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15 Tips for Success on GLP-1 Medications

November 13, 2023
Happy woman on GLP-1 medications

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In this article:

  • GLP-1 medications can help with weight loss, and your own choices can affect your progress towards goals.
  • Smart behaviors focus on taking medications as prescribed, having healthy eating behaviors, and living a healthy lifestyle.
  • Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider whenever you have concerns about GLP-1 medications or before starting any new eating plan.
  • Lark can help you on your weight loss journey with GLP-1 medications as you manage side effects, get help taking your medications as prescribed, and establish healthy habits for lasting results.

Taking GLP-1 medications can help with weight loss, but a lot of your success depends on your own choices. Choices such as taking your medications as prescribed, eating well, and living a healthy lifestyle can all help you reach your goals. Here are 15 tips for success when you’re taking GLP-1 medications for weight loss.

1. Communicate with your healthcare team

Your healthcare team is there to keep you safe and help you reach your goals. Attend your regularly scheduled appointments and know when you should contact your provider for other concerns, such as side effects. It’s also good to ask your healthcare team before making major changes to your diet or exercise routine. 

2. Take your medications as prescribed

It’s important to take your GLP-1 medications exactly as your provider prescribes them. That includes taking them at the right time, taking the right dose, and not skipping doses. It’s also important to make sure you do the injections properly if your medication comes in an injectable form. 

Ask your pharmacist or provider for help any time you face challenges to taking your medications as prescribed, such as if you need refills or you don’t know how to take your meds right. You can also use Lark for reminders to take your medications and to record each dose when you take it.

3. Monitor side effects

Most people on GLP-1 medications experience side effects at some point. Common side effects include gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Ask your healthcare provider what to expect and which signs to look for that may require contacting your provider. 

4. Eat well

Eating well on GLP-1 medications can help you lose more weight and minimize side effects related to GLP-1 meds. These are some of the key factors.

  • Fiber can help prevent constipation. High-fiber foods are also filling and nutritious. Whole grains, vegetables, fruit, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds have fiber.
  • Low-fat foods are lower in calories and less likely to cause side effects. Limit fast food, fried foods, fatty meats, and full-fat cheeses. Instead, focus on lower-fat options and grilling, baking, or steaming as cooking methods.
  • Vegetables are low in calories and good for weight loss. Load up your plate with vegetables to satisfy hunger without many calories.
  • Lean protein foods help reduce hunger and provide protein to maintain muscle mass and metabolism. Options include fish, egg whites, beans, lentils, reduced-fat dairy, chicken breast, and lean ground turkey.

Eating slowly and keeping meals small can also help prevent overeating and reduce side effects.

5. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated can help you lose more weight. It also helps increase energy and prevent dehydration headaches. For GLP-1 medications, staying hydrated is extra important for reducing the risk of constipation and other side effects. 

Water and water with lemon or lime are good choices. Coffee and tea without cream or added sugars or syrups can also help keep you hydrated without adding many calories. Sugar-sweetened beverages are not good choices, since they are high in calories and can interfere with weight loss or make you feel sicker while on GLP-1 meds.

6. Be physically active

Physical activity can improve physical and mental health, and support success on GLP-1 medications. Consistency can give you more benefits and help you form habits to make exercise easier.

Here are some tips.

  • Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • Do muscle-strengthening exercises a couple of times weekly for each major muscle group
  • Small amounts make a difference
  • Log your activity in Lark to keep track and stay motivated

7. Reduce sitting time

Sitting too much, such as while on computers or using the phone, can raise blood sugar and increase risk for cardiovascular disease. Reduce and break up sedentary time to avoid negative effects. Here are some strategies.

  • Set a timer so you can move for 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting still
  • Walk around your home or office when on the phone and during breaks
  • Exercises such as lunges, squats, wall push-ups, and calf raises are good options if you don’t have much space
  • Use a small pedaler while seated on the couch or a chair
  • Move during commercials while watching television

8. Plan your meals

Meal planning can help you eat healthier with less stress. The Plate Method is a strategy that can help you plan more easily. 

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables. Salads, raw vegetables, and cooked vegetables all count
  • Add lean protein to ¼ of your plate. Fish, beans, egg whites, tofu, and skinless chicken are examples
  • Fill the final ¼ of your plate with high-fiber carbs, such as whole grains or starchy vegetables like acorn squash, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, or potatoes
  • Have water or another hydrating beverage
  • Regularly include foods like a small serving of healthy fats, fresh fruit, and reduced-fat dairy products

When grocery shopping, think about filling your cart the way your plate is filled; that is, put plenty of vegetables in your cart, add lean proteins and high-fiber grains, and include some healthy fats, fruit, and reduced-fat dairy products.

9. Log meals and snacks

Logging what you eat helps you stay aware of what you’re eating. People who log more tend to lose more weight. When you log in the Lark app, you can get instant feedback about your food choices to encourage you and to help you learn from what you ate. 

10. Be realistic about weight loss

When you’re taking GLP-1 medications to lose weight, you may expect to lose weight quickly, but many patients have unrealistic expectations. Weight loss of ½-2 pounds weekly is a phenomenal rate of loss, and it can lead to dramatic improvements in health risks and how you feel within a few months.

Still, even this great rate may feel slow, since you may not notice changes on a daily basis. It’s important to keep a long-term view and be realistic about weight loss. You may not lose weight every day or week, but you can hit your goals if you stick to the plan and stay positive.

11. Celebrate successes

Celebrating victories can help keep you motivated. Some successes may come on the scale as you lose weight, but others will be non-scale victories like fitting into smaller clothes, getting a compliment from someone, or feeling better about yourself. Notice these successes, and celebrate them by acknowledging them or giving yourself a small or large reward.

12. Get adequate sleep

Getting enough sleep supports health and weight loss. People who get enough sleep have improved blood sugar control, reduced levels of hunger hormones, and weaker cravings than people who are sleep-deprived. Set aside enough time for sleep, have a consistent bedtime routine, and aim for a sleep environment that’s cool, dark, and quiet to get better sleep.

13. Manage stress

Everyone has stressors and should manage stress to prevent stress from causing unhealthy effects. It can be even more important to manage stress because taking GLP-1 medications can cause additional stressors around taking medications, noticing changes in your body, having a different relationship with food, and more. 

Here are some common stress management techniques.

  • Be physically active
  • Breathe deeply before reacting in a stressful situation
  • Get enough sleep
  • Journal or blog
  • Listen to music or draw
  • Practice yoga, tai chi, or meditation
  • Lark can help you manage stress, too

14. Build a support network

Your support network can include members of your healthcare team as well as others, such as friends or family members, work colleagues, or anyone else who supports you as you work towards your goals. 

These are some ways that people can support you.

  • Exercise with you
  • Join you in eating healthy 
  • Agree to reduce or eliminate trigger foods from your home
  • Help with chores or errands so you have more time to work out or prepare healthy meals and snacks
  • Cheer when you have successes and listen when you are frustrated
  • Hold you accountable

It can help to be specific about what you need so your support network knows how to be effective.

15. Learn and adapt

Everyone’s body and journey are different. As an individual, your own responses and journey may not be the same as another patient’s. You may need to adjust your exercise or diet plans to hit your goals or to minimize side effects from your medications. Your healthcare provider may change your GLP-1 dose occasionally, too. It’s important to be aware and flexible. 

How Lark Can Help

Your food choices affect your results and how you feel while you’re on GLP-1 medications, and a smart meal plan can help you lose more weight and minimize side effects. Lark can help with personalized coaching for weight loss and side effect management. Your Lark coach is available 24/7 for food logging and feedback, support taking your medications, and coaching around supportive behaviors like managing stress and being physically active.

Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!

About Lark

Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.

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