- Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication used to manage type 2 diabetes. It works by regulating blood sugar levels and reducing appetite. In some cases, people taking Ozempic lose weight.
- While there are no specific recommendations around combining Ozempic and alcohol, doing so may result in side effects such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), reduced weight loss, liver damage, and impaired decision-making.
- If you plan on drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic, have a plan for monitoring your blood sugar, treating hypoglycemia, and staying hydrated.
If you’re taking Ozempic to manage your type 2 diabetes, you may be wondering about whether you can combine Ozempic and alcohol.
Ozempic is an injectable medication that helps regulate blood sugar levels by mimicking the action of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).
It may also promote weight loss because it reduces appetite.
Read on to learn about how Ozempic affects the body, possible interactions between Ozempic and alcohol, and tips for enjoying alcohol safely while taking Ozempic.
How Ozempic Affects the Body
Ozempic (semaglutide) is a once-weekly injectable medication used to lower blood sugar and A1C (a blood test that measures your average blood sugar over the past three months) in adults with type 2 diabetes.
It mimics the action of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar.
Ozempic works by:
- Helping your pancreas produce more insulin (which lowers your blood sugar levels).
- Preventing your liver from releasing too much sugar.
- Slowing down food leaving your stomach (which can help you feel fuller for longer after meals).
When used in combination with diet and exercise, Ozempic also helps reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and death in people with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease.
While it’s not a weight loss drug, some people lose weight when they take Ozempic.
Interactions Between Ozempic and Alcohol
Currently, there is no research looking at interactions between Ozempic and alcohol.
However, alcohol intake may be associated with the following risks.
Increased Risk of Hypoglycemia
Drinking alcohol while taking certain diabetes medications can lead to the development of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Since Ozempic also reduces blood sugar levels, combining alcohol with Ozempic, especially if you haven’t eaten enough, could increase the risk of developing hypoglycemia.
Worsening Side Effects
Some of the most common side effects of taking Ozempic include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
Since alcohol intake can also cause stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea, it could worsen the side effects of Ozempic.
Alcohol is also dehydrating, which could worsen the dehydration caused by Ozempic side effects.
Negative Effect on Weight Loss Goals
While Ozempic is not a weight loss medication, many people taking this medication lose weight.
Alcohol can negatively impact weight loss in several ways.
Alcohol itself is high in calories, and many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar.
You may also make poor food choices when you’re drinking alcohol, which could hinder your weight loss efforts.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage.
In the United States, alcohol consumption is the leading cause of liver disease.
The first stage of alcoholic liver disease is the accumulation of fat in the liver.
This is followed by inflammation of the liver, which can lead to irreversible liver damage if excessive alcohol intake continues.
Impaired Decision Making and Coordination
Even small amounts of alcohol can impair decision-making and coordination.
Alcohol slows the chemical pathways used to control your body, which can lead to changes in mood, slowed reflexes, and balance issues.
Tips for Safe Alcohol Consumption While Taking Ozempic
If you choose to drink alcohol while taking Ozempic, there are several steps you can take to minimize the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before drinking alcohol while you’re taking Ozempic, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor.
Your doctor can provide personalized recommendations based on your family and health history.
If you have certain diabetes complications (like nerve, eye, or kidney damage), your doctor may recommend that you do not consume any alcohol, as it may worsen these conditions.
Monitor Your Blood Sugar Levels
If you start to feel dizzy, light-headed, or confused while drinking, it’s important to test your blood sugar levels.
These symptoms of low blood sugar can mimic being drunk.
Drinking alcohol can affect your blood sugar for up to 12 hours, so it’s important to also test your blood sugar before going to bed after drinking.
If your blood sugar is low, eat a snack containing carbohydrates and a small amount of protein before sleeping (such as cheese with crackers or cereal with milk).
Limit Alcohol Intake
To help prevent adverse side effects, limit your alcohol intake to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.
A drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or one and a half ounces of spirits.
Choose Lower Calorie and Low-Sugar Drink Options
Many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar and calorie-dense, which can lead to high blood sugar and trouble losing weight.
If you choose to drink alcohol, consider choosing lower-calorie and lower-sugar drink options such as:
- Vodka soda with lemon (vodka combined with unflavored club soda and fresh lemon juice).
- Mojito (muddled mint leaves, soda water, rum, and simple syrup. Reduce the amount of simple syrup or use a no-calorie sweetener like Stevia to reduce the calorie and sugar content).
- Paloma (fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, club soda, and tequila).
- Rum and diet cola.
- Light beer.
- Dry white wine.
Don’t Drink on an Empty Stomach
Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream more quickly if your stomach is empty.
When drinking alcohol, your liver stops releasing glucose so it can process the alcohol.
This means your blood sugar can drop quickly, especially with an empty stomach.
If you plan on drinking alcohol, have a meal or snack containing carbohydrates, which slows the absorption of alcohol.
Have a Plan for Managing Hypoglycemia
If you’re drinking alcohol, it’s important to test your blood sugar regularly to identify potential hypoglycemia.
Before drinking, ensure you have a hypoglycemia management plan in place.
A helpful tool to manage hypoglycemia is the 15-15 rule.
If your blood sugar is between 55 and 69 mg/dL, consume 15 grams of carbohydrates and recheck your blood sugar after 15 minutes.
If it’s still below target, have another serving of carbohydrates.
Repeat these steps until your blood sugar is in your target range. Once in range, eat a meal or snack to ensure it doesn’t go too low again.
The following foods have approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates:
- Half a cup of juice or regular soda.
- Three to four glucose tablets.
- One tablespoon of sugar, honey, or syrup.
Stay Hydrated and Pace Yourself
Alcohol suppresses the release of hormones that tell your kidneys to retain fluids.
As a result, drinking alcohol leads to more frequent urination and excess fluid loss.
This can lead to dehydration.
To prevent dehydration, alternate between alcoholic beverages and glasses of water to keep your hydration levels in check.
This also helps you pace your alcohol consumption so it does not affect you too quickly.
While there are no specific recommendations regarding combining Ozempic and alcohol, there are potential side effects to be aware of.
People who drink alcohol while taking Ozempic may be more prone to hypoglycemia.
Drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic may also worsen Ozempic’s side effects and hinder weight loss efforts.
If you plan on drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic, talk to your doctor.
They can provide personalized recommendations and strategies for safely consuming alcohol while taking Ozempic.
How a Dietitian Can Help
A Nourish dietitian can help you with your weight management goals and develop an individualized, sustainable plan. Nourish services are covered by most insurance providers and are 100% remote.
Consider booking an appointment with a weight loss dietitian.
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