Ozempic is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used to treat type 2 diabetes.
It helps people better manage their blood sugar levels through improved insulin sensitivity, decreased insulin resistance, slowed digestion, and appetite suppression.
However, it can be tricky to know what to eat and what to avoid if you’re taking Ozempic. This article will explain what foods to avoid and what foods to eat when you’re taking the medication.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is the brand name of the drug semaglutide.
This glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonist was approved by the FDA for us in the United States in 2017 to help treat type 2 diabetes. It comes in injectable pen form and is taken once per week.
Ozempic improves blood sugars and HbA1c levels and aids in weight loss. It has been shown to improve cardiovascular health for people who live with type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and lowers all-cause mortality as well.
Common doses of Ozempic are either 0.5 mg or 1.0 mg once weekly and can be taken with or without food.
Always consult your doctor before increasing or changing your prescribed dose of Ozempic, as doses will vary by patient.
What are the side effects of Ozempic?
The most common side effects of Ozempic include:
- Stomach ache
- Constipation and irregular bowel movements
- Weight loss
More severe side effects include:
- Thyroid tumors, including cancer, especially in people with a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
- Changes in vision
- Kidney problems
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Serious allergic reactions can occur
Several of these more severe side effects can be fatal. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop a fever, have changes to your vision, or are feeling weak or in pain after taking the drug.
If you cannot tolerate Ozempic, there are other options. You can read more here: Ozempic vs. Victoza: Which One Should You Choose?
What foods should I avoid while using Ozempic?
No specific foods are off-limits from your diet if you take Ozempic. However, some foods may cause adverse side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, and may make blood sugar management more difficult when taking Ozempic.
For that reason, it is best to avoid the following foods:
Food and drinks with added sugar
This goes without saying, but eating foods and drinking beverages with added sugar is not healthy. This is especially true if you live with diabetes.
Foods and drinks like soda, ice cream, candy, chocolates, and other desserts can cause blood sugar spikes and will wreak havoc on your A1C. This can also make weight maintenance and/or loss more difficult. It is best to avoid these when taking Ozempic.
Fried, greasy, and fatty foods
Fried foods and greasy and fatty foods (most often from fast food restaurants) can cause bloating, nausea, constipation, and gas, which can be exacerbated if you take Ozempic.
Additionally, high-fat foods (especially trans fats) are not good for heart health, and since heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in people with diabetes, it is best to avoid these types of foods if you have type 2 diabetes and are on Ozempic.
While moderate alcohol consumption is not forbidden while taking Ozempic, both Ozempic, and alcohol increase the likelihood of low blood sugars, which can be dangerous for people living with diabetes.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting alcohol intake to 2 drinks or less per day for men, and 1 drink or less per day for women. It is healthiest to not drink at all.
Talk with your doctor if you’re struggling with alcohol addiction.
Foods like white bread, white rice, crackers, or even cereals may seem like better choices than foods with added sugar, but refined carbohydrates still metabolize as glucose in the body. This can make it harder to manage blood sugar levels in people both with and without diabetes.
These types of foods are typically lacking fiber, which can send blood sugar levels soaring. It is best to avoid refined carbohydrates if you’re taking Ozempic.
What foods should I eat while using Ozempic?
You might be asking yourself what CAN you eat if you take Ozempic? And the answer is a lot! The key is sticking with mostly whole, unprocessed foods that do not contain added sugars.
You should aim to eat more of the following foods if you take Ozempic:
Low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green beans, and lettuce should be enjoyed in abundance! They do not cause blood sugar spikes and can help improve insulin sensitivity.
Be warned, however, that since they do contain a lot of fiber, if you’re not used to eating a lot of vegetables, you may experience side effects such as bloating and gas, until your body has acclimated to eating a more fiber-filled diet.
Low-carb fruits such as coconut, avocado, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapefruit, cherries, or oranges spike blood sugars more slowly than higher glycemic fruits. While you may need to take insulin for this type of food (if you take insulin), it is extremely healthy if you live with diabetes and are on Ozempic.
Fruits contain many crucial vitamins and minerals and are packed with filling fiber. This makes an excellent alternative to desserts with added sugar.
Lean protein sources from eggs, low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt, chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, tofu, and beans are all excellent ways to bulk up on protein while eating healthy if you take Ozempic.
Lean proteins usually require little to no insulin (if you’re on insulin), and are a great building block of a healthy meal. Just make sure that any animal proteins are grilled or steamed and not fried, as the added carbohydrates and fat from fried foods are not healthy.
Whole grains found in bread, pasta, and brown rice can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet. These are higher in carbs, but contain crucial fiber that lowers their glycemic impact for people with diabetes while being easier on blood sugar levels.
Moderation is key, but whole grains are heart-healthy and can help with nausea if you’re experiencing adverse side effects when first starting an Ozempic regimen.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water (seltzer with lime counts!). Other healthy beverages include coffee and tea, without added sugar or fatty creamers.
What foods can help me manage nausea while taking Ozempic?
If you’re experiencing severe nausea and vomiting while taking Ozempic, talk with your doctor about possibly lowering your dose.
However, if you can keep food down, the following tips may help:
- Eat more slowly
- Eat more frequent but smaller meals
- Eat bland foods, such as soups, whole grain crackers, oatmeal, toast, or rice
- Avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods and drinks
- Drink clear liquids
How do you get the best results while using Ozempic?
Ozempic is a strong prescription medication and many people enjoy great results. For the best results, combine Ozempic with a healthy diet and increased physical activity.
You may start to notice lower blood sugars within a few weeks of starting treatment. Stay consistent in your healthy eating and exercise, and Ozempic should be an effective supplement to your diabetes treatment regimen.