5 Foods You Can't Eat While on Weight-Loss Drugs

These can trigger or worsen some serious side effects, doctors say.

Weight loss drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Zepbound can lead to substantial weight loss—an average of 15 percent of one's body weight in 15 months, according to new studies. However, it's not the medication alone that's responsible for such a sweeping change—it's also the dietary and lifestyle changes that come along with the regimen.

The foods you eat while taking this new class of obesity drugs can determine not only whether you lose weight, but also how well you tolerate the medication. In particular, many patients report that certain foods tend to trigger or worsen gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and more.

Though there's no single food that's considered banned to eat while taking weight loss drugs, these are the top five foods obesity and nutrition experts say to avoid for sustained weight loss success with fewer side effects.

RELATED: Certain Foods Trigger Natural Ozempic-Like Weight Loss Effect, Doctor Says.

1
Processed and high-fat foods

African woman with afro hair eating a tasty classic burger with fries. Cheat Meal.
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Avoiding processed and high-fat foods should help you lose weight—especially if you steer clear of unhealthy, saturated fats. However, that's not the only reason to take these items off the menu. Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, recommends not eating "fried" or "greasy" foods to avoid some of the drugs' most common side effects.

"These drugs slow gastric emptying, which, when combined with fatty foods, may lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort," explains Phyllis Pobee, MD, CCFP, ABFM, a board-certified weight loss physician through the American Board of Obesity Medicine.

2
Alcohol

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Many people find that weight loss drugs curb their cravings for alcohol and other stimulants, making it easier to significantly cut back. This is great news since drinking can come with negative consequences while taking weight loss medication.

"Alcohol should be limited or avoided," urges Pobee. "These weight loss drugs can enhance the effects of alcohol or lead to unexpected reactions, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in those with diabetes and amplifying potential side effects like dizziness or nausea."

RELATED: What Really Happens If You Stop Taking Ozempic, Doctors Say.

3
Refined carbohydrates and added sugars

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Refined carbs and added sugars are also best avoided while taking weight loss drugs.

"Foods high in refined carbs and sugars can counteract the weight loss effects of these medications," Pobee tells Best Life. "Since these drugs are designed to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce appetite, consuming high-sugar foods can lead to spikes in blood sugar and cravings, undermining the medication's benefits."

This includes sugary drinks, adds Krutika Nanavati, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutritionist working with Clinic Spots. "Sugary drinks can cause blood sugar spikes, which can counteract the appetite-suppressing effects of GLP-1 drugs. They can also lead to cravings and hinder weight loss progress," she explains.

4
High-sodium foods

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In the short term, high-sodium foods can lead to water retention and temporary weight gain. However, consuming too much salt is also a "driver" of bigger-picture weight gain, says a 2018 study published in the journal Nature Reviews Nephrology. "Long-term ingestion of a high-salt diet is also associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome through unknown mechanisms," the researchers write.

Pobee notes that a high-sodium diet can also cause an increase in blood pressure, which could negatively impact your cardiovascular health: "For individuals taking weight loss medications, especially those with cardiovascular concerns or hypertension, it's advisable to minimize processed foods high in sodium to avoid exacerbating these conditions."

RELATED: 7 Worst Ozempic Side Effects Reported by Patients.

5
High-fiber foods

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While taking weight loss medications, it's best to eat a whole-foods-based diet that's rich in nutrients. This means consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in moderation.

However, Nanavati warns that eating certain high-fiber foods may exacerbate side effects—especially when you first begin taking the medication. In particular, this includes cruciferous vegetables and starchy vegetables. "High-fiber foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and beans may cause bloating and gas when taking GLP-1 drugs. Introduce them gradually and in moderation," she suggests.

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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