restrictions. It is much easier to do this all at once so you can have all the ingredients ready and available.
Make Freezer Meals
An easy way to prep meals ahead of time is to freeze each portion. Pick up some meal prep containers and use them to pack away each portion of the meal that you prepped. These containers allow you to separate each portion and keep your servings consistent throughout the week. You can even prep several of the same meals and repeatedly use them for dinners and lunches.
Just be sure to thaw the meals the morning of. Make it a habit to check your freezer every morning and remove the day's meals.
Create a List of Alternative Cravings
Cravings will be one of the most difficult things you deal with on the HCG diet. This highly restrictive diet will strip away much of how you're used to eating. While HCG helps you manage this appetite, cravings are still inevitable.
Avoiding cravings is not always easy. And while it does help to attempt to avoid situations where you will be faced with these cravings, including restaurants, bars, and parties, it is not always going to be possible.
Sometimes, it helps to "give in" to these cravings by developing a list of substitutes. These alternatives are HCG-acceptable recipes that replace your most-craved foods.
For example, if you know you'll crave chocolate, try some Stevia chocolate powder. If you know you'll crave potatoes, try some cauliflower mash.
The most important thing here is to know about common substitutes so you can adjust them into your diet as you see fit. Knowing all the common HCG-substitute ingredients is your best bet for curbing your cravings in the long run. You can "give in" to your cravings without actually doing so.
Don’t Forget Your Spices
One of the most common reasons that people fail a diet is not hunger, it's boredom. When you get fed up with the foods you eat, you are much more likely to "cheat" on your diet just to add some variety to your meals.
And while the HCG diet is unquestionably restrictive, it still gives you a lot to work with if you're creative.
One of the best ways to add some variety to your meals is to take advantage of all the various spices and flavorings allowed during Phase 2 of the HCG diet. You can use salt, pepper, and any other natural spices. You can also use Stevia, mustard powder, apple cider vinegar, and more.
Simply put, there are many options available to add some new flavors and twists to your favorite meals and make sure your diet doesn't get too stale.
Tips for Sticking to the Meal Plan
Perhaps the most difficult part of the HCG diet is sticking with it. Let's face it, even when you've planned all your meals, made a complete schedule, and have all the ingredients, it's still difficult to stick with such a low-calorie diet. But the results are worth it, so here are some tips for sticking with it:
Write Down Your Goals
With the HCG diet, you want to make your goals clear and obvious. Often, holding yourself accountable is about making your goals "real." Writing down clear, consistent goals is a great way to do this.
Choose the HCG diet that most aligns with your personal goals in terms of caloric restrictions, Phase 2 length, method of HCG supplementation, etc. Then, write it down, make a schedule, and display it prominently. You'd be surprised what a difference this can make.
One Day at a Time
Sometimes the thought of committing to such a large dietary change can be overwhelming. This is why we suggest you take it one day at a time. Some will be harder than others, but you only need to worry about what's in front of you.
This is why meal planning and prepping is such an effective way to get through the HCG diet. It forces you to slow down and view each day as it comes, rather than as a whole. You'll stay focused on your next meal, which is all you need to focus on anyway.