Can You Have Salad Dressing on the HCG Diet?

Dr. A.T.W. Simeons' HCG Diet protocol is based on a four-phase restricted diet and daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin or HCG. As outlined in his book, "Pounds and Inches," the bulk of the weight loss takes place during the highly restricted 500-calorie phase, during which you must consume only foods from the approved list. The other phases are more liberal; however, they can be more confusing with regard to food choices. For example, something as simple as salad dressing has multiple restrictions, depending upon which phase of the diet you are in.

Binge Phase

The first three days of the HCG diet are binge days. During this time, you are not just allowed -- but required -- to eat as much high-calorie, high-fat food as possible to stock up your normal fat stores, which will help nourish you during the severe calorie restriction of the next phase. Although most people don't eat a whole lot of salad during this phase, concentrating instead on their favorite foods that will be off-limits for months, salad dressing actually fits the bill. It can easily turn a bowl full of lettuce into a fatty, high-calorie side dish. Many salad dressings can have more than 200 calories and 21 g of fat in every 2 Tbsp serving. During this phase, eat as much salad dressing as you want, but throw away the remainder when you begin the next phase.

500-Calorie Phase

During the 500-calorie phase of the diet, you are restricted to the short list of approved foods, as outlined by Dr. Simeons in "Pounds and Inches." Because sugar is not allowed and fat is restricted, salad dressing is off-limits. That's not to say you have to eat your four daily cups of vegetables plain -- you are allowed any vinegar of your choice in unlimited quantities. Just a dash of red wine or balsamic vinegar can easily flavor an entire salad. If the vinegar alone is too strong for you, try a squirt of fresh lemon juice -- you are allowed the juice of one lemon every day. There are also bottled salad dressings available at the grocery store that are calorie-free, although some HCG dieters don't trust them. Although they do not impact your calorie consumption in any way, they are not expressly permitted in the book; therefore, many individuals consider them prohibited.

Maintenance Phase One

The dietary restrictions loosen up a bit during the first maintenance phase as fat is phased back in. Salad dressing is allowed once again, but read the label carefully to make sure the product is sugar-free -- as no sugar is allowed during this phase. Although they can be difficult to find, sugar-free salad dressings do exist, especially those catering to diabetics. Check the refrigerated section in your grocery store, or try a health or specialty food store.

Maintenance Phase Two

The second maintenance phase is when all dietary restrictions are lifted. At this time, you are allowed fat and sugar, so any salad dressing is fair game. There is one caveat though -- just because a food is allowed doesn't mean you should eat it in unlimited quantities. Salad dressing is still high-fat and high-calorie, so keep your consumption within reason. Some people stick with plain vinegar or lemon juice without ever reverting to regular dressing; others are careful to choose light vinaigrettes instead of heavy cream-based dressings. You are free to make your own diet choices at this point in the HCG diet, but you have no one but yourself to blame for the consequences.