6 Ways To Get the Most out of Your GLP-1 Medication

By InsideTracker, July 10, 2024

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You might think drugs like Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy can do no harm. After all, pundits often describe them as “miracle” weight-loss drugs. 

So let’s set the record straight. 

Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1s, are complex molecules with complex outcomes. As with other drugs, some of the effects are desirable, and some are not. 

In the case of GLP-1s, the benefits—primarily weight loss and better metabolic health—can greatly outweigh the costs. But if you want to ensure that’s true for you, you’ll want to manage the side effects as best as you can. 

In this article, we’ll explain how.

Understanding GLP-1s

GLP-1s fight hunger by mimicking hormones that suppress appetite. This usually results in smaller, less frequent meals.

But as you eat less, you're more likely to come up short on key nutrients. If you’re not thoughtful about your diet, you may experience a nutritional deficiency. This could lead to muscle loss, low energy, concentration problems, or other issues.

A second effect of GLP-1s is that they slow the rate at which food passes through your stomach. This keeps you feeling full longer after each meal, which is good for weight loss. But it can also lead to gastrointestinal issues.

These problems are manageable, but the responsibility falls on you. Your prescribing doctor can help, but only to an extent. Nobody knows your day-to-day life (and symptoms) like you do.


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One reliable strategy for managing your health on GLP-1s involves blood testing. That lets you see how your treatment is affecting you from the inside.

You can learn more about that here: 12 biomarkers to monitor if you take a GLP-1 medication.

The important thing is to pay close attention to how your body is changing. When you take a new medication, you want to minimize the downside and maximize the benefit. 

If you’re taking GLP-1s, here are the daily habits and diet tips that will lead to the best outcome.


1. Exercise everyday

Data from the CDC shows that fewer than one in four people meet the government’s exercise recommendations. [1] When you’re taking a GLP-1, you need to make sure you’re one of them. 

One risk of eating less food—which is typical for GLP-1 users—is that you may also lose muscle mass. 

In a review of 18 studies, researchers found that people taking GLP-1 medications experienced a significant reduction in fat-free mass. [2] This covers all the non-fat parts of your body—including muscle. 

Of course, you do not want to lose muscle. Muscle loss is the defining feature of sarcopenia, a condition that can lead to frailty in old age. 

Frailty from sarcopenia decreases quality of life and makes you more likely to fall or fracture a bone. It can also lead to a faster progression of conditions such as heart disease. [3] 

To protect your muscle, make a firm commitment to exercise. As a bonus, you’ll improve your energy and help your body regulate blood sugar better. Exercise also promotes a healthy microbiome, [4] which can help reduce gut problems from GLP-1s.

So plan on exercising every single day. If some days have to be easy recovery workouts, that’s okay. Fifteen minutes of stretching or jogging can help keep your habit strong. 

To hit the government’s exercise recommendations, here’s what you need to do: 

Cardio 

  • Complete 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise) per week. [5]
  • This could be jogging, cycling, tennis, or anything else that gets your heart pumping.

Resistance training

  • In addition to cardio, aim to complete two muscle-building activities per week. [5]
  • This could be weight lifting, resistance-band workouts, or bodyweight exercises.

Blood DNA Fitness tracking ebook

2. Eat protein at every meal

Often, people on GLP-1s eat fewer protein-rich foods without realizing it. But protein, like resistance training, is essential for preserving and building muscle. 

Many longevity experts recommend you set your daily protein intake at 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. [6]

One kilogram is 2.2 pounds, so if you weigh 180 pounds, you’d aim for 98 to 131 grams of protein. 

And generally, the recommendation increases with age. For adults over 65, some experts recommend eating as much as 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. [7]

If counting grams sounds overwhelming, try to get at least one good source of protein at each meal. Just choose from the list below.

High-quality sources of protein:

  • Dairy products like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and lean beef
  • Plant-based options like beans, lentils, and tofu
  • Protein supplements like whey protein and plant-based protein powders

3. Sleep 7 to 9 hours a night

If you’re using a GLP-1, you’re probably looking for better metabolic health and weight management. As it turns out, sleep supports both.

Sleeping for 7 to 9 hours a night allows your body to better regulate hunger hormones and blood sugar on its own. So you’ll be improving the quality of your GLP-1 treatment.

For good sleep, set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Then adjust your routine to make sure you're consistently hitting them both.

How to sleep better:

  • Stop looking at screens an hour before your bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol for at least 3 hours before bed
  • Use an eye mask to block out light
  • Keep your room cooler than standard room temperature
  • Practice 10 to 30 minutes of meditation before bed


4. Drink water all day

Every cell in your body needs water. But when it comes to taking GLP-1s, the gut takes the spotlight. 

Nausea and constipation are among the most common GLP-1 side effects. In both cases, hydration can help. Diarrhea, another common side effect, can increase the risk of dehydration. So again, water is necessary. 

If you’re continually sipping water throughout the day, you’ll be less likely to experience gut problems. You’ll also be more likely to keep your energy high, even as you cut your caloric intake.

To stay hydrated:

  • Eat foods with high water content, such as watermelon, strawberries, and cucumbers 
  • Drink a full glass of water before each workout
  • Reduce the barrier to hydration by keeping a bottle or carafe of water within reach throughout the day

Related: Hydration, Sodium, Potassium, and Exercise: What You Need to Know

5. Eat plants at every meal

Again—the risk of nutritional deficiencies increases as you cut back on calories. That’s why it’s important to eat nutritionally dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

These are all plant foods that provide a huge bang for your caloric buck. What’s more, they can also help with your gut health. 

Plant foods are high in fiber, a nutrient that binds stool and keeps it moving through your bowel. 

Fiber, along with protein, should form the basis of your diet.

Plant strategies:

  • Roast a pan of vegetables and add one scoop to each lunch throughout the week
  • Keep frozen berries on hand—you can microwave a cupful to add flavor to yogurt or oatmeal
  • Swap rice for fast-cooking whole grains like bulgur, quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth

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6. Get personalized recommendations from InsideTracker

If you’re looking to improve your overall health while taking GLP-1s, there’s no better strategy than blood testing. 

With a simple blood draw, you'll see how your hormones, minerals, proteins, and other molecules are reacting to treatment. You’ll know exactly what's going on inside your body.

InsideTracker makes it easy. After you sign up for a membership, you can book comprehensive blood tests at a nearby lab—or we can send a medical expert to your home.

With InsideTracker, you’ll be able to:

  • Verify whether your metabolism and heart health are improving
  • Monitor changes to your gut health, so you can resolve problems early
  • Track hormonal changes that may affect how you feel
  • Identify opportunities for better fitness, endurance, and muscle recovery—all all of which will make exercise easier
  • Receive personalized recommendations for optimizing any blood biomarkers that are outside the ideal range

Click to learn more about GLP-1 biomarker testing with InsideTracker



References: 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.htm
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32628589/
  3. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.123.064071
  4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-38357-6
  5. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-10/PAG_ExecutiveSummary.pdf
  6. https://longevity.stanford.edu/lifestyle/2024/01/23/protein-needs-for-adults-50
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924200/

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