Ozempic is an injectable prescription medication formulated to help adults with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar. Studies show that people taking Ozempic may also lose modest amounts of weight and lower their risk of major cardiovascular events, like heart attack or stroke.
Ozempic works by slowing stomach emptying, helping the pancreas produce more insulin when blood sugar is high, and lowering sugar production in the liver. It also acts on a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus to reduce hunger, appetite, and cravings.
With its recent widespread publicity as an effective medication for controlling blood sugar, improving heart health risks, and losing weight through off-label use, Ozempic may seem like a panacea for people with metabolic concerns and those struggling to lose weight. But eating a healthy diet and regularly exercising when taking Ozempic is essential—not only for achieving better blood sugar control but also to minimize potential side effects and maintain muscle mass.
This guide explains how to optimize your diet while taking Ozempic, highlighting the most important foods to eat and those you should avoid. It also provides nutritionally balanced 7-day meal plans for women and men taking Ozempic.
Foods to Eat When Taking Ozempic
When taking Ozempic, prioritize a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds. While people taking this medication do not need to follow a specific diet, emphasizing vegetables and healthy proteins can support blood sugar and weight management and help preserve lean body mass in people losing weight while taking the medication.
Fill your diet with the following Ozempic-friendly foods.
Prioritize Lean Protein
Protein is particularly important for people taking Ozempic, especially if they are eating less or losing weight while on the medication. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein for healthy adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight daily. This amounts to 65 grams of protein for a 180-pound person.
While this amount may be sufficient to prevent muscle loss in adults with minimal physical activity, many dietitians recommend higher protein intakes, especially for people who are active, older, or trying to lose weight. An easy way to remember to get enough protein is to aim to fill a quarter of your plate with lean protein at every meal.
Rapid weight loss on medications like Ozempic can lead to loss of muscle mass. People losing weight on these medications should prioritize consuming adequate protein to retain muscle mass while losing fat.
Many who take Ozempic experience decreased appetite and get full more quickly. To ensure you meet your protein needs, dietitians often recommend spreading protein intake throughout the day and including protein with every meal or snack. Consuming protein foods first before other foods may also help increase protein intake.
The following foods are excellent protein choices for people taking Ozempic:
- Fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel, freshwater trout, tilapia, shrimp, herring, anchovies, and sardines
- Poultry, including chicken and turkey
- Beans, like black beans, chickpeas, hummus, edamame, kidney beans, and cannellini beans
- Low-fat, high-protein dairy foods, like low-fat cottage cheese and Greek yogurt
- Nuts and seeds, like walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, peanut butter, and almond butter
- Soy-based proteins, like tofu or tempeh
- Lean cuts of meat or pork, including the loin, round, or flank steak
Eat a Rainbow of Vegetables
Vegetables are high in both nutrients and fiber, which can help manage blood sugar, support weight management, improve gut health, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of chronic diseases and some cancers.
Phytonutrients in vegetables not only make veggies colorful but also give them their distinct flavors and health benefits. For example, tomatoes owe their deep red color to the pigment lycopene, which offers many cardiovascular benefits, including improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, endothelial function, and antioxidative potential.
By eating a rainbow of vegetables, you ensure your food is both beautiful and meets your nutrient needs. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults consume at least 2 and a half cups of vegetables daily. An easy way to remember to eat enough veggies is to fill half your plate with vegetables.
Fill your diet with a variety of vegetables every day:
- Dark leafy greens
- Bok choy
- Romaine lettuce
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Summer squash
Enjoy Whole Fruits
Like vegetables, fruits get their vibrant color from the phytonutrients they contain. While some people worry about the sugar content in fruits, whole fruits contain fiber that slows down the body’s digestion of these sugars—so they don’t affect blood sugar like sweets, pastries, and other low-fiber, high-sugar foods do. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults consume at least 2 cups of whole fruit daily.
Enjoy at least 2 cups of these whole fruits every day when taking Ozempic:
- Berries, like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries
- Citrus fruits, like oranges, clementines, grapefruits, and limes
- Melons, like cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon
- Dried fruits
Choose Whole Grains
Many believe managing weight and blood sugar when you have type 2 diabetes requires limiting carbohydrates. In truth, paying attention to the type of carbohydrates consumed is more important than restricting carbs across the board.
Carbohydrate foods that contain fiber are known as complex carbohydrates. The fiber in complex carbohydrates helps prevent spikes in blood sugar and has been shown to lower fasting blood glucose and improve hemoglobin A1c, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, measures of inflammation, insulin resistance, and body weight in people with prediabetes, type 1, and type 2 diabetes.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making at least half of all the grains you eat—including breads, pastas, and crackers—whole grains. An easy way to consume all the whole grains your body needs is to fill a quarter of your plate with complex carbohydrate whole grains.
Whole grains to consume when taking Ozempic include:
- Brown rice
- Dark rye
- Whole-grain cornmeal
- Whole-wheat bread
- Whole-grain chapati
- Whole-grain cereals
- Whole-grain crackers
- Wild rice
Include Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are important for blood sugar control, cognitive health, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and may even reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats, like Omega-3s found in fish oil.
While eating too much fat in one meal or snack may exacerbate common side effects of Ozempic like nausea and stomach pain, it’s important to include a moderate amount of healthy fats every day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults consume 27 grams, or just under 2 tablespoons, of healthy fats daily from all food sources.
Incorporate the following foods rich in healthy fats when taking Ozempic:
- Fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies
- Walnuts and other nuts
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil
Foods to Avoid When Taking Ozempic
One great thing about Ozempic? Technically, no foods are off-limits when taking this medication. That said, side effects like nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, and constipation are common when starting Ozempic or increasing your dose.
If you are experiencing side effects from taking Ozempic, avoiding certain foods can help ease your symptoms. During these times, it is helpful to avoid sugary foods and fatty foods that take longer to digest.
Steer Clear of Fatty Foods
Eating fatty foods slows stomach emptying and digestion. Since Ozempic and other semaglutide medications also slow stomach emptying, a diet rich in fatty foods can slow things down even further and exacerbate side effects. Avoiding high-fat foods can help alleviate side effects like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain when taking Ozempic.
High-fat foods to avoid when taking Ozempic, especially when experiencing side effects, include:
- Fried foods, like fried chicken, French fries, doughnuts, and potato chips
- Fatty meats, like fatty cuts of red meat, bacon, sausages, or salami
- Full-fat dairy, like heavy cream, soft cheeses, ice cream
- Greasy foods, like pizza
Limit Foods High in Added Sugar
Diets high in added sugars are associated with increased body weight, heart disease, depression, and metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Avoiding high-sugar foods may help alleviate nausea associated with taking Ozempic, according to Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic.
If you are experiencing side effects like nausea while taking Ozempic, try reducing your intake of these high-sugar foods:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- Sweet treats like cakes and cookies
Tips for Success
To successfully control blood sugar, improve heart health, and lose weight while taking Ozempic, it’s important to pair this medication with a healthy diet and regular exercise. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends all adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and at least two days of strength training per week.
If you are experiencing side effects like nausea or indigestion while taking Ozempic, try the following tips:
- Eat bland foods: Opt for easy-to-digest foods, like toast, crackers, and rice
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and consume water-rich foods like soups
- Choose lean: Avoid rich, fatty foods, which further slow down digestion
- Take your time: Eat more slowly to give your body time to recognize when you are full
- Stay vertical: Avoid lying down soon after you eat to minimize indigestion or acid reflux
Know that side effects are common when you start taking Ozempic or increase to a higher dose. For most people, these side effects will subside over time. Working with a registered dietitian can help you tailor your diet to meet your nutrient needs, achieve your health goals, and identify foods that may cause side effects while on Ozempic.
Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication that can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, improve heart health, and lose modest amounts of weight when paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
While people taking Ozempic do not need to follow a special diet, eating plenty of lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains can help maximize success and maintain muscle mass while on medication. Avoiding fatty and sugary foods may help relieve common side effects of Ozempic, like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. For more diabetes-friendly recipes, check out the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Food Hub.
For best results, work with a registered dietitian who can ensure you are meeting your nutrient needs and help you avoid foods that may trigger side effects while on Ozempic.