Ozempic and Intermittent Fasting: A Good or Bad Combination?
Are you taking Ozempic® and trying to decide the best diet to go along with? Maybe you have been hearing more about intermittent fasting and are curious if it might be a good fit.
This blog post will provide an overview of Ozempic with intermittent fasting and explore how combining these two methods can work for you.
How Ozempic Works
First, let’s discuss Ozempic and how it can help your health.
Ozempic is a medication known as a GLP-1 receptor agonist that is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It works by increasing the production of insulin and slowing down the absorption of sugar in your body. This results in better blood sugar control.
A welcomed side effect of this medication is weight loss, which has led to the development of Wegovy®, a version of this drug designed to treat overweight and obesity.
The active ingredient in Ozempic helps to regulate hunger and appetite hormones, leading to reduced calorie intake and weight loss.
This medication also slows down the rate at which food passes through your stomach. So you will feel full for longer, which can make intermittent fasting easier.
While on Ozempic, you will feel less hungry and get full faster. This will make it easier to leave more time between your meals, as you will not feel hungry.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (also known as IF) is an eating pattern that involves alternating between periods of eating and not eating (fasting).
During the fasting periods, you refrain from eating food for a specific time period.
This type of diet has become increasingly popular because of its potential health benefits, such as weight loss and improved blood sugar control.
Research suggests that intermittent fasting is linked to improved insulin sensitivity, which can help reduce your risk of diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
Sounds great, right? But here’s the catch: there are different types of IF.
Types of IF
- Time-Restricted Eating – This type of intermittent fasting involves consuming all your food within a specific window of time—usually 8 hours. This means that you will only eat within an 8-hour period and fast for the remaining 16 hours.
- Alternate-Day Fasting – This method alternates between days of regular eating and fasting days during which you consume very few calories.
- 5:2 Diet – This is similar to alternate-day fasting, but instead of fasting every other day, you fast two days out of the week by eating a reduced-calorie diet on those days. During the 2-day fast, people usually eat around 500-600 calories.
- The Warrior Diet – This is a diet on which you eat only raw fruit and vegetables for 20 hours a day. You can then have one substantial meal during the remaining 4-hour window.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has many potential benefits, many of which are linked to the body’s metabolic processes. Here are some key benefits of adopting an IF lifestyle:
- Weight loss: Intermittent fasting can aid in weight loss because you eat fewer meals or less at your meals. Unless you compensate by eating much more during the eating periods, you will likely consume fewer calories.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: Studies show that intermittent fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Enhanced heart health: Intermittent fasting may improve heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, known contributors to heart disease.
- Reduced inflammation: Research suggests that intermittent fasting helps reduce inflammation in the body, which can further promote weight loss.
- Brain health: IF can improve key metabolic features that positively impact brain health. These include inflammation, oxidative stress, blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance.
IF Side Effects
There are two main concerns with intermittent fasting that we will explore in this blog.
Headaches and Lethargy
Intermittent fasting can lead to initial side effects, such as headaches, lethargy, and irritability. This is typically a result of a drop in blood sugar levels during fasting and goes away after a few weeks.
May Cause Hypoglycemia in People Taking Medication to Lower Blood Sugar
The body’s blood sugar levels may drop too low during fasting periods. This can be a concern for people with diabetes or prediabetes who are taking medication to lower blood sugar.
Therefore, if you are diabetic and want to try intermittent fasting, it’s best to consult your doctor beforehand and monitor your blood sugar regularly. Your physician might adjust the type or timing of your medication to match your eating habits. Alternatively, they might recommend an alternative eating style.
Now that we reviewed both Ozempic and intermittent fasting, let’s discuss how they work together.
Concerns About Mixing IF and Ozempic
You should keep a few things in mind if you plan to follow IF while using Ozempic.
You Might Not Be Able to Eat Enough During Eating Window
First, Ozempic will reduce your hunger and appetite levels and make you feel full for longer.
As a result, it might be less likely that you will eat enough during the eating periods.
Of course, this depends on the type of intermittent fasting you are following.
You Might Develop Hypoglycemia
Second, if you are diabetic and taking additional medication to lower your blood sugar, you are at a higher risk of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If it does fall too low, it can cause serious health problems.
Therefore, if you do decide to try intermittent fasting while using Ozempic, it’s important to consult your doctor beforehand and monitor your blood sugar regularly.
Headaches, Lethargy, Irritability
A side effect of intermittent fasting is headaches, lethargy, and crankiness. This can be caused in part by you not eating enough.
A small number of people on Ozempic report headaches and tiredness. This is probably the result of needing to eat more.
Intermittent Fasting and Ozempic: A Good Combination?
The answer lies in the details. Intermittent fasting can be a good way to optimize weight loss while on Ozempic.
However, If you decide to mix intermittent fasting with Ozempic, consider the following:
- Consult your doctor. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting an intermittent fasting regimen, especially if you’re on medication such as Ozempic or have any underlying health conditions. If you’re on an additional medication to lower your blood glucose, your doctor might need to adjust your dose. Or they may recommend an alternative eating style.
- Choose either the 16:8 or 15:9 IF method. This will give you a consistent food intake and sufficient hours to eat enough. With the 16:8 method, you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. With the 15:9 method, you fast for 15 hours and eat for 9.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels. If you’re diabetic, it’s crucial to monitor your blood glucose regularly to prevent hypoglycemia.
- Stay hydrated. During fasting windows, ensure you drink enough water to stay hydrated and aid digestion.
- Eat balanced meals. When it’s time to break your fast, choose balanced meals containing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
- Listen to your body. If you feel unwell, excessively tired, or irritable, reconsider your fasting schedule or seek medical advice.
- Exercise in moderation. Exercise is beneficial, but avoid strenuous workouts during fasting periods to prevent excessive fatigue and potential health risks.
- Adequate rest. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect hunger levels and potentially disrupt the benefits of intermittent fasting.
My Expert Opinion
Many find that Ozempic makes it very easy to follow intermittent fasting. This is because it reduces hunger and helps regulate blood sugar levels while you fast.
However, IF should still be approached with caution if you’re taking a medication like Ozempic. My advice would be to consult your healthcare provider before starting an intermittent fasting regimen.
Moreover, you should choose a type of intermittent fasting that supports proper nutrition.
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Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.