Since its approval by the FDA in 2017, Ozempic, the Type 2 Diabetes medication turned weight loss sensation, has helped thousands of overweight and obese Americans in their weight loss journeys. But it doesn’t work in isolation.
It’s a well-known fact that Ozempic is most effective as an adjunct to healthy lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, but what does this really mean? As you head to the grocery store before injecting your first dose of Ozempic (semaglutide), what foods should you be stocking your fridge and pantry with in order to feel your best and achieve the best possible weight loss outcomes?
In this post, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of nutrition while on Ozempic. We’ll consider how to maximize weight loss as well as strategies for building healthy muscle mass and minimizing side effects.
While a healthy diet can play a major and positive role in your experience with Ozempic, each patient’s experience will be unique. The information contained in this article is not intended to constitute or replace medical advice. For specific questions about your diet while on Ozempic, speak directly with your primary healthcare provider.
- Ozempic (semaglutide) is a Type 2 Diabetes medication that promotes healthy weight loss and is sometimes prescribed off-label for this purpose.
- Ozempic is most effective alongside lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and exercise.
- Foods that are recommended to eat while taking Ozempic include protein-rich foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and other healthy fats. Fatty, sugary, and highly processed foods should be avoided.
- For specific questions about what you should eat while on Ozempic, your personal doctor or healthcare provider is your best resource.
What Is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a brand-name drug that is FDA-approved for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in adults. Produced by Novo Nordisk in Denmark, it regulates blood sugar levels and is also associated with medically significant weight loss in patients with and without Type 2 Diabetes.
Though Ozempic is not approved for weight loss, its sister drug, Wegovy, has been since 2021. Wegovy, which contains semaglutide, the same active ingredient found in Ozempic (but at a higher dose), is indicated for use in obese adults and teens as well as overweight adults with at least one weight-related health condition (such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or PCOS). Ozempic may also be prescribed off-label for weight loss purposes if a doctor believes it may be the best treatment option for a particular patient.
Both Ozempic and Wegovy are injectable medications that are taken once weekly. They come in single-patient-use injectable pens that are prefilled with medication and are injected subcutaneously into the thigh, upper arm, or abdomen.
How Does Ozempic Work?
Ozempic (semaglutide) works by imitating a hormone that naturally occurs in the human gut in response to food consumption. This hormone is known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), and Ozempic, therefore, belongs to the class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists.
When semaglutide binds to GLP-1 receptors, it triggers responses throughout the body. These include: The production and release of insulin from the pancreas, the inhibition of glucose release from the liver, and the slowing of gastric emptying (the speed at which food is released from the stomach into the small intestine to be digested).
Slowing the digestive process is one of the primary ways Ozempic promotes weight loss—when food moves slowly through your digestive tract, you feel fuller for longer. It also reduces cravings and hunger pangs as well as helps you to feel satiated (full) after eating smaller portions of food.
Who Is Eligible for Ozempic?
Adults diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes struggling to gain glycemic control are eligible candidates for treatment with Ozempic. Your doctor may also decide to prescribe you Ozempic off-label strictly for weight loss purposes if they believe it will be your best treatment option.
Who Is Ozempic Not Suitable for?
Ozempic is not suitable for patients who:
- Are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive
- Have Type 1 Diabetes
- Are under 18 years old
- Have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer
- Are allergic to semaglutide or any other ingredients in Ozempic
- Have a history of liver disease, gallbladder disease, kidney disease, pancreatitis, or Diabetic retinopathy
What Foods Should I Eat While Taking Ozempic?
There are no specific foods that must be consumed or avoided while taking Ozempic. But that doesn’t mean that your dietary choices aren’t important.
Eating healthy foods can contribute substantially to both blood sugar regulation and weight loss in general, and even more so while taking Ozempic. To achieve optimal weight loss results and feel your best throughout your time on the drug, eating a balanced diet is key. Below are four categories of foods that you should aim to foreground:
Foods High in Protein
Protein-rich foods are essential for your energy, healthy muscle growth, tissue repair, immune function, and blood sugar control. Though we often think of proteins coming from animal products, there are actually plenty of plant-based protein options as well.
Try some of the following:
- Lean meats and poultry
- Beans and lentils
- Low-fat dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese
Low-Glycemic Fruits & Vegetables
Fresh produce is a critical aspect of any healthy diet, but not all fruits and vegetables are created equally. While on Ozempic, aim to consume fruits that are lower in sugar and vegetables that are non-starchy.
Good options include:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula)
- Bananas, berries, citrus fruits, stone fruits
- Onions, peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, tomatoes, asparagus
While they may take a little longer to prepare than refined grains, whole grains have substantially more nutritional value. Say hello to complex carbohydrates, fiber, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals when you put the following on the menu:
- Brown rice, barley, oats, and farro
- Whole grain or whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat pasta
Nuts, Legumes, and Other Healthy Fats
Fats get a bad rap, but in reality, healthy fats are a critical component of a nutritious diet. Sources include:
- Coconut oil, olive oil, and fish oils
What Foods Should I Avoid While Taking Ozempic?
From a medical standpoint, there are no foods that must be unequivocally avoided while on Ozempic. However, eating fried, fatty, greasy, and sugary foods is strongly discouraged. For more information about foods to avoid while taking Ozempic, read our recent post on the topic.
Can Certain Foods Worsen Ozempic Side Effects?
Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are among the most common side effects of Ozempic. For patients who experience such symptoms, the consumption of greasy, fatty, and fried foods, as well as sugary drinks and foods, can exacerbate them. Heavily processed foods should also be avoided, as they are difficult for the body to break down and digest.
See also: The Best Fast Food to Eat for People With Diabetes
Can Certain Foods Help Counteract Specific Ozempic Side Effects?
In general, eating light, bland, and low-fat foods can help ease nausea and gastrointestinal discomfort (crackers, brown rice, simple soups). Aim to stay hydrated with plenty of clear liquids and consume small portions slowly.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, building gentle exercise into your daily routine is recommended both for weight loss and well-being. Try walking outdoors daily (fresh air can reduce nausea), stretch your muscles, and avoid lying down right after eating.
Is Ozempic an Appetite Suppressant?
By slowing down the digestive process, Ozempic reduces cravings and helps you feel fuller for longer. Though your appetite won’t disappear completely, most patients find that it’s drastically reduced and that they feel satiated after eating just a small portion of what they used to consume before starting on Ozempic.
How Does Ozempic Affect Your Body?
Ozempic affects your body by “tricking” it into responding as though digestion is underway at all times. The hormone GLP-1 is naturally produced only in response to food, but semaglutide remains in the body all day, every day. This triggers:
- Insulin production and release from the pancreas
- A reduction in the release of sugars from the liver
- Slowed gastric emptying and digestion
Other Things To Avoid While Taking Ozempic
While taking Ozempic, it’s important to listen to your body. If eating certain foods or consuming food at specific times or in particular ways causes discomfort, then modify your habits accordingly. For specific concerns, speak directly with your doctor or pharmacist.
While consuming a limited amount of alcohol while taking Ozempic is not always harmful, it is best to discuss this choice with your doctor. Your medical history, other medications you may be taking, and the amount of alcohol you typically consume may all be factors in determining whether or not alcohol consumption may be recommended for you (or not) while taking Ozempic. Learn more about Ozempic and alcohol here.
How Does Ozempic Interact With Other Medications?
In general, Ozempic is safe with most medications. That being said, it’s important to disclose all medications you’re taking to your doctor before starting Ozempic (including over-the-counter medications). Only your doctor will be able to determine if there may be any negative interactions.
Taking Ozempic With Other Diabetes Medications
It’s fairly common for patients to take Ozempic in combination with other Type 2 Diabetes medications—the most common being insulin. Low blood sugar is the primary risk of taking the two medications simultaneously, and blood sugar levels must be carefully and consistently monitored. Learn more here and follow the advice of your doctor or primary healthcare provider.
Can I Take Supplements or Vitamins During Treatment With Ozempic?
In general, yes. But, as with any other medications, it’s important to discuss any supplements or vitamins with your doctor before starting to take them, particularly if they may impact blood sugar levels.
Precautions When Taking Ozempic
When taking Ozempic, it’s important to administer it only as directed by your doctor and to carefully monitor any reactions or side effects that may occur. Ozempic (semaglutide) is a prescription medication and must always be purchased with a valid medical prescription through a reputable pharmacy or pharmaceutical service.
To conclude, Ozempic (semaglutide) is a Type 2 Diabetes medication that also helps promote healthy weight loss and is sometimes prescribed off-label for this purpose. Weight loss on Ozempic is most effective when the drug is accompanied by exercise and a healthy diet. Eating a diet rich in lean proteins, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can contribute to increased weight loss, the reduction of certain side effects (mainly gastrointestinal issues), and overall wellness.
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