The best diet to follow while using GLP-1 meds

Summer Kessel, RDN, LDN, CSO

We often get the question, “What is the best diet to be on while taking a GLP-1 medication?”  The answer, honestly, is it depends, and there really isn't one nutrition plan that is “the best” for everyone. 

Prioritize Eating Enough 

Our first nutrition priority is actually to make sure that you are eating enough. It is not a competition to eat the least amount of food possible —  you still need all of your essential nutrients because we care about your health, not just your weight. 

Manage Your Health First 

The best way of eating for you is the one that you can follow consistently while achieving your goals for weight loss and managing your chronic health conditions. For example, if you have hypertension, we recommend limiting your sodium. If you have diabetes, you likely need to monitor and control (but not eliminate!) carbohydrates. 

Nutrition Best Practices 

There are some best practices we consistently recommend to most of our members: 

  • Eating enough food from lean protein sources. Think about foods like chicken, fish, eggs, plant-based foods like tofu or edamame, and low-fat dairy foods like milk, protein drinks, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. Lean cuts of red meat and pork are good choices too, just a little less often! 
  • Include a variety of fiber-full plant foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and yes, even the starchy ones like beans, sweet potatoes, and corn! At least one serving at every meal and snack. 
  • Monitor your portion sizes of healthy fats —we love peanut butter, avocado, olive oil and nuts— but a serving (about 1oz) might be much smaller than we realize!
  • Drink enough fluids —and no, it doesn’t need to be just plain water. Zero calorie beverages of all varieties support adequate hydration!  (Here are some drink orders for Starbucks and Dunkin' that our RDN team loves.)

How your GLP-1 Medication Helps 

Your GLP-1 medication is going to help you with a lot of the most challenging things about “being on a diet,” like portion control and mindless snacking, which, at the end of the day, is what really matters when you’re trying to achieve the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss.

The science is clear, to achieve weight loss you must be in a calorie deficit, but how much? 

It depends! There is no universal calorie deficit to aim for to guarantee weight loss because every body is different! Many people are used to diet plans that are over-restrictive and unsustainable, and we certainly do not recommend this approach!  It's also important to avoid an extreme calorie deficit, which could impact muscle mass, energy levels, and lead to malnutrition over time. We find that for most of our members on a GLP-1 medication, the reduction in hunger and cravings creates an appropriate calorie deficit to promote slow and steady healthy weight loss. Sometimes achieving the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss is as simple as eating one less snack or sugar sweetened beverage.

To learn more, we recommend reading our article "What to Expect on a GLP-1 Medication".

Mindset Matters 

One of the coolest things about the way these GLP-1 medications work is that they eliminate a lot of the mental struggle, stress and overthinking that can come from our relationship with food. You no longer need to fixate on the complicated rules of those restrictive diets you’ve followed in the past. Now, you can just focus on consuming 3 balanced meals that include all the food groups and move on with your day.

Your diet should be affordable, enjoyable, sustainable, include your cultural foods and be realistic for your life.

So, your diet might look way different than somebody else on the exact same medication, and that's totally okay as long as it works for you. 

Work with a Registered Dietitian One-on-One

If you’re not quite sure if your chosen diet will work for you, a Registered Dietitian can help! When you’re a member of Sequence you have unlimited access to 1:1 sessions with a RDN to support your goals. See if you qualify.

Already a member? Just ask your Care Coordinator in the chat to send you information on booking a session with the Nutrition team! 

Summer Kessel, RDN, LDN, CSO

About the Author

Summer Kessel, RD, LDN, CSO is a registered dietitian nutritionist and mom of two who comes to Sequence as a member and 8+ years of experience in clinical and bariatric nutrition in Tampa, Florida. She is a champion for individualized, sustainable, realistic and evidence based nutrition and fitness interventions that improve quality of life. In addition to her professional skills, Summer has lost and maintained more than 140 lbs —of course, not without challenges— over the past 14 years, sharing her personal journey along the way to encourage and support others.

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