Foods to avoid while taking Zepbound (tirzepatide)

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

last updated: Jan 04, 2024

5 min read

Key takeaways

  • There are no foods that are completely off-limits while you’re taking Zepbound, but cutting out or limiting certain foods such as those high in sugar or fat could help reduce side effects.

Diet is a crucial part of treatment with Zepbound, but there’s no fixed diet you have to follow to see this medication work. So while no foods are strictly “off-limits’ while taking Zepbound, adjusting your diet may help relieve some of the side effects of Zepbound, which are typically digestive in nature, ranging from belching and indigestion to nausea and diarrhea. And getting into the habit of making more conscious food choices has the added bonus of supporting your weight loss goals. 

Read on as we review the foods to avoid on Zepbound.

Zepbound Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

What types of food should you avoid while taking Zepbound?

Again, no foods are known to dangerously interact with Zepbound. However, removing or limiting some of the foods and drinks below may relieve your side effects and help you enjoy more success with Zepbound.

1. Fried and greasy foods

Fried foods, like those you might order when eating out, are associated with both an upset stomach and bloating. More generally, eating out is associated with digestive discomfort like stomach ache. Removing fried and greasy foods from your diet may help alleviate some of the digestive symptoms of Zepbound. 

It’s also worth noting that these foods may hinder your weight loss progress on Zepbound. A recent study found that eating fried food increases your risk for obesity and weight gain. Plus, research suggests that people who frequently eat fried food are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes or coronary artery disease. 

If possible, try to eat at home more, but whether you eat out or not, opt for meals prepared with healthier cooking methods, such as steaming, baking, boiling, or grilling. 

2. Fatty foods

Multiple studies have linked fatty foods to having an upset stomach. Specifically, the more fat you add to a meal, the more likely you are to experience symptoms like bloating, nausea, and indigestion. Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Zepbound, also recommends avoiding fatty foods in order to relieve nausea when taking Zepbound.

Like fried foods, regularly eating fatty foods is associated with weight gain, as well as overeating. So, opting for lower-fat options instead may help you enjoy more success losing weight on Zepbound. Even small changes can make a difference. For example, consider using an air fryer or the oven rather than a frying pan for making things like french fries at home so you can skip the grease.

3. Sugary sweets and treats

The relationship between sugar and weight gain is fairly straightforward: the more high-sugar foods you eat, the more likely you are to gain weight or overeat — two outcomes you probably want to avoid when taking Zepbound. Beyond that, consuming sugary foods can spike your blood sugar and, subsequently, your insulin levels. The elevated insulin eventually causes your blood sugar levels to drop quickly leaving you hungrier than before, spurring a cycle of snacking. 

Sugar can show up in surprising places, so review the nutrition label when shopping at the grocery store. Consider avoiding processed foods as much as possible and try to reduce the amount of sugar you add to your morning coffee. 

Be aware that sugar is addictive, so quitting it can be a hard habit to break! But it is possible. If you tend to turn to sugar for stress relief — as many people do — explore other ways to manage your stress, such as:

  • Deep breathing exercises

  • Progressive muscle relaxation

  • Mindfulness meditation

  • Exercise (which happens to be recommended for Zepbound to work its best)

  • Guided imagery or visualization

  • Talk therapy

4. Refined carbohydrates

Earlier, we mentioned that sugar can appear in surprising places. Well, here’s one of them. Refined carbohydrates are basically sugar in disguise. Refined carbohydrates describe a category of foods like pasta, white bread, bagels, and cereal. These foods seem benign enough, but because they have a high glycemic index, they cause your blood sugar to spike. 

Plus, refined carbohydrates contain fewer nutrients — including less fiber, protein, and B vitamins — than their whole-grain counterparts. As a result, including too many of these foods in your diet gives you more calories than nutrition, which can hinder your weight loss efforts.

Instead, get your carbs from healthier options that will help you feel more full, such as whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Replacing at least three daily servings of refined grains with healthier foods not only improves diet but leads people to eat less overall, according to one study of over 34,000 adults. 

5. Carbonated beverages

Carbonated sodas tend to contain a lot of sugar and are one way many people consume extra empty calories. Soda consumption is linked with weight gain, independent of what else you eat. So, cutting out soda and other sweetened beverages can be a healthy step to help you lose weight while taking Zepbound.

Besides soda, carbonated beverages in general, contain more air than non-carbonated beverages. Whether it’s beer, soda, or even unsweetened carbonated water, drinking these beverages increases gastric volume — which may make you more likely to experience bloating or abdominal pain while taking Zepbound. Opting for non-carbonated beverages (think green tea or plain old water) can reduce bloating and help you stay hydrated when using Zepbound.

6. Alcohol

If you’ve ever experienced a hangover, you know it can produce some of the same uncomfortable side effects as Zepbound, including nausea and vomiting. But, you may not know that drinking alcohol more frequently — whether every day or a few days a week — raises your likelihood of experiencing GERD, another potential side effect of Zepbound.

Plus, alcohol can contain many of the empty calories associated with added sugar. And binge drinking may lead to weight gain or a “beer belly.” Exploring healthier drink options can help you limit your alcohol intake while taking Zepbound. Health experts recommend a maximum of one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

What is Zepbound used for?

Zepbound is an FDA-approved prescription medication that helps people lose weight when used in combination with diet and exercise. It may be prescribed to people with either:

  • A body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher (defined as obesity)

  • A BMI of 27 or higher and a weight-related comorbid health condition, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, or heart disease

Zepbound is injected weekly under the skin of the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm. In clinical trials, people taking Zepbound lost between 15%–21% of their body weight within a year and a half, depending on their dosage of Zepbound. The people taking a placebo, by comparison, lost only 3% of their body weight using diet and exercise alone.

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Side effects of Zepbound

Zepbound’s most common side effects include:

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

  • Upset stomach or indigestion

  • Injection site reactions (e.g. rash)

  • Belching

  • Hair loss

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

As you may have noticed, a majority of Zepbound’s side effects are gastrointestinal in nature. Some of these, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, are most common when you begin taking Zepbound and go away as your body gets used to the medication. In the meantime, adjusting what you eat may help reduce the intensity of these digestive side effects.

Zepbound nausea relief

Nausea is the most common side effect associated with Zepbound, affecting between 25%33% of people who take the medication. The good news is that nausea is most common when you first begin taking Zepbound. Still, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable to deal with during that time. 

Eli Lilly, the drug maker behind Zepbound, offers the following advice to relieve nausea while taking Zepbound:

  • Eat smaller meals

  • Split your meals into smaller portions over the course of the day (e.g. three meals become four or five smaller ones)

  • Stop eating once you feel full

  • Avoid fatty foods, such as butter or cheese

  • Try eating bland foods that are easy on the stomach, like toast, crackers, or rice

If you experience nausea or any other side effect of Zepbound that feels particularly severe or doesn’t go away, contact your health provider. Sometimes dose adjustments or medication changes can help alleviate symptoms without putting a halt to your weight loss journey.

DISCLAIMER

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.

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How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

January 04, 2024

Written by

Amelia Willson

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD


About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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