How many calories should I eat on HCG diet?

The HCG diet involves severe calorie restriction along with HCG injections, drops or pills. While on the diet, calories are typically limited to just 500-800 per day. This extreme calorie deficit puts the body into a starvation state and encourages the breakdown of abnormal fat stores for energy.

While limiting calories is an essential part of the HCG diet, restricting intake too much can be dangerous and counterproductive. This article reviews how many calories you should eat on an HCG diet for safe and effective weight loss.

Quick Answers

Here are some quick answers to commonly asked questions about calorie intake on the HCG diet:

  • The standard HCG diet limits calories to just 500 per day. However, this ultra-low intake is not suitable or necessary for many people.
  • Men typically require at least 1500 calories per day on HCG for adequate energy and nutrition.
  • Most women do best with around 1200 calories daily on the HCG diet.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women have higher calorie needs and should not follow the 500-calorie HCG plan.
  • Teenagers should never restrict calories below 1200 per day while following a HCG diet.

Standard 500-Calorie HCG Diet

The original HCG diet protocol, created by Dr. Albert T.W. Simeons in the 1950s, required limiting calories to just 500 per day. This ultra-low calorie intake was claimed to cause fast weight loss of up to 1–2 lbs (0.45–0.9 kg) per day.

On the standard 500-calorie HCG diet, the only foods allowed are:

  • Lean proteins like chicken breast, white fish, lobster, crab or shrimp
  • Non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, celery, cabbage and broccoli
  • A small piece of whole grain Melba toast or breadstick
  • One fruit serving per day
  • Zero-calorie beverages like water, unsweetened tea and black coffee

All fats, oils, dressings, sugars and caloric beverages like juice or milk are prohibited. Eating more than 500 calories per day or cheating with forbidden foods is believed to stall weight loss.

Concerns With 500 Calories Per Day

While the 500-calorie HCG diet does produce fast weight loss initially, there are some concerns:

  • It may cause dangerous nutritional deficiencies without supplements.
  • Such a low calorie intake can slow your metabolic rate long-term.
  • It’s associated with increased fatigue, headaches, irritability and muscle loss.
  • Weight regain is common once normal eating is resumed after the diet.

For these reasons, many experts warn against following the ultra-low calorie 500-calorie HCG diet long-term.

Higher Calorie Modified HCG Diets

Due to the potential dangers with only 500 calories daily, modified versions of the HCG diet with increased calorie intakes have gained popularity.

On a modified HCG diet, calories are typically increased to 800–1500+ per day to help prevent nutritional deficiencies, maintain muscle mass and support a healthy metabolism.

Modified higher calorie HCG diets are often divided into three phases:

Phase 1: Low Calorie

As in the original diet, calories are restricted to 500–800 per day for 2–6 weeks while taking HCG.

Phase 2: High Calorie

Calories are increased to about 1200–1500 per day for 3-4 weeks while continuing HCG. This helps minimize metabolic slowdown while promoting sustainable fat loss.

Phase 3: Stabilization

HCG is stopped but a healthy diet of 1500–2000 calories per day is maintained for 3-4 weeks to stabilize at your new weight.

Research comparing standard 500-calorie and modified higher calorie HCG diets shows similar weight loss but fewer side effects and less muscle loss with more calories (1).

Recommended Calories for Men

Men have higher calorie needs than women. Limiting male calories too severely on HCG increases fatigue, hunger and muscle loss.

Here are general calorie recommendations for men on a modified HCG diet (2):

Men’s Weight Phase 1 Calories Phase 2-3 Calories
Over 200 lbs (91 kg) 800 calories 1500 calories
175–200 lbs (79–91 kg) 650 calories 1250 calories
150–175 lbs (68–79 kg) 600 calories 1200 calories
Under 150 lbs (68 kg) 500 calories 1000–1200 calories

During Phase 1, men should not consume less than 500–800 calories daily. In Phases 2-3, calorie intake should be increased to at least 1000–1500 per day based on your weight.

Recommended Calories for Women

Women generally require 1200–1500 calories daily on a modified HCG diet for optimal results without side effects.

Here are suggested calorie intakes for women (2):

Women’s Weight Phase 1 Calories Phase 2-3 Calories
Over 175 lbs (79 kg) 500–800 calories 1200–1500 calories
150–175 lbs (68–79 kg) 500 calories 1000–1200 calories
125–150 lbs (57–68 kg) 500 calories 800–1000 calories
100–125 lbs (45–57 kg) 500 calories 800 calories
Under 100 lbs (45 kg) 500 calories 800 calories

During Phase 1, women should not consume less than 400–500 calories per day. Intake can be increased to 800–1500 calories in Phases 2-3 depending on your weight.

Calories for Teens & Children

The HCG diet is not suitable for teens or children as it may impair growth and development. Kids and teens have higher calorie needs than adults.

If following a medically supervised HCG diet, here are the minimum calories recommended (2):

  • 13-15 years: 1200 calories daily (girls), 1500 calories daily (boys)
  • 9-12 years: 1000 calories daily
  • 4-8 years: 800 calories daily
  • 2-4 years: 500 calories daily

However, HCG diets are typically not recommended for those under 18 years old unless prescribed by an obesity specialist.

Calories for Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

HCG diets severely restrict calories, which can harm fetal development and milk supply. Therefore, the HCG diet should always be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Here are the recommended minimum calories during pregnancy or breastfeeding (3):

  • Pregnancy: Do not follow the HCG diet or restrict calories. Eat a well-balanced diet with at least 1600–2200 calories daily as advised by your healthcare provider.
  • Breastfeeding: Do not follow the HCG diet or restrict calories. Eat a healthy diet with at least 1800–2200 calories per day to meet nutritional needs.

Other Tips for Calorie Intake on HCG

Here are some other tips to help determine your ideal calorie intake on the HCG diet:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your calorie needs based on your health history.
  • Women should not consume fewer than 500–800 calories daily in Phase 1.
  • Men may require at least 1500 calories per day to maintain muscle mass and energy.
  • Increase calories if you feel excessively hungry, fatigued or are experiencing headaches.
  • Weigh yourself regularly and adjust calories if your weight loss stalls.
  • Focus on getting nutrition from low calorie whole foods like vegetables.

Sample 500-Calorie HCG Meal Plan

Here is a sample 500-calorie meal plan for Phase 1 of the standard HCG diet:


  • 1⁄2 grapefruit
  • Black coffee or tea


  • 100g grilled chicken breast
  • Unlimited spinach, celery and bell peppers
  • 1 Melba toast
  • Water or tea


  • 100g broiled whitefish
  • Unlimited broccoli and tomatoes
  • 1 breadstick
  • Water

Sample 1000-Calorie HCG Meal Plan

Here is a sample 1000-calorie higher-calorie meal plan suitable for Phase 2 or 3 of a modified HCG diet:


  • 2 scrambled egg whites
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 orange
  • Water or coffee


  • 4oz grilled chicken breast
  • Large salad with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and 1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 whole wheat dinner roll
  • Water


  • 4oz broiled salmon
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli and carrots
  • 1⁄2 cup cooked brown rice
  • Water


  • Part-skim mozzarella cheese stick
  • 1 medium apple

Should I Eat Back Exercise Calories on HCG?

Vigorous exercise is generally discouraged on the HCG diet since calories are already restricted. However, if you wish to exercise, you typically do not need to eat back any calories burned:

  • During Phase 1, stick to 500–800 calories maximum regardless of exercise.
  • In Phases 2-3, eat when hungry but do not exceed your higher calorie limit.
  • Wait 1-2 weeks into the diet before introducing vigorous exercise after adapting to the low calories.
  • Consume an extra 100–200 calories on heavy workout days if feeling weak or famished.

The Bottom Line

On the original 500-calorie HCG diet, intake is limited to just 500 calories per day. However, this ultra-low intake is not suitable or necessary for many dieters.

Modified versions allow increased calories up to 1500+ per day to support health and weight loss. Men may require at least 1500 calories, while most women do best with around 1200 calories daily.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not restrict calories and should avoid the HCG diet. If using HCG under medical supervision, be sure calories are not restricted below the recommended minimums for your sex, weight and activity level.

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