Semaglutide Diet Plan: What Foods To Eat On Ozempic & Wegovy

Semaglutide Diet Plan–What To Eat From A Registered Dietitian

Last Updated on May 6, 2024 by Kayla

While popular weight loss medications, like Ozempic and Wegovy, surge in popularity, nutrition recommendations to support safe and optimal weight loss aren’t as well known. If you started on a weight loss injectable such as semaglutide, diet plans can be hard to come by.

If you’ve struggled to lose weight, starting a new medication can be scary. You may feel ashamed that you can’t “do it on your own,” or you might hesitate to ask your doctor for a proper diet plan to accompany the medication.

This post will provide practical insights into what to eat and what foods to avoid while taking Ozempic or Wegovy—or any other GLP-1 agonist. You’ll learn how semaglutide works, symptom management for negative side effects, and how to eat for fat loss in order to avoid muscle loss.

How does semaglutide work?

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes (Ozempic) and obesity (Wegovy). While the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy is the same, the dosing for each drug varies.

You may have heard of other GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) medications like Mounjaro or Zepbound. Many of the names and active ingredients are used interchangeably.

While I reference semaglutide, Ozempic, and Wegovy in this article, many side effects and dietary recommendations shared here can be used with any GLP-1 medication.

For clarification, here is a chart to depict the hierarchy and naming by drug class, active ingredient, and brand names:

Like a book or movie villain, an antagonist opposes a cellular pathway or prohibits a reaction from happening. ‘Agonists’ on the other hand, like GLP-1 agonists, promote or enhance specific reactions.

Semaglutide, for example, turns up cellular signaling to reduce blood sugar and hunger. To scale down hunger, medications like semaglutide ramp up satiety, or the fullness and satisfaction centers, in the brain.

By mimicking a naturally occurring hunger hormone called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1), semaglutide also slows how fast your stomach empties, making you feel fuller, longer.

Dual action on the brain and gut helps facilitate weight loss. However, these medications can have side effects.

Semaglutide Side Effects

Short-term side effects like nausea, constipation, headaches, and fatigue might prevent you from eating enough. You might think it’s a good idea to eat less, but too few calories or nutrients can have negative long-term effects, like muscle loss.

Symptoms and severity vary from person to person and will likely improve the longer you take semaglutide. Refer to the manufacturer’s website for the full list of side effects, which may include pancreatitis and thyroid cancer.

As a Registered Dietitian, one of my primary goals for clients who take Ozempic or Wegovy is managing side effects, so we can optimize a diet plan to minimize muscle loss. I’ll share more later on why losing muscle is detrimental to long-term weight management.

In the meantime, here are a few tips to manage negative side effects and maximize nutrition.

Nausea Relief

One of the most frequent side effects reported by Ozempic users is nausea. When you’re nauseous, it’s easy to skip liquids and opt for carbs, which spike your blood sugar.

Dehydration can also worsen symptoms like nausea or headaches. Try drinking cold or hot beverages to see what works best for your stomach. Clear, cold beverages are generally well tolerated. Carbonated water or sugar-free electrolyte drinks can also help you stay hydrated without upsetting your stomach.

Avoid drinking liquids with meals and eat slowly. Opt for bland foods and eat outdoors if possible. You can also take a short walk after a meal to ease nausea and help your food settle. Don’t lie down after eating, as this can make symptoms worse.

Semaglutide diet plan: Ozempic nasuea relief and constipation tips

Constipation

Medications like GLP-1 agonists act directly on the gut, slowing down digestion. For some people, this can lead to constipation. Plus, with less food intake, your ‘output’ will naturally decrease.

Getting plenty of fluids and movement, like walking, can help prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements. For some, coffee helps stimulate regularity, just be cautious of sugary coffee drinks.

One of my favorite supplements to help ease constipation while taking semaglutide is Calm Magnesium powder. Magnesium has a multitude of benefits and helps with constipation, stress, sleep, and muscle spasms. I recommend taking one scoop of Calm Magnesium powder in hot water about one hour before bedtime.

Headaches

Headaches occur for many reasons, ranging from dehydration to not eating enough.

First, assess your fluid intake and aim for 60 to 80 ounces daily. Proper hydration should be a key part of any semaglutide diet plan. Flavored or electrolyte water can help. Choose sugar-free flavorings when possible.

If extra fluids don’t improve headaches, assess lifestyle factors like stress and poor sleep, which can contribute to recurring headaches.

For some individuals, supplementing with magnesium can help prevent headaches and migraines. If you struggle with constipation too, try Calm Magnesium powder which can help with headaches and regularity. For a supplement that won’t affect your bowels, try magnesium glycinate instead.

Is semaglutide right for me?

Deciding to supplement your weight loss with medication is a highly personal decision.

No medication comes without a trade-off, so here is a high-level and inconclusive overview of some of the pros and cons of GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic:

PROS

  • Improved blood sugar control
  • Promising weight loss results
  • Increased satiety or feelings of fullness
  • Reduced “food noise,” which may increase your capacity to facilitate new habits

CONS

  • Side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Increased risk for muscle loss
  • Cost, especially if the medication is not covered by insurance
  • The risk for regain once the medication is stopped

For medications like Ozempic and Wegovy, life-long use is recommended. If you’re wondering whether a medication is right for you, talk with your doctor and consider the questions below.

Is Ozempic (semaglutide) right for me?

Because no medication comes without risk, here are some questions to consider:

  • Am I prioritizing myself by making time to prepare healthy meals, exercise regularly, and practice good stress management and sleep hygiene?
  • What is my intention for seeking medication? Is it to improve health or for vanity?
  • Are the risks worth the reward?

It’s important to recognize that medications are a tool, and everyone’s journey is highly unique. Most importantly, medications are not a substitute for lifestyle change; they supplement the hard work you’re already putting in.

Goals For Building A Semaglutide Diet Plan

Like any weight loss plan, the ultimate goal should be developing sustainable nutrition habits and exercise routines. The same goes when learning what foods to eat with semaglutide.

What’s different is that rather than managing a ravenous appetite, you may have to go out of your way to eat. Suppose you’ve lost interest in food or struggle to eat because of the side effects from Ozempic or Wegovy. In that case, it’s crucial to ensure you’re eating enough, specifically protein, to help prevent muscle wasting.

Muscle helps you regulate blood sugar, maintain mobility, and “burns” more calories, so preventing muscle loss is a big deal. This is why yo-yo dieting is so detrimental.

When you lose weight, a proportion is always muscle—about 10 to 25% per pound on average. Some research shows that with GLP-1 medications, the percentage of muscle loss per pound can increase up to 40%.

For example, if you lose 10 pounds, 1 to 2.5 pounds might come from muscle under normal conditions. With weight loss medications like Ozempic or Wegovy, this could mean losing up to 4 pounds of muscle for every 10 pounds lost.

Drastic weight loss followed by weight regain means you lose muscle and gain fat—over and over again. Compounded over time, this leads to unfavorable changes in body composition that slow metabolism and make your clothes feel more snug—despite being at the same weight.

The good news is that there are a few actions you can take to maximize fat loss and maintain muscle.

Prioritize Protein

Unlike carbs and fat, your body doesn’t have a process for storing protein. This is one reason you need an annoying amount of protein, ideally spread throughout the day.

The average American eats 10 grams of protein at breakfast, when the body needs it most. To optimize muscle mass, aim for 30+ grams of protein with your first meal of the day.

Most women I work with feel the most satisfied and energized when they consume at least 100 grams of protein daily. In order to reach this benchmark, you may need to rely on a protein shake or supplement, especially in the early days of starting a medication like semaglutide.

Check out my recipes page for high-protein, blood sugar-friendly meals and snacks!

What To Eat On Semaglutide

Besides protein, other foods to eat on Ozempic and Wegovy include healthy fats and what I like to call “slow” carbs. Slow carbs are minimally processed whole foods filled with fiber, which naturally promote GLP-1, improve gut health, and help prevent side effects like constipation.

To help create a personalized semaglutide diet plan, download my free dietitian-approved grocery list, which provides a complete breakdown of foods to eat.

Semaglutide Diet Plan – What Foods To Eat – Printable List

While this list emphasizes which foods to prioritize, I encourage my clients to follow the 80-20 principle. Make 80 percent of your food choices from this list; for the remaining 20 percent, no food or drink is off-limits.

A Case For Weights

Last but certainly not least, I can’t stress enough the importance of strength training in combination with your semaglutide diet plan. Your muscles need a stimulus to stay strong and metabolically healthy. If you don’t use ’em, you lose ’em.

It’s much easier to keep the muscle you already have versus losing weight than trying to put muscle back on in order to “tone.” You want to lose fat, not just weight.

Two to three 20-minute strength sessions per weight can do the trick. Find a routine that works for you, and if you’re not sure where to start, read my post on rucking for women. While rucking isn’t a substitute for formal weight training, it’s a low-impact, weight-bearing activity that can help you build confidence while maximizing strength and endurance.

Summary

I’m not pro- or anti-medication. My job is to help women navigate their weight loss journey—with and without medication. No medication comes without risks or trade-offs, so it’s important to compare what you have to gain and lose.

Regardless of how you lose weight, there is one priority I’m hyperfocused on—minimizing muscle loss. In creating your semaglutide diet plan, remember to prioritize protein, whole foods, and strength training, and you’ll be on the right track for maximizing fat loss and preserving your metabolism for the long run!

Yours truly,

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