What to Eat — and Avoid — on Semaglutide

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists are a class of Type 2 diabetes drugs that improves blood sugar and may also lead to weight loss. These drugs — including Ozempic, Wegovy and Victoza — have risen in popularity, not least because of the weight loss many patients have experienced.

GLP-1 receptor agonists work by mimicking GLP-1, a hormone produced by your intestines. By binding to GLP-1 receptor sites in your body, semaglutide-type drugs helps regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce your appetite. After eating a meal, blood sugar rises. These drugs stimulate the body to produce more insulin, which helps to lower blood sugar. This is helpful against diabetes. These drugs also curb appetite and slow the movement of food into the small intestine, signaling feelings of fullness so that you eat less. Indeed, patients on these medications have reported eating considerably less food, which has led to weight loss.

While these medications can offer significant benefits to patients, some may experience side effects, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Many people also experience rapid weight loss on these drugs, which can lead to the loss of lean muscle.

What you eat is an important part of treatment when you’re using semaglutide for Type 2 diabetes or obesity. The efficacy of these drugs can be optimized by complementing them with appropriate dietary choices. As a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in weight management, portion control and lifestyle change, I understand the importance of aligning dietary choices with medication for optimal outcomes. Eating foods that support semaglutide can reduce the chances of side effects and improve your health outcomes. Here, I explore the best foods to eat — and avoid — when taking GLP-1 medications.

[READ: Is a High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet Right for You?]

Best Foods to Eat When Taking Semaglutides Like Wegovy and Ozempic

Lean proteins

Protein is essential for muscle repair, satiety and metabolic function. Choose lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, tofu, legumes, eggs and low-fat dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese. These foods can help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full for longer durations. To prevent the loss of lean muscle that goes along with rapid weight loss, I encourage clients taking these medications to increase their protein intake.

[READ: Protein Rich Snacks to Keep You Satisfied]

Fiber-rich foods

Incorporating ample fiber into your diet is beneficial for several reasons. Fiber regulates blood sugar levels, promotes satiety, and aids in digestion. Include fiber-rich foods such as whole grains (oats, quinoa and brown rice), legumes (beans and pulses), fruits and vegetables.

Healthy fats

Not all fats are created equal. Focus on incorporating sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil into your meals. These fats contribute to feelings of satisfaction after meals, support heart health and aid in nutrient absorption.

Non-starchy fruits and vegetables

Load up on non-starchy fruits such as melons, apples, pears and berries; and non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, peppers and cauliflower. These nutrient-dense options are fairly low in calories and carbohydrates, making them excellent choices for those trying to manage their weight and blood sugar levels. Prioritizing eating enough of these antioxidant-rich foods is especially important as your overall food intake decreases.

A balanced meal

Choose balanced portions of nutrient-dense foods: While you may experience appetite loss on these medications, make sure to eat enough. It’s important to get your essential nutrients coming from food. It’s not just about losing weight; optimizing health is key. Choose a balance of protein-rich foods, fiber-rich foods and healthy fats. Aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with fiber-rich whole grains. This approach can support your weight loss efforts. It can also help maintain weight loss if (and when) you come off of these medications.

[Related:What Happens When You Stop Taking Weight Loss Drugs?]

Foods to Limit When Taking Semaglutides

While no foods are entirely off limits for those taking GLP-1 medications, some foods should be avoided as they may exacerbate the gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating and nausea, some people experience. Other foods to be avoided include those devoid of nutrients, which contribute empty calories and have been linked to chronic disease.

Fried foods

While healthy fats are encouraged, it’s important to moderate your intake of high-fat foods, especially those that are fried or greasy. Greasy foods, along with spicy foods, are poorly tolerated if you are experiencing gastrointestinal side effects from GLP-1s. These foods are also calorie-dense and may hinder weight loss efforts when consumed in large portions.

Ultra-processed foods low in nutrients

Foods high in refined sugars, saturated fats and sodium should be limited. These include sugary snacks, baked goods, fried foods and processed meats. Examples include cookies, muffins, donuts, salami and bologna. They provide empty calories and can also spike blood sugar levels for those with diabetes.

Sugary beverages

Beverages like soda, sweetened iced tea, sweetened fruit juices and energy drinks are loaded with added sugars and offer little to no nutritional value. Opt for water, herbal tea or sparkling water with a splash of citrus for a refreshing and hydrating alternative. Staying hydrated by drinking more fluids is important while on these medications.

Excessive carbohydrates

While carbohydrates are an important source of energy, consuming large quantities of refined carbs can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes. Limit your intake of white bread, pasta, sugary cereals and pastries. Instead, opt for whole-grain alternatives. Eating too many of these foods could also cause you to eat insufficient amounts of foods you need more of, like protein-rich foods.


While moderate alcohol consumption may be acceptable for some people (1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks for men), it’s important to be mindful of its effects, especially when combined with GLP-1 medication. Alcohol can interfere with blood sugar regulation.

Bottom Line

I advocate for a balanced approach to nutrition, especially for individuals taking GLP-1 medication. By embracing nutrient-dense foods while limiting fried foods, highly processed meals, and sugary options, you can support the effectiveness of your medication and work towards achieving your health and weight management goals. Finally, eat mindfully, tune inward, and listen to your body’s signals of fullness.

More from U.S. News

13 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Prostate Cancer

6 Routine Health Screenings Everyone Needs

12 Best Superfoods: Healthiest Nutrient-Dense Foods for Older Adults

What to Eat — and Avoid — on Semaglutide originally appeared on usnews.com

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up