Foods to Eat — and Avoid — When Taking Weight Loss Medications That Contain Semaglutide

Gastrointestinal side effects are common when taking semaglutide medications, so it’s important to consider what you eat.

Semaglutide is a medication that was initially developed to help manage type 2 diabetes but then began being used for weight loss. You are probably familiar with semaglutide under the names Ozempic or Wegovy, though there are also other semaglutide weight loss medications on the market. Semaglutide mimics a hormone called GLP-1, which is implicated in hunger. Semaglutide, when appropriately dosed, suppresses your appetite and makes you feel full. Gastrointestinal side effects are common when taking semaglutide medications, so it is important to consider what to eat on semaglutide medications.

What to Eat on Wegovy, Ozempic, and Other Semaglutide Medications

Gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or delayed stomach emptying can lead to nutritional and dietary deficits. When taking semaglutide medications it is critical to make sure your diet incudes lean proteins, high fiber foods, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. It is also important to stay hydrated, so drinking water is also important.

Because your appetite is suppressed when taking semaglutide medications, thinking about the food you consume as fuel and having your calories work for you is an important strategy. For example, consuming lean proteins like skinless white meat chicken, turkey, pork, lean beef, or tofu is important to maintain lean muscle mass and vitamin B. Vitamin B is found in protein and will help regulate energy levels. Vitamin B also promotes digestive health.

Consuming high-fiber foods such as legumes (e.g., beans and lentils), whole grains (oats and brown rice), and fruit (e.g., apples and pears), and vegetables (e.g., Brussel sprouts and asparagus) will help regulate blood sugar levels and promote digestive health. Also included in high fiber foods are non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and tomatoes. It is important to make sure you exchange unhealthy fats (e.g., saturated fat, lard, or butter) with healthy fats like those found in avocados, seeds, nuts, or olive oil. Staying hydrated is also important because water helps to deliver nutrients to cells, improve sleep, and improve cognitive functioning and mood. Drinking water also will also help with stomach emptying.

Foods to Avoid While Taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and Other Semaglutide Medications

Because nutrition is such an important component of weight loss and overall wellbeing, it is crucial to consider the foods to avoid while taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and other semaglutide medications.

Calories consumed from processed food (e.g., chips, cookies, bacon, bread) are empty calories, devoid of any substantive nutritional value. Many processed foods contain added sugars and saturated and trans fats, and these foods could exacerbate nausea and further delay stomach emptying. Fried foods and greasy foods (e.g., fried chicken, French fries) should also be avoided as well as starchy vegetables, and sugary drinks.

What to eat on semaglutide medications matters. Consuming foods that are nutrient-dense and contribute to overall health and wellbeing can not only reduce the risks of common gastrointestinal side effects, but also ensure that your calories are working for you. Weight loss occurs rapidly when using weight loss medications, so consuming healthy foods will keep your energy level up and provide you with the vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy.

If you have been prescribed weight loss medication, be sure to work with your health care provider to develop a healthy eating plan that meets your daily caloric and nutritional needs. Before beginning any weight loss program, whether it includes weight loss 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.

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