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GLP-1s and Nutrition: What You Need to Know

GLP-1s and Nutrition: What You Need to Know

As GLP-1 medications gain popularity, many patients are seeking guidance on the best diet and exercise practices to complement their treatment. In this blog, we’ll outline essential nutrition guidelines to maximize the effectiveness of your GLP-1 weight loss journey. Beyond weight loss, these tips will also help you nourish and fuel your body optimally.

How GLP-1s Work
Originally developed to manage type 2 diabetes, GLP-1 medications like Mounjaro® (tirzepatide) and Ozempic® (semaglutide) have shown remarkable weight loss benefits. These GLP-1 medications work by suppressing appetite, reducing fat absorption, curbing cravings, and enhancing satiety. They mimic a natural hormone that regulates blood sugar and stimulates insulin production.

Studies indicate that overweight or obese adults who use once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide injections, alongside intensive behavioral therapy and a low-calorie diet for the first 8 weeks, experienced an average weight loss of 15% over 68 weeks. Similarly, those taking the maximum tolerated dose of tirzepatide (10 mg or 15 mg) for 36 weeks averaged a 20% weight loss. Tirzepatide containing medications, like Mounjaro® and Zepbound™, act both as a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and a GLP-1 receptor agonist, like semaglutide-based medications, enhancing its effectiveness. 

Reducing cravings and suppressing appetite work hand in hand for weight loss. While excellent for minimizing mindless snacking and making healthier choices, it’s still important to be conscious of the nutrition choices you’re making during your GLP-1 weight loss journey.

What to Eat When You’re Taking a GLP-1
There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” diet for those on GLP-1 medications—it’s about finding a nutritious and sustainable eating plan. We know it can seem overwhelming, which is why the Ivím mobile app provides accessible functional nutrition guidance to help simplify things like macronutrients. From crafting your grocery list to mastering meal prep, we’ve got you covered.

A healthy diet doesn’t mean giving up all your favorites; it’s about making smart adjustments. Let’s start with the positives. Here are the key factors to consider when shopping or planning your meals:

Protein is crucial for everyone, particularly for those on a GLP-1 weight loss regimen. Increasing your protein intake helps maximize fat loss while preserving muscle strength and enhancing satiety. GLP-1 medications already help your brain signal fullness, so it’s important to optimize your meal content. Here are some top protein-rich foods to include in your diet:

  • Chicken
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Greek yogurt

High-fiber foods are vital for any diet, especially when you’re using GLP-1 medications. Fiber not only helps you feel full longer, reducing calorie intake, but it also nourishes beneficial gut bacteria and acts as a prebiotic. Maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for overall health, and fiber is the foundation. Typically, it’s recommended to consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in your diet, though your provider may offer tailored advice. Excellent sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which are both nutritious and flavorful. Here are some great fiber-rich foods to add to your meals:

  • Berries
  • Lentils
  • Chia seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Green peas
  • Raspberries
  • Pears 

Carbs are not the enemy! In fact, complex carbohydrates help stabilize blood sugar levels and offer a healthy energy source. Both fiber and starch are types of complex carbs, including the fiber-rich foods we’ve previously mentioned. Enjoying natural sugars from your favorite fruits is perfectly fine. However, it’s the simple carbs and empty calories that warrant a closer look and might need to be limited in your diet.

Experts often recommend diets like the Mediterranean and plant-based diets for their health benefits. If a fully plant-based diet isn’t feasible for your lifestyle, that’s perfectly fine. You can still incorporate its benefits by adding more vegetables to your meals while enjoying proteins like chicken breast. The Mediterranean diet also focuses on plant-based foods along with healthy fats. Opting for this diet means incorporating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, making it a nutritious choice that may suit your needs.

Staying Away From Sugar Spikes
Throughout the GLP-1 weight loss process, it’s important to work with your body. While GLP-1s curb cravings and reduce your appetite, it’ll prove difficult to see results if there’s no substance to what you’re eating and drinking. The problem lies with blood sugar spikes. 

A blood sugar spike occurs when glucose builds up in your bloodstream, which is common after eating. If you’re feeling thirsty, experiencing dry mouth, or urinating often, you could be experiencing a blood sugar spike. Typically the culprits for sugar spikes are:

  • Soda, juices, and alcohol
  • Sugary snacks like cookies, donuts, and candy
  • Excess high fat foods 
  • Foods with high-fructose corn syrup 

Instead of buying orange juice from concentrate, try making your own at home. Instead of reaching for packaged cookies, search for a healthier alternative you can make fresh at home. Just about anything you make at home will be a better choice than pre-packaged snacks and treats.

Establishing Positive Habits
Finding what to eat when you’re taking a GLP-1 can seem intimidating at first depending on your existing nutrition habits and it’s hard to make big corrections at once. We encourage you to make sustainable changes one at a time to stay motivated and encouraged. Habit stacking is an excellent way to build up your goals. For example, if you want to increase water intake, eat more vegetables, and walk more, try breaking it out. Week 1: drink one extra glass of water with dinner, week 2: keep up the good work with water and add another scoop of veggies to your plate, week 3: maintain your new water and vegetable intake, and go for a 15-minute walk. Slowly but surely, you’ll develop excellent habits that last a lifetime.

Remember, it’s not an overnight change or an instant solution. GLP-1 weight loss takes time and getting the results you want is achievable but takes work. Proper nutrition can help expedite the process, along with providing numerous other health benefits beyond weight loss. Focus on the basics first, and ironing out what to eat when you’re taking a GLP-1 will start to become easier. As always, our support team is available and you can find 24/7 resources in the app for nutrition guidance.

This article was produced by Ivim Health. Ozempic® is a registered trademark of Novo Nordisk.  Zepbound® and Mounjaro® are registered trademarks of Eli Lilly.  Ivím Health has no affiliation with Novo Nordisk or Eli Lilly.