GLP-1 meds mimic your body’s own hormones—the ones that tell you that you’re feeling full and slow down your digestion. When you are on a GLP-1 medication, you’ll likely feel less hungry and fill up more quickly. Getting used to this sensation might take time. You may find that you need to adjust how you feed yourself. Here are some ideas on how to deal with a smaller appetite—and get the nutrition you need—while on GLP-1 meds.
Because you’ll likely be eating less food on a GLP-1, it’s extra important to make the meals you eat count. Focus on the nutrients your body needs by following the Balanced Plate model. A balanced plate has 50% non-starchy veggies, 25% lean proteins and 25% carbs. It is especially important to focus on your protein consumption because it will help you maintain your muscle mass as you lose weight. Here’s an article about how to get more protein while taking GLP-1s.
Examples of these categories
It’s easiest to explain the Balanced Plate model with a meal that’s made up of these individual foods. To transform a typical “meat and potatoes” meal, you’d serve a smaller portion of meat, a smaller portion of potatoes and a big helping of non-starchy veggies, such as broccoli or green beans.
But mixed dishes also work with the Balanced Plate model. For instance, you can pair turkey tacos (lean protein: ground turkey, carb: taco shell) with a green salad. Or you can make a one-dish meal that fits this model. One example is a hearty soup or stew that’s loaded with non-starchy veggies and has some lean protein (tofu, chicken sausage) and starch (brown rice, potatoes).
Plan and prep
Adjusting to a smaller appetite might take time. You might find you need to meal plan and prep differently.
A good rule of thumb is to plan for leftovers. You may find that you’re hungry for less than you were before. You can plan to eat leftovers for lunch the next day. Or work leftover ingredients into a meal later in the week.
Meal prepping lean proteins, healthy carbs and non-starchy veggies can make it easy to assemble meals throughout the week. You might hard-boil eggs, make a pot of quinoa, or cut up and store veggies for quick and easy snacks.
When ordering at a restaurant, you might find that a starter or two is enough to satisfy you. Or if a main dish is more appealing, you can box up the leftovers to eat the next day.
Many people on GLP-1s report changes in how certain foods make them feel. You may find that higher-fat foods, such as burgers and fries, make you feel uncomfortable. Notice these changes in how food feels in your body. You can use that information to shift how you choose and prepare food.
You may also try eating more slowly, since it can take several minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach. Check in with your body midway through your meal: Are you starting to feel full? Slowing down may help you avoid the discomfort that some people experience on GLP-1s.
Check in with your healthcare team
If you find that your appetite changes so drastically that you’re having a hard time eating enough food to nourish your body, talk to your doctor. Even though your appetite is smaller, you should still strive to eat three meals per day with healthy snacks in between. It’s important to get the daily nutrition you need. Dosages can be adjusted to minimize side effects and maximize weight loss. Your doctor might also suggest that you meet with a registered dietitian to help with meal planning. Remember, as you go on this journey, you’re not alone. Feel free to reach out to your coach or care team to ask questions.