Eating for Success: Meal Planning and Recipe Tips for GLP-1 Users

By eMed on 4 min read
Eating for Success: Meal Planning and Recipe Tips for GLP-1 Users

Beginning a supervised program of GLP-1 medications is a big step in any weight-loss journey. 

While most patients who start eMed’s weight management program see significant results, it’s important to remember that GLP-1 medications aren’t a quick fix for weight management. Maintaining a balanced diet is essential to achieve weight-loss goals while staying healthy. A balanced diet will also improve your chances of keeping off the weight once your treatment ends.  

Let’s start with the basics. 

Cutting your calories

First things first! You may think that the amount of weight lost can come down to a simple equation: fewer calories in than out. Although there is some truth to this, weight management requires a biological change that is much more than calories. This is because obesity has been linked to more than just caloric intake and output — genetics and biology also play a role in how we gain, store, and burn fat.

GLP-1 medications address this by working on many pathways in our bodies, such as signaling to your brain that you’re full so you eat less, regulating your blood sugar, preventing excess sugar from turning into fat, and triggering insulin release from your pancreas. 

While GLP-1 agonists do create a caloric deficit, it’s important to be mindful of the kinds of calories you’re consuming. Ensure you’re still getting the nutrients you need by spending your calories on healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich lean meats.   

Balancing macronutrients

A balanced diet consists of healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Your body needs carbs for energy, protein for muscle repair, and fats for nutrient absorption. Aim for healthy fats like avocado, nuts, chia seeds, and olives. 

The same goes for proteins: lean meats like chicken and turkey are lower in saturated fats and cholesterol, offering a healthier alternative to processed meats. 
When it comes to carbs, opt for whole grains, fruit, beans, and minimally processed vegetables. When possible, stick to whole foods. 

Train yourself to rethink portions.

GLP-1 medications curb your appetite and make you feel full faster. It’s one of the reasons why they’re so effective for weight loss. However, portion control is crucial for keeping that weight off.

Get used to eating smaller portions by serving on smaller plates and measuring meals beforehand. Building good portion-control habits early on while taking the medication will make it easier to stick to them throughout your journey. 

Find a diet that’s right for you.

Several diets you can follow will complement your GLP-1 weight-loss journey. One of the most popular is the Mediterranean diet. This eating pattern focuses on lean proteins, whole foods, healthy fats, and abundant fruits and veggies. 

In addition to aiding weight loss and weight management, the Mediterranean diet leads to better heart health and a lower risk of chronic diseases. 

The Mediterranean Diet in a Nutshell
  • Whole grains (like whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals)
  • At least five servings of fruits and veggies daily
  • Lean proteins like fish, nuts, and chicken (while limiting red meat)
  • Healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados
  • Moderate consumption of dairy with a focus on low-fat options

Another popular option is the Flexitarian diet.

It emphasizes plant-based foods as your primary energy source while allowing you to indulge in meat and animal products on occasion. Flexitarian diets have led to weight loss, lower risk of chronic diseases, and improved heart health.  

The Flexitarian Diet in a Nutshell
  • Plant-based proteins like beans, tofu, tempeh, and lentils with most meals
  • Fruits and vegetables with every meal
  • Healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts
  • Whole grains (like whole-grain bread, oats, and quinoa)
  • Minimal consumption of meat and animal products (these are occasional indulgences)

These are just two diets that encourage healthy weight management and overall well-being. Consider speaking to a nutritionist about your specific goals and medical history to identify a diet that works for you or to adjust either of these diets based on your body and needs. 

Become a master meal planner.

Planning ahead can help set us up for success—especially when it comes to weight management. Outlining your daily meals ahead of time can help us continue to make healthy choices and control our portions. Here’s how you can get started. 
  1. Research some simple recipes for healthy meals and snacks, or write down your favorite balanced dishes. For example, a single serving of oatmeal sprinkled with fruit or two hard-boiled eggs on a slice of whole-grain toast for breakfast. 
  2. Plan for at least seven days’ worth of food. Once you have a list of dishes or recipes, select one for each meal of the day, plus a few nutritious snacks (like a serving of nuts, fresh fruit, or whole-grain crackers). 
  3. Stock up on groceries you need and cook ahead whatever you can, like meats, rice, or vegetables—anything that will hold up well in the fridge. That way, your meals will require minimal prep time when you’re ready to eat. They’re also easier to pack and bring along to work. 

There are lots of fitness and health apps out there that can also help you stay on top of your meal-planning and exercise goals. Some popular options include:

These tips and tricks will supplement your weight-loss and weight-management journey beyond your GLP-1 treatment. If you experience side effects from your treatment, speak to your healthcare provider. And make sure to inform them before making any drastic changes to your diet or daily lifestyle. 

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before taking any new medication or starting a new dietary plan. 

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