Moving On to Maintenance on the HCG Diet
Regardless of how much or how little weight you need to lose, the minimum number of HCG days on the protocol is 23, and the maximum is 40, including the gorge days. Keep in mind that if you only need to lose five or ten pounds, you'll likely accomplish your goal in the first week or two of the low calorie diet. If you reach your goal and the minimum of 23 HCG days hasn't been executed, you should not stop the protocol as you will likely not have a chance to affect metabolism and there will be a high likelihood of gaining everything back… and then some, very quickly. So, if you reach your weight loss goal before the 23rd day of the protocol, add another meal (protein, vegetable, fruit, breadstick) which will bring your daily calorie count up from 500 calories to 800 - 1,000 calories for the duration of the HCG phase and for three days after the last HCG before moving on to maintenance.
The Maintenance Phase
The maintenance phase starts 3 days after stopping HCG and lasts for three weeks, during which time, your new, lower weight will become stabilized. If you end the maintenance phase too early, your weight will likely fluctuate wildly, and you'll likely gain back the weight you've lost very quickly because your body will try to ‘recover’ the lost weight. It's crucial to the success of the protocol that you follow the directions for the maintenance phase to the letter. In his manuscript, Dr. Simeons points out that some people are reluctant to end the 500-calorie-per-day diet and start eating more calories for fear of gaining back the weight they lost. But eating significantly more calories than allowed on the VLCD, very low calorie diet, during the maintenance phase is as critical to success during the maintenance phase as eating 500 calories during the HCG phase.
Dietary Restrictions During Maintenance
During the maintenance phase, you'll eat whatever you wish when you're hungry, with two exceptions: No Sugars and No Starches are allowed. For three weeks, you must avoid all sugars and starches, as these can throw the whole protocol down the tubes and cause a quick re-gaining of the weight you lost. Bread, rice, potatoes, donuts, candy, regular soda, etc. should be entirely avoided during the three-week maintenance phase. Additionally, caution should be used with very sweet fruit, such as melons, bananas and grapes.
Another absolutely critical component of the maintenance phase is the daily weigh-in. Each and every day during the maintenance phase, you'll weigh yourself before breakfast. If you've gained any more than two pounds over the weight you were on the day of your last HCG, you'll need to institute a Steak Day.
The Steak Day
Instituting a steak day on days when your morning pre-breakfast weight is more than two pounds over your new, HCG weight (the morning weight from the last day HCG was taken) is essential to your success. When the scale passes the two-pound mark, skip breakfast and lunch, and drink plenty of water, tea or coffee throughout the day. For dinner, eat an 8 oz to 14 oz steak and either a raw apple or a raw tomato. That’s it – don't eat anything else: just the steak and the piece of fruit. By the following morning, you should be back in your new range and you can resume eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied (minus the sugars and starches.)
Once the first three-weeks of maintenance is over, you may start slowly adding back sugars and starches in small amounts over the following three weeks. The key here is to do this very gradually. You'll continue to weigh yourself before breakfast each morning and institute steak days on days that your weight is more than two pounds above your weight on the last HCG day. Continue to be mindful of your eating habits, consuming sugars and starches in moderation for overall good health. Now is also a great time to start an exercise program if you haven’t already.