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Semaglutide and food: What to eat and what to avoid

How to approach eating when using weight loss injections like Wegovy.

Semaglutide Injections and Food: What to Eat and What to Avoid | Juniper

If you're on a weight loss journey with semaglutide injections, you're probably wondering what you should be eating alongside the medication.

While there is no strict meal plan you need to be following, there are certain foods that will help you unlock the true potential of your weight loss.

To make this experience easier for you, we've created a handy guide of suggestions for the foods to eat and avoid while taking a semaglutide medication like Wegovy. Read on and let's start this journey together.

What is semaglutide?

Semaglutide is the active ingredient included in medications like Wegovy and Ozempic. This medication was developed to help control and improve blood sugar levels but can also aid in weight loss [1].

In the UK, semaglutide in the form of Ozempic is licensed for the treatment of diabetes, while Wegovy is used for weight management and to treat obesity.

How does semaglutide work?

Semaglutide mimics a natural hormone in your body, called GLP-1 (which is why it's commonly referred to as a GLP-1 medication) [2]. This hormone is produced by your digestive system in response to when food is consumed.

It acts on both the brain and the digestive system to regulate how full you feel after a meal and slows down the emptying of your stomach into the rest of your digestive system.

GLP-1 also regulates insulin secretion in response to eating meals so that your blood sugar is better controlled, and reduces your appetite by signalling your brain that you've eaten a meal.

Semaglutide acts just like this natural hormone to make you feel fuller for longer, reduce your cravings for more food, and enhance the way your body regulates blood sugar levels and the storage of fat.

Who is eligible for semaglutide?

Semaglutide is suitable for those who are clinically obese, or significantly overweight with a weight-related health condition — such as high blood pressure, PCOS, heart disease, or osteoarthritis.

You can use Wegovy, which contains semaglutide, for weight loss as part of the Juniper Weight Reset Programme if you are aged between 18 and 75 and:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (clinically obese); or
  • Have a body mass index of 27 or more (significantly overweight) and a medical condition that is often caused, or made worse, by excess body weight.

To find out if you're eligible, you can complete the free online consultation with one of our registered prescribers. We will review your health history and any current medical conditions to determine if the  treatment is suitable for you.

Who is not suitable for semaglutide?

It is important to note that semaglutide and our programme are not suitable for those who are/have:

  • Under 18 or over 75 years of age
  • Pregnant, breastfeeding, or conceiving
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Thyroid cancers or a family history of thyroid cancers
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2 (MEN2)
  • Liver disease
  • Medical history of pancreatitis
  • Diabetic eye disease

What foods should I eat while taking semaglutide?

The good news is there are no specific semaglutide or Wegovy foods to avoid and no customised diet recommendations. All we suggest is that you maintain a healthy diet and consistently incorporate lifestyle changes.

A balanced nutritional intake, together with regular exercise will help to support weight loss alongside your treatment — and importantly avoid weight regain.

The NHS Eatwell Guide is a great place to start with how a balanced meal should look like — from foods rich in vitamins to healthier alternatives to help satisfy those food cravings.

One advantage of taking this medication is that it makes you feel fuller quicker so this can be helpful when preparing smaller meals.

What kinds of food can help with weight management?

A diet plan that is high in fruits and vegetables is a great way to start and control weight management. This will help replenish the body with key vitamins, and minerals and avoids saturated fats and heavily processed foods.

Increased fibre — such as swapping white rice for brown rice or whole grains — not only helps with good digestive movement but is also low in calories, helping support metabolic health.

Proteins — especially lean protein such as turkey or white fish — are a fantastic way in which to make yourself feel fuller and push back the hunger. Non-meat eaters can still find nutritional benefits from a variety of foods such as chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and spinach.

What foods should I avoid while taking semaglutide?

No specific foods need to be avoided while taking Wegovy and there is no fixed semaglutide diet or meal plans — one less thing for you to worry about!

For certain people, carbohydrates, sugary, high-fat, heavily processed and calorie-dense foods are off-limits when dieting. However, this can make sticking to a weight loss goal even harder.

Remember all types of fat are high in energy and should be eaten in small amounts. Ultimately, it's down to each individual what they consume; above all, it is most important just to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

Again, the NHS Eatwell Guide is helpful in determining what a balanced plate of food looks like — although each section may be altered based on your preferences.

No foods will negatively impact semaglutide, as long as you are within your calorific goal. Eating in moderation also means you won't feel deprived on your weight loss journey.

Can certain foods make side effects worse?

The most common side effects reported while taking semaglutide are nausea and diarrhoea but these usually pass after a few short weeks. Certain foods can trigger these symptoms more often than others.

If you experience these symptoms whilst taking semaglutide, foods to avoid to reduce your symptoms include fried foods and high-fat foods.

These include fast food, and high-sugar foods that are usually difficult for your body to digest and can make nausea and/or diarrhoea worse or more common while using semaglutide — especially in the first few weeks of treatment.

Can certain foods help counteract side effects?

There are a few things you can do to help curb the more common side effects of semaglutide, like nausea diarrhoea, vomiting, bloating and mild stomach pain.

  • Eat slowly, and smaller meals
  • Look for meals high in water content — like soups
  • Eat foods that are light and bland and low fat such as crackers, whole wheat toast and brown rice
  • Drink clear or ice-cold drinks like water and unsweetened tea
  • Avoid foods that are greasy, very sweet or fried foods as well as sugary drinks
  • Slowly eat foods high in fibre and incorporate healthy fats
  • Limiting heavily processed foods and sugary foods to avoid high blood sugar levels

Lifestyle changes

Other tips you may find useful to counteract the side effects of semaglutide can include:

  • Go outdoors for a gentle walk and some fresh air — especially helps with nausea
  • Try out a diet and exercise program
  • Avoid lying down after you eat

Does semaglutide make you not want to eat?

Semaglutide curbs your appetite to a degree by slowing your digestive process — an effect some people get more than others. However, semaglutide doesn’t usually make you not want to eat at all.

As you continue with your treatment, your dosage of the prescription medication will increase so your body can get used to the drug.

How does semaglutide affect the body?

Semaglutide works in the same way as a natural hormone (GLP-1), which acts as a signal to receptors in cells in different parts of your body. This affects the body by:

  • Signalling your brain that you’ve eaten a meal so you should feel less hungry and less likely to reach for a snack between meal times
  • Telling your pancreas to be more responsive to increases in blood sugar after eating or drinking so that less of what you eat is eventually stored as fat
  • Telling your stomach to empty more slowly after a meal so that you feel fuller for longer, and also helping control blood sugar levels by making the increase more gradual

Other things to avoid while taking semaglutide

If you feel fine and don’t have any side effects then there’s nothing specific you must avoid. Of course, a healthy balanced diet is important to make the best progress in your weight loss journey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have some treats.

Everyone is different, so be guided by what your body is trying to tell you — if certain things don’t agree with you while on semaglutide, try to avoid or limit those foods or drinks.

Alcohol consumption

Many patients have asked or are curious about drinking alcohol whilst taking GLP-1 medications.

Whilst alcohol is permitted, some patients do find that it can make some side effects worse — like slight faintness, diarrhoea, headaches or nausea, especially if they might be dehydrated or have low blood sugar due to not eating enough calories.

This is because both semaglutide and drinking alcohol can have the effect of lowering blood sugar levels. So, limiting alcohol consumption may be a good idea to help blood sugar control and any potential kidney problems.

Does semaglutide interact well with other medications?

Most over-the-counter and even prescribed medicines are safe to take with semaglutide and in turn, Wegovy.

However, if you change what you are taking since you last had a consultation with a Juniper prescriber, then just get in touch and we will make sure you’re good to go by checking for any drug interactions.

Common self-care remedies and over-the-counter medications such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for pain relief, and Antihistamines for allergies or hay fever, are safe to take while taking semaglutide. If you are unsure, speak to your local pharmacist or healthcare professional.

In the highly unlikely event of a serious allergic reaction — symptoms include swelling of your face, lips or throat, problems breathing or swallowing, rapid heartbeat and severe rash, we recommend seeking immediate medical care through your GP or nearest A&E service.

Taking semaglutide with other diabetes medications such as Metformin

Metformin is a common prescription drug for type 2 diabetes, which is occasionally used to treat some other health conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Several clinical trial studies have been carried out across a large number of patients who were also taking Metformin for diabetes and the trials found there was no significant effect on the blood levels of Metformin and no special precautions or changes to existing Metformin treatment were required [3][4][5][6][7][8].

Can I take supplements alongside semaglutide?

Yes, you can take food supplements such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics and the like whilst taking semaglutide/Wegovy.

Herbal medicines have limited information available for use alongside Wegovy and some herbal medicines certainly can interact with other prescription drugs.

Therefore, we recommend having a conversation with your prescriber about any herbal medicines you may be taking or considering when you have a consultation so that we can check if it’s likely to be a safe combination for you.

Precautions when taking semaglutide

You should only take semaglutide if it has been prescribed for you by a clinician or healthcare provider who is competent and trained to prescribe it for weight loss, such as our Juniper prescribers.

We will always assess whether this medication will be safe and effective for you as an individual. And if this treatment is suitable for you, through our Weight Reset Programme, we'll help you reach your weight loss with a combination of medication, lifestyle coaching, 1:1 health tracking and access to a private community of women who are on the same journey as you.

Make sure to always follow the instructions on the pharmacy label and only change your dose where this is part of your treatment plan. Wegovy should always be stored safely out of the sight and reach of children and pets.

Always read the leaflet that comes with your medicine before you use it for the first time, and keep this handy so you can refer to it for the correct injection technique each week, or to check for any side effects.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us via email at hello@myjuniper.co.uk.