It’s time. Da-da-dah. The transition phase. You’re ending Phase 2 (aka the VLCD or very low calorie diet) of the hCG diet plan, and you’re getting ready to transition off of using the hCG hormone and get yo’self into the heavenly Phase 3, where you get to eat….FOOD!! Okay okay I know you were eating what was technically food during Phase 2, but I think we can all agree that when you can finally add some stinkin’ olive oil to your healthy salad it just seems like going from wrong to RIGHT, and I right? ;0
Okay let’s answer these questions in detail:
- What exactly IS the transition period from Phase 2 to Phase 3 of the hCG program?
- How long does the transition period last EXACTLY? Because it has been super confusing in the past (got a calendar and ALL ya’ll).
- What do you DO (ie eat, take, etc) during the transition phase?
- How do you do it RIGHT and not gain weight during this phase?
- What to if you’ve cheated and gained weight during transition?
Timeline At End of VLCD / Phase 2
So this post is all about that 72 hour period during which time you stop taking hCG, but continue the 500 calorie VLCD diet.
When Does the 72 Hour Period Begin and End?
Specifically might you need to adapt as the 72 hours wears on and actually eat more than 500 calories?
One thing we should clarify right now that can sometimes be confusing is that
The 72 hours begins immediately following your last dose of hCG.
Even I have gotten it mixed up in the past and thought it was for 3 days after my last injection day – but that’s not true – that would be extending the period 24 extra hours – your last dose of hCG day is INCLUDED in the 72 hour period, so technically speaking, you are only continuing VLCD without any hCG dose at all for 2 days.
Nifty Table Alert!
If Last hCG Dose is: Then P3 Starts:
Injections users: If your last dose is in the morning your P3 will start in the morning of the days listed. Drops/Pellets useres: If your last dose of hCG is in the evening your P3 will start in the evening of the days list above.
Why Is This Part of the Protocol?
Apparently, when you take hCG, it takes a little time both to get in your system (hence the loading phase when you start) AND to get out of your system.
Proof hCG Takes Time to Get Out of Your System
As additional proof of this, what are called hCG “trigger shots” are given at fertility centers to aid in getting pregnant- this involves having a one time shot of 10,000iu hCG, all at once. I did a little reading online and discovered women discussing how long the hCG stays in their system, proven by a pregnancy test (keep in mind in general you can’t test your own urine for hCG presence on the diet because we’re only taking 150ius or so a day – 150iu’s vs. 10,000ius – biiiig difference). For such a large dose of this hormone at once, it doesn’t fully leave their system for close to 2 weeks in some cases.
In our case, we are taking very tiny doses of the hormone – usually somewhere between 125iu and 200iu, on a daily basis. So nowhere near the dose for fertility shots, but I just mentioned it to show that the idea that it takes time for the hormone to leave the system appears to be true.
Why Continue the VLCD 500 Calorie Diet For 72 Hours Without hCG?
Dr. Simeons felt that it took about 72 hours for the hormone (in the doses being taken for this diet) to leave a patient’s system.
Part of the way this protocol works is that taking this hormone seems to make you more susceptible to losing (and gaining) fat. Not everyone believes this at this time, but I personally do.
This being the case,
taking in more calories, or taking in fats/oils, while their is still some hCG circulating in your system, could mean that you could have gains that would not have happened if eating the same foods when the hormone was fully gone.
Not what you want after you just spent so many days living in deprivation. :)-
However, we do have to give thought to the fact that the amount of the hormone that’s inside you, say at hour, I don’t know, 60, is the not the same and will be markedly less as when you first injected your last dose of hCG.
Which leads me to this question…..
Should You Ever Eat More Than the 500 Calories During the 72 Hours?
I’m going to tell you my experience. Since the hormone IS gradually reducing in your body during that 72 hours,
it stands to reason that you will get hungrier as that 72 hours unfolds.
That’s the whole reason we take the dose of hCG we take each day right, because it changes your hunger right? If that wasn’t true, than it doesn’t matter because we wouldn’t feel any more hungry on 500 calories than without the hormone. But those of us who’ve done it know that’s not true.
So back to getting hungrier as you get deeper into that 72 hours. That is indeed the experience I have had – towards the end of the 72 hours I had discovered myself not only feeling very hungry, but getting symptoms of low blood sugar. Feeling shaky, unwell, you name it.
This is not a good position to find yourself in for multiple reasons.
For one, feeling like that makes it,
1. more likely that you will end up scarfing down a large amount of something you shouldn’t, and
2. well, it just ain’t good to have low blood sugar is it!
So, I feel it IS appropriate, if needed, to eat more as this period of time unfolds. The question is….
How Do You Go About Eating Properly During the 72 Hours Then?
Most likely you will only need to add calories towards the tail end of the 72 hour period – my guesstimate is 200-500 calories.
Be vigilant about keeping fats/oils out of the picture still
Eat more P2 foods, best choice would be from protein and veggies, but only as necessary
While on phase 2 of the protocol, those of us who have done the longer 6 week rounds of the protocol were instructed in Dr. Simeon’s original protocol to skip a dose of hCG once a week. I did this, and found that I was no more hungry than usual and was able to easily do the 500 calorie VLCD as usual. So most likely, when you’re coming off the hormone during the 72 hours, you will not need to increase your calories during that first 48 hours.
The first 24 hours will be the period following your last injection, which would make it like any other vlcd day, the next 24 hours would be similar to a skip shot day, and like I said, usually it’s still totally do-able to continue the 500 calories no problem here. But it’s that last 24 hour period where you may find yourself feeling symptoms of true hunger.
It makes sense during this last day that you may need to increase your calories, as needed, by eating more P2 foods.
Who May Need to Do This? Who Doesn’t?
So, from what I’ve learned from Robin Woodall’s Weight-Loss Apocalypse: Emotional Eating Rehab Through the hCG Protocol
(a HIGHLY recommended read btw), where she goes into detail on how this protocol is interacting with your hormones, it appears that hCG affects leptin. Leptin is a hormone that affects basically how hungry or satiated you feel. There’s another good article explaining leptin in our bodies here. Leptin is much lower in leaner people.
In fact, on page 130 of Robin’s book she says, “many participants find that as they lose weight, their hunger increases.” This is most likely caused, according to her, because the hCG can’t stimulate as much leptin at this point, as someone who is more overweight.
So armed with this info, most likely:
Leaner people will feel more hungry/much hungrier while getting of the diet
Heavier people will not feel as hungry while getting off the diet
Those who are fairly lean by the end of their round will most likely need to be the ones upping their calories in that last 72 hours – in fact, depending on how lean you are, you may even need to eat more than 500 calories on Phase 2 itself. More on that in another post.
I’ll Just Start P3 Early!
I don’t recommend starting P3 early. Yeah, been there, done that. There IS still a little bit of the hormone left and gains will come very easy if you jump into phase 3 early- at least that’s been my observation. I still have shocking memories of lamb stew with plenty of fat before my 72 hours was up and seeing shocking 2.2 lb gains on the scale the next morning. Shudder. :)-
My personal opinion is that hCG does indeed make you extra sensitive to fats and oils, so I still stand behind being very cautious about not using them when the hormone is in your system.
So as needed, add more calories as the 72 hour period without hCG finishes up, in the form of more foods from the Phase 2 list.
As always, a long answer for a simple question. But to me it’s very important to know the why and the science behind something so that I can really make it my own, so that’s why I pass information on to you guys this way.
Are You Sure This Is Okay? Will I Gain Weight Back?
I feel this method is reasonable in part due to what we already discussed, but another thing we can add in here is Dr. Simeon’s instructions to patients who lost all the weight they needed prior to the mandatory 3 week minimum on the diet. He mentioned on page 52 under Duration of Treatment,
“As soon as their statistically normal weight is reached, these patients are put on 800-1000 Calories for the rest of the treatment. The diet is arranged in such a way that the weight remains perfectly stationary and is thus continued for three days after the 23rd injection. Only then are the patients free to eat anything they please except sugar and starches for the next three weeks.”
So raising the calories up to 1000 simply prevents further weight loss, not weight gain.
Once you get through all of that – you can move on to Phase 3 – yippee!
What Happens If I Screw Up the Transition Phase and Eat a Pizza?
Okay first of all, I PROMISE you, you are not the only person to every have done this. Our hormones, hunger, and our super capable fast subconscious talkers will wear down our will power and get us to do something stupid sometimes. Although if it were me, I probably would have skipped the pizza and gone STRAIGHT for chocolate cake – but that’s just my sugar addict talking. First, you want to ask yourself why you cheated and did something different during transition than you intended to do. This matters because what you choose to do as a result will be different depending on your answer.
Let’s discuss 2 reasons for cheating during the transition phase and what to do in each scenario.
Did you Screw Up Because of Pure Carelessness?
Was it just pure carelessness or thinking it wouldn’t matter? I’ve totally been guilty of this sort of thinking- while it wasn’t during the transition phase, during my second round of hCG during Phase 3, I just seriously got really careless and felt like maybe it didn’t really matter. Then of course quickly discovered, um YES it totally does.
You can’t pack away half a pound of candied pralines after 6 weeks of cucumbers and chicken breast and think your body won’t notice (what I did). #nicetrythough
So if this is the case for you, where you just had this subconcsious cockiness going on like “eh, I’ll be FINE! I can handle this. I’ll just not eat dinner tnite” (like that ever ends up happening), I would suggest just pretending it never happened, that you’ve always been super vigilant, and make from this moment on VIGILANT about being on protocol. Go back to ‘yer 500 calories and cucumbers for a day or two more, you can handle this!
Remember you can’t change the past in the sense of actually changing it and doing anything too drastic at this point isn’t really possible because you’re at a crossroads right now where you are already eating very little on the protocol, the hormone is leaving your system meaning your hunger level will start increasing, so there isn’t room to do anything too drastic without potential farther reaching side effects – like more hunger and then potentially more/worse cheating. So just get back on track with the original protocol and finish that baby out right.
But this leads to my next question which requires a different approach (and possibly a lesson learned for next round).
Did you Screw Up Because of Something Very Real?
Was there another deeper element to this cheat where say, you have been feeling extremely hungry on the protocol for the past 2 weeks, or you have stayed on Phase 2 longer than is either recommended or than actually felt good to you healthwise (ie have you been feeling rundown like you needed a break but kept pushing to stay on and lose a few more pounds?)
If you think this latter scenario is hitting the truth bell with you inside, then what happened actually makes sense.
I find when we do this- reach out just a bit too far and for too long – it can backfire because when we let ourselves get into such a weakened state either physically or mentally or physiologically (ie our hormones are getting messed up from pushing the envelope) we will at some point snap – as we’ve discussed, when the hCG hormone is leaving your system, our natural level of hunger for food will be going back to normal and this is prime time for this kind of ‘snapping’ to occur.
Hormones are SO powerful! Being hungry or having cortisol levels all out of whack can make us drop EVERYTHING and just DO whatever those too much or too little of hormones are dictating at that moment.
For the future, I highly recommend really really listening to your body in this regard and keeping those Phase 2’s of reasonable length, and not to be a ‘I’m going to be superwoman and fast on hCG while also running a 1,000k race’ person (check out my cautions regarding exercise on hCG here).
So what do you do right now though right?
If this is the reason you cheated, I would NOT recommend going back to trying to eat 500 calories during transition. Your body is trying to tell you something – that is needs a break, and it needs it NOW, not in 48 hours when hCG says transition is done. So if it were me, I would follow what I discussed earlier in this article about raising calories as needed, from the Phase 2 foods list, going first with increased portions of lean protein, then adding P2 fruits and veggies as needed.
This should not cause weight gain outside of the possible re-filling of glycogen stores if you have been super-low-carbing-it on phase 2 (example like when I did Phase 2 without fruits). If you end up eating 800-1000 calories, there should be no actual FAT gain going on. You may not lose any more weight, but remember again at this point, the goal here is to give your body a break and simply try to stay where you are at.
IF you’ve gained weight from the cheat, I would not personally try to do anything extreme to fix it. I have just seen from experience now, especially for us women, our bodies can become SO resistant to extremist efforts when it’s done. I mean our bodies are like, women, right? ;0 As such, they have opinions and are not easily swayed from their current point of view. So let’s respect the place you are currently at and just try to stabilize where you are at NOW, not where you were at yesterday before the pizza.
You may lose a little by getting back to Phase 2 foods during the rest of the transition period anyway because cheating often involves high sodium foods that cause water retention which will naturally go away as you get back to clean eating, so try not to panic because there is no way that the entire scale gain from your cheat is 100% fat. Maybe just a very small portion of it.
I hope this helps you get through this phase and into P3 successfully.
You can find all my current Phase 3 articles here!
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