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If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
If you’re taking Ozempic—one of a newer class of diabetes medications called GLP-1s—you may have heard that there are certain foods to avoid. While there aren’t any foods that interact with Ozempic, some types of foods may lead to side effects similar to those of Ozempic or may even make it harder to achieve results.
Here’s a look at what to watch for and why.
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What is Ozempic used for?
Ozempic (semaglutide) is a prescription medication that’s injected once a week to treat type 2 diabetes. It can be an option when first-line treatments like metformin and lifestyle changes aren’t effectively controlling blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. It’s also approved to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease (Collins, 2022).
Though this branded form of semaglutide is not approved as a weight-loss drug, Ozempic can lead to weight loss. That’s why some healthcare professionals may prescribe it off-label to those struggling with obesity and weight loss (Collins, 2022).
In 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy—a higher dose of semaglutide—for chronic weight management in adults with overweight or obesity who have at least one weight-related condition (e.g., high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol). Like Ozempic, Wegovy is a once-a-week injection that’s combined with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise (FDA, 2021-a).
How does Ozempic work?
Ozempic is a type of medication called a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. These medications (other brand names include Trulicity, Rybelsus, Saxenda, and Wegovy) work by mimicking the effects of GLP-1, a naturally occurring hormone that regulates blood sugar. GLP-1 causes the release of insulin, which tamps down high blood sugar. It also slows stomach emptying and reduces appetite (Collins, 2022).
Common side effects of Ozempic include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, and injection site pain. There can be more serious side effects such as a possible increased risk of thyroid tumors, kidney problems, vision changes, drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) (FDA, 2021-b).
5 foods to avoid while taking Ozempic
No foods are “off-limits” or must be eliminated from your diet if you’re taking Ozempic. That said, some foods and drinks can cause symptoms similar to the medication’s side effects, and others might make weight loss or diabetes control more challenging. Here are some common culprits and why it can help to avoid or limit them (Novo Nordisk, 2022-a):
1. Fried, greasy foods
Many of the most common side effects of Ozempic are gastrointestinal—things like nausea, bloating, and gas. Greasy fried foods can cause these symptoms on their own, so combining them with Ozempic may increase the odds that you experience them. Greasy foods are also usually high in less healthy types of fat, like trans fats, which can increase weight and worsen diabetes (Evert, 2019; Novo Nordisk, 2022-a).
GLP-1 agonists: diabetes medication for weight loss
2. Sugary foods and drinks
Sugary foods—like soda, candy, and many pre-packaged desserts—can pose extra problems for those working to manage diabetes or obesity. Sugar quickly spikes blood sugar levels and can make it hard to manage these conditions, potentially countering the benefits of Ozempic (Novo Nordisk, 2022-a; Evert, 2019). It can help to read nutrition labels as you review your meal plan and watch for hidden sugars in items that may not taste sweet. For example, many people don’t realize that many commercial breads on grocery store shelves are actually loaded with sugar.
3. Refined carbohydrates
While white pasta, bagels, or breakfast cereals may seem like healthy food choices, they usually fall into the category of high glycemic foods. This means the body absorbs them quickly and converts them into glucose, which can cause blood sugar levels to rise sharply (MedlinePlus, 2020). Refined carbohydrates tend not to be wise choices when eating to manage diabetes or reach a healthy body weight.
When eating carbs, it’s helpful to check the glycemic index, which scores carbohydrates, including sugars, on a scale of 0 to 100. It’s best to choose low glycemic index foods, such as whole grains, if you’re trying to avoid spikes in blood sugar (ADA, 2022).
4. High-glycemic vegetables
You may be surprised to hear that there can be a major difference between vegetables when it comes to blood sugar management, as some sneaky vegetables can be high glycemic index foods.
For instance, potatoes are high glycemic foods, while leafy greens, beans, carrots, and tomatoes are low glycemic foods. All can contain important nutrients and may still be a key part of your diet, so it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about which vegetables you may wish to limit (MedlinePlus, 2020).
Diabetes diet: improving blood sugar with food
Drinking alcohol is not forbidden when taking Ozempic. However, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about how much you can consume and how to best monitor it. There aren’t any clinical studies evaluating the use of Ozempic with alcohol. However, both Ozempic and alcohol can lower blood sugar, so combining them could potentially lead to low blood sugar, especially if you have type 2 diabetes and are also taking insulin (Evert, 2019).
Those with type 1 diabetes also have to monitor alcohol while on insulin. It’s recommended that women drink no more than one drink daily, and men drink no more than two drinks daily, preferably with a meal (Evert, 2019).
Ozempic nausea relief
According to the makers of Ozempic, people who are experiencing nausea while taking this drug should avoid foods that are sweet, greasy, or fried and take these approaches at meal time (Novo Nordisk, 2022-a):
- Eating slowly
- Eating smaller meals
- Eating foods that are bland and light
- Drinking ice-cold or clear drinks (for example, unsweetened tea or water)
Should you follow an Ozempic diet?
The FDA approved Ozempic to be used along with a healthy diet and regular exercise to manage diabetes (FDA, 2021-b).
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there is no single diabetes diet. Rather, some eating patterns can decrease carbohydrates (or carbs), simple sugars, and unhealthy fats in your diet. Generally, this means skipping fatty, fried foods and fast-digesting carbohydrates, such as sugars and white, starchy foods.
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A diabetes-friendly diet usually replaces unhealthy and high glycemic foods with whole foods rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Eating high-fiber foods often leads to eating less and staying fuller longer. Lowering your calorie intake and portion sizes can also help with blood sugar control and weight management (Novo Nordisk, 2022-b; Evert, 2019)
When on any medication or supplement, it’s best to get medical advice about diet and lifestyle and tell your healthcare provider about any other medical conditions you may have.
- American Diabetes Association (ADA). (2022). Carb counting and diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/understanding-carbs/carb-counting-and-diabetes
- Collins, L. & Costello, R. (2022). Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. StatPearls. Retrieved on June 20, 2022 from https://www.statpearls.com/pharmacist/ce/activity/48263
- Evert, A. B., Dennison, M., Gardner, C. D. & et al. (2019). Nutrition therapy for adults with diabetes or prediabetes: A consensus report. Diabetes Care, 42(5), 731–754. doi.10.2337/dci19-0014. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7011201/
- MedlinePlus. (2020). Glycemic index and diabetes. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000941.htm
- Novo Nordisk. (2022-a). Frequently asked questions/Ozempic® (semaglutide) injection 0.5 mg or 1 mg. Retrieved from https://www.ozempic.com/faqs.htm l
- Novo Nordisk. (2022-b). Healthy eating. Ozempic® (semaglutide) injection 0.5 mg or 1 mg. Retrieved from https://www.ozempic.com/lifestyle-tips/healthy-eating.html
- U.S Food and Drug Administration. (2021-b). Highlights of prescribing information (Ozempic). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/209637s008lbl.pdf
- U.S Food and Drug Administration. (2021-a). FDA approves new drug treatment for Chronic Weight Management, first since 2014. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-drug-treatment-chronic-weight-management-first-2014