Designed for aggressive dieters who want to lose weight fast, the HCG diet has two parts. The first is a specially-formulated diet drop that helps a dieter burn calories from fat instead of food. The second is a 500-calorie-a-day diet intended to maximize the amount of stored fat the body consumes.

The HCG diet has received criticism, with some suppliers who made exaggerated claims about the diet drops’ effectiveness being shut down. The suppliers who remain defend the diet, saying that the FDA’s complaint was with the marketing efforts of certain suppliers, not with the diet drops themselves.

The very low calorie diet plan was defined by Dr. Simeons, who formulated the HCG drops.The Very Low Calorie diet plan is intended to put the body into starvation mode, forcing it to burn stored fat as a substitute for food calories. The dieter eats only what is absolutely necessary to stem the urges for food.

The diet plan’s breakfast menu consists of coffee or tea. The coffee or tea can be sweetened, although the plan recommends artificial sweetener (e.g., saccharine) or herbal sweetener (e.g., stevia) rather than sugar. One tablespoon of milk can be added to the morning beverage. This is the only milk allowed in a 24-hour period.

The diet plan recommends 100 raw grams of very lean protein at lunch. Meats such as lobster, chicken breast, white fish, shrimp, veal, or very lean beef qualify as acceptable sources of protein. Before cooking, any fat on the 100-gram portion should be cut away, and no additional fats should be added during cooking. Frying the protein in oil, even “healthy” oils such as olive oil, is not permitted. The meat should be prepared by grilling or boiling. Lunch can also include one kind of vegetable and fruit, such as a handful of strawberries, half a grapefruit, or one apple.

The diet recommends certain vegetables, including green salad, beet greens, spinach, tomato, cabbage, asparagus, onion, chicory, red radishes, cucumber, chard, celery, and fennel. The lunchtime rules also apply to dinner: one fruit, one vegetable, and 100 grams of very lean protein.

It may seem that a diet this restrictive would afford few options for flavor, but HCG dieters have begun to create and share recipes, many of which are available online. The diet drops, which can be ordered from a supplier, come in a kit that also includes a detailed explanation of the Very Low Calorie diet plan.

It is best to consult a doctor before beginning the HCGdiet – or any aggressive weight loss regimen. Weight loss – and especially weight control – are extremely important for long-term health, but aggressive dieters may look at their weight as a cosmetic problem rather than a health problem. A doctor can be a valuable counselor, helping the dieter to ensure not only that his or her weight loss choices produce a favorable cosmetic outcome, but more importantly that they provide a strong and beneficial foundation for long term good health.