The original Hcg Diet includes a 500 calorie menu, or “VLCD” (very low calorie diet) as outlined by Dr. Simeons in his Manuscript, Pounds and Inches. This menu includes a very specific list of allowed foods, along with eating guidelines that are meant to be followed precisely.
The Original 500 Calorie Diet Menu (VLCD)
- Tea or coffee in any quantity without sugar. Only one tablespoonful of milk allowed in 24 hours. Saccharin or Stevia may be used.
- 100 grams of veal, beef, chicken breast, fresh white fish, lobster, crab, or shrimp. All visible fat must be carefully removed before cooking, and the meat must be weighed raw. It must be boiled or grilled without additional fat. Salmon, eel, tuna, herring, dried or pickled fish are not allowed. The chicken breast must be removed from the bird.
- One type of vegetable only to be chosen from the following: spinach, chard, chicory, beet-greens, green salad, tomatoes, celery, fennel, onions, red radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, cabbage.
- One breadstick (grissino) or one Melba toast.
- An apple, orange, or a handful of strawberries or one-half grapefruit.
- The same four choices as lunch (above.)
What can I eat on the 500 calorie menu?
The list of allowed foods on the Hcg Diet includes: 100 grams of protein from veal, beef, chicken breast, fresh white fish, lobster, crab (no imitation crab) or shrimp. Allowed vegetables include spinach, chard, chicory, beet-greens, green salad, tomatoes, celery, fennel, onions, red radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, and cabbage. Allowed fruits include apples, oranges, strawberries and grapefruit.
Benefits of the 500 Calorie Program
While the diet is largely known as a rapid weight loss option, it also offers a number of other health benefits. According to Dr. Becky Gillaspy, one of the major benefits to this heavily restricted diet is the reduction of inflammation:
“There is a growing body of research that shows how fasting and the restriction of calories reduces inflammation, which is the secret killer that nibbles away at your joints, weakens your heart, and flairs up gut problems.“
In addition to addressing inflammation, the 500 calorie menu has been found to help with chronic pain, arthritis, and high blood pressure. A number of medical journals have also reported the benefits of very low calorie diets (vlcd) and long-term heart conditions (source: Medical Journal of Cardiac Failure, by Miyuki Kobara, MD, PhD, Akiko Furumori-Yukiya, Miho Kitamura, Mihoko Matsumura, Makoto Ohigashi, Hiroe Toba, PhD, Tetsuo Nakata, MD, PhD.)
Even better, the diet has been shown to slow aging, promote longevity and combat dementia.
500 Calorie Diet Foods: Sample Menus & Meal Plans
If you are wondering what a typical day on the original protocol looks like, here are just a few samples of a typical 500 calorie menu in a day.
Hcg Diet Sample menu #1:
Breakfast: Tea and handful of strawberries – 45 calories
Lunch: 100g chicken breast with arugula green salad with tomatoes – 165 calories
Dinner: 100g steak (271 calories) large handful of spinach (15) grissini breadstick (14) calories
Total calories: 510
Hcg Diet Sample menu #2:
Breakfast: unsweetened coffee or iced tea, orange- 62 calories
Snack: Handful of strawberries – 45 calories
Lunch: 100 grams/4oz shrimp (110 calories) and 1 small cucumber with lemon and salt: 8 calories
Snack: Grissini stick – 14 calories
Dinner: Chicken “satay” (165 calories) with arugula salad and tomatoes- 16 calories
Total Calories: 497
According to Dr. Simeons, these eating guidelines should be followed meticulously, in order to achieve your best results. There are however, alternative protocols which allow more calories and/or offer less restrictive eating. The guidelines on this page will refer to that protocol and its 500 calorie menu.
Seasonings permitted on the HCG diet based on Dr Simeons own protocol as written in Pounds and Inches:
The juice of one lemon daily is allowed for all purposes.
Salt, pepper, vinegar, mustard powder, garlic, sweet basil, parsley, thyme, majoram, etc., may be used for seasoning, but no oil, butter or dressing.
All seasonings and spices are welcome on the original protocol, which makes it easy to modify and create a variety of delicious recipes. This is also a great way to mix vegetables without going off-protocol; dried vegetables as seasoning and spices such as onion, are permitted. For more information, see our vegetable guide.
Drinks on the Hcg Diet
Tea, coffee, plain water, or mineral water (2 liters of water per day is recommended) are the only drinks allowed, but they may be taken in any quantity and at all times.
There is no limit as to how much tea and coffee that can be drank on the diet, however it is important to avoid all sugars, and limit sweeteners as much as possible. Sweeteners have been shown to have effects on the body’s hormone system and while they may not have an effect in small amounts, studies show larger intake of artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on the metabolism as well as cause stalls during Phase 2 of the Hcg Diet. One particular sweetener to avoid is aspartame. Take care to read labels on beverages that may have these listed in their ingredients.
Can I drink Diet Soda on the Hcg Diet?
Diet sodas are not recommended on the protocol for a number of reasons. The ingredients often include chemicals, sodium and artificial sweeteners that can effect loss rates, or cause stalls. In addition, this is a good time to cleanse the cravings and addictions for these products, and allow those chemicals to be removed from the body.
As an added suggestion, you can try sparkling flavored water without aspartame, or sugar free sodas made with xylitol IN MODERATION (in this case, not every day.) Sugar, aspartame and sweeteners in general, should be avoided. Xylitol, stevia, and erythritol may be used on occasion if necessary.
Snacks on the Hcg Diet
The fruit or the bread stick may be eaten between meals instead of with lunch or dinner,
Apples are the most highly recommended “snack food” for the Hcg Diet. Remember to keep the size to medium, vs large, as outlined in the original 500 calorie protocol. For variety, these can be sprinkled with cinnamon which also happens to be a metabolism booster.
Regarding the allowed breadstick or grissini, please remember to check labels and do NOT consider restaurant breadsticks as an option. Breadsticks purchased in the store can be as little as 10 calories, while those in restaurants can be as high as 400 calories for one serving.
Can I substitute 2 small apples for 1 allowed apple serving?
2 small apples are not an acceptable exchange for “1 apple.”
This is a commonly asked question, and while Dr. Simeons defined a firm “no” as the answer, HOWEVER, modern protocols have found this to be a reasonable exchange.
Mixing Foods from the 500 Calorie list
“…but not more than than four items listed for lunch and dinner may be eaten at one meal.”
Remember to stick to this rule, particularly with proteins, fruits and the allowed breadstick or grissini. For example, do not eat half of a portion of fish and half of a portion of chicken.
Mixing vegetables: While Dr. Simeons protocol allows mixing the allowed salad greens, he also says mixing vegetables is not permitted. HOWEVER, many dieters have no problems when combining vegetables from the allowed foods list. If you decide to mix vegetables, proceed with caution and watch for any reduction in loss rates before continuing.
Hcg Diet Food Substitutions: Eggs and Cottage Cheese
“Very occasionally we allow egg – boiled, poached or raw – to patients who develop an aversion to meat, but in this case they must add the white of three eggs to the one they eat whole.
Cottage cheese made from skimmed milk is available 100 grams may occasionally be used instead of the meat”
Can I have eggs on the Hcg diet? Yes, eggs are allowed on the original 500 calorie menu of the Hcg Diet plan. Eggs can be boiled, poached or raw, according to the original protocol, and counts as 1 protein serving. Modern variations of the diet allow eggs cooked in any form, as long as they are not prepared with butter or oils. In addition, it is advised to stick with egg whites, over the whole egg whenever possible.
Is Cottage cheese allowed on the Hcg Diet? Cottage cheese is permitted on the list of approved Hcg foods, again as an exchange for 1 protein serving. Full fat cottage cheese is not permitted. Only non fat cottage cheese is allowed.
Vegetarian Hcg Diet Substitutions – Both eggs and cottage cheese can be particularly useful protein substitutions for the Vegetarian Hcg Diet Plan. Read more here.
Specially Prepared Unsweetened, Low Calorie Foods
In many countries specially prepared unsweetened and low calorie foods are freely available, and some of these can be tentatively used… the total daily intake must not exceed 500 Calories if the best possible results are to be obtained, that the daily ration should contain 200 grams of fat-free protein and a very small amount of starch.
This is a commonly overlooked option from Dr. Simeons. It can also lead to the crucial mistake of adding the wrong “low calorie foods” to the options for what to eat. As a general rule, remember to avoid processed foods, all sugars that do not come from the allowed fruits on the 500 calorie menu, and any prepackaged foods that may have added ingredients that can effect loss rates. To play it safe, stick to “whole foods” that are on the original Hcg Diet list of allowed foods.
Tips for those 500 Calorie Days
- Go ahead and have two meals per day, instead of 3 and skip the snacks if you are not hungry.
- Drink A LOT OF WATER. This is absolutely essential to weight loss and nothing will cause a Hcg weight loss stall faster than dehydration. In fact, having enough water can also help avoid false cravings and hunger. More importantly, your body needs adequate water (usually far more than you would think) to function properly and process foods etc.
- Plan ahead! Know what you will be eating and when. The more planning you have in place, the easier it will be to reach your goals.
- Recognize the diet as an opportunity to cleanse and establish new habits with healthy, whole foods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 500 calorie always for 3 weeks?
Dr. Simeons original protocol lasts for less than 1 month and up to 40 days, depending on the patient. Again, visit our guide on the original protocol to learn more.
How much weight can you lose on 500 calories per week?
Most people lose the largest amount of weight during the first 2 weeks on the protocol, and then the progress slows after this. The amount lost in the first week can vary, but it is not uncommon to lose 8 to 15 pounds in the first week, and an additional 5 in the following week. Men on the Hcg Diet tend to lose a significant amount of weight compared to women. Read more about the Hcg Diet’s average weight loss rates.
Where can I find 500 calorie weight loss success rates?
Where can I get a free PDF of the 500 calorie diet?
We have the diet, along with the entire manuscript available in PDF and Audiobook. You can get this by subscribing to our monthly newsletter on the homepage, or by visiting the pounds and inches page here.
Can makeup count as calories? And can makeup cause stalls?
No cosmetics other than lipstick, eyebrow pencil and powder may he used without special permission.
No, makeup does not count towards calories. It is largely believed that cosmetics used in Dr. Simeons time contained heavy oils, animal fats and other chemicals he regarded as potentially disruptive to the body’s hormone cycle, and loss rates. As a general rule in modern days, it is simply advised to avoid cosmetics with fats and unnatural ingredients. This is largely about the body’s “cleanse” on the protocol, and giving the body a chance to eliminate harmful toxic chemicals, which have been shown to effect the natural processes of the body.
Important Original Food List Highlights for the HCG Dieter: The 500 calorie limit must always be maintained.
Based on the experiences shared in the Hcg Diet Forums, it is obvious the best loss rates occur in dieters who follow the exact protocol without modification. For those who do not mind losing less weight, there are 800 calorie food lists as an option. This is basically the same as the original Hcg Diet protocol, but with 300 additional calories allotted. Some variations of this protocol also include the use of protein shakes (still sugar free) and items like miracle noodles.
Choosing to go with a higher calorie Hcg Diet protocol is always an option, however it is not advised to mix the days during the protocol. Largely for psychological strain, it is better to have a plan and stick to that plan for the duration of a round (unless extreme circumstances intervene.)