Ozempic Foods to Avoid: Reducing Side Effects

Find out what’s safe to eat on Ozempic and what foods to avoid to lower your risk of side effects with this comprehensive guide from Mochi Health.

Table of Contents
  • How does Ozempic Work?
  • What are the side effects of Ozempic?
  • Why Food Choices Matter on Ozempic
  • Foods to Avoid on Ozempic
  • Food to Include While on Ozempic
  • More on Ozempic and Weight Loss

Ozempic, a medication initially approved for Type 2 Diabetes, is rising in popularity as a treatment for obesity. Its active ingredient is semaglutide, which is FDA-approved for treating obesity under the brand name medication Wegovy.

Semaglutide is highly effective in promoting weight loss by slowing the emptying of food from the stomach into the intestines, a process known as gastric emptying. It regulates blood sugar and appetite, making food choices highly important for patients on the treatment.

(Andraos, 2023)

Patients on GLP-1 medications can optimize their results and support their long-term health with a nutritious, balanced diet and regular exercise. They also will likely need to manage common side effects that result from slower gastric emptying, such as nausea and constipation.

Here’s a breakdown of top Ozempic foods to avoid to relieve side effects and how to optimize your diet while on the medication.

How does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic, also known as Semaglutide, is a GLP-1 agonist, which binds to GLP-1 receptors scattered throughout the body. These receptors are found in organs like the stomach, pancreas, and even the brain. Your body naturally produces a short-acting form of GLP-1 when you feel full, which decreases your appetite and sends signals to tell you to stop eating. Medications like Ozempic are synthetic GLP-1 which are long-acting, and promote that feeling of fullness for a longer period of time. By attaching to these receptors, Ozempic triggers several beneficial effects:

Enhanced insulin release
Ozempic helps stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas. This is crucial for individuals with diabetes, obesity, or metabolic syndrome as it assists in bringing blood sugar levels back down after eating without causing blood sugar to drop too low.

Reduced insulin resistance
By promoting better insulin action, Ozempic works to reduce insulin resistance. This means cells become more responsive to insulin, which promotes better blood sugar regulation. This is key in preventing and treating diabetes.

Controls digestion
Ozempic slows down the process of moving food out of the stomach. This helps extend the sensation of fullness after eating and contributes to better blood sugar control and weight loss.

Appetite suppression
By influencing certain areas of the brain, Ozempic helps to suppress appetite. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals looking to manage their weight.

What are the side effects of Ozempic?

Commonly experienced side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. While they are usually mild, they can be bothersome. Most side effects will peak 8-72 hours after your injection, so it is recommended to take your injection on a Friday (2). Fortunately, there are natural remedies to ease these symptoms, such as eating smaller meals throughout the day (3). Since GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic slow down food digestion, smaller portions can help prevent discomfort. Additionally, smelling strong scents like alcohol pads or freshly cut lemon can help alleviate nausea (4, 5) . If these strategies don’t work, prescription medications like Zofran may offer relief.

Pancreatitis, characterized by severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever, is a potential concern with Ozempic. Although there are reports linking GLP-1 agonists to pancreatitis, research is ongoing to determine if there’s a direct cause. It’s important to note that certain factors like type 2 diabetes, obesity and alcohol consumption, and smoking can increase the risk of pancreatitis (6).

Despite potential side effects, it’s essential to weigh the risks against the benefits of treating conditions like diabetes and obesity. Discussing these factors with your healthcare provider is crucial, considering your specific health goals and circumstances.

Below are the top clinical recommendations if you are looking for other strategies to manage side effects:

(Gorgojo-Martínez, 2022)

Why Food Choices Matter on Ozempic

Incorporating Ozempic into your weight loss journey can be a game-changer, but it’s essential to understand that these medications aren’t standalone solutions. Instead, Ozempic works best when it’s part of a comprehensive plan that includes nutritious foods, regular exercise, and other healthy habits, particularly regarding food choices. Think of Ozempic as a supportive ally in your quest for a healthier weight, but remember that your responsibility lies in making mindful decisions about what you eat. By choosing healthier foods, you’re not only enhancing the effectiveness of Ozempic but also laying the foundation for long-term success.

Foods to Avoid on Ozempic

Foods High in Saturated Fat

While our bodies need fats for vital functions, not all fats are beneficial when on Ozempic. It’s crucial to avoid foods high in trans and saturated fats as they can adversely affect your health. These fats are notorious for raising LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering HDL (good cholesterol), which can contribute to weight gain, hinder weight loss efforts, and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Here’s what to avoid:

  1. Fried food and fast food
  2. Fatty cuts of meat such as pork belly
  3. Processed meat such as sausage and bacon
  4. Butter, lard, ghee, and pastry products containing these ingredients
  5. Full-fat dairy products such as heavy cream, ranch dressing, etc. 
  6. Highly processed snacks such as potato chips and packaged cookies

Foods High in Sugar or Simple Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, commonly known as carbs, are a vital energy source for our bodies, alongside protein and fats. While carbs exist in different forms, including simple sugars and complex starches, it’s important to be mindful of what types of carbohydrates you choose, especially when on Ozempic. Simple carbs found in processed foods can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, making it challenging to manage with Ozempic, a medication designed to regulate blood sugar. Excessive consumption of simple carbs can also contribute to weight gain or worsen insulin resistance. Instead choose fiber-rich whole grains and starchy vegetables such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and oats.

Here’s what to avoid:
1. Sugary beverages: Gatorade, soda, fruit juices.
2. Candy: hard candy, gummy candies, chocolate bars.
3. Pastries and desserts: cake, cookies, doughnuts, pie.
4. Processed snacks: chips, crackers, pretzels.
5. Sweetened cereals: Fruit Loops, Captain Crunch, etc.
6. White bread and pasta: lacking fiber, causing quick blood sugar spikes.
7. Sugary condiments: ketchup, ranch, sweet chili sauce.
8. Sweetened yogurts, ice cream.

Eliminating or Reducing Consumption of Alcohol

While alcohol is widely accepted in moderation, it’s linked with significant health consequences. When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to recognize that alcohol is a sneaky source of empty (non-nutritious) calories that may hinder progress. For instance, a 12 oz beer packs around 153 calories, while a glass of red or white wine typically contains 121-165 calories (7).

But it’s not just about calories. Recent research, presented at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting, highlights the dangers of heavy drinking or binge drinking. These behaviors have been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease (8).

Food to Include While on Ozempic

Lean proteins: Foods like chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, and legumes are rich in protein, which helps promote satiety and stabilize blood sugar levels. Protein also provides essential nutrients for muscle repair and maintenance, supporting overall health (9).

Non-starchy vegetables: Leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers are low in calories and carbohydrates while rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They add volume to meals without significantly impacting blood sugar levels, making them an excellent choice for those on Ozempic.

Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and oats are complex carbs that are digested more slowly, leading to gradual increases in blood sugar levels. They also provide fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes feelings of fullness.

Healthy fats: Avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil contain heart-healthy fats that help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Including these fats in your diet can also enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

Low-sugar fruits: Berries, apples, and citrus fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while being lower in sugar than other fruits. They provide a sweet taste without causing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, making them a suitable choice for those managing diabetes or obesity with Ozempic.

More on Ozempic and Weight Loss

If you want to learn more about GLP-1 medications or see if you might be eligible for medication-assisted weight loss, our team of medical professionals and obesity medicine experts is here to help.

Mochi Health is a comprehensive obesity medicine practice that offers 1-on-1 provider support from licensed physicians, 24/7 customer support, direct provider messaging, and medication delivery to your door. 

Learn more and see if you’re eligible for our weight loss program today.


  1. Andraos, J., Muhar, H. & Smith, S.R. Beyond glycemia: Comparing tirzepatide to GLP-1 analogues. Rev Endocr Metab Disord 24, 1089–1101 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-023-09825-1 
  2. Wilding JPH, Batterham RL, Calanna S, Davies M, Van Gaal LF, Lingvay I, et al. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2021 Mar 18;384(11):989–1002.  
  3. Gorgojo-Martínez, J. J., Mezquita-Raya, P., Carretero-Gómez, J., Castro, A., Cebrián-Cuenca, A., de Torres-Sánchez, A., García-de-Lucas, M. D., Núñez, J., Obaya, J. C., Soler, M. J., Górriz, J. L., & Rubio-Herrera, M. Á. (2022). Clinical recommendations to manage gastrointestinal adverse events in patients treated with GLP-1 receptor agonists: A multidisciplinary expert consensus. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 12(1), 145. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm12010145 
  4. Lindblad, A. J., Ting, R., & Harris, K. (2018). Inhaled isopropyl alcohol for nausea and vomiting in the emergency department. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 64(8), 580.
  5. Yavari Kia, P., Safajou, F., Shahnazi, M., & Nazemiyeh, H. (2014). The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Iranian Red Crescent medical journal, 16(3), e14360. https://doi.org/10.5812/ircmj.14360
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.-b). Calorie count - alcoholic beverages: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000886.htm 
  7. Alcohol raises heart disease risk, particularly among women. American College of Cardiology. (2024, March 28). https://www.acc.org/About-ACC/Press-Releases/2024/03/28/11/58/alcohol-raises-heart-disease-risk-particularly-among-women#:~:text=Young%20to%20middle%2Daged%20women,of%20Cardiology’s%20Annual%20Scientific%20Session. 
  8. Sodhi, M., Rezaeianzadeh, R., Kezouh, A., & Etminan, M. (2023). Risk of Gastrointestinal Adverse Events Associated With Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists for Weight Loss. JAMA : The Journal of the American Medical Association, 330(18), 1795–1797. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2023.19574Moon, J., & Koh, G. (2020). Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, 29(3), 166–173. https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20028https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/age-glp-1-agonists-food-choices-still-matter-health

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