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This is part 5 of a six part series on troubleshooting weight fluctuations in Phase 3 on hCG – you can see the other posts so are here:
Part 1 – Do You Have the Correct LDW?
Part 2 – If you didn’t eat the fruits in Phase 2, how this affects Phase 3
Part 3 – How Exercise Affects Phase 3
Adding Calories All At Once or Easing Into It?
I’m just going to admit to you guys that I wasn’t very good about this in all my P3’s. I have managed to limit WHAT foods I eat very well, but not how much. I think this partially has to do with the fact that prior to beginning the hCG protocol, I had just become accustomed to eating too much and getting overly full all the time and that’s kind of what felt most satisfying to me, so it took me quite a long time to learn to eat amounts of food that didn’t leave me feeling overly full. But it did happen! It just meant my Phase 3’s were a bit rocky at times.
Hence some steak days in my past.
The smoother way to go about this is to gradually increase how much you eat in Phase 3 – and actually, if you really pay attention to the signals from your body, and you stop before you’re super full, you’ll find that you don’t need a lot of food when P3 starts. You will definitely need more than the 500 calories you were eating on the VLCD, but you won’t need to eat what you used to eat or what you’ll most likely be eating in 2-3 weeks from now.
Why Adding Calories or Amounts of Food Gradually Makes Sense
It really does make logical sense – anytime you’ve been doing something drastically different for awhile, you can’t often just swing the other way over night – if you’ve been sedentary, you usually can’t just start working out 6 days a week right off the bat – you often have to work up to it or you get shin splints or too much muscle soreness. You’ve just spent several weeks eating very little, your digestive system has had a major rest period, so to kind of shock it by flooding it with a bunch of food to digest is really rather unkind isn’t it? 🙂 Be gradual and give your body time to adjust and all will be turn out much better.
Those Who Have It Easier
I really can tell you, after communicating with so many hCGers online now, my observation is that those who increase their calorie intake, or amount of food they eat, gradually over the first couple weeks of hCG, have a MUCH easier time stabilizing. It just seems to go more smoothly for them. Wish I’d done that!
How Many Calories Should You Eat? How Should You Increase Them Exactly?
I will share with you the way the calories are increased on my P3tolife program. It’s based on the premise of what’s called Reverse Dieting – a method of methodically increasing your calories to prevent fat gain.
Week 1: 900-1000 calories
Week 2: 1100-1200 calories
Week 3: 1350-1450 calories
This consistently works well for the ladies following my program, so it’s a very safe guide to follow.
How Do You Figure Out Your Long Term Maintenance Calories?
After that point as you enter week 4 and beyond, it’s about gradually adding until you reach YOUR own level of maintenance – which will be different for all of us depending on age, activity level, hormone levels, etc. For some of you that may be 1400 calories, for some of you 1500, others might be more if you’re active and have more muscle on you.
To give you an example of where it’s possible to end up I’ll use myself:
About me: 5’1″, 128ish lbs, Crossfit (intense exercise and heavy weight-lifting) 3x a week. Sedentary other than that.
- Maintenance calories for me: 2000ish
- Losing Weight Calories for me: 1700 calories.
- Gaining weight calories for me 2100-2200ish
I know this because I tracked my calorie intake for awhile and see this pattern. If I eat 1700 calories in a day I feel hungry and I lose weight. 1900-2000ish I can eat every single day (with regular carbs included in that number like gluten free bread daily in my sandwiches, and organic corn tortillas – I’d say it’s still low carb though because my overall daily carb intake is usually around 60-75g total) and not gain weight ever. But as SOON as I start pushing it to 2100 or 2200 calories, I start to feel “the thickening”. Of everything- waist, hips, legs, etc. And the scale starts to go up. So that’s how I know where my happy metabolic place is. I’ve been eating at this calorie level for years now so it’s not a temporary thing.
The other thing I wanted to note is that your CURRENT metabolic rate doesn’t have to be your FOREVER metabolic rate. If you find that you have to eat on the lower end to maintain and wish you could more, you can change your body – but you might not like the answer.
How to Increase Your Metabolic Rate and How Much You Can Eat Without Weight Gain
The answer to this is: heavy weight lifting. I’m not kidding. It will change your metabolism and allow you to eat more without fat gain.
Heavy weight lifting involves lifting weights where you do sets of 1, sets of 3, sets of 5, sets of 7. Doing 15 reps is not considered heavy weight lifting – this is more aerobic.
You may gain a little bit of weight in muscle when you begin lifting- so don’t mistake that on the scale- but that’s not something that will go up and up like fat gain will. It levels off, while you can still continue eating more. That’s why I can eat 2000 calories being as small as I am.
How to Skip Calorie Counting
Even though I did track my calories for a time and periodically re-check it, I haven’t counted calories for about 97.5% of my 6 years of weight maintenance. So calorie counting is NOT required to maintain weight loss.
I feel a better guide for some of us who find calorie counting very restrictive and demoralizing is eating to hunger- this way you can be more sure you are not eating too much or too little. You can learn all about this method of eating in Robin Woodall’s guide on the hCG protocol called Weight-Loss Apocalypse: Emotional Eating Rehab Through the hCG Protocol.
This isn’t magic and it really works – you basically stop at a certain physical point in eating – if you never get overly full you are usually eating the right amount of food for you.
There is of course never one size fits all, especially for something as nuanced as our bodies and food.
If you are really hungry on the calories above during P3, your body is letting you know you need more! So it’s okay to go outside that zone and eat more accordingly.
If you are doing some hardcore exercising in Phase 3, most likely you will need to ramp up your food intake more quickly and you’ll feel your body complaining to you of hunger if you don’t.
Also take note of times when you are actually less hungry than usual – and eat less during those times. I know that sounds weird, but I find we tend to always eat as much as we usually do, even IF we aren’t as hungry as usual. If take the cues from our bodies, I’ll have a time or occasional day where I have no idea why, but I’m just not nearly as hungry as usual – so in response to this, it’s a good to listen to that and eat less. Other days I might feel a lot more ravenous than usual and I do eat more on those days in response.
What Worked for You Guys?
I KNOW some of you out there counted calories in Phase 3 – so if you’re one of them who feels they did it successfully, share exactly what you did in the comments below for others to get ideas! Or if you have a disaster story you want to share, we can learn from that too. 🙂
If You Need More Help….
You might want to consider my structured Phase 3 program, P3tolife, because it really does take all the questions and guesswork out of the picture for you so you know you’re doing P3 right. You can enroll anytime, but I do suggest at least 1 week in advance of starting P3 if at all possible, just so you have time to review the program and get a few items.
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just curious as to how you are able to do Crossfit while only eating 60-75g carbs per day? I haven’t done the hcg diet yet (will be starting next month) but I have been doing crossfit for a while and I’ve noticed that anytime I have less than 140-150g carbs I can’t do the workouts. I’m 5’1 as well so its not because I’m bigger and need more carbs… is this because your body has changed with hcg and you don’t need as many carbs? how are you able to get through workouts with such a low carb count?
This is Lucelle, Rayzel’s assistant. Nice to meet you! 🙂
Okay- so to be perfectly honest about CrossFit and hCG- Rayzel thinks it’s a bad idea. She did take breaks from CrossFit when she did her final 2 rounds of hCG. It’s just that CrossFit is SO intense and she really thinks you are asking for adrenal fatigue if you try to CrossFit and hCG at the same time- even if you add a couple of hundred calories. Additionally, it’s even possible to stop losing on hCG if you do intense exercise- she initially tried to do CrossFit wods at the start of her 4th round and her weight loss stopped dead for 10 days right after that (despite eating 500 calories a day) and she felt like crap. It’s one thing to do a couple of sets of squats a few times a week on hCG- that could likely be fine- but we know how CrossFit is and even if you tell yourself you’ll scale it or modify the workout- it’s so hard to do that in a group setting! You just end up feeling that peer pressure to just go all out every time.
For Rayzel, hCG is a time to lose fat, and CrossFit is a time to build muscle- they are kind of opposed to each other- CrossFit requires excess calories to build, hCG requires very few calories to lose fat quickly.
She doesn’t do intense CrossFit on Phase 3 too.
Hope that helps!
Thanks for getting back to me Lucelle but that wasn’t my question. I was asking how Rayzel is able to do CrossFit normally (NOT on hcg) with such a low carb count. I’m not talking about hcg AND crossfit I’m talking about crossfit individually. I don’t understand how she is able to complete HIIT/heavy-lifting workouts while only eating 60-75g of carbs per day. When I eat anything less than 140g carbs in a day on a crossfit workout I literally cannot complete the workouts, I have to modify or significantly lower the weight I’m lifting. I’m the same height and frame size as Rayzel so it’s not like there’s much of a different in dietary needs for carbs, like say if I was 5’10 or something like that…. so my question is how is Rayzel able to do crossfit while only eating 60-75g carbs? is this because her body has changed with hcg and her body doesn’t rely on carbs for energy as much? how is she able to get through crossfit workouts with such a low carb count?
Heather Seabrook says
Questions about sticking to certain aspects of the protocol in phase 3 and beyond:
– still max 3 different veggies in 1 meal?
– still max 2 fruit servings per day?
– still no repetition of same food in 1 day?
Finding it hard to get my total calories now that it’s higher…
For Phase 3, there is no specific rule like these (unlike in P2). What other people do is adding more protein portion or eating p2 style but with more quantity – there’s really no clear cut rule. I would also suggest having a look at Rayzel’s special program for P3: p3tolife.com – it will tell you exactly what to eat and many people have already stabilized with it!
Dawn Smith says
I am currently beginning week 2 of p3. I am using both methods of stabilizing, eating to hunger as well as tracking calories consumed. I lost a total of 40 pounds on p2 and so far I have lost an additional 4 pounds, which im not complaining about. I have quite a bit to loose tho reach a long term goal. My question is, if I continue to loose weight during p3, although at a slower rate, is my weight not considered stabilized at the end of 3 weeks, in a little confused by this part. I am adding back calories as hunger dictates and prioritizing by proteins first, then healthy fats, and last carbs, but with full intention of keeping carbs at or below 100 grams per day, most days. I want to add exercise, both cardio and strength training, but am trying to wait until my weight is considered stabilized. I would prefer to avoid the emotional distress that may come with potential weight gain once beginning exercise, even though I understand the reasons behind it. Can you offer any insight, particularly to the question of weight being considered stabilized if I continue to lose weight during p3?
Additionally is just like to say that I LOVE your website. I find it incredibly inspirational, especially on difficult days.
Thank you for everything you do to keep all of us inspired to not give up.
Please help I started HGC P3 to life on week 4 and I need help I have not been able to eat correctly I live in Houston Texas and we had a very bad storm and I haven’t gained weight but I have lost weight or do I need to start phase 3 over to increase my calories please help my name is Becky
Hey there Becky! As a P3tolife member, you can always email me directly at [email protected] to get private custom help quickly okay?
Don’t panic here, you are doing good- sounds like you just need to add in a little extra fat to each meal – a little extra butter like a tsbp say in a dish- that sort of thing- and of course eat to hunger as a guide there. Does that help? Again, feel free to email me directly and we can converse more there if you need!
Okay so I’ve done the HCG diet 2wice and by the time I get to P3, I FAIL MISERABLY…I guess missing all the foods comes into play and 3 weeks seems like so much longer on the diet. I’m planning on trying the diet 1 more time and I am eager to get all the way through. I have a question regarding Quinoa, is that allowed during P3?? Thank you so much for all of your help.
Actually Quinoa, even though it’s a complete protein which is I think why many think perhaps it’s okay, is still basically a carb, so I would personally not use it on P3. To give you an example, this site here: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2 says that 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 39 grams of carbs, and 34 net carbs, so that would be pretty high to have in P3 for being only 1 ingredient of 1 meal, if that makes sense. It’s still a grain so we typically avoid all grains on P3. I hope that helps! I love the idea of gradually including small amounts of this in Phase 4 though!
Ashley Barrett says
I need help please!!!!! I lost 20 lbs. in a 25 day round, I’m currently in the 2nd week of Phase 3 and finding it so hard to stabilize. My weight hasn’t been above my LWD but I have lost 5 lbs.. To maintain I was told to eat 1805 calories a day and honestly I’m really struggling to eat 1k because I have no appetite. When I do eat, I try to eat things that are very fattening by still can’t stabilize. Will I be able to start my 2nd round in the next few weeks, If I am unable to stabilize my weight now? What can I do to stabilize?
I’ve eaten more fruits, peanuts, tons of chicken, shrimp, sugar free hot dogs, and no success.
Alice Elaine Bryant Harrell says
I am trying to find the part 6 of why you gain weight in phase 3 and can’t seem to find it. Can you help? Thanks!
Inpsired Girl - Barbara Yaffee says
Hi! I totally agree that adding food and calories slowly in P3 can be really helpful! It is a great way to stabilize your weight, learn to eat to hunger, and slowly integrate! In my first 2 rounds, I did just that, and maintained my LIW exactly for at least 6 months or more. After that i loosened up a bit, and gained perhaps 2 pounds? I am in my third round, and plan to do the same thing!
I personally DO find calorie counting really useful during this time period. It gives me boundaries, and structure, and keeps me accountable. For those who do find calorie counting useful, I wrote a blog post on tips for P3 and if you scroll down, you will find a good framework to consider when adding calories:
Thanks Rayzel for all of these thoughts. Great tips for P3!
~inspired girl aka Barbara