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Nutrition

Dietitians Reveal the 3 Types of Foods You Should Avoid While on Semaglutide to Speed Weight Loss 

Scaling back on certain fare also curbs the risk of side effects like GI upset, nausea and vomiting

The popularity of GLP-1 medications like semaglutide is on the rise, especially for weight management and diabetes control. In fact, they’re so in demand that major food companies are taking note. Nestlé recently announced the launch of a frozen food line Vital Pursuit, specifically tailored to meet the nutrition needs of people taking GLP-1 meds. But as the use of weight loss medications grows, understanding what your body needs to stay fueled without triggering unwanted side effects (like stalled weight loss or GI upset) is vital. We spoke to registered dietitians about the top foods to avoid on semaglutide, how they can interfere with the med’s effectiveness and what you should reach for instead.

How important is nutrition on semaglutide?

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of semaglutide and other GLP-1 medications. Carolina Schneider, MS, RD, nutrition advisor at Daily Harvest, says “GLP-1 medications work by reducing appetite, so individuals on these medications must prioritize nutrient-dense foods to meet daily nutritional needs despite reduced food intake.”

Consuming the wrong types of food can not only reduce the effectiveness of the medication, but also exacerbate side effects. “Many people report some GI side effects while taking these medications, such as nausea and vomiting,” adds Laura Isaacson, RD, CDCES, Senior Director of Clinical Dietetics at Vida Health. “But certain eating patterns can help to mitigate these symptoms.”

The top foods to avoid on semaglutide

You don’t have to completely give up the less-than-healthy foods you love if you’re taking semaglutide. But like all things, moderation is key. To get the most out of semaglutide, it’s essential to avoid over-consuming certain types of foods. Here, the biggest offenders worth scaling back on:

1. Foods high in sugar and refined carbs

“Foods that are high in carbohydrate and sugar result in a fast spike in blood sugar levels,” Isaacson explains. “Choosing an eating pattern that is lower in carbohydrates helps reduce these spikes in blood sugars and helps GLP-1 medications to more effectively keep blood sugars on target.”

Schneider agrees, adding that “foods high in refined sugars like cookies, cake, brownies, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, sports drinks and sugary coffee drinks can spike blood sugar levels. This can potentially counteract the medication’s ability to stabilize blood glucose.”

2. Fatty and fried foods

“Certain foods, especially those that are high in fat, can exacerbate [side effects],” Isaacson adds. “GLP-1s slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestines. High-fat foods slow this down even more, leading to increased nausea and vomiting.”

Schneider also emphasizes the importance of avoiding high-fat foods. “Similarly, foods high in saturated fats like fried foods, red and processed meats and highly processed snacks like chips, baked goods and ice cream can hinder the weight loss journey and also affect blood sugar levels.”

3. Alcohol

Avoiding alcohol is also advisable. “Alcohol lowers blood sugar levels, and excessive amounts of alcohol while taking a GLP-1 can result in blood sugar levels that are too low,” Isaacson warns. “To avoid this, limit alcohol intake. And if you do decide to drink alcohol, include it with a meal rather than on an empty stomach.”

Foods to focus on while taking semaglutide

a selection of healthy foods to eat on semaglutide, including protein, high-fiber vegetables and healthy fats
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While avoiding certain foods if you’re taking semaglutide is important, equally so is knowing what to include in your regimen. Our experts’ top picks:

  • Protein helps maintain muscle mass, supports metabolic health and keeps you feeling full longer. “GLP-1 medications can cause muscle mass loss due to their rapid weight loss effects,” Schneider notes. “Therefore, individuals should consume adequate protein. In particular, lean proteins such as tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas.”
  • High-fiber foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds slow down digestion and the absorption of sugars, promoting stable blood sugar levels,” says Schneider. “This complements the glucose-regulating effects of GLP-1 medications, enhancing their effectiveness.” However, it’s important to note that some fruits are high in natural sugars, so moderation is key.
  • Meal planning can be a game-changer for those taking semaglutide. “Choose a balanced eating pattern that is high in protein and minimizes foods that are high in fat and sugar,” advises Isaacson. “Eat meals at consistent times and choose five or six small meals throughout the day rather than one or two large meals. Watch your portion sizes to avoid overeating, and stop eating before you feel full.”

For more on the pros and cons of taking semaglutide:

Could Ozempic and Other Weight Loss Drugs Reduce Bone Density? New Study Shows What Can Help

Better Than Ozempic? Doctors Say These Medications Are Better for Weight Loss Than the Popular Semaglutide

Can’t Lose Weight on Semaglutide? Poor Sleep May Be Sabotaging Your Efforts — Here’s What Can Help

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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