Are you currently taking or thinking about starting a weight loss injection such as Ozempic? From what we’ve learned from our clients who are prescribed Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, it helps quiet the food noise and reduces mindless eating. But as we all know (er, should know), weight loss does not equate to health or feeling better. Maintaining a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle is a non-negotiable while taking Ozempic and working with a Registered Dietitian at Nutrition Awareness can help. Here are 5 reasons why you need to see a dietitian while taking a weight loss injection.
We dive even deeper on Episode 147 of The Nutrition Awareness Podcast: Is Ozempic the “easy way out”. Download and subscribe for more info!
Reason #1: Prevent muscle loss.
While taking an appetite suppressant like Ozempic, it’s easy to simply not eat. And if you’re not eating, you’re likely missing out on protein (amino acids) that builds and maintains muscle. The number of clients I’ve seen on Ozempic who are eating 50% or less of their protein needs is concerning. Even if they’re losing weight, we both notice a good chunk of it is coming from muscle.
This is bad news bears for several reasons:
- Low muscle mass is associate with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (1), especially as we age
- Like to work out? Watch out- poor muscle tone puts you at a higher risk for injuries and fractures.
- Healthy muscles means the ability to function freely. Think walking your dog, picking up your kids or grandkids, doing yard work…
- Aesthetic wise, muscle makes you look good. A strong core improves your posture while toned arms and legs make you feel confident in summer clothes.
Not to mention, the rate at which we put on muscle decreases by 3-5% as soon as age 30. This means we need to preserve every ounce of muscle we have as we age!
Dietitians are trained to help you not only identify how much protein to eat per day, but how to do it in a realistic way. Whether you’re vegan, an on-the-go parent, or a busy executive with an aversion to food, our RDs will build you a plan.
Reason #2: Reduce risk of weight regain.
As with many extreme approaches to weight loss, the chance of regaining weight after transitioning off Ozempic is high. In fact, a 2022 study found that upon stopping the injection of semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic), participants had regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost in just one year! (2)
Yikes! But to be honest, I’m not surprised. Semaglutide is simply an appetite suppressant, which makes it easy for users to eat a very low calorie diet (think no more than 1200 calories per day- that’s less than I’d feed my toddler!).
Since our biology does not want us to lose weight, our metabolism will slow down to match the low calorie intake so that our bodies don’t shrivel away into nothing. As soon as the user stops taking the drug, their hunger signals will return to normal… but their metabolism won’t!
Slow metabolism + normal appetite + no healthy habits = weight regain!
A dietitian will ensure you’re eating enough calories to lose weight at a healthy rate so your risk of weight rebound decreases. We’ll also make sure you’re learning how to eat a healthy diet so your results stick after taking the med. This includes…
- Meal planning and prepping
- How to eat enough protein, fiber, and nutritious foods
- Strategies for portion control and feeling full on less
More on the science of metabolic adaptation and weight rebound on Episode 147 of The Nutrition Awareness Podcast: Is Ozempic the “easy way out”!
Reason #3: Increase your chance of success!
Taking medication doesn’t make it a “magic pill.” I’ve had clients who eat too little on Ozempic but as soon as they increase their intake to a healthy level, they see and feel physical shifts.
Plus, if you’re going to spend money on an anti-obesity medicine, don’t you also want to see improvements in your overall wellness and health? Rapid weight loss does not equate to health. In fact, it can cause…
- Drops in energy or vigor for life
- Risk for injury during exercise
- Poor relationship to food and body (especially if you have a history of an eating disorder)
- Decrease in hair, skin and nail health
- Nutrient deficiencies
Time spent meeting with a dietitian can help you feel good while losing weight while also learning healthy practices to prevent chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Reason 4: Improve (not harm) your relationship to food and body
Undoubtedly, taking a weight loss drug is going to bring a lot of attention to your shape and size. These changes can quickly become obsessive, leading to a toxic relationship between you and your body. For anyone who has struggled with disordered behaviors around food and weight, you must work with someone who can support you during this journey.
I have a client (we’ll call her Gigi) with a history of disordered eating who had unrealistic expectations for her weight loss journey. Instead of being pleased with the 4 lbs she lost in the first month, she felt defeated it wasn’t more. Gigi became hyper fixated on her weight before and after workout and meal. Newsflash- that is not normal.
All Gigi could think about was her weight, how she looked in her clothes, and how many calories she was eating per day. Her obsession with weight loss caused a strain in her relationships and kept her from being present with family.
Our meetings were helpful because Gigi was able to express her feelings, and I could help her make progress without slipping back into an eating disorder. Rather than focusing only on the scale, we prioritized healthy eating habits and behaviors rather than just the scale.
Reason #5: Provides you with tools to manage side effects like diarrhea, dehydration, and digestive issues
Need we say more? Weight loss meds are notorious for having side effects that rock your gut including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (3). While nutrition isn’t a cure all for these symptoms, your registered dietitian will help you ensure you’re still getting adequate electrolytes, hydration, protein, and micronutrients.
At the end of the day, working with a nutrition expert offers you something no medication could: personalized nutrition recommendations.
- Dr. Peter Attia https://peterattiamd.com/ama27/
- Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: The STEP 1 trial extension: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35441470/
- Ozempic.com https://www.ozempic.com/how-to-take/side-effects.html
About the author: Kait Richardson, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian in Orlando, FL who helps yo-yo dieters break the “all-or-nothing” mindset, find balance with food, and lose weight without restricting. She does group speaking events and is the co-host of the Nutrition Awareness Podcast.
If you need help losing weight, improving your performance, or increasing your energy, schedule your initial consultation here. Not in Orlando but still need nutrition help? We also do online or over the phone consultations.