There’s basically three ways you can handle Phase 3
1. the DO-ABLE WAY
Follow the 1 basic principle of Phase 3, see how it goes and be willing to troubleshoot and make corrections where necessary.
(that post is here).
2. the BEST WAY
Be uber strict. This way will essentially take the roller-coaster feeling aspect out of P3. At least your odds of such are much lower.
3. the NOT GONNA WORK WAY
Don’t take Phase 3 seriously and gain the weight back. Yeah please don’t do that. If you want to hear about the time I did that read here.
This article is all about….
The BEST Way to Do Phase 3 of the hCG Diet – Detailed but Stress Free (almost)
If I do a P3 again in the future (which I have no plans for another round at this time- no need), I would actually be equipped to make better choices which would probably make my next P3 go more smoothly should that time ever come.
While I have managed to do most of my P3’s with pretty good success (I fall into the category of doing Phase 3 “the Do-Able Way”), I wouldn’t say they are worthy of 100% imitation by you guys. Maybe 80% 😉 Hey, I’m a real live woman like the rest of you.
What IS It About P3 That Feels So Scary?
Because Phase 2 is a more controlled environment it often feels reassuring. Phase 3 is different- you often don’t feel assured of anything. You’re desired outcome is to maintain your weight but the basic “rule” for supposedly achieving this feels pretty vague. This post is all about examining how you can do P3 in the most detailed way possible to make stabilizing your weight a sure thing. Or that’s what we hope anyway!
Just a warning. Doing Phase 3 this particular “BEST” way requires that you be pretty mature when it comes to how you handle eating and food because you are needing to be extremely cautious in multiple areas. If you are not there yet (I wasn’t), then please read my Phase 3 Primer – the Do-Able Way – 4 Basic Rules.
The following is a more detailed approach to Phase 3 – for those of you can handle it, it can lead to a very stress-free P3.
For many women who are either in perimenopause/menopause or who take bioidentical hormones, the following way may be the ONLY way for you to stabilize, so take note!
Are Phase 3 Rules Really that Important?
The reason that what we are about to discuss is so important is that I’ve found weight to be very volatile when you first get off P2 and it requires that you take some special measures in order to help your body get comfortable at this new weight.
Think about it- you just lost, most likely 20-30lbs- in just a few short weeks. A drastic change just happened in your body that wasn’t slow and gradual. Your body has been operating differently than it normally does during this time- instead of getting all it’s calories for functioning from food, it’s been getting the majority of it’s fuel from your fat- it now has to switch back to food as a main fuel source, which in itself I’m sure is quite easy, but to make that switch without gaining weight seems more involved.
Whatever you decide to do, remember it is only for a few weeks- not a lifetime.
Making your stabilization phase go smoothly and successfully is worth keeping out a few foods as necessary so that you can eat them and keep your new body at the same time later!
7 Basic Keys for Phase 3 the BEST Way
- For 3 weeks following Phase 2, do not eat sugars or starches
- Eat to hunger
- Introduce calories/amounts of food gradually
- Introduce dairy, nuts, and fats slowly
- Keep your weight within 2 lbs of your LDW*
- If your weight goes above this, do a Steak Day
- If your weight goes above the 2lb window, start the three week Phase 3 period over again.
* There are several instances where this won’t be possible – article coming soon to explain this!
#1- No Starches or Sugars for 3 weeks
What does this mean though exactly? Basically we’re going low carb here. There are either starches or sugars in: Grains, Beans, Fruit, and Starchy Veggies. There can also be hidden starches in pre-made foods – ingredients such as Maltodextrin and the like.
If in doubt, leave it out. You will be so glad you did this later.
What’s definitely out in my mind:
Or what we consider to be grains because they have carbs (ie. wheat, couscous, rice even brown, barley, corn (tortillas, chips etc), quinoa, etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s sprouted (example Ezekiel bread- this contains 11-12 grams of net carbs per slice still – too high for P3 in my opinion). We can’t think about food from other diet perspectives, we have to think about it from an hCG perspective.
Things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, peas. ex. root vegetable chips, no. Sorry!
Some low sugar fruits like the berry family can usually be gotten away with like 1/2 cup in a smoothie, but I’d avoid most other fruits myself- fruits are high natural fructose sugar still – not good for Phase 3 purposes. Some people do keep in the P2 fruits in P3 but I would say the vast majority run into trouble keeping fruits in.
Beans. Frijoles. Whatever you want to call them – make your chili without beans. This also includes things like lentils and split peas. Garbanzo beans, you name it. They are all foods with a fairly high carb content.
- Milk – 12 grams of carbs/sugar in 1 cup of milk actually. Doesn’t mean you can’t have any dairy, but be aware of the type of dairy and check labels. For instance, the sugar content of fat free yogurts really varies- I’ve some with a 1 cup serving containing up to 12 grams of sugar, and others with only 7 grams. So always a good idea to choose the lower end during P3.
- Nuts – There are 20 grams of carbs in 1 cup of almonds. Doesn’t mean you can’t have them, but amounts and their resulting carb level (1/4 cup – 5 grams carbs – much better!) matter.
What if you still aren’t sure if something is a starch or carb?
Check the both the sugar and carb count on the actual nutrition label always. Labeling can be misleading and reading the nutrition facts and ingredients can quickly help you see what’s REALLY in there. Additionally, see my post coming soon on Common P3 Questions and you will see I’ve detailed out some carb/calorie/sugar amounts for some foods to give you an idea.
As you can see then, you won’t be just eating more of P2 foods in Phase 3. And thank goodness! I’m sure you’ve had enough of those already. Not that you can’t still eat these foods of course, but really in most cases, removing most fruits from the equation is in your best interests.
#2- Eating to Hunger
Okay this is the one of the keys for EASE in P3 that I am NOT a good example of. I wish I could say I was. While I have over the last 2 years learned to eat to hunger in general, the majority of my P3’s were not really run with this in mind. I was doing good just to be avoiding sugar at that point.
Somehow it did work out, BUT I was also in hot pursuit of gaining muscle after most my rounds, and I did gain several lbs of muscle- building fat or muscle both take excess calories, so that’s why I don’t think I’m the best example for those in P3 wishing to truly stay the same weight- thankfully my “gains” during P3 and P4 have pretty much been all desirable ones (muscle), but I recognize this is not the goal of the majority of you hCGing ladies out there.
That being said, eating to hunger can be a very important piece of the puzzle to truly stabilizing your health and having freedom with what you eat later down the road. I am not going to dwell too much on this topic because there is already an excellent book that covers this subject in great detail, Weight-Loss Apocalypse: Emotional Eating Rehab Through the hCG Protocol.
I feel like this book is a must-read for anyone who has deeper seated reasons for being overweight or overeating. The author, Robin Woodall, will introduce you to her method of eating to hunger which involves a hunger scale- something to gauge your hunger, and teaches you when to eat and when to stop eating based on this scale- if you follow this method, you are basically gauranteed to maintain your weight.
In real terms what you’ll find if you follow this is that at the start of P3, it really won’t take a whole lot of food to reach that satisfied but not overly full feeling. As P3 progresses, you’ll find your capacity for amounts of food to reach that feeling will increase until you are eating more what is considered for your new body size.
Additionally, my friend Barbara from inspiredgirl.me has 2 excellent articles on the topic of P3 and she IS a good example of eating the right amounts of food throughout P3 in a mature way.
#3- Introduce Calories Gradually
If you follow #2 you probably can dispense with #3, but nevertheless, I put it here because for some this has been a very efficient way for some to know exactly how much they were eating and to gradually increase their food intake in a logical way that they could measure.
I know in his manuscript Pounds and Inches, Dr. Simeons warned about not increasing your calories and food intake on p3 enough and running into trouble. But since he wasn’t specific on amounts, it’s difficult to know exactly what he had in mind.That’s why sometimes vague statements can almost be more hurtful than helpful because different people will take it different ways.
As an example, for many years I have read about the importance of taking in “lots of protein” (a very vague statement- exactly how much is lots?) especially when working out- so that’s just what I did- I have eaten up to a whole pound of meat in one sitting, on many occasions, because I was worried about not getting enough protein after my workout and losing muscle.
Did I mention I’m 5′ nothing and weigh 125 lbs? A girl my size does NOT need a whole pound of meat after a workout. But somehow because most of what I had read was so vague and not specific at all, my brain had to come up with a definition for “lots” which ended up amounting to 1 lb. WAY more than I need for my size.
So that’s my example to show that some of us, if not given clear direction, can take things too far one way or the other, because we simply don’t naturally know what’s balanced since we have no point of reference.
You can tell from his manuscript that Dr. Simeons was concerned with individuals who were so nervous about p3 that would try to continue eating the 500 calories even once the hCG was gone, scared to eat more for fear of gaining weight. So we know not to do go that far. But he was less clear on how much more we were actually supposed to eat. I think portion sizes have gone up QUITE a bit since his day, so our perception of what’s a “normal” amount of food is often not accurate and is actually too much. (find article on portion size changes in the past 50 years).
I am again the perfect example of this mistake. I am guilty of overdoing it in p3. While I am very strict about not eating the starches and sugars, I have not been smart in the past when it came to amounts of food. I would often feel myself getting overly full, which is not good. Since you just spent several weeks eating very little food, your body is not going to be well equipped to handle too much food at first- it makes more logical sense to add amounts of food in more gradually- your digestion will thank you as well!
If you think about this logically it’s really quite reasonable. When a person does a cleanse where they are taking only liquids or only vegetables for a certain period of time, it’s a common known fact that re-introducing meat, or solid foods must be done slowly- you don’t go from a 10 day juice fast to a first meal of fried chicken. Those who have done such things have lived to tell their stories of doubled over pain. So the same principle applies.
Well now I’m guilty of being vague, and that is because I really don’t have specific amounts to give you because I simply don’t know- all I know is that it seems that some of us tend to bump our calorie intake up a little TOO fast in p3 and some of the more successful people in p3 have been more cautious and methodical about their gradual increasing of calorie intake and types of foods eaten.
#4 – Introduce Food Groups and Fats Slowly
Food groups. Okay, so there’s 2 reasons it’s good to add food groups slowly.
1. You may find your body is sensitive to certain foods or food groups that causes you gains on the scale at the start of P3, that do not cause this problem later on when you try them again.
2. You come to find you have a true intolerance to a certain food or food group, and discovering this through the P3 process can help you maintain your weight for life MUCH more easily.
So the first point. If you want to play it super duper safe, leaving out nuts and dairy for the first week of P3 seems like it would be wise. Often times food groups like nuts or dairy aren’t tolerated too well at the start of P3. Whether this is because of their carb content or their fat content or both I’m not sure. Dr. Simeons did say that in P3 that as soon as carbs and fats were combined things got out of hand quickly, and in truth both dairy and nuts kind of have that combo of high fat and more carbs that most people would think.
Whatever the case, the scenario is that say you have some nuts one day but the scale goes up way more than you think it should have for what you ate the previous day. So you might take nuts back out for a few days and see how the scale treats you. Trying these foods again as time goes on, you may likely find you CAN eat these foods now.
On to FATS. I can’t be totally sure of this, but it seems to me that your body is still somewhat sensitive to fats when you first come off the diet. I could be wrong here. But this is the impression I get so far, and it makes me think that introducing fats in the diet should be done gradually as well. Maybe a little the first few days, then a little more, etc. I know the hCG gets out of the system in 72 hours supposedly, but I just feel like in my experience my body was still sensitive to and would take up fat very easily even that first week of p3. I would love to hear other’s feedback and experience on this if you have it.
The thing to note here is that everyone’s body is really different which is why it’s impossible to give an exact outline that you can be sure is best for you. In Episode 11 of the hCG Diet Interviews, Elke had a totally different P3 experience. She’s not a big meat eater and she stabilized in P3 well by eating fruits, dairy, nuts and veggies and small amounts of meat. She lost 80lbs with hCG and has been maintaining it with no issues for several months. So in this case, almost the exact opposite of what I just told you!
In general though, I would say the majority do better adding dairy and nuts more cautiously.
Okay by now you might be thinking geez Rayzel, okay so you’re basically saying as long as I eat sawdust I’ll be fine. It’s really not all bad. I will have a whole article JUST on What CAN You Eat On Phase 3 in the near future.
#5 Keeping Weight 2 lbs Within Your LDW
Your LDW (aka Last Day Weight) or LIW (Last Injection Weight) is the your weight on the scale the morning OF your last day of hCG. For those injecting, it’s that last morning you inject. For those on drops, it’s the start of your last day of drops.
What LDW and LIW are NOT: This is NOT your weight on the scale the first day of P3. There is a 72 hour period of after your last dose of hCG that you do continue the 500 calorie VLCD diet. You will continue losing weight during this time most likely. You might even have a big loss the last day or two. But this is not the weight you are trying to maintain.
Saturday, morning of last injection: 156lbs – your LIW
Tuesday, 1st day of P3: 153lbs
In the example, the person lost an additional 3 lbs during the 72 hours of 500 calories as the hCG left their system. In Phase 3, you are attempting to stay within 2 lbs of your LIW only – in this example 156lbs. So you would not do a steak day until you reached 158lbs. Some mistakenly take their lowest weight on the diet, which is usually the start of P3, example 153 lbs, to maintain, then they are going to be trying to do a steak day if they hit 155 lbs, which they will most likely end up doing steak day after steak day as their body won’t want to stay here.
Most of the time we gain the losses in the last 72 hours right back in P3 – do not worry about this. Let it go.
The reason Dr. Simeons explained that it’s not good to attempt to maintain the weight loss you experienced in those last 72 hours of the 500 calorie diet is because the hCG ends up not being in full force in your system as its leaving. Now you MAY end up stabilizing lower, and if so, awesome, but the point is to really stay focused on your true LIW or there will be a lot of frustrations and struggles that aren’t necessary.
#6 Steak Days When Needed
The idea with steak days is that IF you go 2lbs or more over your LDW, like your LDW is 158 and you wake up one morning weighing 160lbs, you would then fast for the majority of the day, then eat a large steak and tomato or apple for your evening meal. Drinking plenty of water throughout the idea is GREAT.
One of the things a steak day accomplishes is it creates a calorie balance. Usually if you have your weight go up (and it’s not just something like water retention from too much sodium), it means you took in too many calories/too much food. By doing a fast/steak day like this, you’re creating a balance of calorie intake over the two days. Additionally, protein is good for letting go of water retention as well.
Since weight tends to be so volatile at the start and you might get the sense is wants to move up, the steak days kind of force it back down and help you have some control over getting your body to stay in once place long enough to learn to like it.
Please note however, that there are some extenuating circumstances that you need to know about when it comes to stabilizing in the 2lb window – I will soon have an article called, “When to Toss the 2lb Rule Thing Out the Window” to help you with this.
#7 Starting Phase 3 Over After a Steak Day
K so let me ask you something.
Say your weight is fluctuating a lot for the first couple weeks of Phase 3. You are finding out that your body reacts to something like certain nuts, or perhaps broccoli, or dairy, and so you remove it and you’re making these little fine-tuning adjustments – which is great.
But as a result of not knowing what your body does and does not like at first, or perhaps because you’re simply just eating too much still (I’ve TOTALLY been guilty of this MANY times), you have had to do a number of steak days and your weight is still kinda bouncy bouncy. When the end of Phase 3 comes and you’re still in this situation where you just did a steak day like 3 days ago, is it really time to start Phase 4?
Phase 4 is something to enter when your body is stable.
With that said, it’s a good idea to really keep your weight in a stable 2-3lb-ish range for a whole period of a few weeks. If you are finding that you’re up and down 4 lbs several times and doing several steak days, even if the “technical” time for P4 has arrived, this doesn’t mean your body is ready for it.
That is the idea behind starting the timeline of Phase 3 over again from the start when you’ve had to do a steak day.
You want to get into a groove where you are pretty confident that the weight you woke up with this morning is the approximately the same weight you’ll wake up tomorrow, and next week. Once you feel like that, it makes sense that your body might be ready for trying out some other foods that contain starch or sugar in some form.
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