HCG Phase 3 - Stabilization
Maintaining Your Loss/Stabilization (Phase 3)
The maintenance phase is the 3 week period after you finish your injections. Dr. Simeons outlines a few rules here:
- you must weigh yourself every day
- you must remain within 2 pounds of your last injection weight (over *OR* under) and,
- you cannot eat sugars and starches (which is carbohydrates minus the fiber)
It is extremely important to eat plenty of protein during this period, a lot of people can eat at least 100 grams of true protein (about 400 grams of actual meat weighed raw). If you go over the 2 pounds, you must immediately do a steak day (this is explained in the protocol and in the tips and tricks page - see it here). We want to be clear that this 3 week period is crucial to the success of the diet. The process is explained in Pounds and Inches here. This part of the process is very similar to Atkins Induction. Further down in this article is a list of foods, but first read an excerpt from Pounds & Inches:
"When the three days of dieting after the last injection are over, the patients are told that they may now eat anything they please, except sugar and starch, provided they faithfully observe one simple rule. This rule is that they must have their own portable bathroom-scale always at hand, particularly while traveling. They must without fail weigh themselves every morning as they get out of bed, having first emptied their bladder. If they are in the habit of having breakfast in bed, they must weigh before breakfast.
It takes about 3 weeks before the weight reached at the end of the treatment becomes stable, i.e. does not show violent fluctuations after an occasional excess. During this period patients must realize that the so-called carbohydrates, that is sugar, rice, bread, potatoes, pastries etc, are by far the most dangerous. If no carbohydrates whatsoever are eaten, fats can be indulged in somewhat more liberally and even small quantities of alcohol, such as a glass of wine with meals, does no harm, but as soon as fats and starch are combined things are very liable to get out of hand. This has to be observed very carefully during the first 3 weeks after the treatment is ended otherwise disappointments are almost sure to occur."
OK, so here is the thing: The day that you give yourself your last injection, you count 72 hours (continuing on the 500 calorie VLCD for those 72 hours) from that last shot, *then* you start your maintenance/stablization phase. It is critical that you follow this phase as faithfully as you did the injection phase, because *now* is when your hypothalamus will reset, clearing off all the 'bad old days' of yo-yo dieting and poor eating habits. That weight that you were the morning of your last injection is the weight that you use as a basis for your maintenance phase. Many call this LIW (Last Injection Weight). Anything OVER two pounds from that weight calls for a steak day.
NOTE: The time period to begin this phase is not 3 days after your last injection, it is 72 hours! (For example, if you administer your last shot on Monday at 8 am, you will begin the maintenance phase on Thursday at 8 am.)
BMR Calculator - How many Calories to Eat in Phase 3
How many calories per day your body burns - this will give you a baseline to reach
This adult daily calories calculator gives an approximation of your basal metabolic rate - the number of calories per day your body burns.
Calories Per Day Calculator for Adults
When you start the 3 week maintenance/stabilization process, *definitely* increase your calories to at *least* 1500. You can find out your required minimum calories using our calculators. Don't try to continue the 500 calorie diet after the hCG is out of your system, because you will become weak and tired, and your body will begin to go into 'shutdown' mode where it doesn't burn calories. This will completely ruin your Phase 2, and you'll have to start all over. Don't worry, your weight will go up and down a bit the first week or two; this is normal. A reset doesn't mean you never ever have any weight change, daily activities will see that you bounce around some. Do a steak day if you need to. Your weight will eventually stabilize. This is your body settling into the new process. Watch the starch and sugar religiously during the 3 weeks. I'm going to say this again: ***NO STARCH OR SUGAR*** Read labels. If it doesn't have a label, use our nutrition calculator to look it up. Eat whatever you want, without starch or sugar, during the maintenance phase. Make sure you are eating enough, many people think they need to keep eating like they're on a diet, DON'T DO THIS. Use healthy fats and dairy products to up your calorie intake if necessary. Drink enough water. Get your sleep.
Helpful ListsLearn about fats and starches, so you know what to avoid. Check our list of sugars and starches in foods to ensure you're on the safe side.
For a complete list of the foods to eat, see the Phase 3 Food List at the top of this section
Low Carb VegetablesThis list is roughly arranged from lowest to highest carbohydrate counts, but all are non-starchy and generally low in carbohydrates. Exact carb count depends on serving size. Remember when counting carbs in vegetables that the fiber is not counted, and can be subtracted from the total.
- Sprouts (bean, alfalfa, etc.)
- Greens – lettuces, spinach, chard, etc.
- Hearty Greens - collards, mustard greens, kale, etc.
- Radicchio and endive count as greens
- Herbs - parsley, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc.
- Bok Choy
- Sea Vegetables (Nori, etc)
- Cabbage (or sauerkraut)
- Cucumbers (or pickles without added sugars)
- Green Beans and Wax Beans
- Green Bell Peppers
- Red Bell Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Summer Squash (including Zuchinni)
- Scallions or green onions
- Bamboo Shoots
- Brussels Sprouts
- Snow Peas (pods)
- Artichoke Hearts
- Spaghetti Squash
- Celery Root (Celeriac)
- Turnip (see Carb Counts of Root Vegetables)
- Water Chestnuts
Starchy (High Carb) Vegetables
The main veggies to be avoided when reducing carbohydrates are the starchier vegetables:
- Carrots on some diets, but they aren't as high as others in this group
- Potatoes in all forms
- Winter Squashes (particularly acorn and butternut)
Eat Low Sugar Fruit
Fruit, you'll find, is not particulary welcome on some low carb diets, as some depend more upon glycemic index or glycemic load (South Beach, Zone), while others just look at total carbs (Atkins, Protein Power). Also, some diets (Atkins, South Beach) don't allow fruit at all in the first phase. In general, your best bet fruits are these, but do check carb counts, and watch your weight. Not everyone can have fruit in maintenance. These are sort of arranged by sugar content, taking volume and weight, into account. This is not an exhaustive list.
Good news: the fruits lowest in sugar are some of the highest in nutritional value, including antioxidants and other phytonutrients.
Fruits lowest in sugar:
Fruits fairly high in sugar (avoid these in maintenance, even though some were in P2):
Fruits to be avoided in the maintenance phase:
- Dried Fruit
What to Avoid:Avoiding sugar means this: avoid cookies, cake, pie, candy, cupcakes, frosting, soft drinks, corn syrup, kool-aid, processed food, energy drinks, fruit juice, honey, yogurt, donuts, cookies, pudding, maple syrup, brownies, canned fruit in heavy syrup, ice cream, cool whip, boxed breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, granola - nothing with sugar. READ LABELS!!!! And remember, you're avoiding starches too. Nearly all processed foods in todays' stores contain high fructose corn syrup or some other kind of sugar. Here are some of the names you'll know are sugar to avoid in foods:
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Demerara Sugar
- Free Flowing Brown Sugars
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Invert Sugar
- Maple syrup
- Muscovado or Barbados Sugar
- Powdered or confectioner's sugar
- Rice Syrup
- Sugar (granulated)
- Turbinado sugar
Be sure to read food labels, check to see if sugar is added into a product before you buy it. Nearly every product in a can or box contains sugar in one of its many names. The first five ingredients listed on an item is the majority of the product, so be sure that sugar is not in the top five.
Avoiding starch means avoid cornstarch, white flour, wheat flour, any flour, pasta, any bread or bread product, breadsticks, bagels, hamburger and hotdog buns, crackers, tortillas, oatmeal, rice, polenta, peas, corn, lentils, pita bread, pretzels, corn chips, potato chips, yams, potatoes, pancakes, muffins, nearly all root vegetables, any breading on fish, chicken, or other protein., beans, grains, acorn squash, butternut squash, cereals, granola, cereal bars, popcorn, biscuits, corn bread, taco shells, croutons, rice cakes, Cream of Wheat, corn meal, and some nuts.
Most restaurants and fast food places add sugar to nearly every product, so be wary of eating out all the time. Other meats to watch out include deli meats, bacon, ham, prosciutto, sausage, and hotdogs.
Do not eat processed cheese (i.e. Velveeta), it contains unnecessary sugars and starches. Try not to eat processed anything for that matter.
You can see some good recipes in these locations:
Notes and Tips:
- Some low carb cookbooks to check out:
- 500 Low-Carb Recipes: 500 Recipes from Snacks to Dessert, That the Whole Family Will Love
- 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes: Instant Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More
- 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes: Healthy Dinners That Are Ready When You Are!
- 500 More Low-Carb Recipes: 500 All New Recipes From Around the World
Many of the recipes in these books are ok on Phase 3. Keep an eye on the ingredients and avoid the recipes with nuts, nut flours, bake mix, guar gum, molasses, honey, etc., or anything that could be a starch.
- This is critical: eat at least double the protein you were eating on the protocol - at least 100 - 125 protein grams (this is around 400 grams weighed raw) per meal - that is not weight, but grams of pure protein. On the protocol you averaged about 50 so at least double that so you won't be protein deficient. If you get to a level of protein deficiency, be sure to do a steak and cheese day: The person is told to eat two eggs for breakfast and a huge steak for lunch and dinner followed by a large helping of cheese. When this treatment is followed, two lbs. can vanish overnight, the swollen ankles are normal but sleep was disturbed, owing to an extraordinary need to pass large quantities of water.
- You can find out the minimum calories you should be consuming here. It is your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), the calories you burn just sitting and doing nothing. Use your BMR for your lower level of calories, as anything less than this would not be enough to maintain. Then, add another 300-400 calories to that figure. It is really important that you eat enough calories to maintain, or your body won't reset properly and give your hypothalamus the time it needs to go back to normal.
- Logging your food is still good, because you need to be able to find your upper leve, and identify "problem" foods. Many people can stay around 1700 calories with absolutely no problem; be careful exceeding 2500 calories. In addition, insufficient calories can also produce problems. Listen to your body and watch its signs. You can get a great program to track your foods and caloric intake at Fitday.
- Remember, Dr. Simeons said you can eat anything you want except sugars and starches. Follow one simple rule, watch the scale. You might be able to eat low sugar fruits (see above), eat cottage cheese daily - sometimes two servings - and have avocado and feta with dinner. You can drink beer and wine. Make sure to keep up a doubling of your protein from the VLCD as you don't want to become protein deficient. Some sample foods on this phase include: prime steak slathered in butter, lots of avocados, loads and loads of vegetables; you can put butter on those vegetables and cheese at times. You can eat fresh shrimp and fresh fish, often baking it in butter, wine and herbs, You can drink white wine on a few occasions. You can cook your eggs in butter and make omelets with vegetables and a little cheese. Use olive oil, eat more dietary fat—it can be the key to maintenance. Overall, eat the good fats and the scale goes down, try to limit the fats and the scale goes up.
- You may find that this maintenance phase shows you have a different relationship with food now. Second helpings aren't important, you don't need to eat just to feed your face, and your emotional relationship with food is different now.
- Don't worry if you find that you can't seem to eat the things you liked before you started the protocol. Sometimes, it can take almost 4 or 5 days to even start enjoying the food again. We believe it is because your body is so used to one way of eating, it takes awhile to adjust to the new way of eating again. It takes 30 days to make a habit, so you'll be relearning to eat! Enjoy it, and don't worry.
- Be careful of introducing too many new foods at once, in case you find one that gives you problems. Try to introduce foods one at a time, so you can determine if a certain food causes a gain or loss. Some people have trouble with dairy or nuts. Eat lean protein, good fats and vegetables during the first few days to balance out. Then, GRADUALLY introduce foods like nuts and dairy one at a time, so that if you react negatively it is easily identified.
- Read the label on everything you introduce during this maintenance phase. Be sure there is no form of sugar in it or other additives (look for any -ose, corn syrup, MSG, etc.). There is a list of sugar names above.
- It is important on this maintenance phase to look at the glycemic index of foods, rather than the carb count. This specifically means that foods are ranked on the effect they have on your glucose levels. These high glycemic foods are exactly what Dr. Simeons wants you to refrain from. Check out this website for more information on glycemic levels.
- If you eat yogurt, be sure not to get the ones which contain sugar. You can use organic PLAIN yogurt and then sweeten it with Stevia and add fruit to it (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, or whatever else you are craving.) There are also sugar-free yogurts on the market that already have non-sugar sweeteners in them.
- Use common sense when selecting your food for the maintenance phase. Dr. Simeons really meant to avoid the obvious starches such as corn, potatoes, cereal, white flour, beans, pasta, bread, etc., and not starches in fruits/nuts. You can follow Atkins, but use more protein than fat.
- If you are having trouble stabilizing your weight, begin by reducing the fats a bit (i.e. cheese or oil) and increase protein and vegetables. Some people, especially women, seem to be sensitive to cheese and the sodium apparently increases water retention = nominal weight gain (though not fat gain). If you suspect your gain is water-retention, the best way to reduce water retention is to drink more water. This helps flush the salt from your system.
- Don't worry about weight fluctuations (within the 2 pounds or close to it) too much. Many people, have somewhat unstable weight for the first week to 10 days after transitioning from the hCG to maintenance (a few lucky ones don't). It is likely to stabilize for you in less than a week, don't get upset by the minor swings. If you go over 2 pounds, do a steak and cheese day (above).
- Some words of wisdom from the good Doctor Simeons during this part of the protocol:
Beware of Over-enthusiasm
The other trouble which is frequently encountered immediately after treatment is again due to over-enthusiasm. Some patients cannot believe that they can eat fairly normally without regaining weight. They disregard the advice to eat anything they please except sugar and starch and want to play safe. They try more or less to continue the 500-Calorie diet on which they felt so well during treatment and make only minor variations, such as replacing the meat with an egg, cheese, or a glass of milk. To their horror they find that in spite of this bravura, their weight goes up. So, following instructions, they skip one meager lunch and at night eat only a little salad and drink a pot of unsweetened tea, becoming increasingly hungry and weak. The next morning they find that they have increased yet another pound. They feel terrible, and even the dreaded swelling of their ankles is back. Normally we check our patients one week after they have been eating freely, but these cases return in a few days. Either their eyes are filled with tears or they angrily imply that when we told them to eat normally we were just fooling them.
Here too, the explanation is quite simple. During treatment the patient has been only just above the verge of protein deficiency and has had the advantage of protein being fed back into his system from the breakdown of fatty tissue. Once the treatment is over there is no more hCG in the body and this process no longer takes place. Unless an adequate amount of protein is eaten as soon as the treatment is over, protein deficiency is bound to develop, and this inevitably causes the marked retention of water known as hunger- edema.
The treatment is very simple. The patient is told to eat two eggs for breakfast and a huge steak for lunch and dinner followed by a large helping of cheese and to phone through the weight the next morning. When these instructions are followed a stunned voice is heard to report that two lbs. have vanished overnight, that the ankles are normal but that sleep was disturbed, owing to an extraordinary need to pass large quantities of water. The patient having learned this lesson usually has no further trouble.
- If you plan on doing a second (or third) round to lose more weight, remember that Dr. Simeons recommends a 6 week break, followed by 8 weeks after the 2nd round, followed by 10 weeks after the 3rd round, etc. Some people have chosen to limit the break to 3 weeks (going from the maintenance phase right back to the injections). Dr. Simeons recommends this break to prevent immunity, but it is ultimately up to you how long your break is; you will see how the hCG reacts to the amount of time you chose to break for.
- For those who are experiencing fluid fluctuations, you can combat it with drinking a lot of water (more than 2 liters), drinking corn silk tea, taking Epsom salt baths, and watching your salt intake. You can increase protein, use fiber, magnesium as additional weapons for weight fluctuations.
- Stay away from the liqueurs (Bailey's, Chocolate, Amaretto, etc.). Most liqueurs have sugar added to them.
- Do NOT try to lose additional weight during this period. Dr. Simeons states that you will lose weight from your structural and reserve fat, rather than the abnormal fat, which you do NOT want to do. In addition, the hypothalamus needs time to adjust to the new "set" weight if it is to be considered your "normal" weight. If you do not allow this 3-week period of maintaining the last injection weight, it may be much easier to gain weight in the future.
Phase 3: Maintenance - Suggested Foods
Check your base calorie requirements by using our calculators to see your minimum for your height, LIW (last injection/dosing weight) and activity level. Then eat from this list up to that level.
If you get 2 lbs above or below your weight at the end of P2, you should either do a steak day or a protein day (eat eggs for breakfast, steak for lunch and dinner, and cheese for snacks all day) to get back to your correct weight. You may also want to consider if you're eating *enough*, many people don't eat enough calories to maintain their weight, and that can make you gain.
Most fish, poultry and meat don't contain sugars and starches so you can feel free to enjoy them, but be sure you're also getting lots of low-sugar/starch vegetables as well. It is important to remember that while you should eat low-sugar fruits in moderation on Phase 3, you should also be watchful for weight gain from fruit sugars. Some can eat fruit, and some cannot.
All fish including:
All fowl including:
- Cornish hen
All shellfish including:
*Oysters and mussels are higher in carbs so limit to about 4 ounces per day.
All meat including:
Some processed meat, bacon, and ham is cured with sugar, which will add to the carb count. Also steer clear of cold cuts and other meats with added nitrates.
Eggs are one of nature's most nutritious creations. That’s why eggs are recommended food in Phase 3 of the Simeons Protocol.
Feel free to get creative with your eggs: Add mushrooms and onions, or even green pepper. Top the dish off with feta cheese or add basil, oregano and other herbs.
Eggs in any style, including:
Keep in mind that cheese does contain carbs, about 1 gram per ounce. You may have about 3 to 4 ounces of cheese per day. An ounce is about the size of an individually wrapped slice of American cheese or a 1" cube. Do not eat processed cheese, stick with non-processed cheeses for best results. Be cautious, if you are lactose intolerant or have candida issues, cheese might make you gain.
|Type||Serving Size||Grams of net carbs|
|Blue cheeses||1 oz||0.7|
|Cow, sheep and goat||1 oz||0.3|
|Cream cheese||1 oz||0.8|
You should be eating approximately 12 to 15 grams of net carbs per day in the form of vegetables, which is equivalent to several cups depending on the actual carb content of the veggies you select.
1 cup is roughly the size of a baseball. Measure the following salad vegetables raw.
|Vegetable||Serving Size/Prep||grams of net carbs|
|Alfalfa sprouts||1 cup/raw||0.4|
|Bok choy||1 cup/raw||0.8|
|Chicory greens||½ cup/raw||0.6|
|Romaine lettuce||½ cup||0.2|
The following vegetables are slightly higher in sugars/starches than the salad vegetables listed above. They also provide important nutrients and add variety to your daily foods. Make sure you stay within the 12-15 grams of net carbs. Unless otherwise noted, measure these veggies after you cook them.
|Vegetable||Serving Size/ Prep||Net Carbs|
|Artichoke||¼ of medium||4.0|
|Artichoke hearts||1 canned
|Avocadoes||1 whole (raw)||3.5|
|Bamboo shoots||1 cup canned
|Broccoli raw||½ cup||1.0|
|Broccoli rabe||½ cup||1.3|
|Brussels sprouts||¼ cup
|Cabbage||½ cup (raw)||2.0|
|Cauliflower||½ cup (raw)||1.0|
|Swiss chard||½ cup
|Collard greens||½ cup
|Hearts of palm||1 heart||0.7|
|Onion||¼ cup (raw)||2.8|
|Rhubarb||½ cup (unsweetened)||1.7|
|Sauerkraut||½ cup (drained)||1.2|
|Peas||½ cup with pods||3.4|
|Spaghetti squash||½ cup
|Spinach||½ cup (raw)||0.2|
|Summer squash||½ cup
|Water chestnuts||½ cup (canned)||6.9|
|Crumbled bacon||3 slices||0.0|
|Hard-boiled egg||1 egg||0.0|
|Grated cheeses||(see above carb counts)|
|Sautéed mushrooms||½ cup||1.0|
|Sour cream||2 tbs||1.2|
Herbs and Spices (make sure they contain no added sugar)
|Cayenne pepper||1 tbs||0.0|
|Ginger||1 tbs sliced root||0.8|
Salad Dressings - Any prepared salad dressing with *no added sugar* and no more then 2 grams of net carbs per serving (1-2 tablespoons) is acceptable. Or make your own using apple cider vinegar and spices.
|Blue cheese||2 tbs||2.3|
|Lemon juice||2 tbs||2.8|
|Oil and vinegar||2 tbs||1.0|
Fats and Oils
There are no carbs here, but keep in mind that the serving size is approximately 1 tablespoon.
- Mayonnaise – make sure it has no added sugar
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oils – Those labeled “cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” are especially good and olive oil is one of the best.
- Coconut - I recommend Tropical Traditions for their quality
- Grape seed*
*Do not allow any oils to reach overly high temperatures when cooking. Use olive oil for sautéing only. Use walnut or sesame oil to dress cooked veggies or salad, but not for cooking. You can put coconut oil in your tea or coffee, fry your meat in it, make coconut bark, put it in fruit smoothies, protein drinks, etc.
- Splenda – one packet equals 1 gram of net carbs
- Stevia - liquid has no carbs, the packets less than 1 gr
- Saccharine - one packet less than 1 gr of carbs
- Truvia - one packet less than 1 gr of carbs
- Clear broth/ bouillon (make sure it has no sugars added)
- Club soda
- Cream, heavy or light.
- Decaffeinated or regular coffee and tea*
- Diet soda (be sure to note the carb count)
- Flavored seltzer (must say no calories)
- Herb tea (without added barley or fruit sugar added)
- Water – at least 2 liters per day including...
- Filtered water
- Mineral water
- Spring water
- Tap water
* You may have 1 to 2 cups of caffeinated tea or coffee if you can tolerate caffeine without experiencing cravings or symptoms of hypoglycemia. If you are truly addicted to caffeine, it's best to break the habit if you can. I couldn't, LOL.
Alcohol is something that everyone will have to decide for themselves. Wine and beer contain sugars and starches, so be careful with them. If you drink, the best choice is distilled liquors like vodka, rum, whiskey, etc. They have calories, but their carbs are empty and less likely to cause a gain. Your mileage may vary. Not all can drink in Phase 3.
Its important to get a healthy start to your day, and that means breakfast. You need to *eat* in Phase 3 to stabilize properly. There is plenty to choose from foodwise, like omelettes, low-carb cereals, cream cheese muffins, protein shakes or smoothies. Don't forget to think 'out of the box' and consider non-traditional items like salads, meats and other foods for breakfast.
Experiment with peppery greens like arugula or watercress for salads, or stong tasting things like endive, escarole or dandelion. Assertively flavored greens stand up to heavier dressings like creamy caesar or blue cheese, where milder greens are better with dressings like a tarragon vinagrette or light vinegar and oil, and lend a really nice variety to your life with your salads.
When eating your proteins, keep the menu interesting by using various recipes and adding interesting spices. We'll list some spices below for you to check out. Be sure to keep extra on hand for leftovers and extra meals when you don't have time to cook from scratch. Many recipes can be made in quantity ahead and frozen for later eating. Mondays dinner of roast can be re-tasked to Chinese pork later in the week. Break from the staples of brocolli, cauliflower and zucchini, and look at spaghetti squash for pseudo pasta for spaghetti, or fry your summer squash in butter and garlic for a wonderful taste treat. Even shred turnips, and fry in butter and onions for a 'hash browns' that can't be beat!!
Finally, remember that in eating sweets, whether that is sugar-free chocolate (or my favs, sugar free turtles!), Oopsie Napoleon, or oopsie pancakes with sugar free syrup, the watch word is portion control. Just because the item is low in sugar is *not* a license to gorge on it!! Learn from the protocol, and eat only what you need, without overeating.
The Simeons Maintenance Kitchen
Keeping the right foods stocked in your stash will make your eating easier and less stressful. Here are some things to consider:
- Canned or box sugar-free and reduced sodium chicken and beef broth. Look for 'free range' or 'organic' types. These can be used as soup bases, to saute meats or veggies, and other things. If you have the time, toss a whole chicken into a pot and boil it until it falls apart. Store the chicken for salads, cool the broth and skim the fat, and freeze the broth for later use. With beef, you can pour off the juice that you get when cooking a roast, let the fat rise to skim off, and then freeze the broth. Yummy!
- Canned or boxed tomato sauce, diced and whole tomatoes. Make sure they don't have sugar added, some do.
- Tomato paste in tubes. This stuff is really concentrated, so a little will do ya.
- Olives - high in oil, very healthy. And wonderful snacks, meal garnishes, chopped in eggs, as an appetizer at dinners......
- Sun dried tomatos in oil - These are really concentrated. Try tossing a spoonful into your salad, or into a veggie dish to add lots of flavor and depth. Mix with cream cheese and mayo for a great veggie dip, and serve with sliced cucumbers, celery, brocolli and cauliflower!
- Dried porcini or portobello mushrooms. Wonderful flavor for soups and stews. Chop and fry in butter, coconut oil or olive oil for a great antipasti dish or to mix in scrambled eggs at breakfast. One of my fav breakfasts in maintenance is butter fried mushrooms with scrambled eggs with cheese, and bacon. Add a 'dessert' of cantaloupe chunks, and mmmmm....you've a great breakfast!
- Canned pumpkin (watch out for added sugar). Only 5 carbs per 1/2 cup, and so yummy!! Great source of beta-carotene. Try this cooked into chicken broth for a nice thick pumpkin soup, or spiced with stevia and cinnamon for a great dessert dish! Add a dollop of fresh-whipped heavy cream with sweetener, and watch out!!
- Cornmeal - mix with crushed pork rinds to make a great crust for fried fish or chicken, fry in coconut or olive oil!
- Roasted red peppers - these spicy little beauties can be tossed into just about anything, and oh so yummy!
- Canned chiles - chop and add to soups, protein dishes, veggies, anything you want to give a zip to!
Canned Protein (on the go and handy)
- Tuna - packed in oil or water. Packed in oil has more flavor, and is perfectly ok in maintenance. Tuna in water is mild and great on salads. Packed in oil, it can be used in hot dishes more easily. Now they have these great on-the-go packets that come in plain, tomato sundried, lemon and pepper, and my favorite, mesquite smoked tuna filets. Not home to eat? These beauties with some mayo and veggies will fix you right up!
- Smoked Oysters - oh, the agony!! These little beauties are decadent served with cream cheese topped celery sticks. Toss in some chunks of proscetto ham, and you've a party!!
- Sardines - love these guys!! Try them with eggs for a kippered breakfast. Snack with them, wrap them in oopsies, eat them plain!
- Salmon - Salmon cakes, croquettes, smoked salmon with cream cheese and celery, fried salmon in coconut oil and garlic, baked salmon with salsa, butter and onions......ok, I'm drooling here....
- White meat chicken - not my favorite chicken, but in a situation where you can't refridgerate, or are just in a hurry, a can of this tossed into a fry pan with some garlic and onions makes a satisfying meal. Or just toss into a salad. On the go, pull the can top, mix in a mayo packet, instant chicken salad.....
Baking and Cooking Ingredients
- Powdered sugar-substitute - Get the bags for cooking. Splenda is good, as is Truvia (although I'm not sure that comes in large bags yet). Also try Xylitol, I'm hearing good things about it.
- Sugar free syrups and toppings - One of my favorite brands are DaVinci Syrups, they come in about a million flavors, and they're really good. Your regular grocery should have sugar free syrups and toppings as well. Imagine oopsie french toast with sugar free caramel syrup.....mmmmmmm
- Alternate flours - I recommend you save these for after maintenance (3 weeks after your VLCD), but consider almond flour, coconut flour, flax flour. All these are low in starches and high in fiber and much better than wheat flour.....
- Glucomannan - great starch-free thickener for gravies and sauces. A very little goes a very long way....
- Pure vanilla extract. Don't get the fake stuff, you'll be happier with the actual item. Madagascar is one of the best, you can find it at the grocery store.
- Chocolate extract
- Citrus flavored and other flavored oils
- Sesame oil - wonderful in stir frys
Nuts, Seeds and Nut Spreads
Nuts are high in healthy fats and protein. They make great snacks and additions to meals and in cooking. Spreads work great with Julian Bread too. Avoid peanuts, they are not really a nut, and are high in carbs.....
- Macadamia nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds (find these in bags in Mexican sections of grocery stores)
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
Note: Storing your seeds and nuts in the freezer will make them last longer
- Macadamia nut butter
- Almond nut butter
- Sugar free jams
- Natural peanut butter (no sugar, and be careful it might make some gain)
- Tabasco sauce
- Worchestershire sauce
- Soy sauce (sugar free, low salt, and in small quantities, soy depresses thyroid function)
- Mustard (make sure it is sugar free) - choose brown mustards and other dark mustards
- Sugar free ketchup
- Sugar free barbeque sauce
- Chipotle en adobo (jalepenos in a tomato vinegar sauce - very high in flavor, but *HOT*)
- Pesto in a tube
- Anchovies - tasty little fishies, great on cauliflower pizza! Necessary for a *real* Caesar salad....
Oils and Vinegars
- Coconut oil - I get mine from http://www.tropicaltraditions.com - burns high heat, tastes great, and is fantastic with fish, in your tea or coffee, in smoothies and anywhere else you can put it. A great way to get your calories up if you can't eat enough.....
- Olive oil - get the highest quality you can afford, extra virgin is best.
- Peanut oil - I love this in stir fry dishes
- Mayonnaise - make sure it is sugar free. There are tons of homemade recipes for mayo, or you can use Dukes Mayo (this is the local mayo here in NC)
- Tarragon oil and vinegar - highly flavored, great in salads, dishes, etc.
- Apple cider vinegar - an essential food. Flavor foods, soak cucumbers in it with sweetener and spices for 'pickles'. Drink a tablespoon in water 3x per day to stave off heartburn.
- Wine vinegar - red or white, a great way to add a bit of flavor to dishes
- Herbed vinegars
I know we say 'shop around the edges, but the freezer section in *my* store is on the edges, LOL. In any case, there are lots of stuff you can stash in your freezer for quick access on those busy days when you can't find lots of cooking time.
- Chopped spinach and whole leaf spinach
- Snow peas
- Green beans
- Artichoke hearts
- Asparagus spears
- Unsweetened berries (I like the mixes, in a bowl with heavy cream, yum!!
- Chicken breast halves and tenderloins
- Pre-made hamburger patties
- Fish of all kinds
- Cheese!!! - Lots of cheese (some can't do cheese, you'll have to sample and find out). Look for full-fat cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, chevre cheese (goat cheese) and mascarpone. These are great for breakfast or dessert with a bit of chopped nuts and berries, or some sweetener and cinnamon. Semi-soft cheeses are ones like Brie and Camembert, an these are great with parmesan chips (homemade using parmesan piles fried in butter!), flax crackers and Julian bread. Harder cheese like Gruyere, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Dutch Gouda (I like smoked gouda) and cheddar are just great as snacks!! Blue cheeses like Roquefort, Gorgonzola and American Maytag Blue are great with salads and as sauces. Get small amounts of cheese and experiment to see what you like best.
- Cream/butter - Use heavy cream in your coffee or tea. Many less carbs and *lots* more flavor than milk or half-and-half! Sweet butter will offer more flavor than unsalted or salted, the flavor is cleaner, but make your own choices. I like unsalted myself. You can raise the burn temp of butter by adding a little oil to it for sauteing. Ghee works well for this too (clarified butter).
- Eggs - oh, the wonderful egg!! Breakfast, quiches, custards, boiled, fried, baked, poached, deviled, egg salad, in oopsies, the list is endless. Keep hard boiled eggs around for a handy quick snack. I keep a bowl of deviled *and* hard boiled eggs on hand a lot....
- Cream cheese - use it in oopsies, as a spread on Julian Bread, spread on veggie spears, in cauliflower mock potatoes.....
- Protein - lots of it! I look for meats, poultry and seafood on sale, and vacuum seal it with my sealer, then freeze it. Don't rule out the more unusual meats like venison, buffalo/bison, elk, rabbit, duck, pheasant and other wild meats, they are often much more flavorful than farm-raised cows and chickens..... also remember BACON!! (my fav, lol). I buy the thick cut variety, and eat it nearly every day for breakfast.
- Cold cuts - look at labels. Many prepackaged cold cuts have lots of chemicals in them, and many have added sugar. Whenever possible, get fresh-sliced for best flavor and quality.
- Salad veggies - figure on 5 days of freshness. Plan ahead to avoid them going bad on you
- Vegetables and Fruit - buying in season will get you the best veggies. If you've a local farmers market, check it out for great choices. Keep your veggie bin filled up with broccoli and cauliflower, asparagus and spinach. Green beans are great, as are snow peas. Eggplant, summer squash, spaghetti squash, jicama, mushrooms of all kinds, bell peppers, onions, green onions, leeks and broccoflower (sort of a green cauliflower looking thing, LOL). For fruit, berries are great. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries are great. Use 'em fast, they don't keep long.
Spices and Herbs
Buy spices in small quantities to keep them freshest. Don't store them in the fridge, they'll gather moisture. Keep them in a dark temperature controlled space like a pantry or a shelf. Near the stove is bad (heat). Sniff them before using and toss out any that don't have a smell, they've lost their goodness. To use dried herbs instead of fresh, the rule is one tablespoon of fresh equals one teaspoon of dried. Most spices have less than one carb per 2 tablespoons, so go crazy!! Make sure that sugar has not been added, some mixes have sugar in them.
- Cajun spices
- Middle eastern spices
- Chili powder
- Chinese 5-spice (a mix of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel and pepper is what makes Chinese food so yummy)
- Cinnamon (mix with ricotta cheese and sugar-free sweetener for a rich treat!)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Red pepper
- Mrs. Dash
- Tony Chachere's season salt
- Green onions
- Parsley (flat (Italian) leaf has more flavor than curly)
- Ginger - this is a root, and you'll find it in most groceries. Peel the skin off and grate for a peppery taste that is great in a lot of dishes
Things to Remember:
- Read labels!! Dang near everything these days has added sugar. Watch for it.
- Shop in health food stores - you'll have a better chance of finding natural products than chain grocery stores
- Make your own salad dressings - they taste better and you know what goes into them
- Keep a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge. Full lemons go over fast, and lemon juice is good in so many things. Plus, you can make homemade lemonade with some sweetener!
- Keep your variety up. Nothing makes you eat the wrong things faster than boring meals.
- Butter and cream sauces are rich. Use them for treats, not daily.