Bmi Doctors

A Guide on What to Eat on Semaglutide

Table of Contents


Semaglutide, initially designed for type 2 diabetes, has carved its niche in the realm of weight management. While it brings forth promising results, the synergy between the drug and your dietary choices is crucial. This guide aims to be your roadmap, highlighting the dietary considerations while on semaglutide.

Dietary Recommendations

Optimal Nutrition: Whole foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats should form the crux of your diet. These nutrient-dense choices not only safeguard your health but also promote satiety, making weight loss a more achievable goal. Curtail your intake of processed foods and sugary delights, as they often lead to rapid blood sugar fluctuations. Fiber, the unsung hero of digestion, is invaluable. Incorporate beans, lentils, berries, and cruciferous vegetables to ensure smooth digestion and longer-lasting satiety.

Caloric Intake: Semaglutide’s prowess lies in its ability to reduce appetite. However, maintaining a decent caloric intake is indispensable. On average:

  • Women: 1500-2000 calories/day
  • Men: 2000-2500 calories/day Personalize these figures based on age, activity level, and metabolic health.

Foods to Approach Cautiously: Although semaglutide doesn’t interact adversarially with a broad spectrum of foods, moderation is advised for alcohol and caffeine. Grapefruit, notorious for interacting with various medications, should be consumed with due diligence.

Beverages and Hydration

Your hydration status influences a plethora of bodily functions. Key pointers include: 

  • Aim for 8-10 glasses of water daily. 
  • Swerve away from sugary temptations. 
  • Instead, embrace water, herbal teas, or unsweetened concoctions. 
  • Alcohol and caffeine? Best in moderation. 
  • Stay vigilant about heightened side effects or effects.
meal with friends

Hidden Sugars: The Sweet Deception in Foods and Drinks

In today’s modern diet, hidden sugars lurk in the most unexpected places. Often, these covert sweeteners contribute to an excess of daily sugar intake, leading to various health concerns such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The World Health Organization recommends that sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day, which translates to roughly 50 grams (or 12 teaspoons) for an adult. Yet, most people unknowingly consume much more due to these concealed sources.

Sneaky Sugars in Foods

  1. Processed and Packaged Foods: Foods like sauces, dressings, and marinades can contain surprising amounts of sugar. For instance, a serving of ketchup can have as much sugar as a cookie. Canned foods, especially fruits packed in syrup, and even vegetables like baked beans, often contain added sugars.
  2. Bread: A slice of commercial white bread can contain up to a teaspoon of sugar. While it aids in the browning process and extends shelf life, it’s contributing to your daily sugar quota.
  3. Yogurts: While yogurt is often touted as a health food, flavored varieties can be laden with sugar. A small pot can sometimes contain more sugar than a candy bar.
  4. Granola and Cereals: Marketed as a healthy breakfast option, many granolas and breakfast cereals are deceptively sugar-heavy. From the obvious frosted varieties to those labeled “natural” or “for heart health,” many contain sugar in various forms, such as high fructose corn syrup, honey, or malt syrup.
  5. Protein Bars and Health Foods: Don’t let the term “protein” deceive you. Many protein bars, while protein-rich, also come packed with sugars for flavor.
  6. Nut Butters: Not all nut butters are created equal. Some commercially available peanut or almond butters have added sugars that can quickly stack up.
  7. Instant Oatmeal: While oats are naturally sugar-free, the flavored packets of instant oatmeal often have a lot of added sugars. It’s always better to start with plain oats and add your own toppings.

Beverages: Liquid Sugar Traps

  1. Sodas and Soft Drinks: This might seem obvious, but the amount of sugar in these beverages is still shocking to many. A single can of soda can contain up to 40 grams of sugar.
  2. Fruit Juices: Misconstrued as healthy, many fruit juices can have as much sugar as sodas. Even 100% fruit juices lack the fiber present in whole fruits, leading to rapid sugar absorption.
  3. Specialty Coffees: That daily caramel macchiato or flavored latte? It’s often laden with syrups and sweetened whipped creams, turning your morning pick-me-up into a sugar bomb.
  4. Sports and Energy Drinks: Marketed for stamina and rejuvenation, these drinks can have a significant sugar content. The energy might just be coming from a sugar rush.
  5. Alcoholic Drinks: Mixers in cocktails, like tonic water, cola, or even pre-made mixers, can contain large amounts of sugar. Additionally, sweet wines and some beers can also contribute to sugar intake.
  6. Iced Teas and Lemonades: Commercially available iced teas and lemonades might be refreshing, but they’re often heavily sweetened. Always check the label or, better yet, make your own at home.

Unmasking Hidden Sugars: What to Look For

When trying to avoid hidden sugars, it’s essential to become a diligent label reader. Sugar goes by many names, making it easier for manufacturers to incorporate it without the average consumer noticing. Some alternative names for sugar on ingredient lists include agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), maltose, fructose, lactose, and more.

Moreover, be wary of terms like “reduced sugar” or “light.” These might still contain sugar substitutes or other sweetening agents. Hidden sugars are ubiquitous in the modern food and beverage industry. By staying informed, reading labels, and making mindful choices, consumers can regain control over their sugar intake. Opt for whole foods, cook at home more often, and always be skeptical of health claims on packaged foods. Remember, it’s not about completely eliminating sugar but being aware of its covert presence and making balanced decisions.

couple eating on couch

Greasy and Fried Foods: Their Implications

Such indulgences, albeit delightful, can exacerbate some gastrointestinal side effects associated with semaglutide. Moreover, their calorie-laden nature can act as roadblocks in your weight loss journey.

  • Moderation is your ally.
  • Experiment with healthier cooking methods like air frying, offering the crunch minus the calories.
  • Pair such foods with fiber-rich vegetables, assisting digestion and enhancing satiety.

Psychological Considerations: The Allure of Food

Often, our plate becomes a canvas, echoing our emotions. The intricate relationship between food and feelings cannot be ignored.

  • Understanding Emotional Eating: Foods, especially those teeming with sugar, salt, or fat, induce the release of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter. It’s no wonder they become our refuge during emotional turbulence.
  • Challenges: While semaglutide might subdue physical hunger, it doesn’t douse emotional cravings. Addressing this facet is paramount.
  • Strategies: Delve into mindful eating. Listen to your body’s cues. Journaling can unravel patterns between emotional states and food choices. Seek alternative coping mechanisms—yoga, meditation, or even counseling.

Psychological Considerations: Using Food to Soothe

The intricate relationship between food and emotions is as old as human history itself. Comfort foods, so named for their ability to provide solace during turbulent times, have their roots in deep psychological processes. In the context of using semaglutide for weight management, understanding the psychological draw of food as an emotional balm becomes even more critical.

The Emotional Lure of Comfort Foods:

For many, certain foods evoke powerful memories and associations. The warm soup that reminds you of a grandmother’s care on a sick day or the chocolate cake associated with celebrations. These foods, and the emotions they elicit, aren’t just about the ingredients; they’re a culmination of experiences, memories, and psychological rewards.

Several factors underpin our tendency to seek solace in food:

  1. Biochemical Responses: Foods, particularly those rich in sugar, salt, or fat, can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine. This neurotransmitter is associated with the brain’s reward system, offering a sense of pleasure and relief.
  2. Learned Behaviors: Over time, if we consistently turn to food during moments of stress, sadness, or boredom, it establishes a pattern. The brain begins to recognize food as a quick-fix solution to these emotional states.
  3. Societal and Cultural Narratives: Many cultures use food as a centerpiece for gatherings, celebrations, or commiserations. Over time, we internalize these narratives, associating food with comfort, love, and belonging.

Challenges While on Semaglutide:

For those using semaglutide, the emotional tug-of-war with food becomes more nuanced:

  1. Reduced Appetite vs. Emotional Cravings: While the medication may reduce physical hunger, it doesn’t directly address emotional cravings. This disparity can cause confusion and frustration.
  2. Feeling Deprived: If an individual has always used food as a coping mechanism, the reduced appetite can feel like a loss, exacerbating feelings of deprivation.
  3. Navigating Social Situations: Social gatherings centered around food can pose challenges. The reduced appetite might lead to questions or concerns from peers, inadvertently adding social pressure.

Strategies to Navigate Emotional Eating:

  1. Mindful Eating: This practice emphasizes being present during meals. By savoring each bite, recognizing hunger and fullness cues, and being attuned to emotions, one can discern between physical hunger and emotional cravings.
  2. Emotion Tracking: Keeping an emotion and food diary can be enlightening. By documenting feelings and the foods consumed, patterns emerge. Recognizing these patterns is the first step to addressing them.
  3. Alternate Coping Mechanisms: Instead of turning to food, cultivate other means to handle emotions. This could be through activities like reading, painting, listening to music, practicing yoga, or even taking a short walk.
  4. Seek Support: Consider professional counseling or therapy. Mental health professionals can provide strategies to cope with emotions without resorting to food. Support groups, both offline and online, can also offer solace and understanding.
  5. Educate and Communicate: Inform close friends and family about the journey with semaglutide. Express concerns about emotional eating and enlist their support in creating an environment conducive to new habits.

Embracing a Holistic Approach:

As one navigates the path of weight management with semaglutide, it’s crucial to recognize the broader psychological landscape. Weight, food, and emotions are inextricably linked, and the journey isn’t merely about calories and physical hunger. It’s a deeply personal and psychological voyage. By acknowledging and addressing the emotional dimensions of eating, individuals can create a more balanced, sustainable, and enriching relationship with food. This holistic approach, which transcends the plate and delves into the psyche, holds the promise of lasting transformation.

Often, our plate becomes a canvas, echoing our emotions. The intricate relationship between food and feelings cannot be ignored.

  • Understanding Emotional Eating: Foods, especially those teeming with sugar, salt, or fat, induce the release of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter. It’s no wonder they become our refuge during emotional turbulence.
  • Challenges: While semaglutide might subdue physical hunger, it doesn’t douse emotional cravings. Addressing this facet is paramount.
  • Strategies: Delve into mindful eating. Listen to your body’s cues. Journaling can unravel patterns between emotional states and food choices. Seek alternative coping mechanisms—yoga, meditation, or even counseling.

Carbohydrates and Energy Dynamics

In some individuals, dwindling carbohydrate consumption can be synonymous with fatigue. Carbohydrates, after all, are the body’s primary energy currency.

  • Ensure you’re not skimping on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Strike a balance in your meals. Proteins, fats, and carbs, in harmony, ensure a gradual release of energy.
  • If fatigue persists, a nutritionist might provide the tailored guidance you seek.


Navigating the journey with semaglutide transcends merely popping the pill. It’s about harmonizing the medication with informed dietary choices, understanding one’s unique energy dynamics, and addressing the psychological dimensions of eating. Regular consultations with healthcare professionals can shed light on individual nuances, ensuring the journey is tailored to one’s unique blueprint. Remember, it’s not just about the weight loss numbers, but the broader spectrum of holistic health and well-being. Imbued with knowledge and determination, steer your ship towards your health aspirations with confidence. Click to learn more about the cost of semaglutide with BMI Doctors!

Research Citations

Here are some relevant research citations:

  1. Evert AB, Dennison M, Gardner CD, et al. Nutrition Therapy for Adults With Diabetes or Prediabetes: A Consensus Report. Diabetes Care. 2019;42(5):731-754. doi:10.2337/dci19-0014
  2. American Diabetes Association. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2022. Diabetes Care. 2022;45(Suppl 1):S100-S127. doi:10.2337/dc22-S009
  3. Franz MJ, MacLeod J, Evert A, et al. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition Practice Guideline for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in Adults: Systematic Review of Evidence for Medical Nutrition Therapy Effectiveness and Recommendations for Integration into the Nutrition Care Process. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017;117(10):1659-1679.e15. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2017.06.002
  4. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, Berard LD, Siemens R, Woo VC, et al. Nutrition Therapy. Can J Diabetes. 2018;42(Suppl 1):S64-S79. doi:10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.014
  5. Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM, et al; American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines; Obesity Society. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guideline for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2985-3023. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2013.11.004
  6. Sainsbury E, Kizirian NV, Partridge SR, Gill T, Colagiuri S, Gibson AA. Effect of dietary carbohydrate restriction on glycemic control in adults with diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2018;139:239-252. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2018.03.035
  7. Franz MJ, Boucher JL, Rutten-Ramos S, VanWormer JJ. Lifestyle weight-loss intervention outcomes in overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(9):1447-1463. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.031
  8. Huang PL. A comprehensive definition for metabolic syndrome. Dis Model Mech. 2009;2(5-6):231-237. doi:10.1242/dmm.001180
  9. American Heart Association. Mediterranean Diet. Published 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022.

These references provide information on nutrition therapy, dietary guidelines, and lifestyle interventions for individuals with diabetes and obesity, which may be relevant for individuals taking semaglutide. It’s important for individuals to consult with their healthcare providers or registered dietitians for personalized dietary recommendations based on their specific health conditions, medications, and nutritional needs.

Dr. Melissa VanSickle

Dr. Melissa VanSickle

Dr. Melissa Vansickle, MD is a family medicine specialist in Onsted, MI and has over 24 years of experience in the medical field. She graduated from University of Michigan Medical School in 1998. She is affiliated with medical facilities Henry Ford Allegiance Health and Promedica Charles And Virginia Hickman Hospital. Her subspecialties include General Family Medicine, Urgent Care, Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Rural Health.

Questions and Answers: What to eat when taking semaglutide

Focus on nutrient-dense whole foods like lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. These foods promote satiety and support overall health.

Lean protein is vital. Aim to fill about ¼ of your plate with lean proteins such as skinless chicken breast, white fish, lean meat, or plant-based proteins to help reduce blood sugar spikes and enhance satiety.

Incorporate complex carbohydrates like quinoa, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice. These are fiber-rich, digest slowly, and help in maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

Opt for snacks high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats like seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. These snacks are nutritious and help avoid overeating.

Hydration is crucial. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water daily, and avoid sugary beverages. Herbal teas and unsweetened drinks are good options.

Limit sugary foods, processed foods, and fried foods as they can cause spikes in blood sugar and are high in calories.

It’s best to avoid alcohol as it contributes to weight gain, dehydration, and can disrupt sleep, making weight loss challenging.

While Semaglutide might subdue physical hunger, it doesn’t directly address emotional cravings. Mindful eating, emotion tracking, and seeking alternative coping mechanisms like yoga or counseling can be helpful.

Women should aim for 1500-2000 calories per day, and men for 2000-2500 calories per day, personalized based on age, activity level, and metabolic health.

Ensure not to skimp on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as they are the body’s primary energy source. Maintain a balanced diet with proteins, fats, and carbs for a gradual release of energy.

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