If you have been prescribed Ozempic (semaglutide) for managing type 2 diabetes, you are likely aware that this medication can help lower blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss. However, many people are curious whether certain foods interact with Ozempic, affect its effectiveness, or cause potential side effects.
Ozempic is a prescription drug that regulates blood sugar levels, treats type 2 diabetes, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
No particular foods should be strictly avoided while using Ozempic. However, limiting alcoholic, greasy, sugary foods/drinks, as well as refined carbohydrates, may be more beneficial.
Together with metformin, Ozempic effectively manages blood sugar levels to treat type 2 diabetes.
Ozempic is recommended along with diet and exercise for optimal results.
To answer the question, “Which foods should I avoid when taking Ozempic,” we discuss dietary recommendations to manage your diabetes better or help with weight management.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is the trade name of semaglutide, an FDA-approved medication for type 2 diabetes treatment and blood glucose management. It is an injectable medication prescribed for adults, along with diet and exercise, to improve the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients. It also lowers blood levels of hemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood glucose over time.
Aside from being an anti-diabetic medication, semaglutide is also used off-label as an anti-obesity drug for body weight management. In the market, semaglutide is sold as Ozempic for diabetes treatment and as Wegovy for obesity.
New and unused Ozempic is stored in the refrigerator between 36 °F to 46 °F (2 °C to 8 °C), and should not be frozen. It may also be kept in room temperature (not above 30 °C) for 6 weeks and should not be exposed to heat or direct sunlight.
Semaglutide is categorized as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, and belongs to the class of medications called incretin mimetics.
How does Ozempic work?
Ozempic (semaglutide) works by mimicking the function of GLP-1, an incretin hormone released by intestinal cells, which activates the GLP-1 receptor to stimulate insulin secretion and promote the regulation of blood sugar levels.
However, if you have type 2 diabetes and are overweight or obese, GLP-1 may not help you control your blood sugar as well as it would if you were not overweight or obese. Hence, scientists have developed semaglutide to address this issue.
Meanwhile, people who have obesity or other health problems have lost weight while taking Ozempic. For people with diabetes, the drug may also lower their risk of cardiovascular disease.
What are the side effects of Ozempic?
Most Ozempic users typically experience few dose-dependent side effects, especially at the start of treatment, but they wear off relatively quickly. If you have any side effects or allergic reactions while taking Ozempic, you should talk to your doctor.
The most typical Ozempic side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Allergic reactions
- Pancreatic inflammation
- Kidney problems
Compared to other types of drugs, previous studies link Ozempic with an increased incidence of diabetic retinopathy (DR), a condition that causes eye problems like blurred vision and vision loss. For example, a 2020 study showed that out of 2,109 adverse events associated with Ozempic, 16.4% were DR.
However, a large-scale meta-analysis study including 23 randomized trials with a total of 22,096 T2DM patients concludes that Ozempic is not associated with increased DR risk. Their study points out, however, that certain risk factors may predispose subgroups of people to DR risk when using semaglutide, including patients aged 60 years or older and with diabetes duration of more than 10 years.
What foods to avoid while taking Ozempic
If you're taking semaglutide, no food items are off-limits or need to be removed from your diet. However, some foods and drinks may worsen pre-existing symptoms, while others may make it harder to lose weight or control diabetes.
The following food categories are some typical offenders:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Greasy foods
- Sugary meals and beverages
- Refined carbohydrates
What are the best foods to eat while taking Ozempic?
You don't need to consume any particular foods while taking Ozempic. Most of the time, people with high blood sugar are told to eat a healthy diet with fewer calories, fat, and sugar.
Concentrate on healthful meal plans that have a low glycemic index or foods that don't tend to raise blood sugar levels as quickly as refined carbs, such as:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean protein
- Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, almonds, and seeds
Who can take Ozempic?
Ozempic (semaglutide) is taken by adults with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and elevated blood sugar levels. People with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more or who have a medical condition like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure and a BMI of 27 or more can also use it can also take semaglutide for chronic weight management.
People with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or type 2 Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Syndrome (MEN 2) shouldn't use Ozempic.
Also, you should let your doctor know if you or someone in your family has a history of:
- Kidney disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Diabetic retinal disease
Pregnant women are advised against taking Ozempic (semaglutide). Diabetes in pregnant women is treated with other types of medications. Before becoming pregnant and throughout the pregnancy, blood glucose levels should be kept as close as feasible to the target goals if you have type 2 diabetes.
Before you take Ozempic, tell your doctor about any medicines or supplements you are already taking. For example, while some diabetes drugs can be taken with Ozempic, they shouldn't be taken with other GLP-1 or weight-loss medications.
How much Ozempic should you take?
Doctors advise starting with a drug dose of 0.25 mg injections weekly for four consecutive weeks. Depending on the patient's health status, the dosage may be increased to 0.5 mg in the next few weeks. The highest dose advised is 2 mg, administered once per week.
Typically, Ozempic is self-injected once a week at the upper arms, the abdomen, or the front of the thighs. Healthcare providers recommend rotating the injection site each time you inject. They can also demonstrate the proper self-injection procedure.
When a dose is missed, take Ozempic as soon as you remember it, within five days.
Ozempic is best taken on the same day every week, but if you want to switch the day of the week of your injection, you may do so as long as the time between the two doses is at least two days (>48 hours).
Ozempic vs. metformin
Ozempic and metformin are prescription medications for treating type 2 diabetes in adults.
Here is their side-by-side comparison.
|T2DM Patient Age group||Adults||Adults and children 10 years or older|
|Dosage form||Subcutaneous injection||Oral tablet, oral solution|
|Dosage||Initial dose: 0.25 mg once a week for four weeks. Maintenance dose: 0.5–2 mg once a week.||Typical maintenance dose: 850 mg or 1000 mg twice daily. The maximum dose is 2000 mg once a day.|
|Side Effects||Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain||Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, headache, chest discomfort, hypoglycemia, runny nose, and excessive sweating|
Can I take Ozempic with metformin?
Many people who are keen on weight management are asking whether you can take Ozempic with metformin together for weight loss. Since Ozempic and metformin work differently, it is safe to take them together.
Your doctor may suggest taking Ozempic with metformin if metformin alone isn't keeping your blood sugar in the target range, and you want to lose weight. It is safe to take both medications simultaneously because they have a low risk of lowering blood sugar to dangerous levels. Ozempic and metformin can be more effective when taken together, hence taking both could improve your blood sugar management.
Ozempic vs. metformin: which is better for weight loss?
Research shows that Ozempic (semaglutide) provides better weight loss effects over metformin.
A study conducted for over 2 years also studied the effect of Ozempic in combination with healthy lifestyle interventions —participants lost about 4.5 kg body weight in the group taking 1 mg Ozempic, as compared to 0.5 kg lost without it.
A drug trial that tested the effectiveness of once-weekly semaglutide at 2.4 mg dose in 1,961 adults with overweight or obesity (BMI = 30 or greater) found that participants achieved at least 5% and up to around 15-20% weight loss over the span of 68 weeks compared to only 2.4% in the placebo group.
And yet another clinical trial tested semaglutide in a span of 20 weeks and found that participants lost around 10% of body weight.
Meanwhile, a large trial with over 4,000 participants with type 2 diabetes reported that metformin use led to around 2.9 kg weight loss in a span of 5 years.
In comparative study of weight loss effects in women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), metformin and GLP-1 monotherapy (liraglutide or semaglutide) were tested and results show that GLP-1 monotherapy exerts superior weight loss effects.
If you have questions or concerns about using Ozempic with other prescription medications, dietary supplements, or over-the-counter remedies, speak with your physician.
What happens if you overeat while on Ozempic?
If you consume too much food while taking semaglutide, you might get mild to moderate stomach upset. Since Ozempic slows down stomach emptying, it may make you uncomfortable for a couple of days. However, Ozempic also curbs appetite, which may also help prevent over-eating.
Do I need to take Ozempic long-term?
You must take your medication consistently on a long-term basis if you want Ozempic's full benefits. Your doctor may give you Ozempic along with other diabetes medicines to help lower your blood sugar even more or to get other benefits.
How can I make Ozempic work better for weight loss?
For optimal weight loss effects of Ozempic, combine it with a balanced diet and regular exercise. You may also ask your doctor for any combination therapy that may be taken synergistically.
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- New England Journal of Medicine. Semaglutide and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.
- JAMA. Effect of Continued Weekly Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo on Weight Loss Maintenance in Adults With Overweight or Obesity: The STEP 4 Randomized Clinical Trial.
- The New England Journal of Medicine. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity.
- Obesity Pillars. Effect of GLP-1 agonists on weight loss in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome and obesity: A single-center study.
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- Frontiers in Endocrinology. Safety of Semaglutide.
- Diabetes Care. Do GLP-1–Based Therapies Increase Cancer Risk?
- Australian Prescriber. Semaglutide for type 2 diabetes.
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