Charlotte Fisher, RD, on Nutrition during GLP-1 Medication Use

March is National Nutrition Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating habits. As part of our commitment to promoting health and wellness, we sat down with Nutrition and Fitness Adviser Charlotte Fisher, RD, from OnePeak Medical, to discuss the role of nutrition while using Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) medications.

Introducing Charlotte Fisher, RD:

Charlotte Fisher is a registered dietitian at OnePeak Medical, where she dedicates herself to providing comprehensive and personalized nutrition counseling. Her mission is to forge enduring relationships with her patients, guiding them toward achieving their health goals through a collaborative approach through holistic strategies.

Understanding GLP-1 Medications:

GLP-1 medications are commonly prescribed to manage type 2 diabetes. They mimic the effects of the GLP-1 hormone, regulating blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin secretion and slowing down stomach emptying. It is also important to note that GLP-1 hormones work on the central nervous system to induce a feeling of fullness.

Navigating Dietary Choices with GLP-1 Medications:

Charlotte underscores the importance of aligning dietary choices with the mechanisms of GLP-1 medications. “While a lower-carb, lower-sugar diet is typically recommended for managing blood sugar levels, adherence to the Standard American Diet (SAD) alongside these medications can exacerbate the condition,” stated Charlotte. She shared “The reason for this is that the Standard American Diet includes high amounts of processed foods, is high in carbohydrates and added sugars, and contains refined fats.” Foods high in carbohydrates will usually raise a person’s blood sugar, exacerbating the condition as Charlotte mentioned. 

Patients often express to Charlotte a noticeable shift in their relationship with food while taking GLP-1 medications. “Patients have shared that chronic thoughts surrounding what is for lunch or dinner or what is available to eat from the pantry decrease while taking GLP-1 medications,” said Charlotte. With these patients, she observes not only physical changes but also profound mental and emotional shifts in her patients’ eating behaviors.

Addressing Misconceptions and Concerns:

There are many misconceptions and concerns regarding taking GLP-1 medications. Charlotte is quick to remind patients that GLP-1 isn’t a magic fix but rather a tool to support lifestyle changes. 

“GLP-1 medications are not a short-term commitment” stated Charlotte. “Most obesity medicine specialists recommend that once an individual begins taking these types of medications, this is often a life-long commitment.” Charlotte shared, “Recent studies have shown that most individuals regained weight after stopping GLP-1 medications, especially if they’re taking it for diabetes – as stopping the medication will cause significant spikes in sugars.” 

It is not uncommon for patients to experience symptoms such as diarrhea and general stomach upset upon the initial introduction of these medications. Still, these symptoms are typically temporary and can be managed with the guidance of OnePeak Medical health educators and healthcare providers (such as clinicians experienced in weight management).

Dietary Adjustments for Optimal Health Outcomes:

Charlotte offers practical dietary recommendations tailored to individuals using GLP-1 medications. She emphasizes a lower carb, lower sugar approach and advises that patients focus on eating nutrient-dense foods rich in fats, proteins, and non-starchy vegetables while minimizing empty calories. 

It is not uncommon to go all day without eating because one does not feel hungry or think about food. However, Charlotte stresses that this is not the goal and that patients must have a consistent, efficient calorie intake to reassure the body that they are not in starvation mode, even as their appetite decreases.

Special Nutrients and Considerations:

Patients on GLP-1 medications should pay particular attention to their carb and sugar intake to manage blood sugar levels effectively. Charlotte also highlights the need for mindfulness when consuming alcohol while taking GLP-1 medications, noting its delayed effects and exacerbated hangovers.

Key Takeaway:

In closing, Charlotte underscores the importance of viewing GLP-1 medications as tools rather than magic fixes. While these medications offer valuable support in managing health conditions, she emphasizes the indispensable role of individual effort and lifestyle changes in achieving lasting health outcomes.

Charlotte is currently accepting new clients for medical weight loss, expert nutrition consulting, specialized diet programs, and custom fitness programs. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with her, click here.