Understanding Diet & Nutritional Needs While on Weight Loss Drugs

by Ella

Popular weight loss drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic have changed the way many Americans are eating. As people taking these medications reassess their relationship with food, diet experts offer helpful nutritional tips to add to your wellness plan.

Registered Dietitian Maya Feller spoke with “Good Morning America” about the intricacies of a proper diet and what to consider when taking semaglutide, the active ingredient in those GLP-1 receptor agonist medications.


Focus on Nutrient Density

“People on this medication should think about the nutrient density of their foods,” Feller explained. “With a decreased intake, the nutritional value of food becomes very important. Creating a balanced plate that includes protein, veggies, and a starch helps give the body what it needs. Food should be consumed based on current health, and individual likes and dislikes.”


New Options and Practical Steps

Nestlé recently announced a new line of frozen meals specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of those on GLP-1 weight loss drugs. However, Feller emphasizes practical steps people can take without opting for specialty items by implementing a baseline of ingredients packed with the nutrition dieters may need.


“The weight loss drugs produce rapid and significant weight loss for some, along with decreased hunger and early satiety,” Feller noted. “The rapid and significant weight loss can also induce an unintended loss of lean body mass.”


Recommended Foods for GLP-1 Weight Loss Medications
“People should be sure to eat sufficient amounts of high-quality protein to support the rapid weight loss and loss of lean body mass,” Feller suggested. “In addition, fiber coming from vegetables, fruits, beans, root vegetables, and ancient grains like fonio, millet, and quinoa, as well as being mindful of hydration.”

As with any shift in diet and lifestyle, consulting a primary care physician before making drastic changes is essential. “A multivitamin may be indicated to bridge the nutrient gap that results from eating less,” Feller added.

Adjusting Portion Sizes

“Portion size will vary by person,” Feller said. “Some people may be able to tolerate half an apple with nut butter as a snack, while others will experience early satiety from [a glass of] water.”

Feller suggests this is “an opportunity to listen to your body.” She explains, “The medications work faster than behavior change, so people might be surprised by the change in what and how much they can eat.”

The Brooklyn-based nutritionist and author of “Eating from Our Roots” noted that there might be indications for some of a “limited ability to eat protein-fortified foods.” Typically, she would recommend a plate with three to four ounces of protein, six ounces of non-starchy vegetables, and three ounces of starch. However, for those on these medications, the recommendation may change to a vitamin and mineral-enriched protein smoothie plus a scrambled egg with one ounce of veggies.

Concerns with Popular Weight Loss Drugs

Feller expressed concern that people are taking these medications without proper medical oversight. As a result, they may miss key nutrients, which can be harmful in the long run. “What we eat is hugely important, and in the case of this class of medications, the stakes are even higher,” she said. “The nutrient density of meals informs gut health, head health, bone health, brain health, and more.”

In summary, while weight loss drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic can aid in rapid weight loss, it’s crucial to maintain a nutrient-dense diet to support overall health. Ensuring adequate protein intake, incorporating a variety of fibers, staying hydrated, and possibly taking a multivitamin can help mitigate potential nutrient deficiencies. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making significant dietary changes while on these medications.



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