Semaglutide Diet Plan: Tips from a Registered Dietitian

Last Updated: February 23, 2024

Are you taking semaglutide weight loss medication but aren’t sure what diet plan to follow?

While there’s no one best diet while taking semaglutide for everyone, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success. 

Which foods should you avoid? What should you eat more of?

This article will help you understand the best diet to help you meet your weight loss management goals, ensuring it’s not just about what’s on your plate but also about nurturing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide (also known as Ozempic and Wegovy) is a medication approved for chronic weight management and the management of type 2 diabetes. 

It works by mimicking the effects of a hormone called GLP-1, which helps regulate appetite and food intake. By increasing feelings of fullness and reducing hunger, semaglutide can aid in weight loss when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits. 

Unlike what social media says, these medications are not a trend. They’re well researched to help combat obesity, similar to when other medications are prescribed for conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol (1). 

Many med spas are offering off label versions of these medications. Try to avoid these and instead consult with your doctor to see if you are eligible for the actual medication from the manufacturer (2)

Semaglutide Diet Plan

Everyone’s diet on semaglutide will be a little different depending on their nutritional needs, side effects they experience, etc. 

But as a general rule of thumb, choose a diet that focuses on nourishing your body with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, and ample lean protein. 

Balanced meals that include carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein at every meal can help you meet your weight loss goals while ensuring you get all the nutrients your body needs.

Some people may have more of an appetite suppressing effects of the medication than others, leading to eating very little. 

While these weight loss drugs work by making you eat less overall calories, eating too little can have the opposite effect, like poor nutrition and low energy levels.

The goal is to have a balanced diet that ensures appetite and food intake are managed while overall health and wellness are maintained.

What To Eat on Semaglutide 

The best diet plan for semaglutide is one that’s focused on whole foods to give you all of your nutrition while minimizing unpleasant side effects. 

Below are some of the main food groups to include in your meals:

1. Lean Proteins

Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass, especially when you’re in a calorie deficit. Many people find it difficult to meet their protein goals when taking these medications because of their reduced appetite. 

The goal should be to minimize muscle loss as much as possible. Losing weight from muscle can wreak havoc on our metabolism and make long term weight maintenance more challenging. 

If you’re not sure how much protein you need, a good goal to aim for is 1.2 grams per kilogram of your body weight (3). This ensures that you are getting enough to support your metabolic health. 

Healthy lean protein sources include:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Skinless chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Edamame
  • Greek yogurt
  • Beans and lentils
  • Cottage cheese

Aim to include a protein source with every meal and snack you eat to help you get closer to your goals. 

2. High Fiber Foods

Foods rich in fiber are considered complex carbohydrates and include certain foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They’re a necessary part of the diet for managing weight and improving overall health. 

Fiber contributes to satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer, and reducing your overall calorie intake (4)

Foods rich in fiber include:

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, avocados, leafy greens
  • Fruits: Berries, apples, pears, kiwi 
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Whole grains: Quinoa, oats, barley, farro
  • Nuts and seeds: Flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts

3. Healthy Fats

Healthy fats can play a significant role in a balanced diet, offering benefits for satiety as they slow down the digestion progress. Not only that, but they provide us with heart healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3s.

Here are some sources of healthy fats to include:

  • Avocados: Rich in monounsaturated fats and fiber, avocados can enhance the feeling of fullness and provide essential nutrients.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Olive Oil: A cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are not only good sources of lean protein but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart and brain health.

Incorporating these sources of healthy fats into your semaglutide diet plan can help ensure you’re getting a balance of nutrients while working towards your weight loss goals.

Foods to Avoid on Semaglutide 

High-Calorie, Low-Nutrient Foods and Drinks

These foods contribute to weight gain without providing much nutrition. Examples include highly processed foods, fast food, baked goods, and alcoholic beverages. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t ever have them, but you’ll find yourself feeling better if the majority of your diet consists of whole, minimally processed foods. When you do eat these foods, do so mindfully to prevent overeating. 

Fatty/Fried Foods

While healthy fats are necessary, excess intake of them can lead to digestive discomfort. 

Because fat slows down digestion, and these weight loss drugs already causes longer gastric emptying, eating a large amount of fat at one sitting can cause things like nausea and abdominal pain. 

Fried foods are usually high in fat and not tolerated well. Limit foods like fried items, butter, and high-fat dairy products. Focusing more on plant based fats and limiting unhealthy saturated fats can also have benefits for your heart health. 

Sugary Snacks and Beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks can significantly increase calorie intake with or without satiating hunger. It’s best to limit them and choose sugar free varieties when available. 

Sample Semaglutide Meal Plan

Below is a sample, balanced 1800 calorie meal plan to give you some ideas. If you’re wondering “how many calories should I eat on semaglutide?”, you can use an online calculator for this. 

This meal plan provides a balanced mix of macronutrients with a focus on high-fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats – so it’s designed to keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day.

Remember to make modifications based on your individual nutritional needs, activity level, weight goals, preferences, side effects, etc, so adjust portions and food choices as needed.

Consulting with a dietitian can help tailor this plan to meet your specific needs.

Breakfast (450 Calories)

  • Oatmeal: 1 cup of cooked oatmeal (150 calories) topped with 1/4 cup of blueberries (21 calories) and 1 tablespoon of chopped almonds (33 calories).
  • Greek Yogurt: 1/2 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt (85 calories) for protein.
  • Chia Seeds: Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (60 calories) to the oatmeal for extra fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Beverage: A cup of green tea or coffee (0 calories) for hydration and antioxidants.

Mid-Morning Snack (200 Calories)

  • Apple: 1 medium apple (95 calories) for fiber and natural sweetness.
  • Almond Butter: 1 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter (105 calories) for healthy fats and added protein.

Lunch (500 Calories)

  • Turkey and Avocado Wrap:
    • 1 whole grain tortilla (130 calories)
    • 4 ounces of lean turkey breast (120 calories)
    • 1/4 avocado sliced (80 calories)
    • Spinach leaves (5 calories)
    • 1 tablespoon of hummus (25 calories) for spreading on the tortilla.
  • Carrot Sticks: 1 cup of carrot sticks (50 calories) as a crunchy, fiber-rich side.
  • Quinoa Salad: 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa (111 calories) mixed with diced cucumbers and tomatoes, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Afternoon Snack (250 Calories)

  • Mixed Nuts: A small handful (about 1/4 cup) of mixed nuts (200 calories) for a satisfying blend of protein and healthy fats.
  • Cucumber Slices: 1 cup of cucumber slices (16 calories) for a refreshing and hydrating snack.

Dinner (400 Calories)

  • Grilled Salmon: 4 ounces of grilled salmon (233 calories) as a lean protein source rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Steamed Broccoli: 1 cup of steamed broccoli (55 calories) for fiber and nutrients.
  • Sweet Potato: 1/2 medium baked sweet potato (100 calories) as a high fiber carbohydrate source.
  • Olive Oil: Drizzle the broccoli with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (40 calories) for healthy fats.

Common Side Effects of Semaglutide

Like any medication, these weight loss drugs come with potential side effects. Some of the most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. 

Oftentimes, these symptoms are accompanied by a feeling of fullness, which can leave you feeling uncomfortable after eating only a few bites of food and ultimately lead to under eating.

While weight loss does require some level of calorie restriction, this consequence is not ideal as it may result in nutritional deficiencies, fatigue, and/or muscle loss.

Semaglutide Nausea Relief

Nausea is one of the more common side effects. Here are some strategies to mitigate nausea:

1. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Large meals can exacerbate nausea by overloading the digestive system. Instead, aim for smaller, more manageable portions spread throughout the day.

Also, make sure each small meal is balanced, containing a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats to maintain energy levels and stabilize blood sugar, which can help in managing nausea. 

2. Avoid Fatty or Spicy Foods

Fatty, greasy, and heavily spiced foods can be harder to digest, potentially worsening nausea. Opt for bland, easy-to-digest foods such as:

  • Boiled or steamed vegetables.
  • Lean proteins like chicken or turkey.
  • Easy to digest carbohydrates, such as toast.

Sometimes, the temperature of food can affect nausea. Cold or room temperature meals might be more tolerable than hot meals, as they often have less aroma, which can trigger nausea.

3. Additional Tips to Manage Nausea

Ginger is a natural remedy that has been shown to reduce nausea. Consider adding ginger supplements or incorporating ginger into your diet.

And of course, It’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider about any side effects you’re experiencing, including nausea. 

They can offer additional strategies, adjust your medication dosage, or possibly prescribe anti-nausea medication to help manage symptoms more effectively. 

There are many strategies that can help mitigate discomfort so you don’t have to “live with it”. 

Semaglutide Constipation: Tips for Relief 

Because of the slowed digestion, constipation is a common side effect. Below are a few things you can focus on: 

1. Fiber

Fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps it move through the digestive system more quickly, which can alleviate and prevent constipation. If you don’t eat a high amount of fiber, gradually increasing your intake to 25-30 grams per day can be beneficial. 

This can be achieved by incorporating a variety of fiber-rich foods such as:

  • Vegetables: Aim for a variety of colors and types, aiming for at least 2-3 cups per day.
  • Fruits: Include 2 cups of fruit per day, focusing on whole fruits for added fiber.
  • Whole Grains: Switch to whole grain options like quinoa, oats, and whole wheat products.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and peas are excellent sources of fiber and protein.

2. Water

Adequate hydration is crucial for preventing constipation. Water helps to soften the stool, making it easier to pass.

Drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily or half your body weight in ounces is generally recommended, but some people may benefit from even more depending on their climate and physical activity routine. 

3. Exercise

Regular physical activity helps stimulate intestinal movements, known as peristalsis, which moves stool through the digestive tract.

Engaging in daily movement, whether it’s walking, swimming, or cycling, can help reduce the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, thus reducing water absorption from the stool and making it easier to pass. 

Even simple activities like stretching or yoga can improve digestive health.

If the above lifestyle modifications are not sufficient to relieve constipation, medication may be necessary. 

Over-the-counter options include fiber supplements, stool softeners, and laxatives. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms so they can help you choose the right regimen for you. 

Other Lifestyle Tips

Importance of Exercise with Semaglutide

Combining a balanced diet with regular exercise can amplify weight loss results and improve health benefits while you’re taking ozempic or wegovy.

Regular physical activity helps burn calories, improve metabolism, and can help with mood and energy levels.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, along with muscle-strengthening exercises on 2 or more days a week, as recommended by health guidelines (5)

  • Aerobic Activities: Walking, cycling, swimming, or jogging. These can be broken down into sessions of at least 10 minutes throughout the day.
  • Strength Training: Incorporate exercises like lifting weights, using resistance bands, or body-weight exercises (such as push-ups and squats) to build and maintain muscle mass.
  • Flexibility and Balance: Yoga and Pilates can improve flexibility, reduce stress, and enhance balance, contributing to overall well-being and injury prevention.

Strength training is particularly crucial when taking these medications because it helps prevent muscle loss and promotes fat loss as the primary target.

As you lose weight, it’s not uncommon to also lose muscle mass along with fat. By incorporating strength training into a weight loss plan, you can work to maintain or even build muscle while losing fat. 

This not only helps to improve overall body composition but also has a positive impact on long-term health and your ability to keep the weight off. 

Setting Realistic Goals and Tracking Progress

One of the worst things we can do for ourselves is set unrealistic goals. Because when we don’t meet them, we’re destined to give up.

Establish achievable goals that ensure you can actually meet them considering your schedule and capabilities. Then monitor your progress by tracking your habits and make adjustments as you face challenges.

This way, you can navigate your journey with clarity and purpose. Because it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and patience and persistence are your best friends.

Tips for Success

Stay Consistent with Medication and Lifestyle Changes

Consistency and adherence are key to seeing results. Stick with your medication schedule and maintain your diet and exercise plan.

Seek Support from a Registered Dietitian 

Relying solely on medication for weight loss doesn’t teach you much about sustainable healthy eating habits, improving your relationship with food, or making lasting lifestyle changes.

To get the most out of your medication, consider seeking the expertise of a Registered Dietitian (RD). RDs are qualified nutrition experts who offer personalized guidance to help manage side effects, answer your questions, and ensure your eating plan is sustainable and tailored to your needs.

Dietitians tailor their guidance to meet you where you are, educating and navigating you towards healthier eating for optimal health and effective weight management.

Final Thoughts

Semaglutide offers a promising path to weight loss, especially when combined with balanced dietary choices and an active lifestyle. By understanding what to eat, managing side effects, and incorporating consistent lifestyle changes, you can navigate your weight loss journey with confidence. 

If you and your healthcare provider determine that it is a good fit for you, I strongly encourage you to work with a registered dietitian specializing in weight loss to develop a comprehensive plan that meets your individual needs and goals. 

Some dietitians like myself offer personalized meal plans, giving you the guidance you need to build balanced, satisfying meals so you can learn how to do this on your own. 

This can help to ensure safe and effective weight loss, and can lead to improved health and well-being in the long term.

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