Blog/The Best Diets While Taking GLP-1 for Weight Loss
Jennie Sanford, MD | 5/14/2024 | 4 min read

The Best Diets While Taking GLP-1 for Weight Loss

How diet impacts weight loss while taking GLP-1 medication

picture of foods that represent the mediterranean diet

If you are looking to maximize your weight loss success while taking a GLP-1 injection (like semaglutide), you might consider pairing it with the right diet for long-term success. GLP-1 injections can promote monumental weight loss success, but they work best when they are combined with strategic diet changes. To help you get the most out of your weight loss journey, we will outline different diet strategies for weight loss and how they work in combination with GLP-1 receptor agonist treatment.

What is semaglutide?

Semaglutide, which is known by the brand names of Ozempic® and Wegovy®, is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that demonstrates significant success with weight loss. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists work by increasing the effects of a GLP-1, a neuroendocrine hormone that is made in the intestines in response to food intake.

GLP-1 promotes weight loss and helps lower blood glucose by directing it to organs and tissues to be used for energy. GLP-1 also slows gastric emptying, promotes fullness, decreases appetite and leads to a reduced calorie intake overall.

The importance of diet

While GLP-1 injections can be a powerful tool for weight loss, they should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet, regular physical activity and other lifestyle modifications for the best results. Following specific diet recommendations can further enhance the effects of GLP-1, which leads to more substantial and sustainable weight loss over time.

Best diets while taking semaglutide

Low carbohydrate diet

A low-carbohydrate diet limits total carbohydrate intake to less than 40% of calories, and it usually includes 25-30% of calories from protein and 30-40% of calories from fat. The ketogenic diet is a more extreme version of a low-carbohydrate diet, limiting carbohydrates to 5-10% of total calorie intake. 

Studies show that low-carbohydrate diets can lead to faster weight loss in the first few months, but in comparison to balanced-carbohydrate diets, the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets at achieving and maintaining weight loss at 6 months to one year and beyond is unclear. 

Yet, low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, especially in patients who are overweight or obese. By reducing carbohydrate intake, patients are better able to control blood sugar levels, thus improving insulin sensitivity. 

High protein diet

A high-protein diet includes 30-40% of calories from protein. If your calorie goal is 1500 calories per day, a high-protein diet would include 113-150 grams of protein. Or, if you eat 2000 calories per day, this would equal 150-200 grams of protein per day. 

Following a high-protein diet requires eating protein-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, and legumes. Evidence suggests high-protein diets not only lead to weight loss but also improve body composition by maintaining lean body mass. 

Protein helps boost metabolism in two main ways:

  • It requires a higher amount of energy to metabolize it (called the thermic effect of food), and it helps maintain muscle mass, which is more metabolically active at rest. 

  • Protein increases fullness, helps reduce calorie intake, and promotes weight loss, making it an ideal complement to GLP-1 injections.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole, real foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fish and seafood, and olive oil. Contrastingly, it minimizes processed foods, added sugars and red meat. Modeled after the eating patterns of people in the Mediterranean region, it is a well-studied, heart-healthy diet, with many known health benefits, including weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity. 

Following a Mediterranean eating pattern has been shown to increase levels of GLP-1 and oxyntomodulin, both of which help reduce appetite and promote weight loss. This makes the Mediterranean diet a good choice for weight loss while taking GLP-1 injections. In order for the Mediterranean diet to produce substantial weight loss, controlling calorie intake is still important.

Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding

Intermittent fasting (IF) involves consuming a low calorie intake (usually less than 50%) on 2 or 3 days per week, while time-restricted feeding (TRF) involves eating within a specified time window and fasting in between (usually fasting for at least 12 hours at a time).

For example, within IF, you would consume a moderate number of calories (usually 1500-2000, based on a number of factors) on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you would eat 700-1000 calories per day.

As an example of TRF, you would consume all of your calories between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM, fasting for 16 hours in between.

Fasting has been shown to control insulin release, improve metabolism and modulate levels of other weight-loss promoting neuroendocrine hormones, such as GLP-1, oxyntomodulin, peptide YY and others. While the evidence for weight loss with IF and TRF is mixed, many studies demonstrate successful weight loss at 1 year with intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding strategies.

Choose the right diet for you

In order to lose weight and maintain weight loss long-term, it is important to select a diet that is sustainable for your lifestyle. If most of your favorite foods are high-carbohydrate foods that you don’t want to minimize long-term, a low-carbohydrate plan may not be right for you.

If you wake up hungry or have trouble going without food for many hours, intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding are likely not sustainable options long-term. While some lifestyle changes are inevitable with any diet, set yourself up for success by choosing a plan that you can stick to long-term.

Sustainable weight loss requires holistic change

GLP-1 injections can offer incredible weight loss results, but they work best when combined with dedicated diet and lifestyle changes. This may also include seeking mental health treatment as part of your program. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable healthcare professional who can provide guidance and build your unique treatment plan.

Remember, everyone is different, and different bodies respond differently to various diets based on other health problems, individual hormone levels, genetics, medications and other factors. As you progress in your weight loss journey, remember to track your progress and make adjustments to your diet as needed to promote long-term weight loss.

Agile can help you meet your long-term weight loss goals

Before embarking on your medical weight loss journey, we’d love for you to meet with one of our certified healthcare providers. We offer rapid treatment for your weight loss concerns with nationwide provider availability. Simply fill out a brief, 5-minute health survey and schedule some time to meet your clinician virtually. They will review your information, confirm eligibility and create a personalized weight loss plan that includes nutritional recommendations. 

Agile’s monthly weight loss subscription includes the cost of visits, labs and semaglutide medication shipped directly to you for just $349 per month! No hidden fees and no insurance needed. Unlike our competitors, we include the cost of medication into our monthly subscription—$349 is what you’ll pay every month.

If you’re ready to take the first step towards achieving your weight loss goals, schedule your appointment today!