Foods to avoid while taking Ozempic
LAST UPDATED: Jul 11, 2023
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If you take Ozempic—one of a newer class of diabetes medications called GLP-1s—you may sometimes experience side effects such as nausea and upset stomach. While there aren’t any foods that interact dangerously with Ozempic, altering your diet may help you avoid or lessen some unpleasant side effects and possibly even help improve the success of the drug.
Here’s a look at which foods you may want to avoid while taking Ozempic and why.
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What is Ozempic used for?
Ozempic (semaglutide; see Important Safety Information) is a prescription medication that’s injected once a week to treat type 2 diabetes. It’s typically prescribed when first-line treatments like metformin and lifestyle changes aren’t effectively controlling blood sugar levels. Ozempic is also approved to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease.
Though Ozempic is not approved as a weight-loss drug, the medication can lead to significant weight loss. In one trial, people with diabetes taking 1.0 mg of Ozempic dosage, along with diet and exercise, saw an average weight loss of 7% of their body weight over 68 weeks. That’s why some healthcare providers may prescribe it off-label (for use outside of its FDA-approved purpose) to those struggling with obesity and weight loss.
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; see Important Safety Information) 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.
What types of food should you avoid while taking Ozempic?
No foods are “off-limits” when you’re taking Ozempic, meaning no foods interact with the medication in a dangerous way. However, 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 six types of food to avoid or limit to get the most out of Ozempic:
1. Fried, greasy foods
Many of the most common side effects of Ozempic are stomach related—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 trans fats, which can increase weight and worsen diabetes.
2. Sugary foods and drinks
Sugary foods and beverages—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. Read nutrition labels and watch out 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. High sodium foods
Packaged snacks like potato chips and premade meals like soup or frozen dinners often contain incredibly high amounts of salt. According to the CDC, 90% of Americans 2 years and older consume too much sodium–too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. In adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease, Ozempic can lower the risk of heart attacks, and strokes, so a high sodium diet can potentially thwart this effect. If you’re working to manage type 2 diabetes and/or achieve weight loss goals, opt for low-sodium options at the grocery store or prepare your own food when possible.
4. 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. 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.
5. High-glycemic starchy vegetables
You may be surprised to hear that all vegetables are not created equal when it comes to blood sugar management, as some sneaky vegetables can be high glycemic index foods.
For instance, starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn 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. That being said, any vegetable, even the starchy ones, still makes a better snack than any of the foods mentioned earlier—fried foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugary foods.
Drinking alcohol is not forbidden when taking Ozempic. However, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about how much alcohol 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.
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.
Side effects of Ozempic
Common side effects of Ozempic include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, and injection site pain. Some people might experience more serious side effects such as kidney problems, vision changes, a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
Ozempic nausea relief
According to the makers of Ozempic, people who experience nausea while taking Ozempic should avoid foods that are sweet, greasy, or fried and follow these tips at mealtime to reduce nausea:
Eat smaller meals
Eat foods that are simple and light
Drink cold and clear drinks (for example, unsweetened tea or water)
Is an “Ozempic diet” right for you?
The FDA approved Ozempic to be used along with a healthy diet and regular exercise to manage diabetes, so it’s a valid question to ask if you should follow an Ozempic diet.
If you take Ozempic to treat diabetes, know that 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.
So while there is no “Ozempic diet,” 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 control blood sugar and weight.
If you’re struggling with weight loss or are trying to manage your blood sugar levels, talk to your doctor about Ozempic. They will help you determine if the drug is right for you and create a healthy meal plan to support your goals.
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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