Nutrition Essentials When Taking Weight Loss Medications

It is important to consider how food choices can work in combination with medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy to optimize weight loss and overall nutritional health.

Weight loss medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy are in a class of medications known as GLP-1 agonists (semaglutides), which are designed to help manage type 2 diabetes and facilitate weight loss. Nutrition plays a critical role in managing type 2 diabetes and weight loss, so it is important to consider how food choices can work in combination with these medications for your overall health.

Medications like Ozempic and Wegovy aid in weight loss by decreasing your appetite, which can reduce the daily number of calories consumed by as much as 50 percent. It’s important to make each calorie count not only to ensure the recommended daily allowances for vitamins and minerals are being met, but also to ensure your blood sugar levels are under control. For patients with type 2 diabetes, managing blood sugar is crucial because the highs and lows in blood sugar can increase your risk for impaired cardiovascular health, kidney functioning, or vision issues. So, what should be in included on a “weight loss medication menu?”

How Many Calories Should I Eat with Semaglutides?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. Determining the appropriate number of daily calories while taking weight loss medications can be complicated because factors such as gender, age, daily activity level, weight, and your overall health affect this decision. Talking with your health care provider is a good first step because they are familiar with your individual health metrics and weight loss goals. That said, there are strategies you can take in the meantime to make sure you are eating a balanced and nutrient-rich diet.

Lean protein: Lean proteins such as skinless white meat poultry, lean beef, pork, shrimp, or egg whites promote satiety (feeling full) and they help maintain your lean muscle mass while taking weight loss medications. Preserving lean muscle mass while losing weight is important because it increases your basal metabolic rate — the rate at which your body burns calories — and it improves insulin sensitivity, allowing your body to regulate insulin more effectively. Other sources of lean protein include plant-based options such as legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, tofu, tempeh, and quinoa.
Omega-3: Omega-3 foods are important for cardiovascular, brain, eye, and joint health. Omega-3 food include fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines as well as walnuts, chia seeds, or flaxseed. Plant-based oils such as soybean oil, flaxseed oil, or canola oil are also sources of omega-3.
Fiber: Fiber is essential because it aids in digestive health and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Like protein, fiber also promotes satiety. Fiber-rich foods include broccoli, apples, oats, chickpeas, and legumes.

What if I’m Not Losing Weight on Weight Loss Medications?

Because diet is such a large part of successful weight loss and maintenance, if you are not losing weight on these medications, you may need to adjust your diet to ensure that you are consuming nutrient-rich foods. Because weight loss medications do have side effects (e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), taking control of food choices can help reduce the nutritional deficits associated with GI side effects. Eating smaller portions of nutrient-rich foods throughout the day could help mitigate the side effects of Ozempic and similar medications.

A nutrient-rich diet includes lean proteins, omega-3s and fiber. Many of the foods in these categories are performing double duty — counting as a protein, omega-3 and fiber. When every calorie matters, small dietary adjustments can ensure you are consuming foods that are high in nutritional value. Work with your health care provider to develop an eating plan that meets your daily caloric and nutritional needs.

Before beginning any weight loss program, whether it includes anti-obesity medication or not, be sure to consult with your health care provider to make sure your desired weight loss strategy is right for you.

About the Author: Dr. Dawn M. Sweet has over 20 years of experience in the field of communication. Dr. Sweet has given several invited talks to and workshops for academic and private sector audiences on the role of nonverbal and verbal communication in achieving positive outcomes and mitigating bias. Her research has been published in several top ranked peer-review journals, and it has been featured on NPR’s River to River / All Things Considered, Buzzfeed, and Science Daily. Her research has also been used to inform expert testimony.

* Wegovy® and Ozempic® are registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk A/S. Novo Nordisk is a registered trademark of Novo Nordisk A/S.

Image of Image of Biocare Semaglutide nausea relief beverage in a glass, formula pouch, and box for ozempic side effects


Preserves Muscle Mass and Helps Reduce Side Effects for People Using Semaglutide