I OFTEN get asked if the hCG diet protocol is just for men or women with 50-100 lbs to lose. If this approach can be used for those with only 15-20 lbs to lose, if it’s worth it. You will see today, that while Debbie has in the past dealt with a heavier load of weight to lose, in recent years it’s just been that pesky 15-20 lbs.
As you will see, the hCG protocol CERTAINLY has done a great job of getting her where she wants. So basically, it works for us all whether you have 10 lbs to lose or 110 lbs. That said, for those of us who may occasionally go up 5-7 lbs after hCG and wonder if we should do a round even then, I feel this small amount is typically correctable on our own without hCG, and I have a detailed article about this here: How to lose 5-7 lbs without using hCG.
You have to check out Debbie’s YT channel– she shares incredibly helpful information and does it in a way that’s a delight to watch. One thing is for sure about Debbie, she isn’t dry! She feels like a friend when you watch her.
You can google “your area” + “dexa scan” or “hydrostatic body fat test” or “bodpod” to find a location in your area that does these sorts of tests.
Cost is typically between $40-70. Bodpod is the cheapest, Hydrostatic is mid-range (I can mine as a pack of 3 tests to be used whenever I want for $100 which is $33 each instead of $45 to buy 1), and DEXA is the pricier but much more specific kind.
I would not trust these. They are frequently inaccurate. I’d like to give you a real example of this below, at the end of Debbie’s story.
QUICK NOTE: If you’re like uh….what’s P3tolife?
It’s my new structured program developed for Phase 3 and to take you into maintenance as well (hence P3….to life!), housed at p3tolife.com. Women are doing swimmingly well on it! Honestly even better than I could have hoped for. It’s not a list of foods or tips for doing well. It’s fully structured and you can just follow it to the letter if you like or tweak it to fit your life, but the point is….you will now know exactly what to do in Phase 3! No more guessing or wondering or having a million decisions to make about what you should make or eat or add when.
Let’s hear Debbie’s experience.
If you were to explain to an hCGer in just a few sentences why the P3tolife program for Phase 3 of the hCG Diet Protocol has been valuable to you, what wo
uld you tell them?
How did you end up following the program – did you do the original plan, the simplified, or build your own meal plan or just tweaks to one of these? Can you give a few details of how you utilized the program and tailored it to yourself and your circumstances?
At first I thought that I would use the build your own meal program, but I wound up really sticking pretty close to the original plan!
I did adjust the days on which I would prepare certain meals but would stay with the items for the week. The one exception I made for the duration of the program was to have a Rocket Fuel Latte (Leanne Vogel of Healthful Pursuit recipe) every morning for breakfast in lieu of what was on the meal plan. The calories and macros were similar so I was comfortable with that change. I actually really, really loved doing Phase 3 that way!!
Can you share your results – how your weight has been, while following the P3 program?
Sure! This is the most successful P3 I have ever had, so I am happy to share!
My LIW (3/31/17) I was 130.6 and 22.2% body fat and at the end of my P3 (4/23/17) I am 127.6 and 19% body fat!! So I lost weight and body fat!! As an example of the difference with this P3 as opposed to my last round in 2015…my LIW on that prior round was 127.8 and body fat 19.4 and by the end of that P3 I was up in weight to 130 and in body fat to 21.5%.
Also, last Phase 3 of the hCG protocol I had at least 3 or 4 steak days and my weight was jumping around from 127.8 to 139!! That was quite a roller coaster!! With this current round, and following the P3toLife program, my weight fluctuation was 132.6 to 127.6, settling toward the end at around 128.
How did you feel about the portion sizes of the P3 meals?
I thought the portion sizes were very generous!! In fact, sometimes I felt like it was too much food! Lol!
Can you share a little about your personal life- ie work full time/part time, kids or hubby or school? Would love to hear how you made the logistics work of cooking the program with whatever time constraints you deal with.
I am a consultant, working through my own company. At home is just my hubby and myself…kids are adults and all out of the home. I was able to be very flexible with my schedule due to running my own business so I did not feel any time constraints, which was nice.
The only challenging thing was that I would eat lunch late, therefore wanted to eat dinner later than my husband did. That was the only conflict. I did have to navigate one business trip that involved a couple of meals that I could not prepare myself. For the breakfast I just had coffee (per usual on HCG) and for lunch I just chose what would align with the protocol. It worked out okay thankfully!
Have you struggled on past p3’s and if so what were your struggles?
Oh my goodness…did I ever struggle!! My failure in prior P3’s were the reason why I had to do 4 rounds of HCG to lose the same 20 lbs again!! Ugh!
Wow, look at those guns Debbie!! She obviously works out. Having muscle that SHOWS is a combination of BOTH working out with weights to build the muscle in the first place, and losing enough fat for that muscle to show. And honestly, when someone is responsible enough to work hard to have muscles like that, she’s a person to listen to! Which you can do of course 😉 at her Youtube Channel – The Choice Factor.
Were there any positive results from following the plan that surprised you that you weren’t expecting? Have you learned anything new from the program?
Yes, for sure!! Weight stability!! Utopia! I really never experience a stable Phase 3 and absolutely zero steak (correction) days! It was so awesome! On top of the great feeling of stability, I also felt completely satisfied the whole time! Seriously! Satiety was not an issue at all!
One of the things I really appreciate also was that when I felt like I wanted a treat at the end of the night, the smoothie was right there at my fingertips to take the munchies edge off, while still being on plan! Awesome! I also enjoyed how easy and delicious the recipes were! I actually cooked dinners! My hubby easily augmented his dinners with additional carbs…perfect!
What were one or two of your favorite recipes in the plan?
I just asked hubby his thought and he said they were “all good”! Now that’s saying a lot!! If I had to pick two, I would probably say the Lean and Hearty Turkey Chili from week one, the Chili Lime Shrimp with Miracle Noodles for week two, and the Fish Taco Bowl from week three.
Any other closing thoughts that you want to share about your experience with the program, or that might help others considering whether or not to give it a try?
I would say that anyone who struggles with the ambiguity of the “no sugar no starch” guideline would definitely benefit from the structure and information that this program offers.
I also think that the way the calories and macros are structured to gradually increase is critical. It can be such a mystery as to how much to eat and what macro combo that it is nice to have it already established for you. You find yourself with a definitive plan and feeling completely satiated. It’s awesome.
I would also advice to abstain from alcohol during the P3 of the hCG protocol…it would just be extra empty calories that are not necessary and could lead to deviation from the program and/or poor choices. (Rayzel note: there is an entire interview and lesson on Alcohol in P3 in the P3tolife program- the dangers and why it’s dangerous, but also how to enjoy a glass without derailing your P3 if necessary).
How much weight you’ve lost with hCG/starting weight/ending weight/ clothing size change. How many rounds did you do, how long was each round?
Note: I count my weight lost from my preload weight because I feel like the load weight is inflamed due to loading and not representative of my reality.
How long have you currently been maintaining (or where are you currently at in your hCG journey)?
I have never successfully maintained until this last round. I finally did it!!! I have now successfully finished my P3 with the P3tolife program and will continue to maintain my loss using more of a Keto lifestyle going forward.
Tell us how you came to be overweight and your struggles with that?
I was a thin child, didn’t think much about weight or my body…always outside and active. By the time I was in HS I started noticing other girls thinking/talking about their bodies and I too started thinking perhaps mine was not okay. I was 110 lbs and thought that I needed to go on a diet! Oh my! By the time I graduated from HS I had started to eat more junk food and also overeat. I would seek opportunities where I could get my hands on junk food that we didn’t normally have in the house. That caused me to gain weight, resulting in weighing 140lbs by the time I graduated HS.
I was pear shaped, carrying my weight in my hips, butt and thighs. Both family members and friends definitely teased me. I remember that some of my friends gave me a t-shirt that said, “thunder thighs”…they thought it was funny. I laughed along, but it did hurt. When I would be proud of losing 5 lbs, my Dad would mock me by saying “turn around…I’ll show you where it is.” All was intended to be funny and teasing, not knowing that it caused me to be hurt.
That summer I decided to go on a diet to lose weight before starting college. I succeeded. By September I was down to 118 lbs and felt great! But it still wasn’t enough, as I kept feeling like I still needed to lose weight and was very afraid of gaining back what I had already lost. Soon thereafter I met and started dating a man who would wind up being my fiancé and also someone who was just as obsessed with my weight as I was. He would tell me that if I ever got fat, he’d have a hard time loving me. It was not with malintention…he had his own issues…but was also not healthy.
During that time I developed a form of bulimia whereby I would binge at night after our date, eating everything in sight, then take laxatives and diuretics, go to bed, then purge and fast all day…the cycle went on for months. I was thin, but I was incredibly unhealthy both physically and emotionally. Eventually I wound up breaking up with my fiancé, realizing that it was not a healthy relationship.
However, even though I stopped taking the laxatives and diuretics, I continued to binge and fast…bingeing more frequently than fasting. I really struggled with accepting my body and knowing how to eat in moderation. It was always an extreme. Eventually my weight climbed to 180 lbs, where I remained for the majority of the decade of my 20’s…through college and the birth of my daughter. I was miserable. I felt uncomfortable, insecure, and unattractive.
I definitely suffered under comments from friends, boyfriends, and family. It was tough. My doctors expressed concern about my health and asked what I intended to do. I told them I was trying. I did not realize that all of my strict dieting, resulting in bingeing was the very thing that was hurting me. By the time I was 30 years old, I had had enough and really wanted to make a change. I knew I wasn’t being a good example for my young daughter and I also knew that I was not treating my body in the way that God wanted me to treat it…I was His creation and I was abusing the only body I had.
At that time, a body builder friend of mine offered to introduce me to the gym and lifting weights. I reluctantly agreed, fearing that I would just get bigger and bulkier. He assured me that would not happen. He was right. I started doing cardio and weightlifting…feeling like I lived at the gym! Lol! Slowly but surely my body began to change and with that came a new motivation and confidence. The next step for me was to pay more attention to my nutrition.
Motivated by wanting to be able to see all of the results from my efforts in the gym. I was aware that I needed to both work out and eat healthfully. That mindset stuck and I eventually reduced my weight to 135-140 lbs on a stable basis, with substantial muscle tone from all of my resistance training. It was awesome! I felt strong and healthy. I only gained significant weight (40 lbs) one time after that with the pregnancy of my son. I had no problem with that weight gain! It was for good purpose!
It was after my pregnancy and difficulty getting back down to 135-140 that I made another significant change in my life, which was to give up all flour, corn, sugar, and potatoes for a year! Yep…I did! Did I say I like extremes?! Lol! It really worked for me and I “melted”. At the end of that year, I incorporated flour, corn, and potatoes back into my diet, but decided to continue with not allowing sugar (except for pure natural like honey, molasses, pure maple syrup, fruit) in my diet at all. That was in 1999 and I am that way to this day, now in 2017. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I do allow sugar if it is the 4th or lower ingredient in a product, which significantly reduces choices! That decision greatly contributed to me being able to keep my weight off. I did so successfully until my body started changing through menopause and I started to see my waist increase and development of the awful muffin top. Ugh.
It was around this time that I heard of an 8 week fitness challenge by a local fitness and nutrition bestselling author, Jorge Cruise. He was writing a new book and was looking for people to do the challenge to support his book. I applied and was selected as one of a small group of 50 people. I was so dedicated to the program, and had such success, losing 20 lbs and getting lean and cut, that Jorge asked me to join him on the Today Show in NYC as one of his fitness models!! What?! Pretty cool for a gal who struggled her whole adult life with weight and body image!! I would love to be able to say that losing that 20 lbs was the last time it was needed, but not so. I proceeded to eventually gain the weight back and then lose again. Up and down.
I discovered HCG in 2013 and went on the protocol for the first time. I loved it!! I followed P2 strictly…perfect on protocol (POP). It took me 2 rounds to get back down to 128.8, where I was when I was on the Today Show…my barometer for where I wanted to be. I LOVED that I lost weight quickly, while preserving my hard earned muscle! It was awesome. However, I failed P3 and therefore did not stabilize over time.
I found myself falling back into my habitual lifestyle of eating very clean during the workweek and then playing too much over the weekend. Invariably I would gain the 20lbs back. So I went on HCG in 2014, 2015, and now again with my last round of 2017.
The difference with this time and my most successful P3 in all of my rounds is that I followed a structured Phase 3 hCG diet maintenance program (yours…P3toLife!!!) coupled with the fact that I completely abstained from any alcohol. It is too easy to consume too many empty calories with the alcohol and also make poor food choices while drinking. It is a recipe for a potential weight gain in P3 (or any time for that matter!). I decided to not let that happen again.
Now that I am done with P3 I am going to experiment with a Keto lifestyle and continue to do my cardio and resistance training workouts. I love being fit and lean, and it requires the right choices for both fitness and nutrition!
What type of hCG did you use? If injections or prescription drops, what dose worked best for you?
Always injections…100%. I used doses between 150 to 135 i.u., reducing dosage as the VLCD (very low calorie diet – Phase 2, the losing weight part of the hCG protocol) days passed.
What would you say your experience was the first week on phase 2? Easy or hard? Explain. Could also discuss how you loaded if you like. What parts of the protocol were easier for you and which parts were more challenging? How did you handle the challenging aspects?
The first week was always welcomed because of feeling full and sick of food after loading. By the third day I was usually yearning for some “not allowed” foods, but it was never hunger, just desire. That was quickly replaced by the HCG euphoria, brought on by the hormone itself and the joy of releasing fat/pounds.
The easy part for me was the structure. I do well with parameters and rules…knowing exactly what I can and cannot do. I enjoy that and am able to follow precisely very easily. I never, ever cheated on P2 because I don’t mind following a program precisely. Also, I very much respected the fact that this was not a diet like Weight Watchers, South Beach, or something but instead a medical protocol in which I was injecting a prescription hormone. That was nothing to take lightly or to disregard. That was a huge motivator for not cheating.
The challenging part was seeing the scale go up or stagnate despite being POP. It could get frustrating! The way I overcame that was to focus on things other than the weight number such as my body fat percentage, measuring tape, how my clothes felt, and overall lightness in my body/step. Another way I overcame that challenge was by choosing to trust the protocol and my body.
Because I never cheated I was able to rest in the confidence that what was happening was supposed to be happening and that I was not doing anything to sabotage myself. It made me be able to accept whatever my body was doing.
What did you find yourself liking to eat during Phase 2/vlcd – how would you prepare your meals?
I grew to LOVE cucumbers and sliced apples with cinnamon. And asparagus…oh my…almost daily!! Lol! They were all staples of mine. I also would make a strawberry sorbet using one of my fruit servings. I would make it thick and voluminous…so delish! Apart from that I ate pretty boring but on protocol.
One thing I avoided was ground meat…I preferred whole pieces of meat. I also ate bison in lieu of beef…I found it leaner.
What tricks do you have up your sleeve to stay sane while on Phase 2?
See above. Also, I would do everything possible to avoid having to eat food that I had not personally measured and prepared. I was strict! I would go out to dinner with the family and limited friends and I would bring my diced chicken and sliced cucumber or tomatoes in baggies and eat discretely. Lol! I would also bring my apples to the movie theater!
What have been your tools/little tricks that help you maintain your weight loss?
Well, that is yet to be seen! Lol! For this Phase 3, it was following the structure of your plan. Going forward I hope to see stability using a Keto lifestyle along with continued cardio and weight training. I will also continue with my sugar rules that have been in place since 1999…that is for life. Another thing that I have incorporated is that I will only drink alcohol on limited and special occasions, not every weekend as before. I am looking forward to long-term success!!
When you want a treat now, give us a couple examples of what you might eat? Also, are you ever able to indulge in a regular treat, like cake at a party, and still maintain?
Well not sugar for me…unless it is natural sugar like a cake made from honey or something. But with Keto I will probably have Keto treats and I just might continue to make some of the smoothies I made while on the P3toLife program!
What factors have you noticed to play a role in people NOT succeeding on hCG?
What do you feel are the most important keys to success on the hcg protocol? If someone said they want to have the same results you have, what would you tell them?
I would tell them to strictly adhere to the protocol and to not cheat. I would advise them to have a strategic mindset, realizing that while on protocol it is only a very short window of time in relation to the long-term health and emotional benefit of the release of excess weight. Knowing that the strict P2 will be over in 21-40 days makes it more tolerable…at least for me. Also focusing on the fact that this protocol enables you to retain your muscle while quickly releasing stores of abnormal fat, all while not feeling true hunger. It’s scientific brilliance!! I know of nothing else like it accept maybe Keto, but I never tried that for weight loss. I do know, however, that HCG works…every.single.time. Absolutely amazing.
But it must be respected as a protocol and followed carefully for success to be had. Case and point for P3 and me. I have never followed the very important P3 part of the protocol and always cheated on it…that is why I never maintained my loss. HCG did not fail me…I failed the protocol on P3. I am optimistic that with the changes I have incorporated through this round, my P3…therefore stability…will be as successful as my P2’s have always been!!
If you are still here, I want to encourage you once again to please go check out Debbie’s Youtube channel – she is truly a delight to watch – do that here: TheChoiceFactor.
I wanted to give you a guys an example of what a body fat test looks like – this one is with a DEXA scan – you lay down and this thing scans your whole body and then it tells you just how much muscle, bones, and fat you have in each spot- it’s super specific- left arm, right arm, head, torso, it’s pretty cool!
This is an old test of Debbie’s but it will just give you an idea of what the testing is.
One really great thing about it is the DEXA scan tells you your visceral fat level, which is important health marker. Visceral fat is the fat that’s deep within your middle torso area that surrounds your organs. It’s not good to have much of this stuff. Being a bit overweight but not having overly-high visceral fat is not so bad. Too much visceral fat is a really big warning sign for disease and is linked with many health risks, diabetes, and insulin resistance.
Many of us rely on our scales we step on at home to tell us what our bodyfat percent is and what our progress on the hCG diet is. While there are times it may be accurate for a person, there are MANY time when these scales are highly inaccurate and may make you think you either have more fat than you really do, or that you are not losing fat on the protocol (talk about major motivation hit) when you really are.
“I got a smart scale after my first round on HCG and thought it was going to be a great tool as it measures fat/muscle/bone percentage as well as hydration percentage. I was kind of surprised how high my fat percentage and BMI were, but I figured that it simply meant I had to work harder, which I could do.
When I started my next round of phase 2, I was very pleased to see my fat percentage decrease, while my muscle percentage increased. It didn’t decrease by as much as I thought it should, but I was still happy to know that I was indeed losing all fat. When my 3rd round of Phase 2 came about, things were very different. My body was having a harder time and my scale was showing that I was losing both muscle and fat. This alarmed me, and because I had some difficulties getting enough protein, I decided to end the round off short. But I was still concerned about why my fat percentage didn’t seem to be budging much. After all, when I was using the scale on my second round of P2, I had only lost 2 percentage points of fat… Plus, my scale was telling me that I was still at 36% body fat, while I only weighed 140 pounds. (hcghica note: if this were true, this bodyfat percent is considered highly obese, and at only 140 lbs this is a major problem)
I can see that I have muscle tone, so I know that have good muscle under there, and the numbers just didn’t make sense. Again, I told myself that I might have to work longer, but I could do it. Well, both you and my physician told me to ignore the scale. And you advised me to get hydrostatic body fat testing. I got really lucky and they had a testing spot not too far away on the very last day of my VLCD. I was shocked at the reading. It told me I was at 25.5% body fat!! What a huge difference!! That’s more than a 15 pound fat difference!! My “smart” scale was telling me that 15 pounds of my weight was fat when it was actually lean muscle.
WOW. I feel so betrayed! The interesting thing is, after ending P2, the scale seems to be slowly “catching up” and has dropped my fat percentage to 33-31% while my weight has been fluctuating on P3. However, I’m not really using those measurements anymore. I’ll ignore them for the most part and do hydrostatic testing before and after each P2. I can’t thank you enough for your advice to get this testing done. It has made all the difference in my understanding and viewpoint of my body. Instead of thinking that I still had to lose 20% body fat, I only need to 5%, which is so much “easier” to do!! ”
To me, this is a big deal. When I was overweight, knowing just how much fat I had to lose would have a big bearing on how I felt. Can you imagine thinking you had so much further to go than you actually did, because of a scale that was overestimating your level of fat by a whopping 15 stinking pounds???
Okay, I finish with my soapbox now. 🙂
Have a great day you guys!