Dec 14, 2023 • 11 min read

Rybelsus Diet Plan: Best Foods to Eat & Which to Avoid

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When you’re going to the trouble and expense of taking a prescription medication, you want to get the best results possible. If you’re taking Rybelsus, knowing which foods are best to eat and which to avoid can maximize your results and help you avoid unwanted side effects.

Rybelsus is a prescription Semaglutide medication for the management of blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. Unlike the other popular diabetes medication, Ozempic, which is a weekly injection, Rybelsus is an oral tablet taken once daily.

Rybelsus mimics your body’s natural GLP-1 hormone to slow digestion and improve blood sugar management. As a result, patients taking Rybelsus often notice increased satiety, reduced cravings, and reduced portion sizes.

While Rybelsus is not FDA-approved for weight loss, it can help adults with type 2 diabetes lose weight when taken as directed. However, taking Rybelsus alone will not automatically result in weight loss. It is meant to be used with a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise. 

While there is no specific meal plan for those on Rybelsus, choosing a balanced diet while taking this medication can boost your results. This guide covers what a healthy Rybelsus diet plan looks like, including the best foods to eat, which to avoid, and more.

Rybelsus diet overview

There is no specific diet that you must follow while taking Rybelsus, but it’s important to choose healthy, balanced meals for the best results and long-term benefits. Not only will this improve blood sugar management further, but it will also allow for healthy weight loss as needed. 

Rybelsus should be taken on an empty stomach. This includes water. Take Rybelsus with no more than four ounces of water and wait 30 minutes before eating, drinking, or taking other medications.

While taking Rybelsus, try to incorporate more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Limit high-processed foods, added sugars, and high-fat fried food items to moderation.

Practice portion control and mindful snacking habits and prioritize water intake. Foods that take a long time to digest, such as large portions of high-fat foods or high-fiber foods, may cause gastrointestinal upset as your digestion is already slowed while taking this medication.

Avoid or limit alcohol consumption while taking Rybelsus as this can result in potentially dangerous drops in blood sugar levels. Additionally, many alcoholic beverages contain high amounts of added sugars that can disrupt glucose control when consumed frequently.

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Best foods to eat on Rybelsus

If you’re taking or planning to take Rybelsus and want to know what you should be eating while taking this medication, we’ve got you covered. Below is a list of foods to prioritize in your diet while taking Rybelsus.

  • Vegetables. Vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and celery are rich sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vegetables are also a rich source of fiber that can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight
  • Lean proteins. Protein is one of the most filling macronutrients. Consuming a diet rich in lean protein sources, such as skinless poultry, fish, tofu, and beans, can help to ensure you do not lose valuable muscle mass during weight loss.
  • Whole grains. Whole grains are a great source of fiber and complex carbs that act to improve blood sugar management while also increasing satiety during meals.
  • Healthy fats. Choosing a diet rich in healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats, such as salmon, avocado, and olive oil, can reduce heart disease risk. Fats are also very filling and can help with appetite control.  
  • Nuts & seeds. Nuts and seeds are powerhouses of protein, healthy fats, and fiber which can keep you full, keep your digestive system regular, and reduce your heart disease risk. Learn which nuts are best for weight loss and incorporate them into your diet.
  • Fresh fruits. Like vegetables, fruits are rich sources of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to help you feel satisfied throughout the day.
  • Legumes. Legumes are another great source of fiber for satiety and gut regularity. Legumes also add some plant-based protein to your meals and are naturally low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Dairy. Dairy products, such as yogurt, milk, and cheese, can be an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D in your diet. 
  • Fermented foods. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh are rich in probiotics which are essential for gut health.

Foods to avoid on Rybelsus

Now that you have an idea of which foods to include while taking Rybelsus, here are some foods you’ll want to limit. These foods can still be enjoyed on occasion. However, it is recommended you reduce how frequently you consume them. 

  • Sugary foods and beverages. Sugar-sweetened products such as snack foods, baked goods, cookies, candy, sodas, and energy drinks are associated with weight gain and poor glucose control.
  • Fried foods. High intake of fried foods, such as fried chicken, French fries, and onion rings can exacerbate the potential side effects of Rybelsus. Fried foods take longer to digest and may result in nausea or gastrointestinal discomfort. High intake of fried foods is also associated with weight gain and increased risk of heart disease due to the high concentration of saturated fats.
  • Processed foods. Highly processed foods such as packaged snack foods, frozen meals, and sodas are typically high in calories, salt, saturated fats, and/or added sugars, all of which can negatively impact our health and ability to lose weight.
  • Fatty meat. Fatty cuts of meat such as red meats, and processed meats such as bacon and sausage contain high amounts of saturated fats which can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.
  • Foods high in sodium. High-sodium foods such as processed foods like canned soup, packaged snack foods, and frozen meals can increase blood pressure levels and the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners may be associated with adverse health outcomes, including exacerbating sugar cravings and increasing incidences of weight gain.
  • Alcohol. Excessive alcohol intake can increase the risk of side effects while taking Rybelsus, such as blood sugar drops. Alcohol can also contain high amounts of added calories and sugar which can inhibit weight loss.

Sample Rybelsus diet plan

Here is a sample 1,600-calorie diet plan that is healthy for someone taking Saxenda. Remember, this is just an example. Your ideal diet will vary based on your weight, goals, preferences, medical conditions, and more.

Breakfast (Around 400 Calories)

  • Oatmeal: 1 cup cooked in water, topped with 1/2 banana and a sprinkle of almonds.
  • Egg: 1 hard-boiled or poached.
  • Orange Juice: 1 small glass (unsweetened).

Mid-Morning Snack (Around 150 Calories)

  • Yogurt: 1 cup of Greek yogurt (plain, non-fat).
  • Berries: A handful of mixed berries.

Lunch (Around 400 Calories)

  • Grilled Chicken Salad:
    • 3 oz grilled chicken breast.
    • Mixed greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce).
    • Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and bell peppers.
    • Dressing: Olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Whole Wheat Bread: 1 slice.

Afternoon Snack (Around 150 Calories)

  • Carrots and Hummus: 1 medium carrot with 2 tablespoons of hummus.

Dinner (Around 400 Calories)

  • Grilled Salmon: 3 oz portion.
  • Quinoa: 1/2 cup cooked.
  • Steamed Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
  • Avocado: A small slice for healthy fats.

Evening Snack (Around 100 Calories)

  • Nuts: A small handful of mixed nuts (unsalted).

Remember that it’s important to stay hydrated while taking Saxenda, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

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Other tips for having a healthy lifestyle & diet on Rybelsus

Making healthy diet and lifestyle changes is easier said than done. Below are some tips for having a healthy lifestyle on Rybelsus so you can put what you know into practice. 

  • Eat balanced meals. Aim to include a protein, high-fiber carb, and plenty of non-starchy vegetables at each meal to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need to feel full and satisfied while supporting healthy blood sugar levels. 
  • Mind your portions. Consider the plate method to help you portion your meals. Aim to fill ¼ of your plate with lean protein, ¼ of your plate with a high-fiber carb, and ½ of your plate with non-starchy veggies.
  • Eat slowly and mindfully. It can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that it is full. Eating slowly can help ensure we don’t miss this valuable cue which can result in overeating. Enjoy your meal slowly and avoid distractions during meals.
  • Stay hydrated. Being adequately hydrated can help reduce unnecessary snacking habits and keep blood sugar levels well-managed. Dehydration, especially during the summer months, can lead to dangerous glucose spikes
  • Don’t forget about protein. Protein is one of the most satiating macronutrients and consuming a protein-rich diet can promote weight management and enhance glycemic control.
  • Learn to read food labels. Reading nutrition labels can help you make better food choices. Pay close attention to things like protein and fiber, which we want to be getting more of, and try to limit added sugars and saturated fats.
  • Avoid crash diets. Avoid any restrictive diet plans that suggest rapid weight loss. These are often unsustainable and can lead to rapid weight regain which negatively affects our long-term health.
  • Work out regularly. Exercise can significantly benefit glycemic management and support healthy weight loss, even if you are just getting in a 20-minute brisk walk each day. 
  • Get plenty of sleep. It is recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to support both physical and mental well-being.
  • Manage your stress. Chronically elevated stress levels can negatively impact your health and weight loss. It can also lead to elevated blood glucose levels. Practice stress management techniques to help you better manage your day-to-day stressors. 
  • Consider working with a Dietitian. A Registered Dietitian (RD) can help guide you in the right direction for making healthy lifestyle choices. Check out the next section below on why you should consider working with an RD while on Rybelsus.

Why you should consider working with a dietitian while taking Rybelsus

Everyone can benefit from working with a dietitian. But diet is especially important in the management of diabetes. While taking Rybelsus, diet is even further emphasized as the food choices you make can either help or hinder its effects.

Knowing what to eat during this time can be confusing, especially if you are relying on the internet to help guide you. Instead, consider working with a Registered Dietitian (RD).

RDs are nutrition experts who can help you find creative ways to make healthier eating habits that are tailored to your needs. They can answer all your nutrition questions and help guide you to ensure you are successful while taking Rybelsus. They can also help you avoid some of the unwanted side effects of the medication.

Not only can they help you with areas such as blood sugar management and weight loss, but RDs can also help you find balance by creating goals you can stick with. If you are on Rybelsus and have not already, consider reaching out to a local RD for extra support.

Here at Zaya Care, we’re dedicated to helping people find dietitians based on their preferences, needs, and insurance.

When you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians, we’ll check your insurance so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

It’s worth noting that 90% of Zaya Care patients pay $0 for nutrition care with a registered dietitian as we are in-network with many major carriers.

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How Rybelsus works & can help with weight loss

Rybelsus is not FDA-approved for weight loss. However, it can help adults with type 2 diabetes lose weight when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise. 

Rybelsus is a GLP-1 receptor agonist. This means it works by mimicking your body’s natural GLP-1 hormone which is responsible for slowing down digestion. GLP-1 is typically released following a meal to signal your body that you are full.

As a result, patients taking Rybelsus often notice increased satiety, reduced cravings, and reduced portion sizes. GLP-1 also signals your body to release insulin which reduces blood sugar levels and aids in improved blood sugar management.

But does Rybelsus make you not want to eat?

In short, yes. The reduction in appetite will be beneficial for those trying to lose weight. However, some may experience severe appetite suppression which can cause undereating. 

In many cases, this can be managed with the support of an RD. However, if not addressed, this could result in the loss of valuable muscle mass and a slowdown in metabolism both of which can negatively impact health and the sustainability of weight loss itself. 

Rybelsus interactions with other medications

Before taking Rybelsus, be sure to discuss any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications you take with your doctor to prevent any possible drug interactions.

Rybelsus should not be taken with other diabetes medications, including insulin, as this could result in dangerously low blood sugar levels. 

Additionally, Beta blockers, such as Lopressor or Propranolol, could prevent you from realizing you are having symptoms of low blood sugar. If you don’t feel the symptoms and aren’t checking your sugar levels regularly, you could have dangerous, even life-threatening, low blood sugar levels.

Other common medications such as Levothyroxine and Digoxin can reduce the effectiveness of Rybelsus while OTC medications such as NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) can irritate the lining of the stomach and increase the risk of developing gastric ulcers. 

There are many other potential medication interactions in addition to the ones mentioned above. Therefore, it is important to be sure to disclose this information to your provider before taking Rybelsus.

Rybelsus interactions with supplements

Like medications, be sure to disclose any supplements you take to your doctor before taking Rybelsus. 

Currently, there are no known interactions between Rybelsus and specific herbal supplements. However, that does not mean that an interaction does not exist. 

There is limited research on herbal supplements and how they interact with various medications. Because of this, it is encouraged to avoid these types of supplements while taking Rybelsus, as well as other medications.

Vitamins and mineral supplements may also interact negatively with prescription medications and should be discussed with your doctor.

Rybelsus may interact with the mineral chromium which can be found in various multivitamin supplements. Chromium supplements may reduce blood sugar levels and could result in a dangerous glucose drop. Because of this, it should be avoided while taking this medication.

Side effects of Rybelsus

Like any medication, there are potential side effects with Rybelsus. Most of these are temporary and will resolve once your body adjusts to the medication. However, if you are experiencing severe side effects, be sure to consult your doctor immediately.

Some of the most common side effects reported while on this medication include the following:

  • Nausea. Rybelsus slows digestion. This decrease in gastric motility can lead to nausea, especially following a large meal. This can be exacerbated by certain foods or by an empty stomach.
  • Constipation. Constipation can be common while taking Rybelsus because your digestion is slowed. This means slow movement through your entire digestive tract which can cause stool to become difficult to pass.
  • Diarrhea. Some may experience loose stools while taking Rybelsus, typically while on higher doses. This could be a result of chronic constipation or a sudden change in the rate of digestion from the medication.
  • Vomiting. Vomiting can occur in some patients taking Rybelsus because of the slowdown in digestion following a meal. This can be exacerbated if you consume a large, high-fat or high-fiber meal.
  • Abdominal pain. Abdominal pain while on Rybelsus may also be a result of the change in digestion rate which can cause gas, bloating, heartburn, and indigestion symptoms.
  • Decreased appetite. GLP-1 medications such as Rybelsus can decrease appetite by delaying gastric emptying and reducing gut motility.

Less common, yet severe, side effects from Rybelsus include an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer, hypoglycemia, allergic reaction, or kidney and pancreatic problems.

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Meghan is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist from San Jose, California. She received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University in 2015. Following an unexpected cross-country trip that landed her in Florida, she completed her didactic training through AdventHealth Orlando. Meghan has extensive experience in multiple aspects of dietetics including critical care, motivational interviewing, writing, and research. She is passionate about health and wellness and has dedicated her free time to breaking down complicated nutrition topics and disseminating them to the public through the arena of writing.